Hundreds of people gathered in Hagley Park today to farewell popular children's author Margaret Mahy.
The 76-year-old died last week after a short illness, and news of her death spread around the world.
A public memorial service began at 2pm at the Hagley Park Geo Dome, with seats for about 700 people filling quickly.
The service opened with Louise Deans describing Mahy's "magical imagination".
"Aren't we just so lucky that we had Margaret Mahy living right here amongst us, and we all knew her and we all loved her, dressed up in her green wig with frogs in it."
She said Mahy was a private person who deserved every award and accolade she received.
Mahy's ashes had been brought to the service so she "can be here with us", Deans said.
Authors, friends and family of Mahy spoke of her intelligence, modesty and sense of humour.
One of her granddaughters said Mahy "danced through life", often literally.
"[She] often broke out in a can can in the school car park."
She described her grandmother as the "most soulful, intelligent ... person I've known".
Mahy was an "eccentric undoubtedly", she said.
Fellow author and friend Rosie Belton spoke of Mahy's love for Governors Bay, and the harbour town's love for her.
"Margaret was a much loved member of the Governors Bay community. She is remembered as someone who always made time for people."
A note left on the local school's sign summed up the way the town felt about the author, Belton said.
"Thanks Margaret, rest in peace."
Daughter Penny Mahy earlier said she wanted to involve the people of Christchurch because the city had been Mahy's home for a long time.
''We want to include all the people who she might have had contact with and who might have wanted to say goodbye,'' she said.
Two former library colleagues, Sue Colyer and Louise Easter, spoke about their friend of more than 40 years.
Mahy used to sing sea shanties and recite long poems to help make tedious tasks like shelving books go quickly, Easter said.
"She made the time go quickly," Colyer said.
Fellow Governors Bay resident Rose Eastwood was often mistaken for Mahy by children at the local school.
"She was the loveliest lady," she said.
Eastwood wore a bright wig to today's service as it "epitomises" Mahy's colourful personality.
"She was so entertaining," Eastwood said.
The service included readings of parts of Mahy's books, photograph displays, a montage of family movies and songs from a choir of children.
Close family held a private funeral service for Mahy on Monday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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