Whanganui district councillors, dignitaries, whanau and friends gathered at Putiki Marae today to pay their respects to former deputy mayor Rangi Wills.

Mr Wills died on Monday night at home with his family, after battling cancer.

A Tupoho Working Party meeting scheduled for the afternoon was cancelled to enable councillors to visit the marae where Mr Wills was lying.

An extraordinary council meeting on Tuesday opened with a minute's silence before Mayor Hamish McDouall adjourned the meeting. He left the council chamber visibly upset.


About 50 people gathered at the marae in the afternoon ahead of Mr Wills' funeral service, to be held on Thursday starting at 11am.

Although not re-elected at this year's local body election, Mr Wills had a 12-year unbroken run on local council following his election in 2004.

He was lauded as a humble, gentle man, with a quiet dignity, and who immersed himself in the community serving on numerous boards and committees.