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Death of Rt Hon David Lange

14 August 2005 Media Statement

Death of Rt Hon David Lange

Prime Minister Helen Clark today paid tribute to Rt Hon David Lange, who passed away last evening.

Helen Clark said she was deeply saddened by David Lange’s death, which comes after a long illness.

“To the end David was inspirational in his courage in dealing with great pain and suffering. He will be greatly missed.

“David Lange came to politics from the law, where he had established his reputation as a powerful advocate for marginalised people. His strong social conscience developed from his family background and his Methodist faith.

“From the time he entered Parliament in 1977, David was marked out as a future leader. He became Leader of the Labour Party only six years later, in 1983, and then the following year became New Zealand’s youngest Prime Minister at the age of 41.

“David will always be remembered for his strong advocacy of New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy, and for a foreign policy overall which reflected New Zealanders’ values and principles.

“His early visit as Prime Minister to Africa to rebuild New Zealand’s reputation after the damage done during the Muldoon years was also important for New Zealand’s relationships with the wider Commonwealth.

“At home, the economic policies of David’s government were controversial. David himself ensured that critical areas of social policy, like health and housing, were protected from the deregulators.

“I personally will always be grateful for the support David gave me when I became Leader of the Labour Party and then Prime Minister.

“David was a man with a big heart and powerful skills of intellect, oratory, and communication. He was exceptionally quick witted, which showed not only in his great humour, but also in his capacity to master any brief within a short time.

“David Lange was an outstanding and proud New Zealander who left his mark on our country in many ways. His years among us were too short.

“My thoughts today are with his family who have supported David through his years of ill-health and suffering,” Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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