Dick Quax had some special requests for his funeral today.
The former world 5000m record holder and Olympic Games silver medallist died on Tuesday, aged 70, after suffering for some time with cancer.
His coffin was carried into the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell before the service started at 1pm.
Among guests were fellow Olympian John Walker, Auckland mayor Phil Goff and National MP Judith Collins.
Broadcaster Brendan Telfer told mourners Quax had requested his wife Roxanne Bakke find out if he could be farewelled in the cathedral.
Quax also wanted Telfer to give special thanks to the runner's family for their support through his illness.
Quax also wanted special mention made of anonymous New Zealanders who give their own blood. This helped extend his life, receiving blood donations.
Telfer described Quax as an outstanding New Zealander and said he always enjoyed Quax's company.
"I could talk athletics with Dick for hours. We discussed politics too. We were probably at opposite ends of the political spectrum," he said.
Passion, challenge and determination and intelligence were his characteristics, Telfer said.
Quax's wife, said he was her soulmate.
"I will always treasure every moment we were blessed with."
She praised his determination.
"You had such an amazing capacity to do so much."
His daughter Tania said her father remained positive and never complained despite facing numerous medical problems.
The service was being conducted by the Very Rev Anne Mills, the dean.
"Dick was a gentleman through and through," Mills said.
Quax's sisters-in-law gave readings from the bible - Isaiah and Philipians.
Quax's sister read a poem, My Sweet Ballad.
"I love you Dick. I'm so proud that you're my brother."
Lorraine Moller, an Olympic marathon medallist who as coached by Quax, said he was the leader of a new era in New Zealand running.
She said that when she went to the start line she felt like she was going to the executioner to have her head cut off and she asked Quax what he felt about it.
He told her: "When I go to the start line I know I'm the best. I stand there and I look around and I go 'Look at all the people I'm going to beat'."
Moller told the funeral congregation that this was not arrogance; it was his belief in himself.
Moller communicated messages of condolence, respects and support from other former top athletes New Zealanders Allison Roe and Rod Dixon and the American Frank Shorter.
Dick was the eldest of his family.
He was called Dickie from childhood, which became Dick once the family had shifted to New Zealand from the Netherlands.
In 1954 their parents decided to shift to New Zealand, arriving October 10 that year.
The family lived in a rabbiter's cottage inland from Timaru.
The family later shifted to the Waikato.
Like typical farm boy's Dick and his brother had to do farm chores.
Quax attended Hamilton Boys' High School where he was more interested in sport than academia.
He joined harriers and athletics clubs and by his mid-teen was running a big weekly mileage.
Quax was one of the outstanding New Zealand and international athletes of the 1970s.
He made his international debut at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, where he won the silver medal in the 1500m behind Kip Keino.
He was admitted to the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and again in 2005 as a member of the New Zealand cross country team that won the world title in 1975.
Quax came to New Zealand with his family from the Netherlands in the 1950s
He was elected to the Auckland Council and was previously a member of the Manukau City Council.