Thousands expected at hometown farewell for Sir Colin Meads
Sir Colin Meads will leave his home in Taruna Place at 12.40pm on Monday for his final journey through Te Kuiti.
The funeral procession will make its way to the Les Munro Centre, where the New Zealand rugby hero's farewell will begin at 1pm.
Before that, on Friday, Maniapoto tribal members will farewell Meads at Te Tokanganui-a-Noho Marae in Te Kuiti.
He will be at the marae from 10am to about 1pm.
For the service on Monday, Waitomo District Council is taking care of all arrangements relating to the Les Munro Centre, traffic management, road closures and parking requirements.
The farewell is expected to attract more than what the centre can hold, Waitomo District Mayor Brian Hanna said.
"Not that we want to put people off," Hanna said. "There will be marquees set up, and live streaming venues around the centre.
Marquees would cover the centre's deck area and seating for 1500 across the road.
"Anyone who can't fit inside the centre will be out of the rain if it rains," Hanna said.
Large screens will be erected in both areas, as well as in the centre itself, and the service will be live-streamed, so everyone will be able to see and hear what's going on.
To avoid traffic congestion, road closures will be in place between 6am and 5pm at King Street East (between the Taupiri Street roundabout and Jennings Street), Jennings Street (between Tawa Street and Esplanade South Road), Esplanade South Road (between the Jennings Street intersection and 81 Esplanade South Road), Anzac Street (at the intersection with Jennings), and Esplanade Road-The Cottage Road (between King Street East and Esplanade North Road/Rata Street).
Alternative parking areas include the old New World Te Kuiti carpark in Te Kumi Road, an open parking area on Carroll Street, an open area next to Skate Park in Carroll Street, an open area opposite Te Tokanganui‐a‐Noho Marae in Awakino Road, and at the Te Kuiti saleyards in Cotter Street.
Shuttle services will be available from the old New World Te Kuiti carpark and the Te Kuiti saleyards to transport people to and from the Les Munro Centre.
The shuttle services start at 11am and will run until 4.30pm.
After the service, Meads will be escorted by his family to Te Kuiti Cemetery for a private burial service.
Accommodation in the area is filling fast for the night of the service.
Motel Te Kuiti owner and manager Therese Russell said Saturday is filling up and both Sunday and Monday are fully booked.
"We anticipated it would be busy. At the statue unveiling, it was the same.
"We've taken a lot of bookings and it's just first in, first serve."
Russell said there has been a shift in atmosphere in the town.
"It's a mix of excitement and mourning.
"The place is looking really lovely and there are plenty of volunteers out helping to tidy up the town."
Waitomo Lodge was in a similar situation, with only a few rooms left on Sunday and no vacancies on Monday.
Manager Kathryn O'Leary said she has a large group from the rugby foundation staying and some members of the media.
O'Leary has put a photo of Meads on the wall of the lodge.
"Monday will be a huge, lovely tribute to Tree. He was a part of the town and so humble.
"It's going to be a huge occasion for the town and a wonderful way to honour the wonderful man he was.
"He'll be sitting up there gobsmacked, I'd say."
What you need to know
The funeral will be held on Monday, August 28, at the Les Munro Centre in Te Kuiti at 1pm.
Te Kuiti township will be very busy. Parking will be at a premium.
Road closures will be in place around the Les Munro Centre.
There are alternative parking locations available in town and a shuttle will be running from the saleyards and the old New World car park to near the venue.
It is recommended that people who would like to attend park and walk.