A State funeral was held in Auckland this morning for Bishop Sir Paul Reeves
(December 1932 – August 2011)
Sir Paul was someone I have known about and admired for all of my adult life. He was the first person of Māori descent to be appointed Governor-General of New Zealand (the Governor-General represents the Queen and is our Head of State). Before that he was Bishop of Auckland, and later Archbishop of New Zealand. He also held a number of other diplomatic and advisory posts, including Anglican Observer at the United Nations, and Assistant Bishop of New York; he chaired the Nelson Mandela Trust. For the last 11 years he was the Chancellor of the Auckland University of Technology.
Paul Reeves was a tall, good-looking man with considerable presence and dignity - what we in this country call "mana". He was also a great and good man, always humble; he was the first GG not to have come from a privileged background, being the son of a working class Wellington tram driver. Moreover, he was the first non-military and non-judicial holder of the office. In 2007, having received NZ’s highest possible honour, he summed up his life’s work as, “fundamentally, I’m a priest of the Anglican Church…I’ve helped good people do good things.”
I found it especially moving to learn that on his State coat-of-arms, his official motto was Whakarongo, which simply means "Listen'.
Kua hinga he totara i te wao nui a Tane*
*(a huge tree has fallen in the forest)