They came from Australia, United Kingdom and down the road in tiny Whangape to bid farewell to Northland rugby league identity Anthony Murray.
More than 1000 people spilled out onto the driveway of Mr Murray's Far North marae on Saturday for his tangi.
The 47-year-old contractor and father of three was farewelled as a rangatira (chief) of Ngati Haua subtribe at Te Kotahitanga Marae in Whangape, 42km south-west of Kaitaia. Mr Murray died suddenly on Tuesday from a suspected heart attack, leaving behind wife Gloria, three adult children Damion, Francine and Para, and 16 siblings.
Mr Murray's identical twin brother Thomas was touched by a rousing haka mourners gave on Saturday.
People had to stand in the driveway because so many people had come to pay their respects, he said.
"The tangi was awe-inspiring. He was sent out as a great chief."
Buses lined the narrow road leading to the new marae, which the rugby league identity had helped build by getting the community working together.
Mr Murray said his brother had replaced a million-dollar view at his recently bought Whananaki home with an equally beautiful vista of his tribal Rangiputa mountain and Awaroa river at Rangitoto Cemetery, Whangape.
Close mate Don Morris described the tangi as incredible. He had known Mr Murray for about seven years through camping at Whananaki.
"He touched so many people's lives. He had so many friends from so many walks of life.
"The kids just worshipped him - he was the guy that got all the kaimoana," Mr Morris said.
Yesterday the former Northland, Northern Districts and New Zealand Maori rugby league representative was paid further tribute when the Northern Storm dedicated to him its surprise 40-22 win against the Wellington Orcas. Mr Murray was a driving force behind the Storm's inclusion into the Bartercard League this season.