Mourners are at St Matthew-in-the-City for the funeral of activist Penny Bright.

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

People are signing her plain plywood casket before it is taken into the church under a guard of honour with streamers in her favourite colours of black, red an white.

Inside the central city Anglican Church are many of Bright's banners, such as 'New Zealand is a polluted, corrupt TAX HAVEN'.

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Among the mourners are Maori activist Tama Iti and Council of Trade Union convenor Marney Ainsworth who first met Bright in 1996 when firefighters were losing their jobs.

Activist Penny Bright pictured at home in Kingsland in 2014. Photo / Chris Gorman
Activist Penny Bright pictured at home in Kingsland in 2014. Photo / Chris Gorman

"Her contribution has been phenomenal to honest process and getting people off their high horse," said Ainsworth.

Lisa Prager, a close friend and fellow activist, earlier told the Herald the service would be "a state funeral for a fallen warrior".

Bright's partner of 13 years, who simply goes by the name of Julian, also said, "It will be a celebration of her achievements and what she did for Aucklanders. It will be a very Penny Bright funeral."

Despite her illness, Bright 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.

The casket arriving at the funeral for activist Penny Bright. Photo / Doug Sherring
The casket arriving at the funeral for activist Penny Bright. Photo / Doug Sherring

Today, family, activist friends and politicians 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.

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-in-cheek, as "Her Warship".

Prager earlier 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 is to close the public farewell before a private wake for family and close friends.