Sir John died peacefully on Wednesday night after a short illness with cancer. He was 82.
Born in Stratford, Taranaki, Sir John played 22 tests for the All Blacks, including three as captain, between 1958 and 1964, and was president of the New Zealand Rugby Union from 2005 to 2007.
He also managed the New Zealand cricket team from 1997 to 1999.
Sir John attended New Plymouth Boys' High School and went on to be headmaster of Auckland Grammar School for 20 years, from 1973 to 1993 and Chancellor of the University of Auckland from 1999 to 2004.