Sir Wira gets clean bill of health after scare

Sir Wira Gardiner
Sir Wira Gardiner

Former public service high flier Sir Wira Gardiner has been given a clean bill of health and discharged from hospital after concern he was seriously ill with pancreatic cancer.

The Te Papa chairman and founding director of the Waitangi Tribunal, who is Education Minister Hekia Parata's husband, became unwell about four weeks ago and started to rapidly lose weight.

Last week he spent five days in Wellington Hospital, where he underwent tests, and travelled to Auckland for an endoscopy examination in North Shore Hospital.

In a letter to whanau, friends and colleagues yesterday, Sir Wira, who is in his mid-60s, said he had now been given the all clear. "To say that the relief is immeasurable is to demean the word."

The past four weeks had taken a physical toll, including "a rather positive side effect" of losing 10kg. He thanked his family, acknowledging he hadn't always been "the best patient".

"The last time I was ill was when I was in my 20s; so none of my family have seen me in a state of illness."

Despite his wife's "enormous challenges" as education minister, she had made time to look after him.

Ms Parata has been under fire recently for her handling of the reform of Christchurch schools.

Sir Wira expressed his gratitude for the public health service. "After my recent experience I am happy to put my health in the hands of the surgeons, doctors, nurses and staff of the public health system."

He also thanked those who supported him. "I really did appreciate your kind words and generous thoughts; especially during the occasional moment when I started to believe the street rumours about what was wrong with me."

Sir Wira said he would recover at Te Kaha, in the Bay of Plenty, where he would "sit on my veranda, look at the sea, plant some trees and regain my energy levels and mojo".

The Dominion Post