The body of prominent West Auckland kaumatua, Denis Hansen, has been carried on Thursday evening onto the marae he helped to build.
Mr Hansen died on Wednesday when his car crashed on the north-west motorway.
Waipareira chief executive John Tamihere says when Denis Hansen turned 80 recently, friends and whanau had to hire the Civic to fit in 2000 well-wishers and tell his life story.
Mr Tamihere says it was the story of a generation of northern Maori who left their rural homes in the 50s and 60s for Auckland to look for work - and suffered the impact of being cut off from whanau support, language and culture.
He says Denis Hansen was a towering figure in the task of retaining and rebuilding that culture and his contribution to Waipareira and the Hoani Waititi marae was immense.
Mr Hansen's body will be taken from Hoani Waititi - and returned to his home marae, Te Paatu, near Kaitaia for burial.