"Queen of Ngati Hine" Mary Going, matriarch of a Northland rugby dynasty, was a tower of strength to her large family.
She was fit and well when she celebrated her 105th birthday with a picnic at Paihia earlier this month, her robust health failing only about a fortnight before her death at Maromaku on Tuesday.
"Mum's mind was always strong - it was just her body which got a bit weaker. There was no illness. It was like she had decided it was time for her to go," her All Blacks legend son Sid, 69, said yesterday.
While Mary had shown few signs of her great age, the family had known her time was running out and had been praying the end would be quick and painless. Thankfully, it turned out that way and the family, while grieving, was not finding it hard to accept her death.
"She had a good life," Sid said, recalling her as a wonderful mother whose favourite statement was: "Honesty is the best policy".
Another of Mary's rugby star sons, Brian, 67, said he and his siblings were blessed to have a mother who was "a shining light to us - she was very inspirational".
"She taught us to sing and play the piano and she would take us to the beach on holidays," he said.
Brian and Sid both described how Mary got them and their late elder brother Ken involved in rugby, following that up with support for her grandchildren playing sports.
Mary, daughter of Takahiwai farmer Tautohe Paki and his wife Emily (nee Pitman), married Maromaku farmer Cyril Going in 1935. Cyril was a widower with six children and the couple had another six. The big brood left Mary with 54 grandchildren, 160 great-grandchildren and 38 great-great-grandchildren.
Referred to by some family members as the "Queen of Ngati Hine", Mary touched many hearts during her long life, so the Church of Latter Day Saints at Maromaku is expected to be overflowing for her funeral service at noon tomorrow.
NZ First leader Winston Peters - whose family ranks alongside the Goings as the most prominent in Northland - is expected to be among the mourners. In a eulogy sent to the Advocate yesterday, he said New Zealand rugby and its fans owed Mrs Going a big debt of thanks. Praising her community work, Mr Peters said she was highly respected by the European community and would be sorely missed by her iwi.
After the funeral, Mary will be buried in the Maromaku Lawn Cemetery alongside Cyril, with their son Ken and many other whanau nearby.