Former Governor-General of New Zealand Paul Reeves dies aged 78

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reeves was the 15th Governor-General of New Zealand
Image: Horowhenua Historical Society.

Sir Paul Reeves, the 78-year-old Anglican Archbishop who became the first Maori and first cleric to be the Governor-General of New Zealand, died on Sunday in Auckland after a battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Beverley, Lady Reeves, three daughters and six grandchildren. His body has been lying in state in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Newton, Auckland. The state funeral, scheduled to occur on Thursday in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Parnell (the first there since that of Sir Edmund Hillary in 2008), is expected to be attended by thousands of mourners.

Sir Paul Reeves was born in Newtown, Wellington in 1932, and was educated at Wellington College, Victoria University of Wellington, St John's College, Auckland and St Peter's College, Oxford.

He was appointed Bishop of Waiapu in 1971, then Auckland in 1979, and then Primate and Archbishop of New Zealand in 1980. Other roles included Chairman of the Environmental Council from 1974 to 1976 and President of the National Council of Churches from 1984 to 1985.

He was appointed the fifteenth Governor-General of New Zealand in 1985 by David Lange despite doubts about his outspokenness and whether a cleric could serve as Governor-General. Since serving as Governor-General until 1990, he has held several other positions; he served on Commonwealth observer teams in South Africa and Ghana, a commission reviewing the Fiji constitution, and for three years was Anglican Observer to the United Nations. He was appointed to the Order of New Zealand, New Zealand’s highest honour, in 2007.

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