Dame Cindy Kiro
Official portrait, 2021
22nd Governor-General of New Zealand
Assumed office
21 October 2021
Prime Minister
Preceded byDame Patsy Reddy
Children's Commissioner of New Zealand
In office
1 September 2003 – 1 September 2008
Appointed bySteve Maharey
Preceded byRoger McClay
Succeeded byJohn Angus
Personal details
Alcyion Cynthia Simpson

1958 (age 65–66)[1]
Whangārei, New Zealand
Children2 children, 2 stepchildren
ResidenceGovernment House, Wellington
Alma mater
Scientific career
FieldsPublic health
ThesisKimihia Hauora Māori = Māori Health Policy and Practice (2001)
Doctoral advisors
  • Michael Belgrave
  • Chris Cunningham

Dame Alcyion Cynthia Kiro GNZM QSO DStJ (Māori: [kiːɾɔ] [2]) (née Simpson; born 1958[3]) is a New Zealand public-health academic, administrator, and advocate, who has served as the 22nd governor-general of New Zealand since 21 October 2021. Kiro is the first Māori woman and the third person of Māori descent to hold the office.

Before she was announced as governor-general designate, Kiro was Chief Executive of the Royal Society Te Apārangi and was previously the Children's Commissioner, head of school 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.

During her term as governor-general, Kiro responded to the death of Elizabeth II, and has undertaken several overseas visits, including attending the Platinum Jubilee and state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II and the coronation of King Charles III in the United Kingdom.

Early life and education

Kiro was born in Whangārei in 1958, the eldest child of six.[4] She is of Māori and English descent, affiliating with Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kahu, and Ngāti Hine iwi.[5][6] Her father was Norman Simpson, who was originally from the north of England.[7] Her mother's maiden name was Ngawaiunu Kiro and her maternal grandparents were Te Rangihaeata Hemi Kiro and Hukatere Miha Maihi.[8]

She was raised by her mother's parents for part of her early life and took their surname of Kiro. One of her sisters also has the name Kiro, while her other siblings have the name Simpson.[7] She grew up in South Auckland and West Auckland. Her grandparents moved to South Auckland, living at Ōtara and then Māngere.[7] Her parents also moved to Auckland and the family lived at New Lynn and Te Atatū in West Auckland.[4] Kiro attended Rutherford High School in Te Atatū.[7][9]

She then joined the first cohort of social work students at Massey University in Palmerston North[9] and later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in social sciences from the University of Auckland.[10] In 1987 Kiro gained a certificate in epidemiology from the European University Institute in Fiesole, Italy.[10]


From 1995 to 2000, Kiro was a senior lecturer in social policy at Massey University in Albany.[11] In 2001 she was awarded a PhD in social policy by Massey University for a thesis entitled Kimihia Hauora Māori = Māori Health Policy and Practice.[12] She went on to gain a Master of Business Administration (Executive) degree from the University of Auckland.[13]

Kiro was appointed New Zealand's Children's Commissioner in 2003 and served in this role until 2008.[11][14] While in this position she established the Taskforce for Action on Family Violence that included many government department chief executives and people from the police, the Family Courts, and Māori and Pacific Island representatives.[15] The passing of the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007 during her tenure attracted considerable public and media interest.[16] Kiro supported and advocated for the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act, which provided a legal justification for using force against children.[17]

Kiro returned to academia, as an associate professor at Massey University and heading its School of Public Health.[18][19] In 2013 Kiro took a position as head of Te Kura Māori at the School of Education at Victoria University of Wellington.[20] Kiro went on to serve as the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Māori) at the University of Auckland.[21]

In October 2020 Kiro was appointed chief executive of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, commencing on 1 March 2021.[21]


Appointment and investiture

Kiro showing Queen Elizabeth II her insignia of Companion of the Queen's Service Order during a virtual private audience, 19 October 2021

On 24 May 2021, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Elizabeth II, Queen of New Zealand, had agreed to her recommendation to appoint Kiro as the next governor-general of New Zealand from 21 October 2021. The five-year term of the previous governor-general, Dame Patsy Reddy, ended on 28 September 2021.[13] Kiro is the first Māori woman to be appointed governor-general.[22]

Kiro was invested as a Dame Grand Cross of the New Zealand Order of Merit and Companion of the Queen's Service Order by Queen Elizabeth II during a private audience via video call on 19 October (18 October in Britain).[23] She was sworn in as governor-general by the chief justice, Helen Winkelmann, at Parliament on 21 October.[24][25] The ceremony was smaller than usual because of national COVID-19 restrictions on the size of gatherings.[24]



Kiro gave her first royal assent as governor-general on 27 October,[26] when she gave assent to the Financial Sector (Climate-related Disclosures and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021 and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Legislation Act 2021.[27][28]


Kiro made her first international visit as governor-general in May 2022, when she travelled to Abu Dhabi to represent New Zealand at the official condolence ceremony for Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the late president of the United Arab Emirates.[29] On 1 June 2022, Kiro and her husband, Richard Davies, travelled to the United Kingdom for a week-long tour to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II. They attended the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral in London on 3 June, the Platinum Party at the Palace on the evening of 4 June, and the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, which included New Zealand defence personnel, on 5 June.[30] They also held bilateral meetings with some other Commonwealth governors-general.[31]

On 14 June, Kiro, in the exercise of her constitutional role, swore in a government minister for the first time, when Kieran McAnulty was appointed to the Executive Council.[32]

Kiro and Davies visited Samoa from 4 to 8 September to take part in celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of Samoan independence from New Zealand.[33]

Kiro and Davies travelled to the United Kingdom to attend the state funeral of Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey on 19 September 2022, joined by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.[34]


Kiro signing the warrant appointing Chris Hipkins as prime minister at Government House, Wellington, 25 January 2023

Kiro accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Ardern and formally appointed Chris Hipkins as prime minister and Carmel Sepuloni as deputy prime minister at Government House on 25 January.[35][36]

The Governor-General travelled to London to attend the coronation of Charles III and Camilla in May.[37]

Kiro appointed Christopher Luxon and his Sixth National Government to their respective ministries at Government House on 27 November.

Honours and awards

Viceregal styles of
Dame Cindy Kiro
Reference styleHer Excellency the Right Honourable
Spoken styleYour Excellency

In 2012, Kiro received the Public Health Champion award from the Public Health Association of New Zealand, and a US Fulbright Travel Award.[38][39] The same year she was also named the Māori of the Year for Community Contribution by Television New Zealand.[38]

In the 2021 New Year Honours, Kiro was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to child wellbeing and education.[40][41][42]

On 9 August 2021, Kiro was appointed an additional Dame Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and an additional Companion of the Queen's Service Order in preparation for becoming governor-general.[43] As governor-general, Kiro is entitled to be styled "Her Excellency" while in office and "The Right Honourable" for life.[44][45]

On 21 October 2021, Kiro was appointed a Dame of the Order of Saint John by the Queen and appointed a prior of the same order as the governor-general.[46]

In 2022, Kiro was awarded an honorary Doctor of Health degree by Massey University.[47]

Personal life

Kiro was married to architect, later teacher,[4] Chris Kuchel for 30 years, and had two sons with him.[48] Five years after separating, she met her current husband Richard Davies, a GP and a former member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Council, and is stepmother to his two sons.[9][21][48]

See also


  1. ^ Small, Zane (24 May 2021). "Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces Dame Cindy Kiro as next Governor-General". Newshub.
  2. ^ www.dynamo6.com. "kiro - Te Aka Māori Dictionary". kiro - Te Aka Māori Dictionary. Retrieved 19 March 2024.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Dame Cindy Kiro Net Worth 2023, Age, Husband, Children, Family, Parents, Salary". 2 January 2023.
  4. ^ a b c Hewitson, Michelle (15 August 2003). "A horribly good voice for the kids". NZ Herald. Archived from the original on 24 May 2021. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  5. ^ "Associate Professor Cindy Kiro – Massey University". massey.ac.nz. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Dame Cindy Kiro - from humble beginnings to Governor General". RNZ. 25 May 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d Husband, Dale (7 November 2021). "Dame Cindy Kiro: A pōhara kōtiro from the wop-wops". E-Tangata. Retrieved 7 November 2021.
  8. ^ "Haere rā Professor Dame Cindy Kiro". University of Auckland. 24 February 2021. Retrieved 7 November 2021.
  9. ^ a b c Evans, Julianne (November 2018). "Nau mai e Cindy" (PDF). Uni News. University of Auckland: 6–7. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  10. ^ a b "ORCID".
  11. ^ a b "Dr Cindy Kiro appointed Commissioner for Children". beehive.govt.nz. 13 August 2003. Archived from the original on 24 May 2021. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  12. ^ Kiro, Cynthia A. (2001). "Kimihia Hauora Māori = Māori Health Policy and Practice" (PDF). Massey University. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Dame Cindy Kiro to be next Governor-General of New Zealand - Ardern". Radio New Zealand. 24 May 2021. Archived from the original on 24 May 2021. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  14. ^ Romanos, Joseph (6 May 2009). "The Wellingtonian interview: Cindy Kiro". Stuff. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  15. ^ "Professor Cindy Kiro - Chair". Welfare Expert Advisory Group - Kia Piki Ake. Archived from the original on 21 January 2019. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  16. ^ "Anti-smacking bill becomes law". NZ Herald. 16 May 2007. Archived from the original on 6 November 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  17. ^ "Public Health Champion 2012 – Cindy Kiro". Public Health Association of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Maori graduates' achieve success". Stuff. 29 April 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  19. ^ "Associate Professor Cindy Kiro | Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga". maramatanga.ac.nz. Archived from the original on 5 February 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  20. ^ "New staff at Te Kura Māori". www.wgtn.ac.nz. 8 April 2013. Archived from the original on 24 May 2021. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  21. ^ a b c "Professor Cynthia Kiro appointed as Ahorangi Chief Executive". Royal Society Te Apārangi. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  22. ^ "Dame Cindy Kiro: New Zealand's first Māori woman to be governor-general, on her 'very poor' upbringing and life of service". The New Zealand Herald. 24 May 2021. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  23. ^ "The Queen invests Dame Cindy Kiro with the traditional Insignia of the Governor-General in video call". Stuff. 19 October 2021. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  24. ^ a b "Dame Cindy Kiro sworn in as Governor-General". RNZ. 21 October 2021. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  25. ^ Smith, Phil (22 October 2021). "Swearing-in a Governor General: a photo essay". RNZ. Archived from the original on 23 October 2021. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  26. ^ "New governor-general Dame Cindy Kiro gives her first royal assent". New Zealand Parliament. 2 November 2021. Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  27. ^ "Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Legislation Bill". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  28. ^ "Financial Sector (Climate-related Disclosures and Other Matters) Amendment Bill". New Zealand Parliament. Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  29. ^ "Launch of the Trees that Count Legacy Project for the Platinum Jubilee". Office of the governor-general. 6 September 2022. Retrieved 16 May 2022.
  30. ^ "Governor-general's visit to the UK for the Queen's platinum jubilee week". Scoop Independent News. Scoop. 31 May 2022. Retrieved 17 June 2022.
  31. ^ "HM Queen Elizabeth II platinum jubilee celebrations in London". Government House. 9 June 2022. Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  32. ^ "Appointment of minister and allocation of portfolios" (Press release). Government House. Retrieved 17 June 2022.
  33. ^ "Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro inspects the Samoan Police Service as 60th celebrations start". The New Zealand Herald. 6 September 2022. Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  34. ^ "Memorial events in the UK". Government House. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  35. ^ Muzaffar, Maroosha (25 January 2023). "Chris Hipkins sworn in as New Zealand's new prime minister". The Independent. Retrieved 26 January 2023.
  36. ^ "Jacinda Ardern's successor Chris Hipkins sworn in as New Zealand PM". BBC News. 25 January 2023. Retrieved 26 January 2023.
  37. ^ Sadler, Rachel (18 April 2023). "Chris Hipkins attending King Charles' coronation, NATO, visiting Australia this weekend". Newshub. Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  38. ^ a b "Prof Dame Cynthia Kiro - The University of Auckland". unidirectory.auckland.ac.nz. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  39. ^ "PHA Awards". www.pha.org.nz. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  40. ^ "New Year honours list 2021". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2020. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  41. ^ "New Year Honours: Former children's commissioner Prof Cindy Kiro made dame companion". Stuff. 30 December 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  42. ^ "New Year's Honours 2021 list announced". RNZ. 31 December 2020. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  43. ^ "Special honours list 9 August 2021". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 10 August 2021. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  44. ^ "Protocols". New Zealand Parliament. 2015. pp. 5, 9. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  45. ^ ""The Right Honourable"". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  46. ^ "Order of St John". The London Gazette. No. 3936025. 25 November 2021.
  47. ^ "Honorary doctorate citation, Cindy Kiro, 2022". Massey University. 25 November 2022. Retrieved 22 October 2022.
  48. ^ a b Tailor, Leena (7 June 2021). "Dame Cindy Kiro: 'I know what it's like to go hungry'". New Zealand Woman's Weekly. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
Government offices Preceded byRoger McClay Children's Commissioner of New Zealand 2003–2008 Succeeded byJohn Angus Preceded byDame Patsy Reddy Governor-General of New Zealand 2021–present Incumbent Order of precedence Preceded byCharles IIIas Monarch Order of Precedence of New Zealandas Governor-General Succeeded byChristopher Luxonas Prime Minister