Former All Black Sir Wilson Whineray is remembered as a born leader and a perfect gentleman by teammate Sir Colin Meads.
He died on Sunday, aged 77, at Auckland hospital.
Sir Wilson was 23 when he became All Blacks captain in 1958.
Sir Colin says he was a widely-respected captain, demanding high standards of behaviour from players on and off the field.
A subsequent biography was called Sir Wilson, A Perfect Gentleman.
Sir Wilson was knighted in 1998 for services to sport and business management.
He was chair of the Hillary Commission, a predecessor to Sport New Zealand, from 1993 to 1998.
MPs have offered their condolences to the Sir Wilson's family and friends.
Labour Party leader, David Shearer, says Sir Wilson was a Kiwi icon who led in everything he did.
"He was a fine man, a true leader, a great friend to many, and dearly loved by his family," he says.
Sport New Zealand chief executive Peter Miskimmin said Sir Wilson embodied passion, determination and loyalty.
Sir Wilson spent 34 years with Carter Hotl Harvey, including a stint as chairman after obtaining an MBA from Harvard University. He also chaired National Bank.
Biographer Bob Howitt said he was close to becoming Governor-General but declined to have his name put forward.
He said Sir Wilson achieved everything he wanted to and therefore asked not to be considered for the post.