Auckland Grammar honour ex-All Black with heartfelt haka

What's Fresh 07/08/2017

Sir John Graham has been remembered as a loving family man and tireless educator at his funeral in Auckland today, ahead of a stirring haka from Auckland Grammar students.

Sir John, knighted in 2011 after being acknowledged as one of New Zealand's most highly regarded All Black captains and education leaders, died last week at the age of 82.

Former broadcaster Murray Deaker told well-wishers gathered in the Holy Trinity Cathedral, as well as those watching outside on large TV screens, that he will miss his late friend.

"Why is it that men, in particular, have looked up to D J Graham, almost revering him? It's because many of us experienced, in a very personal way, his compassion," he said.

"He had qualities which made him an outstanding leader, a great man, a compassionate educator, a loyal friend and a great family man."

Former educator John Taylor says Sir John was a strong leader for other headmasters to follow.

"He was uncompromising in sticking to the highest of standards, values and principles in education and in life," Mr Taylor said.

"But he was also compassionate - hugely compassionate - and had a wonderful sense of humour."

After his teaching career, Sir John held a number of directorships, including at Renaissance Corp, The University Bookshop and Owens Group.

He was chairman of the NZ Education Scholarship Trust and a long serving member of the Woolf Fisher Trust.

He was also the founder of the Maxim Institute, a public policy think tank, which he directed from 2001 to 2009.

Sir John played 22 tests for the All Blacks, including three as captain, between 1958 and 1964, and was president of the New Zealand Rugby Union from 2005 to 2007. He was also the New Zealand cricket team manager from 1997 to 1999.

In 1999, Sir John was named New Zealander of the Year by North & South magazine, and in 2009 he received the Distinguished Citizen of Auckland Award.

Newshub / NZN