4 Jun 2012

Former deputy PM Sir Brian Talboys dies

10:27 pm on 4 June 2012

Former New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Sir Brian Talboys has died at the age of 90.

Sir Brian, an agricultural journalist turned farmer, was elected to Parliament in 1957.

He held several ministerial portfolios in the government of Sir Keith Holyoake, including agriculture and trade and industry.

When National returned to office in 1975, he was deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs under Sir Robert Muldoon.

In 1980, disaffected members of the National Government sought to install Sir Brian as Prime Minister in place of Sir Robert, whose leadership they found overbearing. The plot failed, and Sir Brian resigned the next year anyway.

Former Radio New Zealand political editor Richard Griffin said Sir Brian's gentlemanly ways prevented the coup from succeeding.

"The leadership was on the plate for Brian Talboys ... but on the way back from Europe, when Robert Muldoon was staggering to hold on to the leadership, he resolved in Singapore that it was not a gentlemanly or a decent thing to do to challenge if you are deputy leader, and he literally stepped away from the breach."

Sir Brian's life after Parliament focused on promoting foreign relations between New Zealand and Asia.

Prime Minister John Key says Sir Brian was a gracious, articulate politician who was always looking for solutions and represented the best of the pragmatic tradition of the National Party.

Mr Key says he had a truly international view of New Zealand's place in the world and was a strong advocate of the country's trade interests during a time of profound change.

Sir Brian Talboys died on Sunday.