Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, the queen of New Zealand's indigenous Maori population, died Tuesday, her family announced. She was 75.
Te Ata was the seventh Maori sovereign, a direct descendant of a royal line that began in 1858 when the Maori responded to Britain's colonization of New Zealand by choosing a monarch of their own. The role carries only ceremonial powers but is hugely respected by most Maori.
Te Ata was the longest-serving head of the Kingitanga (King) movement, which largely was a response to continual Maori land losses as European settlers flocked to the British colony and took land from the indigenous people.
Te Ata became Maori queen in May 1966, the day her father, King Koroki Te Rata Mahuta Tawhiao, was buried, and was immediately catapulted into a role that included mixing with some of the world's most influential people.
She raised the profile of Maori overseas, acting as cultural ambassador for Maori and indigenous people and hostess to most royal and diplomatic visitors to New Zealand, according to the AP.
She dined with dignitaries including Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, South African President Nelson Mandela and U.S. President Bill Clinton.
No successor was immediately announced. The next monarch is to be chosen from among Te Ata's kin in the Kingitanga movement.