Daughter of the north takes job first held by Tiriti signer William Hobson

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Dame Cindy Kiro signs the oath of office




The words of Ngā Pūāwai o Ngāpuhi echoed through the Parliament House as the daughter of the north stepped into the role of Governor-General, making her the first wahine Māori to do so. The song, written by Piripi Cope was fitting. The second verse says:

"Takahia te ao
Ka kitea te iwi
E tū tangata mai tātou
Ngā uri o rātou
Kua mene ki te pō"

These words are translated as

"As you travel the world
It will be seen by everyone
that we are people who stand proud
we, the descendants of those who have been
lost in the night."


There was palpable pride for those in the room, including cabinet minister Peeni Henare who took to social media before the event, saying "a special day for my aunty and this country." 

Dame Cindy Kiro with her husband Dr Richard Davies after she was sworn in at Parliament

Dame Cindy's career is extensive. Her experience spans academic fields and leadership roles that have been influential in the shaping of Aotearoa.  

She leaves behind the role of chief executive of the Royal Society - Te Apārangi, which advances research and scholarly activity in science, technology and the humanities, and raises public understanding of those fields.

She has been an advocate for the well-being of children which led her to the role of Children’s Commissioner from 2003 to 2008. She was also pro vice-chancellor Māori at the University of Auckland. She has enormous experience in the health sector and has worked alongside communities and voluntary organisations.

Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine and Ngāti Kahu blood runs through her veins, which she is very proud of. Dame Cindy was born in Whangārei, Northland, in 1958 and is the mātāmua of six tamariki. She comes from a big extended whānau in Te Tai Tokerau.

She becomes the 22nd Governor-General, counting back from Governor William Hobson who presided over the Treaty of Waitangi. During her address to the Covid-restrained swearing-in ceremony, Dame Cindy said she was proud to bring her dual heritage of Māori and British to the office and to the nation's continuing dialogue on Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

Dame Cindy Kiro said she would focus on strengthening communities, on the protection of the environment and on the well being of children as Governor-General.

Since the announcement of her taking the position, Dame Cindy has acknowledged those before her and those around her, and her career in advocacy shows she always looks to those who will come after her. Another fitting part of the song sung in honour of the daughter of the north says: 

"Tēnei te mihi
Ki ngā kaiāwhina e
Ki ngā whaea ngā mātua
Anei rā ko ngā hua
E pūāwai ana mai"


it has been translated as 

"This is the thanks we give to you
To our aunts and uncles,
mothers and fathers
Here we are, the fruit of your labour
Blossoming before you."

She is the hoa rangatira of Dr Richard Davies, and has four tamariki and two mokopuna.

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