17 Feb 2011

Late NZ diplomat bestowed Legion of Honour by France

6:01 am on 17 February 2011

France has bestowed a late New Zealand diplomat, Tia Barrett, with the Legion of Honour to recognise his contribution to relations between France and New Zealand.

Mr Barrett died in 2009 while serving as New Zealand's high commissioner to the Cook Islands.

He had advanced to become the most senior Maori in New Zealand's diplomatic service, with postings as a high commissioner to Solomon Islands and Fiji after working and living in New Caledonia and France.

At a ceremony in Wellington, the French ambassador Francis Etienne presented the award of Knight of the Legion of Honour to Mr Barrett's widow, Theresa.

She says her late husband would have been moved:

"He loved the French people and his life, I think he should have been more French than Maori."

Theresa Barrett.