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Tribute to Sir George Laking

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand

10 January 2008 Media Statement

Tribute to Sir George Laking

Prime Minister Helen Clark today paid tribute to Sir George Laking, former Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Chief Ombudsman, who passed away last night.

“Sir George Laking was a distinguished diplomat and public servant with an outstanding record of service to New Zealand” Helen Clark said.

“After two decades of service with the Customs Department and then the Prime Minister’s and External Affairs Departments, George Laking was posted to the New Zealand Embassy in Washington in 1949, where he served for seven years.

“He returned to New Zealand to act as Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs, before being appointed as New Zealand’s Acting High Commissioner in London and Ambassador to the EEC in the late 1950s.

“He served with distinction as New Zealand’s Ambassador to Washington in the 1960s at a time of significant political and social developments in the United States.

“He returned from Washington in 1967 and occupied two key public sector leadership roles as Secretary of Foreign Affairs and head of the Prime Minister’s Department until his retirement in 1972.

“He continued to make important contributions to the public sector and to civic life into the 1990s, serving as Chief Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner, as well as chairperson or member of various bodies including the Human Rights Commission, the Public and Administrative Law Reform Committee, the Legislative Advisory Committee, the Wellington Civic Trust and the New Zealand Oral History Archive Trust.

“George Laking was knighted in 1985, becoming a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.

“Sir George gave exceptional service to New Zealand both abroad and at home over more than six decades. I offer today my sincerest thoughts to his children, Mary and Rob, and to his family.”


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