Sunday, August 14, 2011

Commonwealth Envoy to Fiji & Former NZ GG Dies of Cancer

A Tribute to Sir Paul Reeves
by Sai Lealea
14 August 2011

NZ is today mourning the death of its former GG, Sir Paul Reeves, who was also the Commonwealth envoy to Fiji. NZ's PM, John Key, has labelled him as "one of NZ's best statesmen". A state funeral is being organised by the government and tributes have poured in from all quarters of society and the world for Sir Paul's work around the globe.

Fijians will remember Sir Paul for his undying effort to bring Fiji back into the fold of the commonwealth, and before that, his work in writing Fiji's 1997 Constitution. He was no doubt very disappointed at the intransigence of the current illegal regime to listen to entreaties and advice from the commonwealth about resolving the current situation in Fiji. Despite his valiant attempts, he was met at every stage by a leader and regime that did not want to relinquish power and to return Fiji to democratic rule. In the end, he deduced it was nigh impossible to move things forward in Fiji because of the very entrenched position of the current illegal PM. What a shame for Fiji and its people. 

Those of us keen to see Fiji return to the family of civilised nations, can only salute Sir Paul's contribution to Fiji's ongoing attempt to rid itself of coups. Fiji therefore owes a debt of gratitude to him for his sterling work. We all pray that the day will soon come when we can realise the results of what Sir Paul has been part of working to achieve for Fiji.

A down to earth, kind and very humble person, Sir Paul has that common touch that makes him easy to approach. I recalled an instant at the Open Day for the National Museum in Wellington, Te Papa, after his term as GG, where he greeted us as a family and on finding out we were from Fiji engaged us in conversation. He told us about his work in Fiji on the 1997 Constitution and his love for the people and country. He impressed me with his knowledge and belief in the potential of the country if differences can be addressed. No doubt this was the same sense of belief that drove him to again become the Commonwealth envoy following the 2006 Coup. In this regard, sadly, Fiji has indeed lost a true friend and, like NZ, must also be in mourning.

Coup Four Point Five has posted a story on Sir Paul's passing which is reproduced in full below.

Posted on Coup Four Point Five - 14 August 2011

FIJI ENVOY: Reeves with  Commonwealth Secretary General, Shamlesh Karma.

The former governor general of New Zealand who was involved in trying to resolve the political crisis in Fiji after its coups has died of cancer.

Sir Paul Reeves was one of the architects of the amended 1997 Constitution and was instrumental in getting Fiji reinstated into the Commonwealth in the late 90s, although it was later suspended.

In Auckland in 2009 with Fiji community.
He chaired the Fiji Constitution Review Commission in 1995 and 1997 and in recent years was still involved in trying to resolve the political crisis in Fiji.

Reeves was the special envoy for the Commonwealth and made a number of trips to Fiji to try and negotiate a return to democracy.

In Auckland last year with Jai Reddy.
In recent years, he said the political environment in Suva under the helm of Voreqe Bainimarama was different and difficult.

One of his last appearances in the world of Fiji politics was at the launch last year of the  book on Jai Ram Reddy (Eye of the Storm)in Auckland .

Reeves said he   disagreed with the direction Fiji was being taken, noting that: " ...sometime soon, fundamental and far reaching decisions will have to be made about Fiji’s Constitution, the whole issue of freedoms and responsibilities and about the way in which the country conducts its affairs."

Editor's Note: Reeves revealed several weeks he had cancer and died in Auckland this morning. 


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