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Sir Brian Talboys had a significant career as a political leader in New Zealand. He was a Minister of Education who managed to remain popular with educationists while not damaging his political career. He was deputy Prime Minister and a leader in international economic diplomacy, especially as a major force in the negotiation of the Closer Economic Relations Agreement with Australia. Had he been willing to give more priority to his personal interests and less to obligations of loyalty- to the Prime Minister of the day, to his political party and to the wishes of the electorate - the "colonel's coup" of 1980-81 might have made him Prime Minister.
Within such a stellar career of political leadership, it was far from insignificant that Sir Brian was the first chair of the New Zealand Committee for Pacific Economic Co operation (this became New Zealand Pacific Economic Co-operation Council). His political links were important in gaining government funding for the only occasion on which the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council has held a General Meeting in New Zealand. PECC VII was held in Auckland in 1989. At that time, the convener of the General Meeting chaired PECC, and as such, Brian was the first representative of PECC at an APEC meeting.
As was the case with Kenin Vautier, Sir Brian's successor and my predecessor as chair of NZPECC, for many years I fielded enquiries and expressions of goodwill about Sir Brian from the PECC founders - Jusuf Wanandi, Hadi Soesastro, Narongchai, Nobuo Matsunaga, Bobby Romulo, et.al.
Sir Brian retired to his ancestral home and political base in the Deep South of the South Island. I wrote to him in Winton after PECC meetings. He remained interested in events and personalities and I recall he told me once that my report was welcome relief from the task set him by his mother (sic) - harvesting a field of potatoes.
I also recall the contrast between the suave city politician and sophisticated citizen of the world and Asia Pacific in particular who I knew in Wellington and the Brian I saw when, by coincidence, I drove past Lake Hayes in his electorate as he addressed an assembly of his rural constituents.
PECC was an important component of the distinguished life of public service led by Sir Brian Talboys.
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