Gordon, a convert to league from rugby union at which he was blockbusting wing three-quarter and fullback for King Country, played for and coached Bay of Plenty and the Kiwis in the 1980s.
Following his New Zealand tenure, Gordon coached London Crusaders and Hull in the United Kingdom.
International success on his elevation to Kiwis coach in 1987 was immediate.
His Kiwis beat Australia 13-6 in his first game, a surprise despite a build-up of two games in Australia.
Though the next four internationals against Australia were lost, Tank Gordon retained his popularity with league’s hierarchy, taking the team to the World Cup finals in 1988.
He had previously achieved World Cup finals distinction as a Kiwi player in 1975.
Gordon was replaced as coach in 1989.
Though his record for the times was impressive – he had replaced the high profile Graham Lowe – divisions within the Kiwis became apparent after he was replaced as coach.
In 1996, back in Rotorua, he turned to the 15-man code coaching the Kahukura senior rugby side.
Gordon was worked for Te Wananga o Aotearoa for the last 10 years, where he headed Tuia, the union representing the majority of wananga academic staff.
The wananga’s chief executive, Bentham Ohia, said today was sad as it marked the loss of an exceptionally talented man.
Tank was a man who was hardworking, humble, and was committed to helping others.”
Though in declining health in recent years, Gordon continued to advocate strongly for the staff he represented. ”Tank continued to use his range of skills to advocate for the best outcomes for those he represented,” Mr Ohia said.
Although Tank was not Maori, his wish was to have a tangi. This will start today at the Taiwere Campus of Te Wananga o Aotearoa (on Malfroy Road, Rotorua)