The funeral is underway for former Race Relations Commissioner Hiwi Tauroa.

The man who represented New Zealand during the infamous 1981 Springbok Tour, died aged 91 earlier this week.

Around 300 people from throughout the country have travelled to Te Pātūnga Marae in Whangaroa for the service.

Hiwi Tauroa's grandson Raniera Kaio says mourners are filling two large marques, while microphones and speakers have been dotted around the marae grounds so everyone can take part in the service.

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Immediate family had their last moments with Hiwi's open casket around 9.30am, as guests began to arrive.

The casket was closed before the service began around 10am.

Speakers are touching on Tauroa's life in education and his rugby career.

"Following the service he will be taken to the family cemetery," said Kaio.

"It was blessed on Friday using dirt on top of his father, grandfather and great grandfather so that a connection can be made"

A lunch will be held for friends and whanau later today.

"I think he will be remembered as a personal hero and as an example," said Kaio.

"He's been sick for quite a few years and we were lucky enough to have him for the last 10 or so years"

"He's left a very big hole in our hearts and will be missed dearly."

Hiwi Tauroa was the Race Relations Commissioner during the Springbok Tour of '81 and was instrumental in the anti-apartheid campaign and supporting marches through the streets of Auckland.

He was principal at Auckland's Wesley College from 1968 to 1974 and Tuakau College from 1974 to 1979.

Tauroa was also a Māori All Black from 1951 to 1954, and later coached the 1979 Counties NPC Championship team. His love for rugby continued throughout the years and he travelled often to watch his beloved Counties play.