Former deputy Prime Minister and retired diplomat Sir Jim McLay gave a speech entitled Reflections on a Public Life at the Warkworth Men’s Rebus Club meeting on February 18.
Sir Jim spoke about his time as the consul general in Hawaii, saying it was a “great gig, but not all palm trees and protocol”.
As the Prime Minister’s special envoy, he was sent to Palestine to establish bilateral discussions and to Turkmenistan, where he saw the world’s largest indoor Ferris wheel.
He also recalled his efforts in 2016 to mend the military relationship with the United States which had been a ‘friend, but not ally’ since New Zealand’s anti-nuclear stance in the 1980s. Sir Jim worked with the US navy to facilitate a visit from the USS Samson to Wellington, which then assisted with recovery operations during the Kaikoura earthquake.
Sir Jim said he was part way through writing a book, which will cover the Erebus investigation and the Arthur Allan Thomas decision, as well as his 1984 confrontation with Robert Muldoon.
Though retired and living in Matakana, he still advises a think tank on international diplomacy based in the US. He says New Zealand has a big role to play as a global citizen with an independent voice.