Long record of pub­lic ser­vice


Waikato News - - NEWS -

Katherine O'Regan was born to Net­tie and Jack New­ton at Te Mata on May 24, 1946. She passed away on Wed­nes­day, May 2, aged 71. She has been a long-time Te Awa­mutu and district res­i­dent, serv­ing as both a lo­cal and cen­tral gov­ern­ment politi­cian.

Last year she was in­ducted into the Te Awa­mutu Walk of Fame — recog­nis­ing a life­time of achieve­ments and ser­vice to the peo­ple of New Zealand.

In 1977 she was the first woman elected to Waipa County Coun­cil, serv­ing for eight years. She was elected to Par­lia­ment in 1984 as a Na­tional MP for Waipa, suc­ceed­ing her friend and for­mer boss Mar­i­lyn War­ing, and was part of the opposition for two terms.

In 1990 she was part of the fourth Na­tional Gov­ern­ment and was ap­pointed Min­is­ter of Con­sumer Af­fairs, plus Associate Min­is­ters of Health, So­cial Wel­fare and Women's Af­fairs. In 1994 Katherine led the New Zealand Del­e­ga­tion to the UN Pop­u­la­tion and Devel­op­ment Con­fer­ence in Cairo and also gave the Sec­ond Coun­try Re­port to CEDAW at the UN in New York.

A sup­porter of hu­man rights, as Associate Min­is­ter of Health she amended the Hu­man Rights Act to out­law dis­crim­i­na­tion on the grounds of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and hav­ing or­gan­isms in the body which might cause dis­ease. Min­is­ter of Youth Af­fairs was added to her port­fo­lio briefly be­fore the 1996 elec­tion.

A reshuf­fle of elec­torates re­sulted in the Waipa seat be­ing abol­ished, so in 1996 Katherine stood for Tau­ranga against Win­ston Peters, and al­though she did not win the seat, she was re­turned to Par­lia­ment as a list mem­ber in opposition. She was the chair­woman of the In­ter­nal Af­fairs Se­lect Com­mit­tee dur­ing that term.

In 1999 she again stood for Tau­ranga and came close to un­seat­ing the now deputy prime min­is­ter. Fol­low­ing the elec­tion Katherine re­tired from pol­i­tics, but not from pub­lic ser­vice.

She was a Jus­tice of the Peace, served on the Fam­ily Plan­ning New Zealand Coun­cil, was chair­woman of the Hu­man Ethics in Re­search Com­mit­tee at Win­tec, a mem­ber of the NZ Law So­ci­ety Waikato/Bay of Plenty Com­plaints Com­mit­tee and in­volved in nu­mer­ous com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions, such as NZ Plun­ket So­ci­ety, Speld and Hamil­ton Speech Ther­apy As­so­ci­a­tion.

Closer to home, she chaired the Te Awa­mutu Com­mu­nity Pub­lic Re­la­tions As­so­ci­a­tion and was a found­ing mem­ber of the Te Awa­mutu Com­mu­nity Health Trans­port ser­vice. In 2002, Katherine was de­servedly made a Com­pan­ion of the Queen's Ser­vice Or­der for pub­lic ser­vices.

Katherine is sur­vived by her sec­ond hus­band, Michael Cox, two chil­dren, An­drew and Su­san, and their spouses, and seven grand­chil­dren and step­grand­chil­dren.

Photo / Dean Tay­lor

Katherine O'Regan at her home in 2002 when she was made a Com­pan­ion of the Queen's Ser­vice Or­der.

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