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Tributes to Ian Templeton after 60 years in Press Gallery

Press Gallery—60th Anniversary of Ian Templeton
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister): I seek leave to move a motion without notice on the 60-year anniversary of Ian Templeton working in the press gallery.

Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that course of action being taken? There is none.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister): I move, That the House pay tribute to Ian Templeton of the parliamentary press gallery and acknowledge his remarkable length of service in what is now his final week of covering the proceedings of this Parliament.

Ian Campbell Templeton started journalism in 1946 with the Otago Daily Times, the last of the independent newspapers in New Zealand. In July 1957, he came to the press gallery. Sid Holland was the Prime Minister when he arrived, and the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern is the 15th Prime Minister he has reported on.

Hon Member: Were you there when he arrived?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Ha! No, I wasn't here when he arrived. Ian Templeton, the founding member of the New Zealand Press Council, which he served on for 25 years, was awarded an OBE in 1993 and awarded a CNZM in 2010, and recently he was awarded an honorary doctorate in literature from Massey University.

This is an occasion to acknowledge the presence of his wife, Hannah, and family members in the gallery today, including daughters Jane and Fleur, and two of his eight grandchildren, Harry and Claudine.

Ian, your service to journalism in Parliament and parliamentary reporting has been pretty remarkable. As a journalist, you were amazingly accurate, interested in the details, a repository of deep knowledge, and, because of that, the stand out character in the press gallery. It's hard to see how your achievements can ever be replicated. You will be sorely missed. Ian is at the front of Parliament today.

As we know, Templeton is a Scottish name. As the famous lyric says from the song Flower of Scotland, "When will we see your like again?"


Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (National—Ilam): I rise on behalf of the National Party to join the Government in paying tribute and in expressing admiration and best wishes to Ian Templeton, as moved by the Rt Hon Winston Peters. Ian, it won't have escaped your attention, nor that of your colleagues, that it's not so much an irony but truly a mark of respect that this motion is, in fact, moved by the Rt Hon Winston Peters, and it's something that we would not have expected to see such tribute paid to a doyen of the New Zealand media.
In 60 years of reporting from this place, you've carved an enviable reputation for accuracy, for insight, and for fairness. Your discerning but authoritative interview style has always demanded respect. Over the course of your time here, you've seen some 608 MPs take their seats, and this is your 21st Parliament. I came to this place when you were well past the midpoint of your career, and the then Prime Minister told all of his new intake that if we wanted to know what was going on around the place, just read Templeton, and that the Trans Tasman was a must-have subscription.

I'm told that the mantle of the longest-serving press gallery journalist now passes to a gentleman who's served a 35-year apprenticeship alongside you, but I have to say a look at his work confirms you're a much better journalist than teacher. Well, I can only say to Mr Templeton that you both come from Gore, so you'll appreciate that good things take time.

Ian, you are from a distinguished family, and your significant contribution to the service of public information stands beside the public service of your older brother and your twin brother. We have in this country a very safe democracy, which is in no small part due to the profession that you have taken a lead in so very well. To have your family here today to hear just a little of the regard in which you are held by this institution is, I think, very special.

So we extend to you, to your wife, and to your family every good wish for a long and enjoyable retirement. Can I finally reflect that you came to Parliament in the year of the Black Budget and express a hope that you are not leaving just ahead of the next one.


Hon CLARE CURRAN (Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media): On behalf of the Labour Party, I wish to congratulate Ian Templeton on his 60th year as a press gallery journalist. Sixty years is an incredible amount of time to be in any job, let alone the press gallery. Ian first started working in the gallery in 1957. Many of my parliamentary colleagues here today weren't even born then. Over that time, there's been 17 Prime Ministers and 21 elections. We've seen huge change in our country, and this was all under the watch of Ian.

Ian's commitment to professionalism and integrity sets a high bar for all journalists to aspire to. I've been talking to a few people about you. I hear you've got an uncanny, longstanding, and well-deserved reputation for getting things right. One of the most important elements of this was his ability to gain trust, and the reason that Ian was able to write so accurately was because of the relationships that he built. He was known to have a weekly meeting with Helen Clark, which I'm sure his fellow gallery journalists were envious of. Many of you, of course, know—all of you should know—that Ian's brother Hugh was a Cabinet Minister, and yet, as testament to his professionalism, there was never any indication of leaks coming from him.

I understand that Ian himself says that journalism is a worthy profession and that what he does is for the public good. I think this highlights just how important quality, integrity-based journalism is to health of democracy. Quality journalism is a public good that allows us to be informed about important issues. It allows us to debate issues that are sometimes uncomfortable and confronting. Although I'm sure that many of my colleagues get frustrated at times—and I'm not sure he ever gave me a good rap—quality journalism plays a vital role in keeping accountability in our country, which is the lifeblood of robust democracies.

Once again, on behalf of the Labour Party, congratulations to Ian on his incredible and record-breaking milestone of 60 years in the press gallery.


Hon JAMES SHAW (Leader—Green): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I too want to recognise and congratulate Ian Templeton for his long and outstanding career. As someone who is only 44 and has been in this institution for only 38 months, it just blows my mind, sir, that you have been in journalism for 60 years, and 53 of those in the press gallery. That is an extraordinary achievement.

I note that this is a time of incredible change in the media industry. There are huge pressures going through the industry. Technology is causing huge disruption. Business models are changing, and yet your career has seen radio eclipse newspapers; television eclipse radio; the internet eclipse television; the consolidation of regional papers; the loss of the evening daily papers; fewer journalists doing more, not just more stories but across more and more technology platforms—you have, quite literally, seen it all. And I note also a few of the most historic moments in New Zealand's history: the Wahine disaster, Mt Erebus, even the 1951 waterfront strikes, which you covered in your career, and I do think that that is an extraordinary achievement.

On behalf of the Green Party and everyone in New Zealand who values a strong and independent media, I thank you for your service.


DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT): On behalf of the ACT Party, I'd like to join with other leaders in congratulating Mr Templeton on his extraordinary service. For the avoidance of doubt, the comments that follow have been in no way influenced by Mr Templeton's influence on me being awarded the Trans Tasman Politician of the Year several years ago.

But I would like to say that a free and professional media that reports to the people in a clear, engaging, and transparent way is the essential pillar of a democracy, because it is the first one to go when a democracy is eroded.
I can't think of a better signature of how lucky we have been in New Zealand to have that than someone who has practised it so professionally and so astutely for six decades—a period of time that much like my colleague James Shaw I find it rather difficult to fathom, but I'll take your word for it. And a journalist with an economics degree is a rare but extremely welcome thing too.

So congratulations, thank you for your service, and I hope that what lies ahead is fun and prosperous for you.
Motion agreed to.

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