NZ honours Nelson Mandela

03:28, Dec 12 2013

Religious leaders, politicians, and hundreds of mourners gathered in Wellington today to honour former South African president Nelson Mandela.

At a memorial service at TSB Arena, New Zealand politicians described Mandela as a global icon with an incredible story and an ability to speak to the world's collective heart.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said it was not easy to sum up the influence of a man like Mandela in just a few minutes.

"His story is an incredible story, not least for his 27-year imprisonment," he said.

"There is one thing that lifts him above his peers ... his decision to pursue a peaceful reconciliation and not focus on retribution after apartheid."

The decision was crucial to South Africa's peaceful emergence and development, Joyce said.

Labour spokesman for foreign affairs David Shearer said living in Mandela's time had been a privilege.

"Rest in peace, Nelson Mandela - you have done your duty, and our world is much, much better for it," he said.

In addition to today's memorial, a condolence book is available for signing between 10am and 2pm at the South African high commission until tomorrow.

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