5 questions with: Sir Tipene O'Regan

Kai Tahu kaumatua Sir Tipene O'Regan (80) is one of a panel of Festival of Colour speakers addressing New Zealand's freshwater crisis on Tuesday. 

What was the best birthday present you ever received, and why?

A five pound note which capped off my paper-run savings to secure the purchase of my first sail-boat. She was a venerable Z Class Takapuna and cost thirty quid. I thought I'd missed the deal but that last fiver got me on my bike!

What smell do you find irresistible?

It used to be the smell of pipe tobacco. That's gone. Then it was the smell of roasting meat. That seems now to have gone too! Now it's the smell of a fine fresh morning. Keep them coming!

What is your least favourite thing about humanity?

The tendency to absolutism. Political, economic, environmental, or ecological: absolutism is a contemporary disease. Its consequences are hugely dangerous  for our democratic institutions, which are currently cannibalising themselves worldwide.

What is one strong childhood memory?

My father's willingness to conduct informed debate with me and to treat my thinking seriously. When he and his colleagues met in our home I was invariably invited to attend and listen. Later, he'd often quiz me on the discussions. That, and the freedom of his study.

You are a new addition to the crayon box. What colour are you, and why?

Burnt orange or gold. It's my Te Waipounamu sunsets. Probably appropriate for my stage of life!

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