Derek Wooster, a renowned figure in broadcasting, died on Tuesday evening in his home district of Ōtorohanga.
His death was announced by the district’s mayor Max Baxter on Wednesday in a post shared to Facebook.
Derek Kōtuku Totorewa Wooster (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Maru, Te Atiawa) is a veteran producer, director, reporter and writer, who worked at TVNZ for many years in a number of leading positions.
Wooster was born in Ōtorohanga in 1945. He trained as a teacher, but later joined Television New Zealand in 1979 as a production trainee.
He spearheaded the creation of Marae, working as a producer and studio director of the Māori current affairs show for around 17 years. He was nominated several times for Best Current Affairs Programme for the show.
Wooster was deputy head of department of Māori programmes at Television New Zealand from 2001 until 2009. He also set up his own company, PaddleFeet Productions.
Over the years, he also held various roles within the film community.
He was a founding member of Ngā Aho Whakaari, the national representative body for Māori working in film, video and television in New Zealand. He was a former treasurer for the Screen Directors Guild of New Zealand; and co-author of a MCN Broadcasting Discussion Paper.
He was also a television broadcasting tutor for Fiji TV and Auckland University of Technology.
A former Tainui representative on the Federation of Māori Authorities, Wooster held a number of positions on Māori incorporations and ahu whenua trusts throughout Te Rohe Pōtae (King Country).
Max Baxter credited Wooster as being a humble leader, and said his death would be felt far and wide.
“Kia ora e te Ōtorohanga whanau, It is with deep sadness that I share the news of the passing of a gentlemen and humble leader within our district last evening.
"The loss of Derek Wooster will be felt far and wide as he has been an influential figure for many years across Aotearoa New Zealand. My condolences to Dean and Derek's whanau. Rest in peace our friend. Nga mihi, Max.”