For her dedication to children’s wellbeing and education, Professor Cindy Kiro has been made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Professor Kiro is an academic who has worked in roles focusing on improving life outcomes for children and young people who experience social marginalisation or exclusion.
She is the University of Auckland’s pro-vice-vhancellor (Māori) and a professor in the Faculty of Education and Social Work. In the past two years, she has led two critical developments, namely a formal te reo Māori policy and committing the university to a Te Tiriti policy.
Professor Kiro was the director of Star Path from 2013 to 2016, which was the country’s largest project to gather educational data from low decile Māori and Pacific schools. She was the Children’s Commissioner from 2003 to 2009.
In this role, she instigated several enquiries into child deaths resulting from serious abuse and neglect. As a result, the Child Death Mortality and Family Violence Death Review Committees were established. She also established the Taskforce for Action on Family Violence, the largest ever response to family violence in New Zealand, which included 22 government department chief executives and a variety of other high profile public sector representatives.
Professor Kiro chaired the Welfare Expert Advisory Group from 2018 to 2019, undertaking the task of recommending changes to the welfare system to make it more accessible and fair for all New Zealanders.