Several hundred people gathered in Glendowie today to farewell Frank Ryan, the father of actress Lucy Lawless and a long-time Auckland politician.

Family, friends and former city council colleagues are among the mourners at the Sacred Heart College Chapel.

The gathering heard that Lawless was unable to be present.

Ryan died on Friday, aged 84, surrounded by his wife Julie, and their children.

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Ryan was at the heart of conservative city politics in Auckland for more than a generation.

He was the mayor of Mt Albert from 1968 to 1989, when central Auckland's suburban city and borough councils were folded into the Auckland City Council in a huge restructuring.

Elected to the amalgamated council on the Citizens and Ratepayers Association ticket, Ryan chaired the powerful finance committee and was a key supporter of mayor Les Mills.

Lawless, who rose to fame as the star of Xena: Warrior Princess, paid tribute to her father on Facebook at the weekend, saying he was: "A wonderful husband, father and grandfather.

"So we celebrate his life, his many kindnesses and his public spiritedness.

"From humble beginnings, he made a sensational job of it.

"He was lots of fun, Mayor of Mt Albert . . . Shine on!"

A requiem mass was held for Ryan at Sacred Heart College's chapel in Glendowie.

Among former Auckland City Council members to attend were Mills, former deputy mayor Bruce Hucker and Ryan's C&R colleagues Doug Astley, Colin Davis and Juliet Yates.