Notes for My Successor

Page 8 – From lieutenant-governor to Governor-General

Changing titles

Captain William Hobson (served 1840–42) reached New Zealand early in 1840. He served as lieutenant-governor under Sir George Gipps, who as governor of New South Wales was also governor-in-chief of New Zealand. In 1841 New Zealand became a separate Crown colony with Hobson as governor.

In 1917, partway through the term of Lord Liverpool (1912–20), the title of governor was further upgraded to Governor-General. In those days this role also represented the British government in New Zealand, a function that since 1939 has been carried out by the British High Commissioner. The Governor-General represents the monarch, who is New Zealand's head of state.

The modern Governor-General

An outgoing Governor-General's 'Notes for My Successor' have had their day. New Zealanders already know the country and have no need to pack their household goods for a journey around the world.

After Cabinet has made its decision, the Governor-General designate meets the outgoing Governor-General and the staff of Government House. He or she receives a series of briefings from officials and visits London to receive the commission from the Queen.

See also: a biography of the current Governor-General.

Biographies of governors and Governors-General

These biographies are available from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography website:

  • Bledisloe, Charles Bathurst (1867–1958)
  • Bowen, George Ferguson (1821–99)
  • Browne, Thomas Robert Gore (1807–87)
  • Cobham, Charles John Lyttelton (1909–77)
  • FitzRoy, Robert (1805–65)
  • Freyberg, Bernard Cyril (1889–1963)
  • Gordon, Arthur Hamilton (1829–1912)
  • Grey, George (1812–98)
  • Hobson, William (1792–1842)
  • Holyoake, Keith Jacka (1904–83)
  • Jellicoe, John Henry Rushworth (1859–1935)
  • Jervois, William Francis Drummond (1821–97)
  • Onslow, William Hillier (1853–1911)
  • Porritt, Arthur Espie (1900–94)

A full list of New Zealand governors and Governors-General, including the years in which they held office, is available from the Governor-General's website.

All governors and Governors-General are featured in the book, The Governors.

How to cite this page

'From lieutenant-governor to Governor-General', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 28-Sep-2016