Ex-Prime Minister and former Labour leader, Helen Clark, Phil Goff and current leader David Shearer attended a Memorial Service for former Cabinet Minister and pioneering friend of China, Warren Freer who on died on Good Friday, 2013. The service was held on Sunday 4th August at Mount Albert Baptist Church, Auckland. Warren’s widow, Joyce and his sister-in-law Lyndsay attended, as well as His Excellency Consul-General, Mr Niu Qingbao, Dame Cath Tizard and former minister Bob Tizard.
Helen Clark spoke with great affection for the 93-year-old and of his long service to both the country and the Mount Albert electorate, which she took over after his retirement in 1981. He was just 26 when he first entered Parliament and was an MP for 34 years, becoming the 3rd-ranked cabinet minister in the Labour Government led by Norman Kirk, which established diplomatic relations with China in December 1972.
New Zealand China Friendship Society’s Vice President, George Andrews underlined Warren’s long-lasting interest in China, and showed a short clip of the 1974 television documentary he had made with Warren around his Maximum Retail Price scheme.
Consul-General Niu delivered an astute speech honouring Warren Freer as the first Western MP to visit the New China and acknowledging the contributions made by all five Labour government to improving relations between China and New Zealand. Mr Niu ended his speech with the presentation of a bouquet of flowers to Joyce.
Mr David Shearer, leader of the Labour Party then spoke of Warren’s achievements whilst in office and of his kindliness, particularly to new party members.
George Andrews, VP, August 2013