Dannevirke's Town Hall was filled to capacity on Friday for the funeral of shearing identity, commentator, businessman and former Tararua District councillor Koro Mullins.

Mr Mullins, a former Golden Shears Open shearing finalist who for many years with wife Mavis ran major Southern Hawke's Bay employer Paewai Mullins Shearing, died in Wellington Hospital on Monday, aged 65.

Several World and golden Shears champions were among the mourners as Mr Mullins arrived on one of the town's finest days from Makirikiri Marae where he spent his last night with whanau and friends.

Reigning multiple Golden Shears and New Zealand champion and 2014 World champion Rowland Smith spoke on behalf the shearing industry and sports and Mullins' sons Punga and Tuma and daughters Korina and Aria were also speaking.

A crowd outside the Dannevirke Town Hall for Koro Mullins' funeral. Photo / Doug Laing
A crowd outside the Dannevirke Town Hall for Koro Mullins' funeral. Photo / Doug Laing

Shearing had almost stopped for the day in parts of Hawke's Bay and other parts of the country, as the funeral took place with those present including shearing legend Sir David Fagan, who had driven with friends from Te Kuiti, and Labour List MP Kieran McAnulty, who is also the MC at the Golden Shears each year.

Welcoming mourners, Manahi Paewai said Mullins was "a special man who touched our lives in so many ways."

"We thought the marae would have been a bit of a stretch," he said, explaining the decision to move the service from the marae to the Town Hall, which still wasn't big enough.

MC Che Wilson warned: "Today is going to be a different kind of service."

And it was, with clapping in beat across the auditorium as Dr Hook's "When you're in love with a beautiful woman" played to signify the start of the family legacy when teenaged Koro Mullins and eventual wife Mavis Paewai while they worked in the woolsheds for her father and brothers.

His brother, Ronald Hemara, speaking of growing-up around Rotoiti, near Rotorua, said it was to be life-changing, for both the man and the shearing industry.

Rowland Smith said he was a 12-year-old learning to shear when he first met Koro Mullins, and one thing was that the man showed him the same respect throughout the 21 years that followed.

"It didn't matter who you were or where you came from, he treated everyone with the same respect," Smith said.


Other speakers were farmers Colin Simmonds and Brian Pim, and the Mullins' sons Punga and Tuma and daughters Korina and Aria.

More than 200 vehicles followed the hearse for the burial at Paraneha Hori Urupa, across the road from the Paewai Mullins staff quarters east of Dannevirke.