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Paul Reeves

The Right Reverend and Right Honourable
Sir Paul Alfred Reeves
Chancellor of Auckland University of Technology
In office
1 January 2000 – 13 August 2011
15th Governor-General of New Zealand
In office
22 November 1985 – 20 November 1990
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister David Lange (1985–1989)
Geoffrey Palmer (1989–1990)
Mike Moore (1990)
Preceded by Sir David Beattie
Succeeded by Dame Catherine Tizard
Personal details
Born (1932-12-06)6 December 1932
Wellington, New Zealand
Died 14 August 2011(2011-08-14) (aged 78)
Auckland, New Zealand
Nationality New Zealand
Spouse(s) Beverley Watkins
Profession Anglican Bishop

Sir Paul Alfred Reeves GCMG GCVO KBE QSO KStJ ChStJ CF (6 December 1932 – 14 August 2011) was Archbishop and Primate of New Zealand from 1980 to 1985 and the 15th Governor-General of New Zealand from 22 November 1985 to 20 November 1990. He was the first Chancellor of Auckland University of Technology.


  • Origins & Education 1
  • Ministry as deacon and priest 2
  • Ministry as bishop, archbishop, and primate 3
    • Involvement in politics 3.1
      • New Zealand republic 3.1.1
  • Governor-General 4
    • Appointment 4.1
    • Tenure 4.2
    • Controversies 4.3
  • Retirement 5
  • Honours and other awards 6
  • Arms 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Origins & Education

Reeves was born in Wellington in 1932, the son of D'arcy Reeves by his marriage to Hilda Pirihira, who had moved from Waikawa to Newtown, a working-class suburb of Wellington. Hilda was of Māori descent, of the Te Āti Awa iwi; D'arcy was pakeha and a tram driver; he died in 1950 aged 52.

Reeves was educated at Wellington College and at Victoria College, University of New Zealand (now the Victoria University of Wellington), where he graduated BA in 1955 and MA in 1956. He went on to study for ordination as a priest of the Anglican Church of New Zealand at St John's College, Auckland, receiving his Licentiate in Theology in 1958.

Ministry as deacon and priest

Reeves was ordained deacon in 1958. After serving a brief curacy at Tokoroa, he spent the period 1959–64 in England. From 1959 until 1961 he was an Advanced Student at St Peter's College, Oxford (BA 1961, MA 1965) as well as Assistant Curate at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. He was ordained priest in 1960. He served two further curacies in England, first at Kirkley St Peter (1961–63), then at Lewisham St Mary (1963–64).

Returning to New Zealand, Reeves was Vicar of Okato St Paul (1964–66), Lecturer in Church History at St John's College, Auckland (1966–69), and Director of Christian Education for the Anglican Diocese of Auckland (1969–71).

Ministry as bishop, archbishop, and primate

In 1971 Reeves was appointed Bishop of Waiapu and consecrated to the episcopate. He was Bishop of Auckland 1979–85 and Archbishop and Primate of New Zealand 1980–85.

Involvement in politics

During this time he also served as chairman of the Environmental Council (1974–76); he was a supporter of Citizens for Rowling (the campaign for the re-election of Labour Prime Minister Bill Rowling); and he served as president of the National Council of Churches in New Zealand (1984–85).

New Zealand republic

In 2004 Reeves made a statement in support of New Zealand republic, stating in an interview, "...if renouncing knighthoods was a prerequisite to being a citizen of a republic, I think it would be worth it."[1]



On the advice of Prime Minister David Lange, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Reeves the 15th Governor-General of New Zealand on 22 November 1985. His appointment was met with some scepticism due to his previous political involvement in Citizens for Rowling, opposing the 1981 Springbok Tour, and the fact that he was an Anglican bishop. The Leader of the Opposition, Jim McLay opposed the appointment on these grounds,[2] stating "How can an ordained priest fulfil that [constitutional] role?" However, many Māori groups welcomed the appointment, with Sir James Henare arguing that "It must be a fruit of the Treaty of Waitangi to see a person from our people."[2] He was the first (and up to the present the only) cleric to hold the post. Moreover, as a member of the Puketapu hapū of the Te Atiawa of Taranaki, he was the first governor-general to be of Māori descent.


Reeves in 1990

During his term, Sir Paul joined the Newtown Residents' Association, and invited members of that association to visit Government House, Wellington. He hosted the first open day at Government House on 7 October 1990, and employed the first public affairs officer, Cindy Beavis, to promote the Governor-General's role.[2]

Reeves remained in office until 20 November 1990. He was succeeded by Dame Catherine Tizard.


During Reeves' tenure, the Fourth Labour Government made radical changes to the New Zealand economy, later known as Rogernomics. In November 1987 Reeves made comments critical of Rogernomics, stating that the reforms were creating "an increasingly stratified society".[2] He was rebuked for these comments by Lange, but later stated in May 1988 "...the spirit of the market steals life from the vulnerable but the spirit of God gives life to all".[2] Reeves later recalled that this marked a "parting of ways" with the Government.[2]

He also recalled "I had a little sense of being left alone and felt that I needed to be taken into the loop more, or be taken seriously."[3] Reeves wrote to the Queen, but did not receive replies directly from the Queen. He said "I used to write to the Queen and express my opinion about this and that going on it [sic] the country and I wouldn't get a direct reply from her but I would always get a lengthy reply from her private secretary, which I took was expressing her viewpoint."[3]

On a state visit to Vanuatu in 1989, Reeves was invited to kill a pig at a ceremony, creating controversy as he was patron of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.[2]


After his retirement from the vice-regal office Reeves became the Anglican Consultative Council Observer at the United Nations in New York (1991–93) and Assistant Bishop of New York (1991–94). From 1994 until 1995 he served briefly as Dean of Te Whare Wānanga o Te Rau Kahikatea (the theological college of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa, and a constituent member of St John's College, Auckland). He was also Deputy Leader of the Commonwealth Observer group to South Africa, Chair of the Nelson Mandela Trust, and Visiting Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at the University of Edinburgh.

Reeves went on to chair the Fiji Constitution Review Commission from 1995 until 1997, culminating in Fiji's readmission to the Commonwealth, until its suspension in 2000. On 12 December 2007 it was reported that Reeves was involved with "secret talks" to resolve Fiji's year-long political crisis, following the 2006 Fijian coup d'état.[4]

He served as the inaugural Chancellor of the Auckland University of Technology, from its creation in 2000 until 2011.

In July 2011, Reeves announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer, and therefore was retiring from all public responsibilities.[5] He died of the cancer August 2011, aged 78.[6]

Honours and other awards

Reeves was awarded the

Preceded by
Norman Alfred Lesser
Bishop of Waiapu
Succeeded by
Ralph Vernon Matthews
Preceded by
Eric Austin Gowing
Bishop of Auckland
Succeeded by
Bruce Carlyle Gilberd
Preceded by
Allen Howard Johnston
Archbishop of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Brian Davis
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir David Beattie
Governor-General of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Dame Catherine Tizard
  • Biography at Holy Trinity Cathedral website
  • Official biographies of former Governors–General of New Zealand
  • Radio NZ interview, 8 May 2011 Sir Paul talks extensively about his life and work with interviewer Chris Laidlaw. (Listen directly or download options)

External links

  1. ^ "Ditch Queen, say former Governors-General". New Zealand Herald. 14 November 2004. Retrieved 2 August 2006. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Maclean, Gavin (November 2006). The Governors – Governors and Governors-General of New Zealand. Otago University Press.  
  3. ^ a b  
  4. ^ Michael Field (11 December 2007). "Reeves holds secret Fiji talks". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 13 December 2007. 
  5. ^ "Former Governor-General diagnosed with cancer". ONE News. 26 July 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  6. ^ Hayden Donnell, NZPA and NZ Herald staff (14 August 2011). "Sir Paul Reeves dies, aged 78". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 48959. p. 5422. 22 April 1982. Retrieved 20 March 2008.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 50155. p. 1. 15 June 1985. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 50315. p. 15781. 12 November 1985. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 50416. p. 1373. 30 January 1986. Retrieved 20 March 2008.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: no. 50488. p. 5191. 15 April 1986. Retrieved 20 March 2008.
  12. ^ "Special Honours List".  
  13. ^ "Changes to rules around use of title" (Press release). New Zealand Government. 17 July 2006. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 


Arms of Paul Reeves
The arms of Paul Reeves consist of:
Upon a helm with a wreath Argent and Azure a circlet of the Maori poutama stepped pattern, stantant thereon a tui or parson bird (Prosthemadera novaseelandiae) Proper holding aloft in its dexter claw three feathers Argent their quills crossing in base.
Per pale and per chevron embowed and enhanced Argent and Azure, three mitres (two and one) the infulae adorned with the Maori pitau kowhaiwhai pattern and three estoiles (one and two) all Counterchanged, in the fess point a royal crown and cap of estate Proper.
On the dexter a brown kiwi (Apteryx australis) and sinister a kotuku or white heron (Egretta alba) beaks downward Proper each gorged with an ancient crown and supporting with the interior foot crozier Gold with the shaft adorned with the Maori pitau kowhaiwhai pattern Proper.
A grassy mount with fern fronds growing therefrom Proper.
Whakarongo (Listen)


Changes to the rules in 2006 allowed him to use the style The Honourable for life.[13]

The University of Oxford conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Civil Law in 1985 and his college, St Peter's, appointed him an Honorary Fellow in 1981 and a Trustee in 1994. A Fellowship of St John's College, Auckland followed in 1989. He has received other honorary degrees, including an LLD of Victoria University of Wellington (1989), a DD of the General Theological Seminary, New York (1992), and the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Edinburgh (1994).

On Waitangi Day 2007 he was awarded New Zealand's highest honour, being admitted to the Order of New Zealand.[12]

There was some concern regarding Reeves' using the title Sir, as members of the clergy in the GCMG from the Queen, he was already Sir Paul.

. Companion of the Order of Fiji. Reeves was also made a Companion of the Queen's Service Order In 1990 he became a [11] on 2 March 1986.Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order and a [10] in 1986,Knight of Justice of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem a [9]

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