Catherine Tizard

Last updated

Dame Catherine Tizard

Governor-General Catherine Tizard.jpg
16th Governor-General of New Zealand
In office
13 December 1990 21 March 1996
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Jim Bolger
Preceded by Paul Reeves
Succeeded by Michael Hardie Boys
35th Mayor of Auckland City
In office
DeputyJohn Strevens (1983-86)
Harold Goodman (1986-88)
Phil Warren (1988-90)
Preceded by Colin Kay
Succeeded by Les Mills
Personal details
Catherine Anne Maclean

(1931-04-04) 4 April 1931 (age 88)
Auckland, New Zealand
Political party Labour Party
Bob Tizard
(m. 1951;div. 1980)
Alma mater University of Auckland

Dame Catherine Anne Tizard ONZ GCMG GCVO DBE QSO DStJ (née Maclean; born 4 April 1931) is a New Zealand politician who served as Mayor of Auckland City from 1983 to 1990, and the 16th Governor-General of New Zealand from 1990 to 1996. She was the first woman to hold either office.

The Mayor of Auckland City was the directly elected head of the Auckland City Council, the municipal government of Auckland City, New Zealand. The office existed from 1871 to 2010, when the Auckland City Council and mayoralty was abolished and replaced with the Auckland Council and the Mayor of Auckland.


Early life

Catherine Anne Maclean was born to Scottish immigrants, Neil and Helen Maclean, and grew up in Waharoa, near Matamata, Waikato. [1] Neil was a factory worker at the local Waharoa dairy factory. [2] She attended Matamata College, and she gained a University Bursary in her final year, 1948. In 1949 Catherine enrolled at Auckland University College in Zoology. [3]

Waharoa Place in Waikato, New Zealand

Waharoa is a rural community in the Waikato Region of New Zealand's North Island. It is located 7 km north of Matamata, and is part of the Matamata-Piako District. It is located at the railway junction of the Kinleith Branch railway with the East Coast Main Trunk Railway. State Highway 27 runs through the town, serviced by several shops, cafes and a petrol station.

Matamata Place in Waikato, New Zealand

Matamata is a town in the Waikato Region of New Zealand's North Island. It is located near the base of the Kaimai Ranges, and is a thriving farming area known for Thoroughbred horse breeding and training pursuits. It is part of the Matamata-Piako District, which takes in the surrounding rural areas as well as Morrinsville and Te Aroha. State Highway 27 and the Kinleith Branch railway run through the town. The town has a population of 7,920 as of June 2018.

Waikato region in New Zealands North Island

Waikato is a local government region of the upper North Island of New Zealand. It covers the Waikato District, Hauraki, Coromandel Peninsula, the northern King Country, much of the Taupo District, and parts of Rotorua District. It is governed by the Waikato Regional Council.


While at university, Catherine met Bob Tizard, then president of the Auckland University Students Association. On their second date, Bob told Catherine he was "going into politics. And I'm going to marry you." [4]

Bob Tizard New Zealand politician

Robert James Tizard was a Labour politician from New Zealand. He served as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister of Health and Minister of Defence.

They married in 1951, and Bob unsuccessfully ran for the seat of Remuera later that year at the general election and again at the 1954 general election. He was finally successful at the 1957 election, winning in Tamaki, but was defeated three years later by Rob Muldoon. The couple moved to Avondale and started a family, with Catherine having four children in six years starting at the age of 21 with Anne, followed by Linda, Judith and Nigel. They moved in 1957 to Glendowie, in the Tamaki electorate.

Remuera (New Zealand electorate) Former New Zealand electorate

Remuera is a former New Zealand parliamentary electorate, in the city of Auckland. It existed from 1938, when it replaced the Parnell electorate, until 1996. It was consistently held by members of the National Party.

Tāmaki (New Zealand electorate)

Tāmaki is a parliamentary electorate, returning one Member of Parliament to the New Zealand House of Representatives. The electorate is named after the Tamaki River that runs immediately east of the seat. The electorate is represented by Simon O'Connor, who became the National Party candidate after Allan Peachey withdrew from the 2011 election for health reasons; Peachey died before the election.

Judith Tizard New Zealand politician

Judith Ngaire Tizard is a former New Zealand politician, and a member of the Labour Party.

Bob ran for and won the Pakuranga seat at the general election in 1963. Catherine then returned to university to complete her degree in zoology, [5] and later began teaching at Auckland University.

Pakuranga (New Zealand electorate) Current New Zealand electorate

Pakuranga is a New Zealand Parliamentary electorate. It gave the Social Credit Party one of its few MPs when Neil Morrison held the seat from 1984 to 1987, but otherwise the electorate seat has been held by the National Party since 1972. Its current MP is Simeon Brown who has held the electorate since the 2017 general election.

Auckland City Council

Catherine was elected to the Auckland City Council in 1971 and was re-elected in 1974, 1977 and 1980. She was also elected to the Auckland Regional Authority in 1980, at the same time as running for Mayor of Auckland against incumbent Sir Dove-Myer Robinson and councillor Colin Kay. This three-way split gave the election to Kay by a margin of 2,000 votes. She opposed the 1981 Springbok tour, and an attempt to ban Hare Krishna from performing chants on Queen Street. [6]

Auckland City Former territorial authority of New Zealand in Auckland

Auckland City is the part of Auckland urban area covering the isthmus and most of the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. The core of Auckland City is the Auckland CBD, a major financial and commercial centre, surrounded by many suburbs. It was formerly the name of a local authority district that was governed by Auckland City Council; it lay within the wider Auckland Region, which was governed by Auckland Regional Council. Auckland City was disestablished as a local government district on 1 November 2010, when Auckland City Council was amalgamated with other councils of the Auckland Region into the new Auckland Council.

Auckland Regional Council

The Auckland Regional Council (ARC) was the regional council of the Auckland Region. Its predecessor the Auckland Regional Authority (ARA) was formed in 1963 and became the ARC in 1989. The ARC was subsumed into the Auckland Council on 1 November 2010.

Dove-Myer Robinson New Zealand mayor

Sir Dove-Myer Robinson was Mayor of Auckland City from 1959 to 1965 and from 1968 to 1980, the longest tenure of any holder of the office. He was a colourful character and became affectionately known across New Zealand as "Robbie". He was one of several Jewish mayors of Auckland, although he rejected Judaism as a teenager and became a lifelong atheist. He has been described as a "slight, bespectacled man whose tiny stature was offset by a booming voice and massive ego".

In the short-lived government of Prime Minister Norman Kirk, Bob was appointed first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health and later under Prime Minister Bill Rowling Minister of Finance and Minister of Defence. This put considerable strain on the family as Bob was often away overseas. She and her family moved to Wellington, and she commuted to Auckland for council business. [7]

From 1976 to 1985, Tizard starred on the popular TVNZ chat show Beauty and the Beast , along with Selwyn Toogood and Shona McFarlane. She later attributed her success in politics to this show. [8]

Mayor of Auckland City

Tizard decided to run for Mayor of Auckland City again at the 1983 local elections. She defeated incumbent Colin Kay. [9] She was the first female to serve as Mayor of Auckland, [10] In 1984, she was made a Dame. [11] Later in 1984 there was a major riot in Queen Street. [12]

During her term as mayor, the Aotea Centre next to Aotea Square was developed. She was also the patron of the 99th Police recruit wing in 1985 in which all 75 recruits after graduation were sent to Auckland to serve. She was re-elected in 1986, and once again in 1989 following a major amalgamation of local authorities. [13] In 1990 Auckland hosted the Commonwealth Games, an event Dame Catherine had worked to secure for Auckland. [14]


Tizard delivering a speech at an official function, 1992 Catherine Tizard 1992.jpg
Tizard delivering a speech at an official function, 1992

In 1989, Dame Catherine was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of New Zealand as the nation's first female governor-general on the advice of Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and took office on 13 December 1990, causing a by-election for the Mayoralty of Auckland. [13] She accepted on the proviso that the Queen be informed before her Royal tour in February 1990, and that the leader of the opposition be informed. [15]

Then Deputy Prime Minister Helen Clark and Labour Party President Margaret Wilson [16] pushed for a female governor-general, as the 100th anniversary of Women's suffrage in New Zealand would occur during the governor-general's term in 1993. Tizard had been informed of her impending appointment by her former husband Bob Tizard, who was a member of Cabinet at the time, she later commented that this was the only time Bob breached cabinet confidentiality. [13]

She was the third female governor-general in the Commonwealth (after Dame Minita Gordon of Belize in 1981, and Jeanne Sauvé in Canada in 1984). In 1993, on the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage, Tizard received the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal. [17]

During her tenure in office, Dame Catherine ended the practice of bowing to the governor-general, declaring, "No New Zealander should have to bow to another". [1] She also ended the practice of members of staff ceasing to clean whenever she entered the room. [18]

While Governor-General, a particular piece of legislation did not appeal to Dame Catherine at all. She asked the question of her responsible official and asked the question of herself and finally said (apparently). "All right, I will sign my assent, but I will do it in black ink!" A special bottle was obtained and used for the purpose!" [19]


Prior to the second referendum on electoral reform in New Zealand in June 1993, Tizard caused some outrage by making an unscripted suggestion in a lecture on the role of the governor-general that under an MMP system the governor-general would have to use their reserve powers more often, which would create instability. [20]

Ironically, the New Zealand general election, 1993 – the last under First Past the Post – nearly resulted in a hung parliament, with the election night result having the two major parties tied. She asked Sir David Beattie to form a committee, along with three retired appeal court judges, to decide whom to appoint as Prime Minister. [20] However, National won one more seat and was returned to power when Labour's Sir Peter Tapsell agreed to become Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives. [21]

In an interview with North & South in 1996, Tizard stated that she could not believe "...some of the idiocies of the health system", causing great consternation from the Minister of Health. [22]


On her retirement from office, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, who had nominated Dame Catherine for the office, stated: "She has been a powerful, yes a presidential public presence. She has been a part of New Zealand's growing up." [23]

In 2004, Dame Catherine stated that she supported a New Zealand republic "in principle" and when she was governor-general, had discussed the issue of republicanism with the Queen: "She is quite sanguine about these things. She has always said it is a decision for New Zealand to make, and 'whatever decision New Zealand makes, of course we would accept it'." [24]

In December 2004, Dame Catherine Tizard became a member of the NZ Trust, supporting a referendum on whether the New Zealand flag should be changed. She said, "Our present flag served a young post-colonial country well, but the time has come to consider a change which more appropriately recognises our changed identity and confidence in ourselves. Let's find out what the country thinks of the idea of a change." [25]

In 2007, Dame Catherine supported former Mayor of Auckland, Dick Hubbard's campaign for re-election as mayor at the local body elections. [26]

On 9 October 2007 she was appointed Honorary Colonel of the 3rd Auckland (Countess of Ranfurly's Own) and Northland Regiment, a largely ceremonial role. [27]

Changes to the rules in 2006 granted her the use of the style The Honourable for life, [28] as a consequence of having been governor-general.

In 2010 Dame Catherine published her memoirs, entitled Cat Amongst the Pigeons, a reference to her personal arms. [29]

In December 2012, Tizard starred in an online video campaign supporting gay marriage, alongside New Zealand singers Anika Moa, Boh Runga and Hollie Smith, as well as Olympian Danyon Loader. [30]


See also

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  1. 1 2 McLean 2006, p. 327.
  2. "Dame Cath Moves Up: 1990". NZ on Screen. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
  3. Tizard 2010, p. 34.
  4. Tizard 2010, p. 35.
  5. Tizard 2010, p. 75.
  6. Tizard 2010, p. 195.
  7. Tizard 2010, p. 102.
  8. Tizard 2010, p. 137.
  9. Tizard 2010, p. 149.
  10. "Our patron – Dame Catherine Tizard". University of Auckland Society. Archived from the original on 14 August 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2007.
  11. Tizard 2010, p. 169.
  12. Tizard 2010, p. 163.
  13. 1 2 3 Tizard 2010, p. 203.
  14. Tizard 2010, p. 193.
  15. Tizard 2010, p. 204.
  16. McLean 2006, p. 324.
  17. "The New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993 – register of recipients". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  18. Tizard 2010, p. 225.
  19. Sir Anand Satyanand (16 September 2010). "Speech to launch Dame Catherine Tizard's memoirs, Government House Auckland". Archived from the original on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
  20. 1 2 McLean 2006, p. 333.
  21. Tizard 2010, p. 273.
  22. McLean 2006, p. 335.
  23. McLean 2006, p. 336.
  24. "Ditch Queen, say former Governors-General: New Zealand Herald". The New Zealand Herald. 14 November 2004. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  25. "9 December 2004: Trust - Dame Catherine Tizard heads new group of" (Press release). Retrieved 23 January 2007.
  26. Orsman, Bernard (6 September 2007). "High-profile backing for Hubbard campaign". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 6 September 2007.
  27. "Dame Cath Tizard appointed to honorary Colonel role". NZDF. Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. Retrieved 11 December 2007.
  28. "Changes to rules around use of title" (Press release). New Zealand Government. 17 July 2006. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
  29. Tizard 2010.
  30. "Marriage equality 'about love'". 3 News NZ. 6 December 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2016.

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
Colin Kay
Mayor of Auckland City
Succeeded by
Les Mills
Government offices
Preceded by
Paul Reeves
Governor-General of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Michael Hardie Boys