Events In History


Notes for My Successor

Empire Day

  • Empire Day

    Empire Day (24 May), celebrated widely in New Zealand from 1903, was a major event in the viceregal calendar.

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  • Page 1 - Empire DayEmpire Day (24 May), celebrated widely in New Zealand from 1903, was a major event in the viceregal

History of the Governor-General

  • History of the Governor-General

    New Zealand has had a governor or (from 1917) a governor-general since 1840. The work of these men and women has reflected the constitutional and political history of New Zealand in many ways.

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  • Page 2 – Modern duties

    The governor-general's duties are divided into three functions: ceremonial, community and constitutional.

  • Page 3 – Crown colony era

    New Zealand became a British colony in 1840, legitimised by the Treaty of Waitangi and Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson's 21 May declaration of sovereignty.

  • Page 4 – Responsible government

    From the 1840s settlers demanded a say in government. Governor George Grey suspended an overly elaborate constitution in 1846, but the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 gave

  • Page 5 – Splendid ornamentals

    With the appointment of Lord Onslow in 1889, a new type of governor took up residence in Government House.

  • Page 6 – Regalised

    The constitutional arrangements of the British Empire changed greatly between the creation of the Imperial War Cabinet in 1917 and the passing of the Statute of Westminster in

  • Page 7 – Patriated

    Late last century, New Zealand governments patriated (indigenised) the governor-generalship.

  • Page 8 – Uber diplomat?

    From 1926, in accordance with decisions taken as a consequence of the Balfour Declaration, governors-general merely represented the sovereign in New Zealand.

  • Page 9 – Further information

    Find out more about the history of the Governor-General.

Viceregal visiting

Governors and Governors-General

  • Governors and Governors-General

    New Zealand has had 16 resident governors and 22 governors-general. Two early governors were called governor-in-chief.

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  • Page 2 – Selection process

    In the days of the Empire, the British government appointed New Zealand's governors and governors-general. New Zealand had no say.

  • Page 3 – Career paths

    As the job evolved over time, so did the type of person needed to govern successfully. Between 1840 and 1853, when governors ruled personally, they were junior navy or army

  • Page 4 – Genes, gender and age

    From 1840 until 1972, New Zealand's governors and governors-general were British.

  • Page 5 – Further information

    Find out more about the governors and governors-general of New Zealand.

The House of Representatives

  • The House of Representatives

    New Zealand's Parliament dates back to 1854, just 14 years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the beginning of the European settlement of the country. For most of its history as a nation state, New Zealand has had some form of elected government.

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  • Page 3 - ParliamentToday there are two parts to Parliament – the House of Representatives (or the Lower House) and the Governor-General, but between 1854 and 1951 there was a third part, the

Queen Elizabeth II

  • Queen Elizabeth II

    Queen Elizabeth II became New Zealand's monarch on 6 February 1952, following the death of her father, King George VI

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  • Page 2 - Constitutional and public ceremonial rolesThe Queen was New Zealand’s head of state. Her title was confirmed by Royal Titles Acts of 1953 and 1974, the latter entitling her ‘Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God


  • Freyberg, Bernard Cyril

    A First World War hero and commander of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Bernard Freyberg proved to be a charismatic and popular military leader who would later serve a term as Governor-General

  • Holyoake, Keith Jacka

    ‘Kiwi Keith’ Holyoake, the first officially designated deputy PM (1954) was our third-longest serving leader.Although criticised for sending troops to the Vietnam War, he is now seen as ‘the most dovish of the hawks’, doing the bare minimum to keep America happy.

  • Reeves, Paul Alfred

    Sir Paul Reeves was Archbishop of New Zealand and in 1985 became this country's first Māori governor-general.


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