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Loss of QPEC patron

Media release: Quality Public Education Coalition

Loss of QPEC patron

We were deeply saddened to learn of the death this morning of Sir Paul Reeves, who has acted as QPEC’s patron since our organisation was formed. Sir Paul was a great leader, a role model, a gentle and unassuming man with a great sense of humour, and a staunch friend to us.

We offer our thoughts, sympathy and condolences to his wife Beverly and his family. Te hinganga o te Totara haemata o te waotapunui a Tane - A mighty tree has fallen in the forest of Tane.

Paul made a large contribution to New Zealand in terms of the struggle of Maori for a place in the sun and on behalf of marginalised groups everywhere.

We were delighted when he accepted the invitation to become patron of QPEC in 1997. At that time QPEC had been launched to defend high quality public education against attacks from the Business Roundtable and Act/National politicians. Paul was happy not only to lend the mana of his name to the cause but to serve in an active role. Whenever he was available he agreed to chair public meetings - even on the most controversial topics such as the National government campaign to introduce bulk funding to schools in the 1990s.

Paul chaired several public meetings including a particularly fiery meeting of several hundred at the Auckland College of Education. Throughout he kept a dignified presence and a sense of humour which leavened the atmosphere but kept the politics of the situation in focus.

He also took an active part in supporting QPEC in the our campaign to get a better deal for children with special education needs under Special Education 2000. We know that he held many important roles in our society, but to us he was always a strong champion on behalf of those without power or fortune.

His passing is a serious loss to progressive politics and to our organisation, as well as to the whole of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Liz Gordon
National Chairperson, QPEC

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