Denis Blundell

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Sir Denis Blundell

Sir Denis Blundell.jpg
12th Governor-General of New Zealand
In office
27 September 1972 (1972-09-27) 5 October 1977 (1977-10-05)
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister
Preceded by Sir Arthur Porritt
Succeeded by Sir Keith Holyoake
Personal details
Born(1907-05-29)29 May 1907
Wellington, New Zealand
Died24 September 1984(1984-09-24) (aged 77)
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
NationalityNew Zealand
Relatives Henry Blundell (great-grandfather)
ProfessionLawyer, diplomat
Military service
AllegianceNew Zealand
Branch/service 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Years of service1939–1944
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Commands 23rd Battalion
Battles/wars Second World War
Awards Officer of the Order of the British Empire

Sir Edward Denis Blundell, GCMG , GCVO , KBE , QSO (29 May 1907 – 24 September 1984) was a New Zealand lawyer, cricketer, diplomat, and the 12th Governor-General of New Zealand from 1972 to 1977.


Early life and family

Denis Blundell was born in Wellington to Henry Percy Fabian Blundell, grandson of Henry Blundell, founder of The Evening Post [1] and scion of the ancient Lancashire family.

Wellington Capital city of New Zealand

Wellington is the capital and second most populous urban area of New Zealand, with 418,500 residents. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range. Wellington is the major population centre of the southern North Island, and is the administrative centre of the Wellington Region, which also includes the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa. It is the world's southernmost capital of a sovereign state. Wellington features a temperate maritime climate, and is the world's windiest city by average wind speed.

Henry Blundell, New Zealand newspaper founder, proprietor and publisher, "a man with two or three crafts at his fingers' ends", was born in Dublin, Ireland. He brought his six children to Australia in 1860 and, moving permanently to New Zealand in 1863, began publishing the Wellington evening daily newspaper The Evening Post on 8 February 1865.

<i>The Evening Post</i> (New Zealand) former newspaper based in Wellington, New Zealand

The Evening Post was an afternoon metropolitan daily newspaper based in Wellington, New Zealand. It was founded in 1865 by Dublin-born printer, newspaper manager and leader-writer Henry Blundell, who brought his large family to New Zealand in 1863.

Blundell attended Waitaki Boys' High School and Trinity College, Cambridge. There he read Law and was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1929. He never practised in the United Kingdom, however, and returned to New Zealand in 1930, practising as barrister and solicitor in Wellington. He was a partner in the Wellington law firm of Bell Gully from 1936 to 1968.

Waitaki Boys' High School is a secondary school for boys located in the northern part of the town of Oamaru, Otago, New Zealand, with day and boarding facilities, and was founded in 1883. As of 2012, it has a school roll of just under 500.

Trinity College, Cambridge constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England

Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in England. With around 600 undergraduates, 300 graduates, and over 180 fellows, it is the largest college in either of the Oxbridge universities by number of undergraduates. In terms of total student numbers, it is second only to Homerton College, Cambridge.

University of Cambridge University in Cambridge, United Kingdom

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a Royal Charter by King Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's fourth-oldest surviving university. The university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. The two 'ancient universities' share many common features and are often referred to jointly as 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Cambridge has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

During the Second World War, Blundell served in the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force from 1939 to 1944. He fought in North Africa and Italy, was brigade major of the 5th Infantry Brigade from 1943 to 1944, briefly commanded the 23rd Battalion with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1944, and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

Brigade major chief of staff of a brigade in the British Army

A brigade major was the chief of staff of a brigade in the British Army. He most commonly held the rank of major, although the appointment was also held by captains, and was head of the brigade's "G - Operations and Intelligence" section directly, and oversaw the two other branches, "A – Administration" and "Q – Quartermaster". Intentionally ranked lower than the lieutenant colonels commanding the brigade's combat battalions, his role was to expand on, detail and execute the intentions of the commanding brigadier.

The 5th Infantry Brigade was an infantry brigade formation of the New Zealand Military Forces, active during World War II as part of the 2nd New Zealand Division. It saw service during the Battle of Greece, the Battle of Crete, the North African Campaign and the Italian Campaign before being disbanded in late 1945.

Blundell was President of the Wellington District Law Society in 1951, President of the New Zealand Law Society for six years (1962–1968) and Vice-President of the Law Society of Asia and the Pacific in 1966. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal in 1953, [2] and knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1967 Queen's Birthday Honours in recognition of his "services to the legal profession." [3]

The New Zealand Law Society is the parent body for barristers and solicitors in New Zealand. It was established in 1869, and regulates all lawyers practising in New Zealand. Membership of the Society is voluntary, although any person wishing to practice law in New Zealand must obtain a practising certificate from the Society. The Society has 13 branch offices throughout the country. Each branch has a president and a council, which represent their members’ interests on a regional and national level.

Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal British and Commonwealth medal

The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal is a commemorative medal instituted to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June 1953.

The Queen's Birthday Honours 1967 were appointments by many of the Commonwealth realms of Queen Elizabeth II to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by citizens of those countries, on the occasion of the official birthday of the Queen. They were announced in supplements to the London Gazette of 2 June 1967.

He married June Halligan in 1945. They had a son and a daughter.

June Blundell Companion of the Queens Service Order; Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St John; Member of the Order of New Zealand

June Daphne Blundell, Lady Blundell was the wife of Sir Denis Blundell, former Governor-General of New Zealand. She was known in her own right for her extensive community activism and welfare work.

Cricket career

Blundell was a talented cricketer, and opened the bowling in first-class cricket for Cambridge University, MCC and Wellington. [4] In 1928, in his first first-class match for Cambridge, he took 6 for 25 and 3 for 103 against Leicestershire. [5] He captained Wellington in the 1934–35 Plunket Shield season, taking 6 for 82 and 5 for 48 in the match against Otago. [6] When the MCC toured New Zealand in 1935–36 he was selected in two of the four matches New Zealand played against the tourists, taking six wickets, all of top-order batsmen, at an average of 19.50. [7]

Blundell was President of the New Zealand Cricket Board from 1959 to 1962.

High Commissioner

Blundell was appointed by Prime Minister Keith Holyoake as High Commissioner for New Zealand in Britain and Ambassador to Ireland in 1968. In 1972 he returned to New Zealand.


Sir Denis Blundell opens Reevedon Home, Levin, on 18 October 1975. Denis Blundell opens Reevedon Home.jpg
Sir Denis Blundell opens Reevedon Home, Levin, on 18 October 1975.

Blundell was appointed in 1972 by Queen Elizabeth II on the advice of her Prime Minister Jack Marshall to the office of Governor-General of New Zealand. The Leader of the Opposition, Norman Kirk, did not support the appointment, because of Blundell's friendship with the Prime Minister. At his swearing-in ceremony, the Prime Minister referred to Blundell as "a close personal friend over many years in the law, in the battle of the EEC and in many a battle on the golf-course". [8] Blundell was the first New Zealand-born and resident Governor-General, and his appointment prompted David Lange to say "it sort of made us somehow mortal. A man who was a lawyer and the son of a newspaper publisher could become The Queen in drag." [9]

Blundell was the first Governor-General to appear on the electoral roll, for the 1972 general election, although it is unknown whether he voted (under New Zealand electoral law a citizen is only required to register to vote). [10] In office Blundell dispensed with the traditional plumed helmet, stating "I'd feel an awful Joe underneath one of those hats." [9] Instead, he wore a plain uniform, and usually only for visits to military bases. [11] His term ended in 1977.

As Governor-General, Blundell was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George and Knight of the Order of St John in 1972, [12] [13] Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in 1974, [14] and Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public service in 1977. [15]

Later life

Blundell died while on holiday at Townsville, Queensland, Australia, in 1984. [16] He was survived by his wife and children.


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  1. "BLUNDELL, Henry Percy Fabian". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand .
  2. Taylor, Alister; Coddington, Deborah (1994). Honoured by the Queen – New Zealand. Auckland: New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa. p. 70. ISBN   0-908578-34-2.
  3. "No. 44328". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 June 1967. p. 6312.
  4. CricInfo profile
  5. "Cambridge University v Leicestershire 1928". CricketArchive. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  6. Wellington v Otago, 1935-35
  7. Don Neely & Richard Payne, Men in White: The History of New Zealand International Cricket, 1894–1985, Moa, Auckland, 1986, pp. 136–39.
  8. Margaret Hayward (1981). Diary of the Kirk Years. AH & AW Reed.
  9. 1 2 McLean 2006, p. 291.
  10. McLean 2006, p. 293.
  11. "Sir Denis Blundell". NZ History Online. 6 June 2007.
  12. "No. 45736". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 July 1972. p. 9039.
  13. "No. 45777". The London Gazette . 15 September 1972. p. 10924.
  14. "No. 46280". The London Gazette . 3 May 1974. p. 5485.
  15. "No. 47366". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 October 1977. p. 13739.
  16. Obituary, Cricketer, November 1984, p. 57.


Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Tom Macdonald
High Commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Merwyn Norrish (acting)
Terry McCombs
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Arthur Porritt
Governor-General of New Zealand
Succeeded by
Sir Keith Holyoake