10 Mar 2011

Former Defence chief new governor-general

10:45 am on 10 March 2011

Former Defence Force chief Jerry Mateparae has been appointed to succeed Sir Anand Satyanand as Governor-General.

Prime Minister John Key made the announcement on Tuesday morning, saying Lieutenant-General Mateparae will be sworn in on 31 August to begin a five-year term.


General Mateparae joined the Army in 1972. His military career culminated in his appointment as Defence Force chief in 2006, when he became the first officer of Maori descent to hold the position.

He has served in Bougainville, southern Lebanon and East Timor, and is currently director of the Government Communications Security Bureau.

General Mateparae says he was very surprised by the "extraordinary honour" and it took a few days to think it through and discuss it with his family before coming to the conclusion he could not turn down the role.

He said he has a belief in New Zealanders and their spirit to get things done - which he witnessed in the military and in Christchurch in the aftermath of the recent earthquakes.

Mr Key says General Mateparae was the first choice from the list of possible names. Describing him as a "warm and engaging New Zealander" he says his leadership abilities in the Defence Force were the main factor in his appointment.

Mr Key says General Mateparae will bring great mana to the role, has good judgment and will continue to serve New Zealand with honour.

In January this year, Lieutenant-General Rhys Jones took over as chief of the Defence Force.

Political reaction

Political parties have welcomed the Government's choice, praising General Mateparae's skills as a leader.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff says he is well regarded by all who have worked with him, while ACT leader Rodney Hide says the fact that he is Maori will help him in the role.

General Mateparae and his wife Janine have two daughters and three sons. His interests include keeping fit, diving, reading, sport, health and well-being.