Sunday, November 28

Sir Michael Cullen remembered as one of New Zealand’s most influential figures

Sir Michael Cullen’s death has brought a flood of tributes, laments and memories from friends, colleagues and politicians of all stripes.

Sir Michael Cullen at the announcement of the Tax Task Force.

Sir Michael Cullen in 2019, announcing the findings of the government’s Fiscal Task Force.
Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Sir Michael left politics in 2009 after a 30-year career, having been Labor finance minister for nine years, deputy prime minister for six and a close confidant of Helen Clark.

He revealed a diagnosis of stage four lung cancer in March of last year and walked away from public service positions as he was told he only has a few months to live.

A public memorial service will be held in Tāneatua in due course, and a private family funeral will be held as soon as possible, and gatherings for funerals will not be allowed under alert level 4 restrictions.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in a statement that the government was mourning the death of Sir Michael.

“New Zealand is so much richer, in every sense of the word, for Michael’s life. He gave his life to make this place better for everyone,” Ardern said.

“He was a great friend to me and to many members of the Cabinet and Labor group. We will miss him terribly and we are sending all our love to Anne and her family.”

“Sir Michael was one of the most influential figures in New Zealand politics for the past 40 years. Smart, funny and kind, he left a significant legacy for the country.”

Robertson said Sir Michael’s contribution to New Zealand’s long-term economic prosperity, as architect of KiwiSaver, NZ Super Fund and Working for Families, was enormous.

“Each of these policies alone would define a political career, but together they represent one of the most significant contributions that any politician has made in recent times,” he said, “for Michael they are only part of his extraordinary contribution to New York. Zealand “.

He said that he would also remember Sir Michael for his little acts of kindness.

“He was always ready with a tip, an idea or just a funny story. He also helped a lot of Labor MPs, often behind the scenes, and without wanting publicity.

“He was loyal to the Labor Party, but was also not afraid to voice his concerns.”

In a statement, National Leader Judith Collins said Sir Michael was a consummate politician, a respected adversary and a man of utter conviction.

“More importantly, he was a man of infrequent and uncompromising principle,” he said.

“When he retired from politics in 2009, such was our respect for him that we drew on his vast skills and knowledge to chair the New Zealand Post and Kiwibank, as well as to appoint him to lead a comprehensive review of New Zealand intelligence agencies.

“He will be remembered as one of our most effective finance ministers, with a long-term vision of what needs to be done to enhance New Zealand’s economic and social prosperity and stability. His passion was to make New Zealand a better place to be. everybody.

“We will all miss Sir Michael’s keen intellect, wit and vast experience, and our thoughts and condolences go out to his family.”

In a tweet, she said she was saddened to learn of his passing, and the party expressed its deepest condolences to his family while acknowledging his many years of service.

ACT leader David Seymour called Sir Michael a “careful finance minister and a resourceful politician,” and thanked him for defending the end-of-life election bill.

In a tweet, Greens co-leader James Shaw said the party was very saddened and that Sir Michael had left a lasting legacy.

More twitter responses

Former Labor leader David Cunliffe:

National Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Gerry Brownlee:

Former National Minister Steven Joyce:

Peter Dunne, Former United Future Leader:

Former MP from NZ First, Mauri Pacific and National Tau Henare:

Former Wellington Mayor Justin Lester:

Musician and documentarian Moana Maniapoto:

Wellington attorney and former journalist Linda Clark:

Poet and writer Bill Manhire:

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