Sprent Dabwido, a former President of Nauru who became an asylum seeker in Australia, died last week in Armidale aged 46.
In 2012 as head of state he signed a refugee processing agreement with then Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
His later years however involved an all-consuming battle with the Nauru government, whom he accused of authoritarianism, corruption and persecution.
In 2018 Dabwido fled his island home, desperately seeking treatment for the cancer that would take his life.
Born in 1972, he was a member of the Eamwit tribe and native of Meneng, the district he would later represent in Parliament.
One of eight children, he was educated at Geelong Grammar in Victoria. High school was followed by university studies in social science.
A keen sportsman and champion weightlifter, he competed for Nauru at the 1995 World Championships in China.
In 2004 he was elected to Parliament on an anti-corruption platform.
As President of the world's smallest republic for two years from 2011 he was outspoken on climate change, paving the way for later Pacific leaders.
In 2012 he allowed the recommencement of regional asylum seeker processing on Nauru, under an agreement he recently described as a "deal with the devil", one that turned from a "helping hand to a closed fist".
The agreement struck between Dabwido and Gillard envisaged resettlement in Australia for refugees, but later transformed into indefinite settlement in Nauru. By then Dabwido had lost power.
He acknowledged his beloved home had become "torture" for some. While he, in typical humble style, was happy to "eat fish and sit on the sand", some had a "different idea of what home is".
A change of government in 2013 in Nauru was a turning of the tables for Dabwido. In 2014, he was one of five members indefinitely suspended from Parliament by the new regime, meaning almost one third of the island's population had no representative in Parliament.
They were suspended from Parliament for speaking to the foreign media and for throwing what the Speaker described as 'unruly tantrums'. Dabwido and his colleagues had been outspoken about the breakdown in the rule of law in Nauru, including the illegal 2014 expulsion of the judiciary of the country.
The parliamentary suspensions were challenged legally, in a case heard by judges chosen by the government to replace the removed judiciary.
The judges controversially ruled they had no role in examining parliamentary affairs, setting the stage for confrontation.
In June 2015, the MPs and hundreds of their supporters marched on Parliament on budget day. Police stopped the procession, armed with a new law banning public association.
Dabwido and others were charged with riot and related offences and a bitter ongoing court case began.
Under his leadership the accused took on the government fearlessly in the courts and the international media, dubbing themselves 'warriors for justice' and becoming known across the region as the 'Nauru 19'.
In 2018 an independent Australian judge appointed to hear the case found the accused were victims of state persecution and could see no prospect of a fair trial.
Justice Geoffrey Muecke permanently stayed the prosecution, labelling the government's actions "a shameful affront to the rule of law".
This included an employment blacklist, the refusal of legal aid, a presumption of guilt, vile attacks in Parliament, interference in the independence of the judiciary, the refusal of passports and for Dabwido, the deliberate attempts to deprive him of health care.
Dabwido was diagnosed with cancer in March 2018 by a visiting doctor in Nauru. He sought a government-funded overseas medical referral but received no treatment until his arrival as an asylum seeker in Australia over six months later. Earlier court-approved travel following heart attacks in 2016 had been thwarted by the Nauru government cancelling his passport.
Despite the best efforts of Professor Smee and the dedicated team at Prince of Wales Hospital, it was too late. The tumour was at an advanced stage and had metastasised.
He lived his last weeks to the fullest - proposing to his partner Lucintha and celebrating their commitment to each other in Little Bay Chapel against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean that connects Australia and Nauru.
He moved with his family and settled into country life in Armidale. Just days before he passed away, he and his extended family enjoyed the open air and feeding camels and horses on an animal refuge farm out of town. His wicked sense of humour had family and friends laughing to the end.
The Nauru 19 judgment is now under appeal. Regardless of which way the appeal judges go, Dabwido has escaped his persecutors but his persecutors have not escaped him. He has told the truth about them and people have listened. He will not be forgotten. He will live on in the hearts and minds of people. As the last days of his life show, actions have consequences. No one knows where the ripple effects of his death will end.
Dabwido is survived by his wife Lucintha and children Eimoma, Kali, Keyman, Keyli and Keiluv who remain in Armidale, and his siblings Eric, Trent and Corrin.