Controversial Māori leader Sir Ngātata Love dies

01092016 News. CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ. 
Sir Ralph Heberley Ngatata Love appears in the Wellington High Court at the start of the trial on fraud charges.
Photo credit: Fairfax

Controversial Māori leader Sir Ngātata Love has died.

New Zealand's oldest Māori radio station, Te Upoko o te Ika Radio, announced on Facebook that the Wellington academic died last Wednesday surrounded by family at his home in Korokoro. He was 81.

In 2016 Sir Ngātata was found guilty of defrauding his iwi and sentenced to two and a half years in prison despite suffering from diabetes, dementia and a heart condition.

"It is very sad the latter years of his life were drowned unsuccessfully defending himself from accusations of fraud," Te Upoko o te Ika Radio wrote.

"He was judged guilty and lost an appeal, but a considerable proportion of those who were informed and understood the complexities of the case, seriously question that judgement. As with other cases of legal doubt in New Zealand, his side of the story will emerge in time."

Sir Ngātata worked at both Massey University and Victoria University of Wellington. 

He led the Ministry of Māori Development from 1995 and oversaw Māori initiatives and large-scale Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

He was made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order in 2001 and a Knight Grand Companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit in 2008. 

Newshub.