Former Hastings MP Bob Fenton died on Thursday, aged 89.
Born in Napier and educated at Hastings Boys' High School, he featured in the seesawing elections of the 1970s, winning his place in Parliament by beating one-term Labour MP Richard Mayson in 1975 in National's landslide return after three years in Opposition.
The first election after the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18, it began the nine-year Prime Ministerial reign of Robert Muldoon, but Mr Fenton lasted just three years before being beaten by Labour's David Butcher at the 1978 poll.
The son of a furniture shop owner, he joined the Air Force in the latter stages of World War II, and sold insurance before entering real estate and establishing his own firm.
He honed his leadership and debating skills with service organisation Jaycee International, of which he was a New Zealand regional governor in 1960. He was also a world governor of the Jaycees' Junior Chamber International.
He came to prominence particularly by forming War Against Recreational Disruption (WARD) in 1972 to provide an antidote to the anti-tour argument of Halt All Racist tours (HART) as it railed against plans for a Springboks rugby tour of New Zealand the next year.
The tour was stopped, but Mr Fenton's stance appealed to the National Party hierarchy.
Fenton Kelly, who was on the campaign team, says Mr Fenton made a good speech to secure the initial National candidacy against a small but strong line-up of hopefuls, and then surprised people with his grasp of issues, leading to confidence that he had a chance of winning.
"He was a happy warrior," Mr Kelly said. "He enjoyed those three years in Parliament, and I think he would have enjoyed three more. He was appalled by some of the behavioural standards of some of the others in the House."
As is tradition, his passing is expected to be mentioned in the House when Parliament resumes on January 31.
A keen angler from about the age of seven, when an uncle began teaching him fly-fishing on the lake and rivers of Taupo, Mr Fenton became a renowned newspaper columnist on the subject when he left Parliament.
He began contributing to the Daily Telegraph in Napier in 1981, later writing also for Hastings' Hawke's Bay Herald-Tribune, and then for Hawke's Bay Today after the newspapers' merger in 1999.
His wife, Dorothy (nee Ferrier), died on March 27, 2006, and they are survived by three sons and two daughters, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Mr Fenton's funeral will be held on Thursday at Tong and Peryer's Crestwood chapel.