19 Aug 2011

Hundreds attend state funeral for Sir Paul Reeves

7:02 am on 19 August 2011

Hundreds of mourners have farewelled former New Zealand governor-general Sir Paul Reeves at a state funeral.

Sir Paul, a former Archbishop of New Zealand, and latterly the Chancellor at the Auckland University of Technology, died at the weekend after a short battle with cancer. He was 78.

Following a three-day public tangi, the state funeral was held on Thursday at the Anglican Holy Trinity Cathedral in the suburb of Parnell where Sir Paul worshipped and carried out his ministry.

The cortege was met by guards of honour of AUT students and members of the Defence Force just before 11am on Thursday.

Outside, the Cathedral became a marae and Sir Paul was met by a haka and called on by kuia. The casket was then taken inside, where moving tributes were given.

The Archbishop of York told the congregation, which included Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand and Prime Minister John Key, that the Anglican Church and global community have lost one their great iconic figures.

Archbishop John Sentamu said Sir Paul brought prominence to his Maori heritage in a way that honoured and respected all, and his life was about reconciliation and service which he practised in his work around the world.

The Archbishop of New Zealand, David Moxon, said that even as Sir Paul Reeves came to terms with the short time he had left to live, he affirmed his life as a priest and bishop.

"We love him and respect him, because he summed up so much of what it is to be an agent of the kingdom of God in the community of large. He was a hope-pedlar, a joy-bringer, a courage-bearer. In his own words: someone who stands alongside people and searches for common ground."

Sarah Reeves said her father was a big man in many ways, with a booming laugh which could reach across a room.

"He always lived in such a full and vital way, with a huge appetite for life and all it contained, and he felt he had plenty more to contribute. We love you Dad, rest well."

Ms Reeves said his absence leaves a huge hole in the family, but his presence will continue in many ways and the family is comforted by the deep faith he had.

The Reeves family and other members of his Taranaki iwi, Te Atiawa, then attended a private burial in Auckland.

The state funeral service was broadcast live on Radio New Zealand National with commentary from Geoff Robinson and Simon Mercep and can be listened to again on the Radio New Zealand Website.

A life of service

Sir Paul Reeves became Archbishop of New Zealand in 1980 and served as Governor-General from 1985 to 1990.

At the end of his term as Governor-General, he moved to New York as the first Anglican Consultative Council representative at the United Nations.

He chaired a review of the Fiji constitution, which reported in 1996. In 1998, he was among church leaders setting off from Cape Reinga on the Hikoi of Hope against poverty.

In later roles, Sir Paul chaired the Bioethics Council, directed and chaired the QEII National Trust Board, and was briefly Dean of the Maori Anglican Theological College.

Sir Paul was made an Honorary Member of the Order of New Zealand on Waitangi Day in 2007.

He is survived by his wife Beverley, Lady Reeves, and their three daughters.