Cath has gone and you’ve read the obits so no need for me to remind readers of her many accomplishments. But I can add a couple of tales.

A few days after the announcement of her becoming our first female Governor General, I spoke to her at an Auckland function.

“Have you thought through the full implications Cath?” I asked her.

She looked slightly alarmed, correctly sensing she was about to cop something upsetting.

“Like what Bob?”, she queried hesitantly.

“In that job Cath, you become Chief Scoutmaster, or in your case, Chief Girl Guide, and have to dress in the uniform once a year and present awards to scoutmasters, not yet in prison for their paedophilic activities”.

Cath literally went white. “I won’t do it; I won’t do it,” she bellowed and as there were henceforth no further photos in the press of this annual ritual, I suspect she was responsible for ending this embarrassment.

The Boy Scout movement is a screaming anachronism and world-wide, like the Catholic Church, a paedophiles paradise. The American Boy Scout outfit has paid out over a billion dollars to date in damages while here in New Zealand, it’s a fairly regular news item of scoutmasters in the dock for paedophilic crimes. It staggers me that parents can be so ignorant as to still allow their sons to do this bloody wet activity, moreso given the host of alternatives.

The other amusing Cath tale I shall recount was a Radio NZ interview following her G.G. appointment.

Out of the blue she spurted, “I’m still a socialist you know”.

“What do you mean by that?” the interviewer asked and for several minutes she went on and on saying, “when I say socialist I don’t mean…” etc. But we never found out what she did mean and thereafter, whenever I encountered her I teased her whether she had worked out yet what she meant by socialism.

All of that aside I admired her hugely. Not for her any whining about prejudice or being invisible as a woman. She was a true pioneer who simply set about achieving whatever she wanted and never complained about barriers as a female, instead, if they existed (which they didn’t, in my view), just ignored them.

She was an example to everyone about grabbing at life’s rich opportunities.


and she like a drink or two ! very
funny lady

I have to say there was no trace of paedophilia in my long ago experience of scouting but a lot of fun and learning about looking after yourself in the outdoors. Beats sitting around playing games on your phone IMO

I was a smart arse uni student at Auckland in 1972 and stage one Zoology was one of my subjects,Dame Cath was the lab tutor.I remember being the recipient of her wrath when I boiled alive a cockroach that was meant to be slowly warmed in a water bath and it’s vital signs measured as the temperature increased.I thought the incident was funny Dame Cath didn’t,suffice to say I didn’t pass stage one Zoology in 1972.

In the year 2000 I realised a lifelong ambition of accepting a Group 1 trophy in the birdcage at Trentham. I was presented to me by then Governor General Dame Cath. That week she had been receiving public brickbats from Prime Minister Shipley for openly criticising the Health Reforms.

On our way to the President’s Room she said to me ” I have heard many acceptance speeches. Congratulations, yours is the best I have heard”.
I replied “:Thank you. I think you will find the secret is I didn’t mention the Health Reforms, Dame Cath”
“Point taken, Mr Tremain, point taken!” she replied.

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