Farewell, Paul East, our first Master of Ceremonies

Paul East was the Master of Ceremonies at the First Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture held on July 4, 2011 at Stamford Plaza Auckland (INL Photo by Narendra Bedekar)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, February 28, 2023

It is with deep regret that we report the passing away of Rt Hon Paul East, former Minister of the Crown, Attorney General and Public Law Consultant in Rotorua on February 27, 2023.

He was 76 years old and suffered from cancer for some time.

Mr East lived in Rotorua and was its elected Member of Parliament for 21 years from 1978 to 1999.

He served as a Minister in the Jim Bolger government and took a tour of duty as High Commissioner to Britain in 1999.

Mr East was the Master of Ceremonies at the inaugural Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture held on July 4, 2011 at Stamford Plaza Auckland (now J W Marriott Auckland) at which John Allen, then Secretary and Chief Executive, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Humourist and Humanist

With his deep-rooted knowledge of law and quality governance and a super sense of humour, Mr East was one of the finest Masters of Ceremonies to grace not only our Lecture but also other Indian Newslink events.

He was a distinguished son of New Zealand, with a brilliant career of more than 50 years almost as a Lawyer, Politician, and Diplomat. His final assignment was as a Public Law Consultant at Bell Gully (Wellington), one of the largest legal firms in New Zealand. He advised the firm’s clients on several legal issues and provides representation within the parliamentary and legislative framework.

Mr East has appeared before Parliamentary Select Committees on behalf of companies and organisations and made representations on a wide range of government regulations and legislation.

Beginning his career as a lawyer in 1971, Mr East was elected to the Rotorua City Council as Councillor and Deputy Mayor in 1974. Four years later, he was elected to Parliament. His government portfolios included that of Attorney General, Minister in charge of Audit Office, Serious Fraud Office, Crown Health Enterprises, Defence, Corrections and War Pensions.

He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1995 and Her Majesty’s Privy Council in 1998. He was later New Zealand’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, (with simultaneous accreditation to) the Republic of Ireland and Nigeria.

As well as being the Lead Negotiator for the Crown for Ngai Tuhoi Negotiations and Governor of Radio New Zealand, Mr East was on the board of several commercial and charitable organisations. Queen Elizabeth II appointed him as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in her Birthday Honours 2005 in recognition of his services to Parliament and the Law.

Protecting informants

In her tribute, National Party President Sylvia Wood said that Mr East led the charge on issues considered important across the political divide without fanfare.

She cited as an example, his work on the protection of whistle-blowers and his role as the Leader of New Zealand’s 1995 opposition to nuclear testing in the Pacific, which was heard at the International Court of Justice.

“In 1996, as State Services Minister, Paul introduced the Protected Disclosure Bill to give legal protection to whistle-blowers. His affability and commitment to his country were highly regarded not just by the National Party but by his colleagues across the House, with both Helen Clark and Mike Moore praising him in their valedictory speeches,” Ms Wood said.

She said that it is always challenging for the families of politicians.

“The indelible legacy that Mr East left on National Party and New Zealand are testament to the sacrifices they, and Paul made. On behalf of the National Party, I extend my warmest gratitude to Paul’s family for the contribution they made to our country through their support of his career in public life,” Ms Wood said.

National Party Leader Christopher Luxon said that Mr East was an exceptionally dedicated Member of Parliament for 21 years, and proudly represented the people of Rotorua for 18 years as their electorate MP.

“In Jim Bolger’s National government, Paul was Attorney General for seven years and advocated significant international issues. He also served as Minister of Defence towards the end of his tenure in Parliament, before spending three years as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom,” he said.

 

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