Former UN diplomat Malcolm Templeton dies

Malcolm Templeton at the Colonial Motor Company annual general meeting in Wellington in 2010.

Malcolm Templeton at the Colonial Motor Company annual general meeting in Wellington in 2010.

Malcolm Templeton QSO, a former Foreign Service officer, diplomat to the United Nations and Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs, has died in Wellington. He was 93.

He is survived by his two well-known brothers, veteran press gallery journalist Ian Templeton and former diplomat and Cabinet minister Hugh Templeton.

Rob Templeton, one of Malcolm's four children, said his father always prided himself on being a Kiwi and representing the nation overseas.

But it could have been very different. Born in Dunedin in 1924, he was a founding pupil at King's High School and after gaining a Masters in Latin and English Literature at Otago University he followed a familial line into teaching.

That was short-lived and, according to Rob, his foreign service career began almost by chance in 1946 when an aunt spotted a newspaper advert for a job at the Department of External Affairs in Wellington.

Postings in London, Washington and New York followed.

"He took us on a big adventure," recalls Rob. "Some of us were born in London."

The founding pupil at King's again found himself in a key role at an early point of New Zealand's diplomatic relations, helping to separate the country from its traditional ties to Britain and establish its own footprint in global foreign relations. That culminated in a role as diplomat to the United Nations between 1973 and 1978.

He was awarded a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services in 1997.

Not surprisingly, given his important roles in external relations, Malcolm Templeton was able to draw on "an immense knowledge" in writing several books about the history of that overseas footprint.

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Titles included Standing Upright Here: New Zealand in the Nuclear Age; Protecting Antarctica; and Human Rights and Sporting Contacts: New Zealand Attitudes to Race Relations in South Africa.

For these and other literary efforts, at the age of 80 he was awarded a Doctorate in Literature from Otago University.

He tackled these challenges and others with a singular determination, says Rob. "He was a really determined person. He had Parkinson's for quite a long time but he managed to stay living in his house.

"That showed through in his career. We have been inspired by his career and legacy."

 - Wellington

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