One of Rotorua's most respected residents, Don Stafford, has died after a brief illness. He was 82.
Dr Stafford was the city's official historian and a man who bridged both Maori and European worlds. He was awarded an MBE, a CBE and an honorary doctorate from Waikato University. He was regarded as Rotorua's Pakeha kaumatua.
Dr Stafford, who was born in Auckland but lived in Rotorua since he was five, was the author of 23 books. His first, Te Arawa -- A History of the Arawa People, has become a collector's item.
His last work, published in 2006, was Wild Wind from the North, an account of Ngapuhi chief Hongi Hika's murderous raid on Mokoia Island. It is said to have achieved its aim of laying to rest old scores between the two iwi.
Dr Stafford was the Rotorua Museum's founding curator and worked for some years in Texas. A new wing under construction at the museum carries his name, as does the reference room at the Rotorua Public Library. Rotorua Intermediate School has a Stafford House, there is a suburban street called after him and his portrait hangs in the Rotorua District Council building.
As a child Dr Stafford developed a deep love of Te Arawa people listening to their stories around the stove in his father's men's outfitters. He spoke Maori fluently.
His wife Nancy died in 1997. They are survived by two children, six grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Mr Stafford will be taken to Te Papa-i-Ouru marae at 3pm on Wednesday 7 April, and will remain in Tamatekapua until Friday morning.
Following a short service at Tamatekapua at 11am on Friday, Mr Stafford will be taken to St Faith's Church for a funeral service, followed by a burial at Kauae Cemetery.