Alf has been saddened to learn that Sir Peter Tapsell has died aged 82.
He is referring to New Zealand’s Sir Peter, the first Maori Speaker of the House, who has died at home in Ruatoria.
It so happens the Brits can boast a Sir Peter Tapsell, a bloke who has had a front row seat for every major event in British politics for the past 50 years and is officially known as Father of the House of Commons.
Stuff gives its readers some basic facts about our own Sir Peter: he entered Parliament in 1981 as the Labour MP for what was then the Eastern Maori electorate.
Before being Speaker from 1993 to 1996 he held the portfolios of internal affairs, arts, police, civil defence, science and forestry.
He retired from politics in 1996.
Sir Peter, who was an orthopaedic surgeon before becoming an MP, was awarded a MBE in 1968 for services to medicine and the Maori people.
Sir Peter has four children – two sons and two daughters.
His tangi will be held at Maketu Marae.
The NZ Herald report added he was the first member of an opposition party to serve as a speaker.
Alf would not normally salute a Labour politician.
But Sir Peter happens to have served a cause that is not mentioned by the Stuff or Herald reports.
He was the Patron of Monarchy New Zealand, an organisation which has posted its own tribute.
Since his retirement, Sir Peter has been actively involved in a number of organizations.
He became the Patron of Monarchy New Zealand in 2000. He 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,” said Dr Sean Palmer, Chair of Monarchy New Zealand. “Monarchy New Zealand valued his advice, support, and encouragement over the years. He will be missed.”
Monarchy New Zealand has the noble purpose of promoting, supporting and defending the constitutional monarchy of New Zealand.
Alf joined up soon after it was formed as the The Monarchist League of New Zealand in 1995 and incorporated in April 1996.
In 2002, the Monarchist League added its weight to the campaign against the Clark Government’s outrageous abolition of appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and the creation of the Supreme Court of New Zealand.
And naturally, in 2009 the group welcomed the reintroduction of titular honours to the New Zealand Royal Honours system after years of lobbying.
Fair to say, the league hasn’t ignored the Key Government’s constitutional follies.
Also in 2009 the group described the decision by John Key’s National Government to allow the Tino rangatiratanga flag to fly from public buildings on Waitangi Day as “potentially divisive”.
Alf was delighted to see somebody express that sentiment – especially an outfit with a highly esteemed Maori as its Patron.
Britain’s Sir Peter Tapsell has been a parliamentarian in a period covering the Profumo affair to the decision to go to war in Iraq.
Sir Peter Tapsell is now officially known as Father of the House of Commons. It’s a title given to the longest continuous serving member of parliament and previously held by former Prime Ministers such as Sir Winston Churchill, James Callaghan and Sir Edward Heath.
Sir Peter was first elected in 1959 when Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister. He lost his seat in the 1964 general election, but returned to parliament in 1966 as the Conservative MP for Horncastle and has remained in the Commons for 46 years.
Now aged 80, the veteran backbencher has served under 10 Prime Ministers, including the present occupant of 10 Downing Street.
That’s an achievement worth saluting, too.