New Zealand’s next Governor-General will be Dame Cindy Kiro, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has revealed.
The PM made the announcement at her weekly post-Cabinet press conference this afternoon, where she was joined by Kiro.
Dame Cindy used to be the Children’s Commissioner and has extensive experience working with Government. She also has a lengthy academic background and was appointed as a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) for services to child wellbeing and education in the New Year 2021 Honours List.
Dame Cindy Kiro will take over from Dame Patsy Reddy, who finishes her five-year term in September.
The appointment of Dame Cindy for a five-year term has been approved by the Queen and she will take up the role in October.
“I am delighted Dame Cindy has accepted the role,” Ardern said.
“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.”
Dame Cindy Kiro is of Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kahu and Ngāti Hine descent.
“I am proudly Māori and also part British,” she said, adding the new role is an “excellent marriage”.
Kiro said that gave her an understanding of the place of Te Tiriti in New Zealand’s history.
She said she was born to a very poor family so she knows about the hard work and perseverance required to succeed.
Asked what she brings to the role, she said: “Community and service”.
She will be working for those who can’t speak for themselves and don’t have a profile.
Kiro said she was “very surprised” when Ardern asked her if she would like the role, and only found out within the last few weeks.
“This is an opportunity to serve out country.”
Dame Cindy said she will be working through what the “strategic programme” will be in the role.
She said she is a big believer in “wisdom”.
Although the last two years have been challenging, she said New Zealand has used wisdom and knowledge have helped get the country through this period.
Ardern said Dame Cindy is “an advocate for the people”.
She said she has been doing this over multiple different Governments.
Ardern said she spoke to the Queen about the appointment, who said Dame Cindy was “wholly suitable” for this role.
“This is a new opportunity,” Dame Cindy said.
Dame Cindy said she has not spoken to the Queen about this appointment, but said she has met the Queen before.
She said he was “lovely”.
She is the first Maori woman to hold this role.
Speaking to other Maori women and girls, she said her appointment means “you can reach the top”.
Although New Zealand has done a “good job” on race relations, there is still more work to be done, Dame Cindy said.
Governors-General are paid $371,900 a year and have a $33,358 annual allowance.
As well as this, they get a $79,000 annuity – a yearly pension-like payment.
The Governor-General’s job is to be the Queen’s representative in New Zealand.
The job includes reading any newly elected government’s speech from the throne – a pre-written speech outline of the new government’s policy intentions over the coming three years.
They also sign into effect any new laws in New Zealand, giving any legislation passed in Parliament the Royal Assent.
Asked about the situation in Samoa, Ardern said she is watching “very closely”.
But her view is that she holds a lot of “trust and faith” in Samoa’s institutions.
She said despite the political situation, her advice is that there is a sense of “calm” from the people.
She said Cabinet is not considering any sort of sanctions for Samoa.
“We are not in a position to be playing any intervention sort of role at this time.
“We have called for the rule of law to be followed by all political leaders,” Ardern said.
After a close election, the Faatuatua ile Atua Samoa ua Tasi (Fast) party was expected to declare its majority today when Parliament met, and announce Samoa’s first woman prime minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa.
However the Head of State, Tuimaleali’ifano Va’aleto’a Sualauvi II, on Saturday suspended Parliament.
The Supreme Court last night declared this action unlawful, however the Speaker, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi, then announced the House would not convene until a new proclamation had been made by the Head of State allowing it.
The doors to Parliament were locked, with the clerk of the house and Speaker insisting there is no sitting today – a decision that directly contravenes the court order.
Police have surrounded Parliament today, as the Fast party and its supporters converged on the building, calling on police to uphold the law.
Ardern will also likely be asked further details about Budget 2021, unveiled last week with a major focus on health, housing and increasing support for those on benefits.
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