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NEW ZEALAND’S SIR PAUL REEVES DIES AT 78 Revered former Governor-General widely mourned

By Gerard Finin Co-Director, Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

HONOLULU (Pacific Islands Report, Aug. 15, 2011) – Sir Paul Reeves, New Zealand's first governor-general of Maori descent, has died of cancer. He was 78.

Reeves, who was also the first clergyman to be appointed head of state, started his career as a deacon in the Anglican Church of New Zealand in 1958.

Over the following twenty years he moved up to become the Bishop of Auckland in 1979 and Primate and Archbishop of New Zealand in 1980.

He took the role of Governor-General in 1985 and served for five years.

In more recent times, he had been the Anglican Observer at the United Nations in New York and represented the commonwealth in talks with Fijian leader Frank Bainimarama.

Last year he led a group of eminent people who called on the government to take firm measures to address the country's "alcohol crisis".

In 2007 he was admitted to the Order of New Zealand, the country's highest honor.

[PIR editor’s note: Sir Paul Reeves is also considered the "architect" of Fiji’s constitution, approved in 1997. The constitution was later annulled by the current regime of Commodore Frank Bainimarama. According to Radio New Zealand International, Akuila Yabaki, head of Fiji’s Citizens Constitutional Forum, said Reeves left a great legacy for Fiji. He noted that a 2009 Fiji court decision upholding the constitution showed its strength - a credit to the work Sir Paul did for Fiji. "Getting rid of race-based voting and bringing the voting age to 18 years of age would bring the country more in line with the vision that was contained in the Constitutional Review Commission which was chaired by Sir Paul," Yabaki said.]

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