Both sides of the one man

August 22, 2015

A book that traces two sides of a man – and a conflict – was launched at the cathedral on 6 March 2015.

The Man in the Middle details the life of Robert Parris and is written by Lady Beverley Reeves, wife of former Governor General the late Sir Paul Reeves.

Parris was her great-great-grandfather who lived in Taranaki and was known for his involvement in the Waitara purchase that precipated the first Taranaki war in the 1860s.

For Lady Beverley the intriguing part of the story is the connection with her late-husband Sir Paul Reeves, whose Te Atiawa descendants were on the opposite side and didn’t have a good thing to say about Parris.

She said Parris had learnt about Māori during his time in Auckland managing Bishop Selwyn’s farm and liked the people he met.

However, he was also a bit of a showman. “He wasn’t wicked but he enjoyed wheeling and dealing a little bit.”

One objective in writing the book was to put him in context and show he was a man in the middle who tried to help both Maori and settlers.  Parris was involved with St Mary’s as a churchwarden, choir member and trustee for many years. He died in 1904.

Lady Beverley has published other books including her memoirs.

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