Dame Cindy Kiro becomes New Zealand’s first female Māori governor-general

Dame Cindy, the first in her family to graduate from university, rose to become a pro-vice chancellor at the University of Auckland

The first Māori woman to be named governor-general of New Zealand, Dame Cindy Kiro, has been sworn in at an intimate ceremony in parliament, where she said she hopes to use the role to reach out to marginalised communities.

Dame Cindy, who is of Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kahu and British descent, became the country’s 22nd governor-general – Queen Elizabeth’s representative in New Zealand.

The governor-general’s role is to carry out constitutional and ceremonial duties on behalf of the British monarch, who remains the country’s official head of state.

The swearing in at parliament in Wellington on Thursday morning was a pared back event, with the usual pomp and ceremony scrapped due to level 2 restrictions, as the country battles to stamp out an outbreak of Covid-19.

After her swearing in, Dame Cindy said she wanted to use her role to reach out to marginalised people in society and acknowledged people were living in a time of immense uncertainty and anxiety due to the pandemic.

“Communities develop resilience when people feel connected, have a sense of belonging, and have a place to stand,” Dame Cindy said, according to Reuters.

“I will connect to new migrants and former refugees, and celebrate the many diverse cultures and religions gifted to our nation by those who have chosen to make New Zealand their home,” she said.

Dame Cindy was born in Whangārei in 1958 and is the eldest of six children.

The first in her family to achieve a university qualification, she has been the chief executive of the independent advisory body Royal Society-Te Apārangi, a children’s commissioner and pro-vice-chancellor Māori at the University of Auckland. She holds a PhD in social policy and an MBA (Exec) in business administration from the University of Auckland and Massey University.

Dame Cindy succeeds Dame Patsy Reddy, whose five-year term ended last month.

She is the third Māori governor-general after Sir Paul Reeves and Sir Jerry Mateparae, and the fourth woman to hold the title.

The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, described Dame Cindy as compassionate, knowledgable and focused.

“I know as the first Māori woman to hold this role you are mindful that your opportunity here also provides inspiration that reaches far and wide for many from all walks of life,” said Ardern.

“You have been, and I know will continue to be, an advocate for the people. This will hold you steady in your role to be of service to New Zealand.”


Eva Corlett in Wellington

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
In Kawerau one thing impedes the effort to vaccinate Māori: New Zealand’s history
Low Covid vaccination rates among Māori reflect practical barriers – but they also have good reason to distrust the government

Morgan Godfery

19, Oct, 2021 @6:00 PM

Article image
How Māori women have reshaped New Zealand’s media through their native language
Despite some pushback, the use of the country’s indigenous tongue te reo is now becoming common in mainstream media

Eva Corlett in Wellington

17, Sep, 2021 @8:00 PM

Article image
Pygmy pipehorse discovered in New Zealand given Māori name in ‘world first’
Ngātiwai tribal leaders formally listed as official naming authorities for the tiny creature

Eva Corlett in Wellington

06, Oct, 2021 @1:04 AM

Article image
New Zealand Māori may have been first to discover Antarctica, study suggests
Oral histories suggest the Polynesian explorer Hui Te Rangiora travelled to the region in the seventh century

Tess McClure in Christchurch

11, Jun, 2021 @5:37 AM

Article image
Give Lorde a break. Non-Māori must speak Māori for it to survive | Morgan Godfery
If we must wait for the perfect circumstances to speak or sing te reo, we may as well sign the language’s death certificate

Morgan Godfery

14, Sep, 2021 @12:18 AM

Article image
Gentle, respectful, humble: how non-Māori can help revitalise te reo
Māori say European New Zealanders should come ‘from a place of respect’ towards a language their ancestors suppressed

Philip McKibbin

16, Apr, 2021 @8:00 PM

Article image
‘They help us stay connected’: how Māori games enthusiasts are reviving tradition
Māori games were often designed to teach new skills and advocates say they also offer a haven from more serious concerns

Philip McKibbin in Auckland

09, Jul, 2021 @8:00 PM

Article image
Oldest surviving photograph of Māori discovered in Australia
Picture of Hemi Pomara posing in London in 1846 was discovered at the national library of Australia by researchers

Eleanor Ainge Roy in Queenstown

30, Jun, 2020 @5:48 AM

Article image
Dying too young: coronavirus, my Māori family and me
Lockdown has granted me the blessing of getting to know my father, but it has also underlined the severe health inequalities we face

Shilo Kino in Auckland

08, May, 2020 @8:00 PM

Article image
Wikipedia urged to add accents to Māori placenames amid resurgence in te reo
Success of the petition would lead to the inclusion of macrons on about 300 places in New Zealand

Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin

27, Jan, 2020 @12:42 AM