Notes for My Successor

Page 1 – Introduction

Lord Ranfurly
Lord Ranfurly

Notes for my successor

Until the late 1960s New Zealand's governors-general were British, mainly minor aristocrats, or admirals or generals. Each normally served a five-year term.

Few had visited New Zealand, so they needed advice about its climate, customs and cultures. They turned to several sources. Retired governors-general or friends who had lived here passed on helpful tips. New Zealand House in London also assisted.

They also had 'Notes for My Successor', a desk file written or updated by the retiring governor-general. In a few typewritten pages it set out what his replacement could expect – the climate, local tradespeople, prices and the many perquisites and burdens that went with the job.

The notes were never meant to be published. They were too scrappy, personal and informal for that. Still, they were refreshingly frank, so let's peer over the viceregal shoulder to see what the King's and Queen's men really thought about New Zealand's top job.

See also:

How to cite this page

'Tips for new Governors-General ', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 16-May-2023