Kiro takes office as NZ governor-general

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Kiro takes office as NZ governor-general

Dame Cindy Kiro has taken office as New Zealand's 22nd governor-general in a stately ceremony at Wellington's Parliament House.

The first Maori woman to hold the role replaces Dame Patsy Reddy, who completed her term as the Queen's representative last month.

The ceremony was lavish, with a red carpet rolled down parliament's steps, but Dame Cindy has promised to focus on those less well-off in New Zealand society.

“I will reach out to those marginalised in our society, whether because of disability, homelessness, discrimination, addiction, or mental health issues,” she said.

“I will connect with new migrants and former refugees, and celebrate the diverse cultures and religions gifted to our nation by all those who have chosen to make New Zealand their home.”

Dame Cindy, who said the job was an honour and a privilege, was born in Whangarei in 1958 and is the eldest of six children.

“I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve my country,” she said.

She cited the oaths of office in both English and te reo Maori with her hand on a bible.

A trained epidemiologist and Maori health expert, Dame Cindy is a former children's commissioner and advocate for raising social security.

She was awarded a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in this year's New Year Honours for services to child wellbeing and education.

She was hand-picked by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who said the country was “very lucky to have you”.

“In times of triumph or tragedy, you will stand alongside New Zealanders with the land firmly under your feet and the voice of the people in your ear,” Ms Ardern said.

“We too will listen to your unique voice … proudly Maori and part British. The child of a mother born in a hut with a mud floor in the far north and a father from a coal-mining town in the north of England.

“For you followed a life of hard work, dedication and perseverance to succeed. By any measure the portrait of every New Zealander.”

Dame Cindy had her first virtual audience with the Queen on Tuesday, whom she described as a “true pillar of service, humility and grace”, and will serve a five-year term.

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