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The Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau was adorned with huge wreaths of flowers and tapa cloth as Fatialofa's family and friends, many of them in traditional Samoan dress, filed in.
Among the famous faces in the crowd were rugby greats Michael Jones and Va'aiga Tuigamala.
Tonight's memorial service will be followed by Fatialofa's funeral tomorrow morning before he is buried at the Manukau Memorial Gardens.
The New Zealand-born Samoan rose to prominence when he captained the Manu Samoa team in the 1991 Rugby World Cup, leading them to the quarter finals.
Fats, as he was affectionately known, played for Manu Samoa until 1996, the same year he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to rugby.
His service to Samoan rugby continued to the end, as he was coaching the women's Samoan rugby team in their quest to play at next year's Rugby World Cup in France.
Prior to that, he had coached the East Tamaki premier side and contributed to the Auckland Rugby Union Council of Delegates representing Samoan rugby interests.
He died suddenly in Samoa last Wednesday.