Ngati Whatua leader pays tribute to former Postmaster-general

A Ngati Whatua leader is acknowledging a former politician for supporting her use of "kia ora" as a greeting when working as a telephone operator.

Former Postmaster-general and Minister of Tourism Rob Talbot died peacefully in Wellington on Thursday last week at the age of 89.

In 1984 Naida Glavish was demoted because her supervisor insisted that she use only formal English greetings, instead of saying kia ora, and when she refused she was punished for using te reo.

Ms Glavish says Rob Talbot had to be careful not to cause a conflict of interest when he appealed to the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Muldoon, to get permission to use the Maori salutation.

She says she had the privilege of experiencing the support of the postmaster-general and Minister of Tourism in saying kia ora to tolls customers.

Ms Glavish says Mr Talbot had to leave it for four days after Sir Robert returned home from overseas to approach him about it, and he eventually made the decision to accept kia ora as a greeting for telephone exchange operators.