Dr Malcolm James Campbell Templeton QSO: 12 May 1924-11 September 2017.

AuthorMcGibbon, Ian

One of the mighty totaras in the New Zealand diplomatic forest has fallen. Malcolm Templeton's passing, in his 94th year, has brought to an end a career that spanned more than seven decades. He made his mark both as a diplomat and as an historian.

Born in Dunedin, Malcolm was the eldest of three brothers who have made a distinguished contribution to New Zealand. Younger twins Hugh and Ian came to prominence as a Cabinet minister and journalist respectively. They all attended King's High School, where Malcolm was dux in 1940. In the next four years he was a student at Otago University, graduating with an MA with first-class honours in Latin and English literature in 1944. Military service followed, after which Secretary of External Affairs Alister McIntosh recruited him to the fledgling Department of External Affairs in 1946. Malcolm spent the next five years in what he later described as 'a longish apprenticeship' before being posted as a third secretary in the New Zealand Embassy in Washington.

Malcolm's talents were recognised early. His first task in the United States was to attend the San Francisco Conference on the Japanese peace settlement, which was preceded by the signing of the Pacific Security (ANZUS) Treaty. The ambassador, Sir Carl Berendsen, was legendary for his volcanic temper, and having had nothing to do with the preparatory work for the Conference, ' Malcolm later recounted, 'I had some reason to be nervous.' To his relief, 'all went smoothly' and he impressed Berendsen, who advised McIntosh that he was sure 'we have a winner in Templeton' and praised him as 'extremely competent and responsible and companionable'. Berendsen predicted that Templeton would 'stand high in the list of very admirable people with whom I have worked'. His colleague in the embassy Frank Corner also extolled his virtues.

In 1954 Malcolm joined the New Zealand permanent delegation at the United Nations in New York for three years. Among those who were associated with him during the 1950s was Gerald Hensley, who recalls him as 'a big, slightly awesome figure whose Scottish sternness covered a great kindness and steadiness of judgement' and 'one of those rare people on whom younger officers could test their thoughts and get a clear, if not always flattering, answer'.

Following a period in the department back in Wellington, during which he headed its Defence Division, Malcolm was posted to the New Zealand High Commission in London in 1962. In 1963 he...

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