Friends, family and fans of the late Andy Haden have gathered at Eden Park for a funeral service to remember the All Blacks legend, who passed away last week after a long battle with cancer.

Haden died at the age of 69 last Wednesday morning in Auckland after recently suffering a cancer relapse.

In 2003, Haden confirmed that he had chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and was undergoing treatment.

The former lock, who played 117 matches and 41 tests for the All Blacks between 1972 and 1985, is considered one of the greats of the game.

Advertisement

He also captained the All Blacks on eight occasions.

Haden's family have set up a Givealittle page in his honour to support the nurses who helped him at Auckland Hospital.

Andy Haden. Photo / Photosport
Andy Haden. Photo / Photosport

1.30pm: Friends and loved ones gather at Eden Park

A service to remember Haden is being held at Eden Park's 5th floor lounge in the North Stand at 1.30pm today.

Former All Blacks John Hart, Sir Bryan Williams and others close to Haden will speak at the funeral.

Hart, who coached Haden at the backend of his career, has begun his eulogy.

Hart says there were clear instructions from Haden in regards to the service.

"He did not want a religious service."

Advertisement

Haden wanted a celebration of his life with friends and family.

Matching his well-known stubborn nature, Haden didn't want to be cremated or buried.

Hart described the message of love and support following Haden's death as "beautiful".

Andy Haden in 2003. Photo / Photosport
Andy Haden in 2003. Photo / Photosport

The service at Eden Park is being attended by a range of people, including Haden's former teammates from Auckland's 1980s teams and members of Haden's "beloved" Ponsonby rugby club.

Haden was on the Blues board for three years from 2006, which Hart admits surprised him, saying he never thought he would last so long in such a role.

Many of Haden's golfing friends are also in attendance, along with people he mentored throughout his business ventures.

Advertisement

Hart has welcomed the first speakers to the stage, Haden's son Christopher and daughter Laura.

Hart says the role the two have played in supporting the wider Haden family has been "magnificent".

The children's eulogy has been followed by a poem delivered by two family representatives.

2pm: John Hart on his friend of 40 years

John Hart, Ian Botham and Andy Haden during a practice round for the New Zealand PGA championships at The Hills, Arrowtown in 2013. Photo / Photosport
John Hart, Ian Botham and Andy Haden during a practice round for the New Zealand PGA championships at The Hills, Arrowtown in 2013. Photo / Photosport

Hart has returned to the front describing more of his 40-year friendship with Andy Haden.

Hart says Haden was an "integral part" of Auckland's success and future when he took over as coach back in 1982.

Advertisement

During a discussion between the two, captaincy came up, which Haden assumed Hart was handing him.

Based on the values required, Hart believed the captain should be someone else.

But Haden admitted he was happy to play under him.

2.10pm: Sir Bryan Williams on Haden's rugby career

Hart introduced the next speaker, former All Black Sir Bryan "BG" Williams.

Williams says Haden thrived while playing for the Ponsonby Ponies, forming a formidable lineout.

Advertisement

Haden soon made the Auckland side, and Williams described him as a colossus in Auckland's victory over Northland in 1972, that saw them take the Ranfurly Shield.

Williams describes Haden's infamous fall in a lineout against Wales in 1978 as "written in rugby folklore".

After Haden's "fall" the All Blacks gained a penalty that was kicked, and handed them a 13-12 win. Many called Haden's act as unsportsmanlike.

Haden always said there were two kinds of rugby players in Auckland - those who played for Ponsonby, and those who wish they did.

Andy Haden. Photo / Photosport
Andy Haden. Photo / Photosport

Williams says Haden was never short of mischief. In 1973 Auckland lost 32-3 to Canterbury down south. The coach imposed a curfew on the team afterwards, which didn't go down well with Haden.

At 2am, Haden ignored the curfew and prank called a teammate, pretending to be his wife. Haden then passed the phone to the coach.

Advertisement

Haden and wife Trish were known for being trail blazers for women's sport in New Zealand. Back in Haden's playing days, women weren't allowed to attend after match functions, but the two often ignored those rules.

Williams says female athletes in the modern day should thank the Hadens for their support.

Williams says the Ponsonby, Auckland and New Zealand rugby public have lost a huge figure. Williams assures he will never be forgotten.

2.25pm: One of the greatest All Blacks of all time

Williams has left the podium and Hart has returned, who is adding on the work done by the Hadens for women's sport.

Hart says those were special days when men and women would join after games to celebrate.

Advertisement

Hart says many controversies in Hadens career may have stunted his ability to emerge as one of the very best All Blacks of all time, on a similar level to Colin Meads.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson and All Blacks coach Ian Foster is also in attendance.

A video is now playing representing the best of Haden's career.

Plenty of Haden's highlights shown in the video - including a long range try against the Wallabies, hoisting the Ranfurly Shield, and many impressive lineout grabs, attesting to his title of one of the very best catchers.

Of course, who could forget that controversial fall against Wales in '78 which also featured in the montage.

2.40pm: Kevin Ramsey on Andy Haden - the businessman

Advertisement
Andy Haden and Kevin Ramsay during a cocktail party for the New Zealand Pro-Am championships at The Hilton, Queenstown in 2012. Photo / Photosport
Andy Haden and Kevin Ramsay during a cocktail party for the New Zealand Pro-Am championships at The Hilton, Queenstown in 2012. Photo / Photosport

Hart returns to the podium, introducing a long-time friend Kevin Ramsey who will now speak.

As well as working in business ventures, Haden and Ramsey played for Auckland in the late 1970s and early 80s.

The duo formed Sporting Contacts Ltd, a marketing and management agency, which represented sports people and other celebrities.

Just like in his rugby career, Ramsey says Haden demanded excellence in business.

After highlighting some of Haden's business exploits and influence, Ramsey departs the stage saying "farewell old friend". He says his life experiences are richer thanks to Haden.

A montage of photos picked by his family is playing with two of Haden's favourite songs in the background.

Advertisement

3pm: Friends pay tribute to Andy Haden

Former All Blacks coach John Hart attends the funeral service for Andy Haden at Eden Park. Photo / Getty
Former All Blacks coach John Hart attends the funeral service for Andy Haden at Eden Park. Photo / Getty

The final speaker has been introduced, Wayne "Pope" Collins, one of Haden's golfing buddies.

Collins says Hart, who will join him on-stage soon, knows the gentle nature of Haden as much as he did.

Collins and Hart are reading quotes from other friends.

The messages include tributes from former All Blacks Grant Fox and David Kirk, as well as former broadcaster Murray Deaker.

Sir John Kirwan and Rachel Hunter have also contributed.

Advertisement

Collins recounts his time playing golf with Haden, which started in 1989. He says there were a few scraps between the two on the course.

Collins finishes by reading a poem chosen by Haden.

Hart returns to wrap up the service.

Conveying his final message, Hart makes an analogy to his game.

Like his lineout jumping, Hart says Harden soared heights that others dream of.

Referencing a lock's workload, Haden was a workhorse in his pursuit of excellence.

Advertisement

Hart says New Zealand is a better country because of Haden, a legend of rugby but also a great man.

"We will miss you, rest in peace dear friend."

Former and current rugby players are forming a guard of honour as Haden's coffin is carried out.

A haka is being performed.