Tributes flow for fallen patron

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(SunLive) Tributes are flowing as the nation mourns the death of New Zealand’s first Maori Speaker of the House, Sir Peter Tapsell.

Sir Peter died in his sleep at his Ruatoria Farm on Thursday, April 5.

Sir Peter Tapsell died in his sleep on Thursday.

Sir Peter, 82, entered Parliament as a Labour Party MP in the 1981 election following a career as an orthopaedic surgeon.

At various stages of his parliamentary career, he served as Minister of Internal Affairs, Arts, Police, Civil Defence, Science, Forestry, and Defence.

In 1993, Sir Peter was recommended by National Party Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, as Speaker of the House of Representatives – the first Maori to hold this role.

Acting Prime Minister Bill English says Sir Peter’s considered and dignified manger was a positive influence on a tense Parliament preparing for the first MMP election.

Bill says he was respected by MPs across the political spectrum.

Since his retirement, he has been actively involved in a number of organisations.

He became the Patron of Monarchy New Zealand in 2000 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1997 by the University of Waikato.

He was also one of the first inductees into the New Zealand Order of Merit, as a Knight Companion in 1996.

“New Zealand has lost an eminent public figure. One of the highlights of his career as speaker was hosting the Queen at Parliament in 1995, when she formally opened the Parliament Buildings,” says Monarchy New Zealand chair Dr Sean Palmer.

“Monarchy New Zealand valued his advice, support, and encouragement over the years. He will be missed.”

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