4.00pm - UPDATE

Around 1,000 people have turned out on a drizzly Dunedin day to pay their respects to the late Janet Frame.

The public memorial service was held at the Dunedin Town Hall for the world-renowned author, who died from cancer last month aged 79.

The service, A Tribute to the Life and Work of Janet Frame, was planned partly by Frame.


Frame chose the hymn Praise My Soul the King of Heaven, and it was to be performed today by the City of Dunedin Choir and accompanied on the Dunedin Town Hall organ by organist Kemp English.

Close friend, writer and widow of James K Baxter, Jacquie Baxter, was to read from Frame's autobiography, and nephew Neil Gordon was to speak for the family.

Others expected to speak at the service were Governor-General Silvia Cartwright and authors CK Stead and Michael King.

A sound recording of Frame reading an unpublished poem Friends Far Away Die, was to be played.

Dunedin City Council spokesman Rodney Bryant says it was a moving service.

He says several literary figures gathered along with other dignitaries, including Prime Minister Helen Clark and Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, for a wonderful tribute to her life.

Before the service Prime Minister Helen Clark said she was looking forward to honouring Frame's memory .

"I think it will be a celebration of Janet Frame's extraordinary life and talent, a time to remind ourselves as a country of the great writing she produced over a very long period of time, which helped define New Zealand literature," she told National Radio.