Tributes continued today as a tangi for former governor general Sir Paul Reeves began in Auckland this afternoon.

Sir Paul, New Zealand's first Maori governor-general, lost his battle to cancer yesterday, aged 78.

The casket of the former Anglican Bishop of Auckland and Archbishop of New Zealand arrived just before 2pm at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which has become a marae for his tangi.

Sir Paul's body will remain at the church until Thursday, when a state funeral will be held at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Parnell.

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Sir Don McKinnon, chairman of Regional Facilities Auckland and former Commonwealth secretary general, said today Sir Paul was an international figure of distinction through his involvement with the United Nations and the Commonwealth.

"As Commonwealth Secretary General, I appointed him my special envoy to Guyana where his valuable work in assisting political parties in their dialogue process after a series of difficult elections was widely recognised. I believe he visited Guyana at least 15 times in this capacity and I know he will be missed by many in that country,'' Sir Don said.

"Sir Paul was also the Commonwealth's Special Representative to Fiji, a role which he retained at the request of the present secretary general. He was also deputy leader of the Commonwealth Election Observer Group to South Africa and was later the leader of the Commonwealth Election Observer Group to Ghana during their difficult general elections.''

Sir Don said Sir Paul's other international roles included being the Anglican Consultative Council observer at the United Nations and chairman of the Nelson Mandela Trust.

"During all these international engagements he always worked extremely hard and was highly regarded for his patience and wisdom by all he came into contact with,'' Sir Don said.

Wellington City Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said that Wellington City, alongside the entire nation, was feeling the loss of Sir Paul.

"Sir Paul was a man who served his church, his iwi, and the people of New Zealand,'' she said.

"He will be fondly remembered as a statesman, a leader and someone who looked to unite the diverse communities and groups of people that call New Zealand home.

"He did it with grace, intelligence and humility. He stood up for the most disadvantaged members of our community and influenced decision-makers.

Ms Wade-Brown said Sir Paul put others before himself and would be remembered as a role model, and a leader; a modest person with a great sense of humour.

"I always appreciated his gentle guidance. Sir Paul will be sorely missed by family, friends, colleagues and the entire nation,'' she said.

Wigram Progressive MP Jim Anderton said Sir Paul was a pathfinder who brought a strong sense of morality and humanity to his work for New Zealanders.

"He worked for social justice with dignity and integrity. His concern was always for New Zealanders to care for others.

"He worked tirelessly against divisiveness -- between rich and poor, and between races. And he was a strong champion of opportunities for young New Zealanders, especially those who started out with few advantages,'' Mr Anderton said.

- NZPA