The mood in Te Kuiti remains sombre this morning as locals and outsiders arrive to pay their respects at the bronze statue of the rural town's legendary All Black.

At Te Kuiti Primary School the noticeboard reads 'RIP Sir Colin Pinetree Meads'.

"Everyone's really deeply saddened by it," Te Kuiti principal Melissa Anderton said.

"Especially the boys who are into rugby, he's like their icon, the person they're aiming to be, so it's a shame for them."

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Sir Colin attended the school as a child and has continued his involvement, opening a new building at the school and donating rugby balls and jerseys for auctions and fundraisers.

The school's sports coordinator Sarah McElroy was among many parents who took their children to visit his statue early before school.

Even the youngest children in Te Kuiti knew Meads, she said.

"If they saw him in town they could approach them. He would talk to him... You would see him at rugby games, until he was unwell. The little kids' ripper rugby he would pop down to watch, any of the big games - he was definitely a face in the community."

Throughout the morning a steady trickle of people have arrived at Meads' statue, some taking selfies. The pile of flowers at his feet has grown and a korowai has been tied around his shoulders.

Brothers Jake, left, and Robbie Robertson, from Wairoa, were visiting family in Kerikeri and called in to pay their respects on the way home. Photo / Dubby Henry
Brothers Jake, left, and Robbie Robertson, from Wairoa, were visiting family in Kerikeri and called in to pay their respects on the way home. Photo / Dubby Henry

Brothers Jake and Robbie Robertson, from Wairoa, were visiting family in Kerikeri and called in to pay their respects on the way home. Jake said Meads was "a warrior to us".

"He's a legend of rugby."

Both play the game in Wairoa. They are too young to have seen Meads play but heard plenty about him and have seen the old replays, Robbie said.

"When I was growing up I was always the biggest person in the rugby team and I always tried to copy him. He was an inspiration to all of us."

They were "gutted" to hear Meads had died, Robbie said.

"We knew he was sick when they unveiled this [statue] but we didn't know it was that bad."

The Flower Fairy opposite the statue is the only florist in town and also stocks the supermarket. When she heard of Meads' passing florist Christine Flexman - who's on maternity leave - came back in to lend a hand.

"It keeps us pretty busy at the best of times. We know that Colin's a very respected man in the community and in New Zealand as well so we had to be prepared," she said.

Trade has been steady but they're expecting a busy week ahead of the funeral on Monday.

"In a small community you really notice everybody come together at these sort of times. Everybody's got something nice to say about Colin and the Meads family in general. They're a pretty great family."