Veteran journalist remembered as a complex man

Derek Round. File photo / Stuart Munro
Derek Round. File photo / Stuart Munro

Tales of a complex and self-discplined man devoted to news were told at the funeral of Derek Round today.

More than 300 people, including former Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, his wife Lady Susan and former MP Georgina Beyer turned out to pay tribute to the veteran journalist at St Paul's Cathedral in Wellington.

Colleague Richard Long led the eulogies, reminiscing about time spent with Mr Round in Asia during the 1960s.

He spoke of living with a mentor and a friend, and said Mr Round was a man of huge principles who was extremely well read.

Mr Long remembered Mr Round's devotion to news - as shown by his determination to find out the death of Chairman Mao as soon as possible.

"He had amazing self-discipline, when we were living in Hong Kong he would wake up every hour throughout to listen to the news bulletin.''

He said Mr Round's flatmates "always expected the worst when Derek left in the middle of the night.

Who would have guessed it was off to meet the KGB?''

A cousin, Martin Round, had earlier told 3 News that Mr Round told him he planned to write memoirs that would reveal his work as a spy. Mr Round was approached by the KGB but immediately reported that approach to the NZ government.

Mr Round held distinguished roles as an editor and foreign correspondent during a career spanning more than five decades.

He was one of the last New Zealand journalists to leave Saigon as the Vietnam War came to an end and later became Asia correspondent for NZPA in the 1970s.

Later roles at NZPA included political editor at the parliamentary press gallery, London bureau chief, and editor - a role he held from 1984 to 1989.

His children took after him professionally, with son Mark Round working as pictures editor for the Dominion Post and daughter Sally Laven working for Radio New Zealand.

Mark Round said his father was not a handyman, preferring to push a pen rather than a lawnmower.

"He'd take a couple of passes at the lawn and then go back inside leaving it running and bury himself in the newspaper until the petrol ran out. Then he's go back out and push it into the shed,'' he said.

His daughter Sally said as a child she never had any idea what her father did for a living except "it involved a lot of newspapers''.

She said family holidays were interesting. "While other kids would get to go to Disneyland and see Minnie Mouse, we went to steel factories in China during the cultural revolution.''

She said her father was a "complex, difficult man'' who was "kind, generous and very proud of his family''.

The family gave special thanks to Whanganui CIB Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Kirby for his professionalism and sensitivity in investigating Mr Round's death.

Mr Round, aged 77, was found dead in the living room of his home on Campbell, Wanganui on May 17.

A post-mortem examination showed he had been beaten multiple times about the head and had died early the previous evening.

Last Tuesday, 31-year-old Michael Umanui Werahiko appeared in the Whanganui District Court charged with Mr Round's murder and was remanded to reappear on June 6.

Mr Round was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to journalism in 2010.

- APNZ

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