Hundreds of people were at Hoani Waititi marae in west Auckland on Friday to pay their respects to Gerard Ngawati, of Ngati Hine, who died on Tuesday aged 54.
Waatea News reports he touched the lives of thousands through his championing of Maori touch rugby and other sports, and his work for the Ministry of Education, the Hillary Commission and Skill New Zealand.
Tamaki Makaurau MP Pita Sharples, who worked with Mr Ngawati for more than two decades, says hundreds more mourners saw him off at Hoani Waititi Marae in Glen Eden before he was taken north to Otirira marae near Moerewa.
He says mourners inside the meeting house where Mr Ngawati was lying, were full of emotion and compassion.
Mr Ngawati's funeral service at Otiria marae starts at 10am on Saturday.