Sir Wilson Whineray, acclaimed by many as the All Blacks' greatest ever captain, has died in Auckland at the age of 77 after a battle with cancer.
Whineray played 77 matches for the All Blacks, of which 32 were Test matches and the New Zealand team he led in the mid-1960s which featured the likes of Colin Meads, Brian Lochore and Kel Tremain is still regarded as the best All Blacks line-up of all time.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key led the tributes: "Sir Wilson was a great All Black and may have been the greatest captailn we ever had. This is a loss all of New Zealand will feel."
Terry McLean, New Zealand's most distinguished rugby writer, said: "I would unhesitatingly acclaim him as New Zealand's greatest captain."
Whineray, a prop, represented the Waikato, Auckland and Canterbury provinces. He retired in 1966 and went on to a hugely successful business career, chairing the boards of some of New Zealand's largest companies.
He was knighted in 1994 for his services to sport and commerce.
New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Mike Eagle said: "Today is a very sad day. We have lost one of New Zealand's great heroes and for the rugby community we have lost a much-loved patron and champion of rugby."
Former All Black Grant Fox said: "Not only was he a great rugby player but a great contributor to society. He had a remarkable career through many threads of New Zealand society."