New Zealand has named former Military Chief Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae as the next Governor-General making him only the second Maori to hold the high office.
Sir Paul Reeves, who served as the Governor General from 1985 to 1990, was the first person of Maori descent to be appointed to the post.
Prime Minister John Key said Mateparae will be sworn in after the term of the incumbent Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand concludes in August.
General Mateparae joined the military at the age of 17 and rose through the ranks to become the first Maori head of the New Zealand Defence Force in 2006 holding the position until January this year. Thereafter, he was appointed to the post of Director, Government Communications Security Bureau (the Government’s main intelligence agency).
During his military career, he served with the elite Special Air Service (SAS) regiment and was posted to East Timor and Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville. He also completed a tour of duty with UN observers in Southern Lebanon in the mid-1990s monitoring a truce agreement in the country.
General Mateparae said his appointment was an unexpected honour.
“You cannot imagine my surprise. I look forward to serving our country and New Zealanders,” he said.
Sir Anand welcomed the appointment, saying that his successor-designate will bring fine qualities to the role of Governor-General.
“I have had considerable contact with him and he is an excellent choice. His record of leadership with the New Zealand Defence Force at a time of considerable change is distinguished,” he said.
Photo Caption: Lt Gen Jerry Mateparae