Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces Dame Cindy Kiro as next Governor-General

Former Children's Commissioner Dame Cindy Kiro has been appointed as the next Governor-General once incumbent Dame Patsy Reddy's time is up.

Dame Cindy, who is of Māori and Pākehā descent, has held leadership roles at several New Zealand universities and a number of roles in community and voluntary organisations.

Born in Whangārei in 1958, Dame Cindy is the eldest of six children and is of Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kahu and British descent. She also has connections to Te Arawa in the Rotorua region.

Dame Cindy recently took up the role of chief executive of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, which advances and promotes research in science, technology and the humanities, and raises public awareness and understanding of those fields.

She was made a Dame this year for services to child wellbeing and education.

"I am delighted Dame Cindy has accepted the role," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday as she made the announcement in Wellington.

"She has a highly distinguished and lengthy career in academic and leadership positions and has made significant contributions across a number of fields and organisations."

Ardern said she spoke to Queen Elizabeth II last week, who shared her belief that Dame Cindy was "wholly suitable" for the role.

"Over many decades, Dame Cindy has demonstrated her passion for the wellbeing of children and young people, as well as education and learning. I know she will bring that same commitment to all New Zealanders as Governor-General," Ardern said.

"We are privileged to have someone of Dame Cindy's mana and standing for the role and I am very grateful that she agreed to become our next Governor-General."

Dame Cindy Kiro.
Dame Cindy Kiro. Photo credit: Newshub

Dame Patsy, the third woman in New Zealand to hold the role of Governor-General, was appointed in 2016 for a five-year term starting from September that year, after Queen Elizabeth gave her approval. 

The position of Governor-General is approved by Cabinet. The Queen is consulted by the Prime Minister, and if she is happy with the candidate, the Opposition leader - currently Judith Collins - is consulted, and the recruitment process concludes. 

Dame Cindy, standing alongside the Prime Minister at her post-Cabinet press conference, said she was genuinely surprised when she was asked to accept the role. 

She will be the first wāhine Māori to hold the role. 

Dame Patsy's term will end on September 28, and a State farewell will be held on September 6. The details of the two ceremonies will be announced closer to the time.

Dame Cindy will become Governor-General in October. 

Dame Cindy Kiro will replace Dame Patsy Reddy as Governor-General of New Zealand.
Dame Cindy Kiro will replace Dame Patsy Reddy as Governor-General of New Zealand. Photo credit: Supplied

National leader Judith Collins congratulated Dame Cindy and reflected on how she "had the pleasure" of working with her on the Casino Control Authority. 

"Dame Cindy has made a significant contribution to New Zealand over her career in education and health," Collins said. 

"I would also like to acknowledge and thank Dame Patsy Reddy for her time as New Zealand's Governor-General. Dame Patsy has done a wonderful job and has left a fine legacy for Dame Cindy to follow."

ACT leader David Seymour also acknowledged Dame Cindy's appointment.

"Representing the Queen as head of state is an enormous honour and duty. On behalf of ACT we'd like to wish Dame Cindy all the best in the new role."

But Seymour didn't hold back in criticising the incumbent Dame Patsy.

"Our current Governor-General has taken to lecturing the public with politicised speeches. If she wished to participate in debates about the future of New Zealand she should have run for office, not been appointed to it.

"ACT's hope is that Dame Cindy Kiro will take more inspiration from the Queen, staying above politics and protecting the integrity of the office. We wish her well."

Dame Patsy welcomed her successor's appointment.

"Dame Cindy will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge from her distinguished career in academia and the state sector.

"Her appointment represents a significant milestone for Aotearoa New Zealand, as Dame Cindy will be the first Māori woman to occupy the office."

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