( dpa )- Everest conqueror Sir Edmund Hillary was remembered Tuesday by thousands of fellow New Zealanders as he was honoured with what was reportedly the nation's biggest-ever state funeral in Auckland.
Screens were set up in cities and towns all over the country to watch a live telecast of the service at St Mary's Church in suburban Parnell, where Hillary's casket was taken after lying in state for nearly 24 hours at the city's Anglican Cathedral next door.
Norbu Tenzing , eldest son of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay , who reached the top of Mount Everest with Hillary in May 1953, was among the invited dignitaries at the packed church.
The service began after Sherpas laid traditional scarves across the New Zealand flag-draped casket, with an ice axe resting on top.
The telecast was transmitted by satellite to Nepal and to New Zealand's Scott Base in the Antarctic, which Hillary helped establish 51 years ago.
Hillary was revered in Nepal, where his Himalayan Trust built schools and hospitals for the Sherpa people, and universally loved in his homeland as the most humble of great men in a small nation.
Thousands of people queued for up to two hours throughout the night at the cathedral to pay their respects to Sir Ed, as he was widely known, one of the most admired adventurers of his generation, who died on January 11 at age 88.
Mourners were led by his widow, Lady June Hillary, and included five members of the 1953 Everest expedition, including Jan (then James) Morris, correspondent for The Times of London, who broke news of the successful ascent.