Former Governor-General Dame Catherine Tizard dies after long illness

Former Governor-General Dame Catherine Tizard has died after a "long and distinguished life".

Tizard served as New Zealand Governor-General from 1990-1996, and died at age 90.

Her death was confirmed in a statement from her family late on Sunday night.

"Our beloved Cath has died peacefully tonight, October 31, after a long illness: at home with family around her, as she wished," the statement said.

"She was a woman of amazing energy, intelligence and warmth. She had a long and distinguished life of public service. She was a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother; and a confidante, mentor and friend to many more. We will miss her more than we can ever say."

The family statement said she had wanted a private cremation, and they hoped to arrange some way to honour her memory in public in future.

"We are grateful to all her friends, and to our extended family, and to the carers, especially her GP, who have also supported and loved her over the years," her family said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that she was deeply saddened by Dame Catherine's death and paid tribute to her "long and distinguished life of service" to New Zealand.

"In everything she did, she demonstrated her remarkable qualities of leadership and determination, combined with a down to earth approach and an irrepressible sense of humour," Ardern said.

"Our thoughts are with her family at this time."