Hotelier Earl Hagaman dies aged 92

Mr Earl Hagaman with former Governer-General Sir Jerry Mateparae (supplied)
Mr Earl Hagaman with former Governer-General Sir Jerry Mateparae (supplied)

Hotelier Earl Hagaman, who recently sued Labour Party leader Andrew Little for defamation, has died aged 92.

The Scenic Hotels founder passed away in his family home in Christchurch, with friends and family at his side.

His widow Lani Hagaman said in a statement "There will never be another Earl. I loved him immensely...He was a visionary and loved this country.

"Today was a very peaceful and loving end to a remarkable story."

Mr Hagaman was awarded a New Zealand Hotel Industry Achievement Award in 2009, and was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2014 for his services to business, tourism and philanthropy.

The Hagamans sued Mr Little after he questioned why Scenic Hotels won a contract to manage a Niue resort which received Government funding just a month after Mr Hagaman donated $100,000 to the National Party.

The Hagamans were seeking a maximum of $2.3 million between them from Mr Little.

The 12-member jury was unanimous that Mr Little did not defame Lani Hagaman, but did defame Mr Hagaman on one count.

However, on this count, the jury could not agree on whether Mr Little had a defence of qualified privilege.