Barry Soper: Jerry has come a long way

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Sir Jerry Mateparae. Photo / Michael Craig
Sir Jerry Mateparae. Photo / Michael Craig

Life is full of unexpected opportunity and that's certainly been the case for a man who I was having a beer with in the Auckland Koru Club as he was contemplating his future.

It's the sort of conversation we all have when we have a significant change of career, although in his case, his had come to its natural conclusion.

Jerry Mateparae, as he was known to us in those days, had just finished his stint as chief of defence with the rank of Lieutenant General. He's a quietly spoken, polite man, not the type you could imagine barking orders at subservients.

But this is a man who has had a career of highs after entering the army as a private in June 1972. Seven years later he was a platoon commander in Singapore.

He was shoulder tapped by John Key after travelling with the Prime Minister to Afghanistan and sharing digs with him there. The pair obviously got on and his appointment as Governor General in 2011 was welcomed across the political spectrum.

But what to do with this 61 year old is the question that's being pondered in the Beehive?

You may remember the kerfuffle last week when it was suggested Luigi Peters was going to kneecap John Key if he wanted a helping hand after next year's election if he sent his nemesis, Speaker David Carter, to the plumb London cocktail circuit. Carter said he didn't want the job, which smacked a little of someone knowing it had become unobtainable.

The Minister in charge of cocktail circuit appointments Murray McCully was reluctant to buy into the argument but did say they were talking to one person and the decision making process was well advanced. And just as an aside he added that even Peters wouldn't be complaining about the person they're talking to.

READ MORE: Jerry Mateparae in line to be next High Commissioner to London

Well that person is Jerry Mateparae - whose term as the Queen's representative just happens to end a few months before the current London incumbent Lockwood Smith's packing his bags to return home to his prize bulls.

And the man we used to refer to just a few years back as just plain old Jerry will be presented to court in the way he's become accustomed to being addressed, His Excellency Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jeremiah Mateparae GNZM, QSO.

He's certainly come a long way from that beer in the Koro Club.

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- NZME.

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