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Governors and Governors-General

Page 1 – Introduction

Sir Keith Holyoake
Sir Keith Holyoake

The chosen few

In 2023, New Zealand had had 16 resident governors and 22 governors-general. Their role, duties and influence have changed dramatically over the years. So too have the selection process and the career path, background, gender and age of the people selected for the job.

Two early governors were called governor-in-chief. The first never set foot here. New Zealand joined the British Empire as a dependency of New South Wales, so Captain William Hobson started as lieutenant-governor to Lieutenant-Colonel Sir George Gipps (who, as governor of New South Wales, was also governor-in-chief of New Zealand until 1841). From 1848 until 1853, when New Zealand was divided into New Ulster and New Munster, Sir George Grey was governor-in chief of New Zealand. The role changed after New Zealand achieved self-government in 1856, but until the late 1960s all our governors-general were British, mainly minor aristocrats or admirals and generals.

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How to cite this page

Governors and governors-general, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated