It may have taken almost 200 years, but New Zealand has sworn in its first Māori wahine Governor-General, Dame Alcyion Cynthia Kiro.
Kiro, of Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kahu, and Ngāti Hine descent, has held many important roles in New Zealand and her many colleagues and friends believe her experiences will keep her in good stead as she embarks on fulfilling one of the most critical roles in New Zealand politics.
Kiro gave her oath in both Te Reo and English, "Ko ahau ko Alcyion Cynthia Kiro e oati ana, ka noho pūmau taku pono ki te Kuini Irihāpeti te tuarua me tōnā kāhui whakaheke, e ai ki te ture. Ko te Atua nei hoki tōku pou"
"I Alcyion Cynthia Kiro swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to her majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors according to law, so help me God"
Life experience a huge plus
The former children's commissioner was welcomed into Parliament today ahead of her five-year term as Governor-General. According to the current commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft, she has worn many hats.
"She herself knows what it's like to do it tough, to be brought up in a tough situation. She chaired the governance welfare expert advisory group, and she knows the deep issues on inequality and equity in New Zealand."
Joe Harawira, who spoke on behalf of Dame Cindy, says she understands the historic nature of her position as the first-ever Māori wahine to occupy the role, "Do what is best for the people. It was Te Puea who said that, and that is what her thoughts are."
With Covid-19 at the forefront of any issue here in New Zealand, Kiro spoke of individual responsibility. "Our responsibilities as citizens have never been more important when our individual decisions and actions can have such an impact on the well-being of others."
Woman of many talents
She has fulfilled many roles over the years, including as children's commissioner, head of the School of Public Health at Massey University, head of Te Kura Māori at Victoria University of Wellington, and pro-vice-chancellor (Māori) of the University of Auckland. While she only spent 14 weeks as the head of the Royal Society, poutiaki Kahu Hotere says Dame Cindy is an inspiration for Māori girls all over the country.
"She is an inspiration to not only Māori women, but every single New Zealander and especially young Māori girls. When they see her it means that our girls have a path that they can follow."
Becroft is in total agreement with the sentiment. "There are nearly 1.6 million under 18 years old New Zealand children, nearly a quarter of the population. Isn't it great that someone who is Governor-General is someone who has been a champion for children?"