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Acting Prime Minister Bill English has paid tribute to Sir Peter Tapsell, who passed away in Ruatoria on Thursday night.
“I was saddened to learn of Sir Peter’s death and my thoughts are with his family at this time,” Mr English said.
“As the first Maori Speaker of Parliament in 1993, Sir Peter’s considered and dignified manner was a positive influence on a tense Parliament preparing for the first MMP election.
“He was respected by MPs across the political spectrum for his independent, thoughtful and direct style.
“Sir Peter was also highly active in many Maori and medical organisations and charities.”
He was a member of Parliament from 1981 to 1996 and elected Speaker of Parliament from 1993 to 1996 - the first member of an opposition party to serve in the role. He had previously been a minister across a range of portfolios, including internal affairs, arts, police and defence.
“Sir Peter will be remembered for his wide and varied contributions to New Zealand, which extended well beyond politics,” Mr English said.