Statement on Hon Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan ONZ

  • Gerry Brownlee
  • Christopher Finlayson
Education Prime Minister

Acting Prime Minister, Gerry Brownlee, and Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Christopher Finlayson, expressed sadness on behalf of the Government today at the death of Hon Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan ONZ on Wednesday 20 July after a short illness.

“Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan was an inspiring leader of her people and a genuinely great New Zealander,” Mr Finlayson said. "She was a graceful and charming person who cut short her academic career in early 1967, after the death of her father, to return to New Zealand to enter political life.”

Hon Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan was a Member of Parliament between 1967 and 1996, making her the longest serving woman in the history of the New Zealand Parliament. She held the positions of Minister of Tourism, Associate Minister of Social Welfare, and Minister for the Environment.

"Her death is a terrible loss to her husband, Denis, and her children, May-ana and Tiri. On behalf of the Government, we extend to them our deepest sympathy for their loss."

In 1993 she was made a Member of the Order of New Zealand, the highest award that can be made by the New Zealand government.