Sir Michael Cullen remembered as one in every of NZ’s most influential figures

Sir Michael Cullen at the Tax Working Group announcement.

2021-08-20 05:41:50

The dying of Sir Michael Cullen has introduced an outpouring of tributes, laments and remembrances from pals, colleagues and politicians of all stripes.

Sir Michael Cullen at the Tax Working Group announcement.

Sir Michael Cullen in 2019, asserting the findings of the federal government’s Tax Working Group.
Picture: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Sir Michael left politics in 2009 after a 30-year profession, having been a Labour finance minister for 9 years, deputy prime minister for six and an in depth confidant to Helen Clark.

He revealed a stage-four lung most cancers analysis in March final 12 months and stepped away from public service roles, having been informed he could solely have months to stay.

A public memorial service can be held at Tāneatua sooner or later, and a personal household funeral service will happen as quickly as it might probably happen, with gatherings for funerals not permitted beneath alert stage 4 restrictions.

‘He wished to make a distinction’ – Helen Clark

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark labored with Sir Michael for 40 years and informed RNZ his dying was not surprising nevertheless it was very very unhappy information.

“He was an totally reliable deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. You can throw any massive and knotty downside at him, he would discover a resolution for it,” she stated.

“My ideas are with Anne Collins – Michael’s accomplice – and his household. This isn’t surprising nevertheless it leaves an enormous hole of their lives, and an enormous hole in our nation’s life given the very substantial contribution that he made.

“With out his braveness, willpower, insights – brilliance, actually – we’d not have been in a position to do most of the issues that we had been in a position to do as a authorities.”

Sir Michael John Cullen KNZM is a former New Zealand politician. He served as Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand, also Minister of Finance, Minister of Tertiary Education, and Attorney-General.

Sir Michael John Cullen created the NZ Tremendous Fund to assist with pensions prices sooner or later.
Picture: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

She stated he got here from humble origins and was a big-picture thinker who wished to make a distinction, to raised individuals’s lives.

“He was deeply dedicated to creating New Zealand a spot that everybody might really feel happy with and really feel they’d a stake in. A really dedicated social democrat – that comes via strongly in his ebook – I believe that was what drove him.

“I believe after we keep in mind Michael we’ll keep in mind the general public face which was the witty, the intelligent, the fast on his face in Parliament. We also needs to do not forget that he was a shy particular person, he lived a really modest way of life, really fairly a humble particular person and I believe the best tribute we are able to make to him is that he made a distinction for the higher.

“If every of us did that, our world could be a greater place.”

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff entered Parliament with Sir Michael in 1981 and spent greater than 30 years working with him, and stated he was one of many sharpest minds there.

“It is actually unhappy information … his fast wit, he was a terrific debater,” he stated.

“He was constant, he labored laborious, he was on prime of his portfolios – significantly the finance portfolio – and he was one of many strengths, I believe, of the Clark Labour authorities.”

The legacy of Sir Michael was implausible and left New Zealand in nice form financially to have the ability to deal with the worldwide monetary disaster and the Christchurch earthquake, Goff stated.

“He was not solely the minister of finance … he was additionally a strategic chief and labored intently with Helen and the remainder of us… If there was an issue and anyone wanted to be pulled out of their regular portfolio obligations to give attention to that downside and discover a resolution to it, Michael was the individual that Helen would go to.

“In addition to being remembered for these issues I am positive that he would have wished to be remembered for the sturdy values that he held and his large dedication to having a good society.”

‘Probably the most influential figures’

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson stated in an announcement the federal government was mourning Sir Michael’s dying.

“New Zealand is a lot the richer, in each sense of the phrase, for Michael’s life. He gave his life to creating this place higher for everybody,” Ardern stated.

“He was a terrific buddy to me and to most of the Cupboard and Labour caucus. We are going to miss him terribly, and we’re sending all our like to Anne and his household.”

“Sir Michael was probably the most influential figures in New Zealand politics over the past 40 years. Clever, humorous and type he left a major legacy for the nation.”

Robertson stated Sir Michael’s contribution to New Zealand’s long-term financial prosperity – because the architect of KiwiSaver, NZ Tremendous Fund and Working for Households – was huge.

“Every of those insurance policies on their very own would outline a political profession, however taken collectively they symbolize probably the most vital contributions any politician has made in current occasions,” he stated, “For Michael they’re solely a part of his extraordinary contribution to New Zealand.”

He stated he would additionally keep in mind Sir Michael for small acts of kindness.

“He was at all times prepared with a chunk of recommendation, an perception or only a shaggy dog story. He additionally helped many Labour MPs out, typically behind the scenes, and never wanting any publicity.

“He was loyal to the Labour Occasion, but additionally not afraid to voice his issues.”

‘A revered adversary’

In an announcement, Nationwide chief Judith Collins stated Sir Michael was a consummate politician, a revered adversary and a person of absolute conviction.

“Most significantly, he was a person of unusual and uncompromising precept,” she stated.

“When he retired from politics in 2009, such was our respect for him we referred to as on his huge expertise and data to chair New Zealand Publish and Kiwibank, in addition to appointing him to guide a wide-ranging evaluate of New Zealand’s intelligence companies.

“He can be remembered as one in every of our only ministers of finance, with a long-term view of what wanted to be finished to boost to New Zealand’s financial and social prosperity and stability. His ardour was to make New Zealand a greater place for everybody.

“Sir Michael’s eager mind, wit and huge experience can be missed by us all, and our ideas and condolences are together with his household.”

In a tweet, she stated she was saddened to be taught of his passing, and the celebration prolonged deepest condolences to his household whereas acknowledging his a few years of service.

ACT chief David Seymour stated Sir Michael was a “cautious Finance Minister and quick-witted politician”, and thanked him for advocacy on the Finish of Life Alternative Invoice.

In a tweet, Greens co-leader James Shaw stated the celebration was significantly saddened, and Sir Michael had left an everlasting legacy.

Extra twitter responses

Former Labour chief David Cunliffe:

Nationwide’s Overseas Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee:

Former Nationwide minister Steven Joyce:

Former United Future chief Peter Dunne:

Former MP for NZ First, Mauri Pacific and Nationwide Tau Henare:

Former Wellington mayor Justin Lester:

Musician and documentarian Moana Maniapoto:

Wellington lawyer and former journalist Linda Clark:

Poet and author Invoice Manhire:


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