St Matthew-in-the-City, the spiritual home of the socially marginalised in Auckland, will be festooned with the protest banners of Penny Bright to farewell the activist at 2pm tomorrow.

"It will be our version of a state funeral for a fallen warrior," says Lisa Prager, a close friend and fellow activist organising the funeral.

These sentiments are shared by her partner of 13 years, who simply goes by the name of Julian.

"It will be a celebration of her achievements and what she did for Aucklanders. It will be a very Penny Bright funeral," he said.


Bright died 10 days ago at Mercy Hospice, aged 64, after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

She was still battling Auckland Council to establish how much ratepayers' money was spent pursuing her refusal to pay rates on her Kingsland home in a quest to "open the books".

"She was still talking politics on her deathbed. That was the nature of the woman," said Julian.

Tomorrow, family, activist friends and politicians will gather inside the central city Anglican Church that has opened its doors to gays and lesbians, held civic memorial services for the victims of Aids and welcomed Nelson Mandela to thank New Zealand for its role in ending apartheid.

Apartheid in South Africa put Bright on the path to political activism when she started a branch of HART - Halt All Racist Tours - while at Kuranui College in the Wairarapa in the early 1970s.

Penny Bright during a public meeting at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall to discuss Auckland Council rates increases in 2015.
Penny Bright during a public meeting at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall to discuss Auckland Council rates increases in 2015.

The veteran protester shot to prominence in Auckland 20 years ago through the Water Pressure Group, set up to oppose user pays for water. She was evicted and dragged from council meetings, arrested more than 40 times and was not afraid to harangue mayors, bureaucracy, police and the judiciary.

She stood, unsuccessfully, for Parliament and the Auckland mayoralty on numerous occasions, referring to herself, tongue and cheek, as "Her Warship".

Prager said the church will be filled with "as much good humour, love and laughter as we can muster".

"It will be a celebration and taste of her wonderful life and who she is."

Prager and other activist friends will be among the speakers. There will be poems and readings and a "very uplifting" song in the middle of the service.

Julian will close the public farewell before a private wake for family and close friends.