Noumea-based NZ consul Bruce Shepherd dies, aged 55

The diplomatic community is mourning the loss of New Zealand Consul-General to the French Pacific, Bruce Shepherd, who passed away on Saturday morning in New Caledonia at the age of 55.

Bruce Shepherd. Source: Facebook

Mr Shepherd leaves behind his wife Christine and son Alexandre.

Alexandre says his father was devoted to his family and worked tirelessly to provide a life of opportunity for him and his mother and to support others.

“Everything I have achieved in my life was thanks to him. All he wanted was to make others happy, and I'm so proud of what he achieved as a father and diplomat. It makes me cry knowing how proud he is of me. I'll miss him forever.”

Claire Fouhy worked with Mr Shepherd at the New Zealand Consulate in New Caledonia and says he was an outstanding manager who was able to listen and guide with wisdom, humanity and humour.

“He was always ready with a one-liner. I would send him a message loaded with indecision and professional anguish and he would reply; 'How much do you know about Samuel Beckett?'”

She says he was highly skilled at communicating.

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Pilot Leonard Kilgour was killed on a top secret mission when his plane crashed near a French village. Source: Seven Sharp

“I have always marvelled at the skill of the diplomats to become all things to all people, adapting instantly to suit the role required, whether it is representing our country in a high-level meeting, comforting a New Zealander injured and alone in an unfamiliar country, or singing an impromptu waiata, by himself, to a group of children in Tahiti during a visit because ‘they sang me a song so I sang one back.’”

Mr Shepherd was of Ngāti Kahu o Torongare descent and had a number of ambassadorial positions including in Ethiopia and Myanmar. He also had postings to the United Arab Emirates, Tonga and the United Nations in Geneva.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters says Mr Shepherd will be deeply missed by his colleagues here and overseas.

“His eclectic series of roles demonstrates how keenly Mr Shepherd undertook the variety of professional challenges to come his way during a long and distinguished diplomatic career.”

Mr Shepherd will be farewelled in Auckland in the coming weeks.