Governor-General Jerry Mateparae

John Key announces:

Prime Minister John Key today welcomed the announcement that the Queen has approved the appointment of Lieutenant General to succeed Sir Anand Satyanand as of New Zealand.

If I have it right he will be “His Excellency, the Right Honourable Lieutenant General Sir Jeremiah (Jerry) Mateparae, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Realm of New Zealand”.

The announcement from Buckingham Palace details Mateparae’s background:

His current appointment is Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), which he took up on 7 February 2011. Prior to joining GCSB, he had a 38 year career with the New Zealand Defence Force, which culminated in his appointment as Chief of Defence Force in the rank of Lieutenant General from 1 May 2006 until 24 January 2011. General Mateparae was the first officer of Maori descent to hold the rank and appointment.

He enlisted into the Regular Force of the New Zealand Army in June 1972. After three years service as a soldier, he graduated in 1976 from the Officer Cadet School at Portsea into the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment. He served in both battalions of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment and with the New Zealand Special Air Service. He commanded a regionally-based combined force Truce Monitoring Group on the island of Bougainville during OPERATION BELISI in 1998. He also completed a 12-month tour of duty with the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organisation as the Chief Observer in southern Lebanon from May 1994 to May 1995. Subsequently, as the New Zealand Army’s Land Commander he was New Zealand’s Joint Commander for New Zealand forces in East Timor (December 1999 to July 2001). He was Chief of Army from 1 May 2002 until 30 April 2006.

He might be the first spy head to be appointed Governor-General, but I suspect he is also the only former SAS member to be appointed also. He’s gone from the Chief of the Defence Force to the only “military” job above that!

The Republican Movement have made the point:

The Republican Movement acknowledges the nomination of Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae as Governor-General by Prime Minister John Key today. Lt. Gen. Mateparae is a well known and respected New Zealander. He topped a poll in October last year of 1,435 New Zealanders conducted by the Republican Movement to find New Zealand’s next Governor-General.

“Yet, his appointment was made in secret and lacked democratic oversight” said Lewis Holden, chair of the Republican Movement.

New Zealand needs a proper elected head of state, not an appointee of the Prime Minister.

While the choice is a very good one, I have to agree that the Head of Government should not effectively unilaterally decide who is the effective Head of State. At a minimum it should be a parliamentary vote.

Of interest is what Lewis said about Mateparae having topped the poll that Republican Movement ran for who should be the next head of state. The poll results are here:

  1. Lieutenant-General Jerry Mateparae 34%
  2. Ray Avery 16%
  3. Sir Peter Leitch 12%
  4. Jim Bolger 8%
  5. Sir Don McKinnon 7%

I think he’s a very good choice. I’ve met him a couple of times at social functions (well if you can call a funeral wake a social function) and he’s very down to earth. He’s excelled at pretty much everything he has done in life, so I have no doubt he will be an excellent Governor-General.

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