The body of Ralph Hotere has been carried onto his home marae at Mitimiti in Northland.
The renowned artist received the country's highest honour, the Order of New Zealand, last year and died in Dunedin on Sunday, aged 81. He had been in poor health since a stroke in 2001.
A Requiem Mass was held at St Joseph's Cathedral in Dunedin on Thursday, but his tangi is being held at his birthplace in north Hokianga.
An Air Force helicopter carrying Hotere's coffin and members of his immediate family landed in a paddock near Tumoana Marae just before 2pm on Friday.
A big crowd was waiting to welcome him home for the last time. Maori warriors greeted the coffin, while schoolchildren performing a haka lined the pathway to the marae.
Among those gathered for the tangihana are artists, politicians and prominent Maori leaders. Hundreds more are expected to pay their respects over the weekend.
Hotere is remembered best by his Hokianga whanau as a loving and generous member.
Ralph Hotere was well-known for his use of black since his "Black" paintings of the 1960s in which he used a variety of methods to give the work depth and sheen.
His Aramoana series expressed his strong opposition to plans to use the Aramoana wetlands near Dunedin for an aluminium smelter, while "Black Warrior" commented on the 1985 sinking of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour.