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Published: 2004-03-10 00:00:00

Environment Waikato paid tribute this week to Tuwharetoa leader Mahlon Nepia’s work for the environment.

Mr Nepia died suddenly last week and several Councillors and staff attended his tangi. He had been active in leading Tuwharetoa’s work with Environment Waikato on protecting Lake Taupo and relative Dr Charlotte Severne attended this week’s Environment Committee meeting to discuss the progress of the 2020 Taupo-nui-a-Tia Project.

Chairman Neil Clarke said the Council felt that it had lost a close friend. Environment Waikato had recognised that establishing relationships with others had to be based on trust and confidence., and there was a high level of trust between the Council and Tuwharetoa.

“Mahlon reconciled differences in a masterly way. His passing has left a big hole, but Tuwharetoa have never been afraid of challenges and difficulties. They will find an answer.”

Mr Clarke said Tuwharetoa were noted for their success and acknowledged their position as the 11th largest financial organisation in New Zealand.

Deputy Chair Jenni Vernon said Mr Nepia was a man of vision and a special leader who worked with both Maori and non-Maori. He had integrity and was a great mentor to many young people, working hard to bring people up the ladder with him.

One of his dreams had been to save Lake Taupo and the Council appreciated the effort he had made, she said.