Former New Zealand First MP Pita Paraone dies aged 73

Pita Paraone.
Pita Paraone. Photo credit: Pita Paraone/Facebook

Former New Zealand First MP Pita Paraone has died.

The 73-year-old's death was confirmed by his cousin, former National Party MP Tau Henare, on Monday morning.

"My cousin, #PitaParaone never a more decent human being," Henare wrote on Twitter.

"RIP Kaore matou i wareware koe e hoa."

NZ First leader Winston Peters says his party is "deeply saddened" to learn of Paraone's death. 

"On behalf of New Zealand First let me express our condolences to Pita's wife, Elva, his three children and wider whānau," Peters said in a statement.

"Northland and the people of New Zealand have lost a man who cared deeply for his people and country, and worked endlessly to make New Zealand a better country for us all."

Paraone entered Parliament in 2002, seventh on the NZ First list. He was re-elected in 2005, but lost his seat in 2008 when NZ First failed to reach the 5 percent threshold or win an electorate seat.

He re-entered in 2014 at eighth on the party list, and was the party's spokesperson on Māori and Pacific Island affairs, as well as the Treaty of Waitangi.

Paraone stepped down at the 2017 election, throwing his support behind the party's embrace of Labour and the Greens.

"I think the decision they must make is one that will also ensure the future of New Zealand First, and I think one of the things they have got to consider is people quite clearly want change," he told NZME at the time.

Before entering Parliament Paraone worked in the public sector. He was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori and the community in 1997.

Newshub.

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