Sir Paul was New Zealand's first Governor-General of Māori descent. He was born in Wellington in 1932, the second son of D'Arcy Lionel and Hilda Mary Reeves and was educated at Wellington College, Victoria University of Wellington (MA), St John's Theological College, Auckland (L.Th.) and St Peter's College, Oxford (MA, Hon. Fellow).
Sir Paul became a deacon in the Anglican Church of New Zealand in 1958 and a priest in 1960. He was curate at Tokoroa (1958-59), St Mary the Virgin, Oxford, England (1959-61) and at Kirkley St Peter, Lowestoft, Suffolk (1961-63) before being appointed vicar of St Paul, Okato (1964-66). He was a lecturer in church history, St John's Theological College, Auckland (1966-69) and director of Christian education, Diocese of Auckland (1969-71). He became Bishop of Waiapu in 1971, Bishop of Auckland in 1979 and Primate and Archbishop of New Zealand in 1980.
He was chairman of the Environmental Council (1974-76) and president of the National Council of Churches in New Zealand (1984-85).
In 1959, Sir Paul married Beverley Watkins and the couple had three daughters.
Sir Paul was the first churchman and first man of Māori descent appointed Governor-General. He belongs to the Puketapu hapu of the Te Atiawa of Taranaki.
Following the completion of his term as Governor-General, Sir Paul took up a number of national and international positions, including that of Anglican Observer at the United Nations in New York, a position he held for three years.
In May 2002, Sir Paul was appointed inaugural Chair of Toi Te Taiao: The Bioethics Council.
Sir Paul died on 14 August 2011.