The former Wellington policeman whose battle against the health system led to subsidised treatment for people with brain tumours died yesterday.

Dave Bowman's 17-month fight with a terminal brain tumour ended at a hospice, where he was surrounded with his wife Penny, his parents and two best friends.

After the tumour was diagnosed in January last year, the 36-year-old spent much of his time looking for a cure for his illness.

He found a drug called Temozolomide which was being successfully used in Toronto but was shocked to learn it was available in New Zealand - at a cost of up to $6500 a month.

Mr Bowman and his family paid for the drug through fundraising but also worked tirelessly to promote the need for the drug to be subsidised through Pharmac.

His story featured on an Inside New Zealand television programme.

By May Pharmac agreed to subsidise the drug for some patients but it would not extend it to patients with relapsed or recurring glioblastomas - the most common and deadliest type of brain cancer.

It was a bittersweet victory for Mr Bowman as he was not eligible for the subsidy.

"He was really rapt though that the subsidy came in on the first of May for the newly diagnosed patients," said Mrs Bowman.

"Even though he was quite unwell ... people started phoning us and emailing us saying, 'Thank you so much. You have made such a huge difference in our lives.' ... Dave really got a lot of joy out of that in the last few weeks."

Mrs Bowman said her husband had been bedridden for about a month and his condition worsened on Sunday.

She said his quality of life had been improved by the drug as it gave him time to do things with his two sons that he would not have otherwise been able to do.

"Our eight-year-old shot his first rabbit with his dad, they caught their first snappers together, that kind of thing. I think he wouldn't have been well enough to do that if he wasn't on the drug."

A service will be held on Tuesday at the Southwards Car Museum Auditorium in Wellington where Mr Bowman raised $80,000 last August to help pay for his treatment and a trip to America to attend a brain tumour conference.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor will MC the "celebration and commiseration" of Dave's life, which the public are welcome to attend at noon.

"The family's really proud of what he managed to achieve in such a short space of time," said Mrs Bowman.