Guy Powles

Last updated

Sir Guy Powles

1st New Zealand Chief Ombudsman
In office
Succeeded by George Laking
New Zealand High Commissioner to India
In office
Preceded by Bill Challis
Succeeded by Fred de Malmanche
High Commissioner of Western Samoa
In office
Preceded by Francis William Voelcker
Succeeded byOffice terminated by Samoan independence
Personal details
Guy Richardson Powles

Otaki, New Zealand]
(1905-04-05)5 April 1905
Died24 October 1994(1994-10-24) (aged 89)
Wellington, New Zealand
Relatives Michael Powles (son)
Tim Powles (grandson)
Alma mater LLB, LLD
Victoria University College
Profession Barrister

Sir Guy Richardson Powles ONZ KBE CMG ED (5 April 1905 – 24 October 1994) was a New Zealand diplomat, the last Governor of Western Samoa and architect of Samoan independence, and New Zealand's first Ombudsman.


Early life

Powles was born in Otaki, north of Wellington, in 1905. Powles was the son of Lieutenant-Colonel C. Guy Powles, a decorated military soldier who served with distinction during World War I as brigade major of New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade 1914–1916 and AA & QMG ANZAC Mounted Division 1916–1918. In 1922 he wrote the third volume of the Official History of New Zealand's Effort in the Great War , The New Zealanders in Sinai and Palestine, and in 1928 edited The history of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles 1914–1919 by officers of the regiment, and later became Chief of General Staff of the New Zealand Army.

Powles earned his LLB from Victoria University of Wellington and practised as a barrister in Wellington from 1929 to 1940. During the war, Powles went on active military service, and achieved the rank of colonel, commanding the New Zealand artillery regiment in the South Pacific at Guadalcanal and New Caledonia.

Powles was a founding member of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs in 1934, along with Alister McIntosh, John Cawte Beaglehole, and William Sutch.

Diplomatic career

Powles joined the fledgling Department of External Affairs in 1945, working alongside such notable figures as Alister McIntosh, George Laking, and later Frank Corner and Merwyn Norrish. His first assignment was in Washington, where he served as counsellor working on the Far Eastern Commission, established to work through the issues relating to Japan's surrender during World War II.

In 1949, Powles became New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa: in this role, he was set to become the last New Zealand governor of that territory. Over the next ten years, Powles worked through the issues relating to Samoa's independence from New Zealand.

In 1960, Powles became New Zealand High Commissioner to India, which he served until 1962.

Powles was involved in a large number of international conferences, including the UN United Nations Trusteeship Council, the South Pacific Commission, the Conference on Japanese Peace Treaty, the International Whaling Conference, the Economic Commission Conference, and the Colombo Plan Conference.


Powles was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1961 New Year Honours, and was made New Zealand's first Ombudsman in 1962. He served in this role until 1977, by which time he had been joined by another Ombudsman, and acted as Chief Ombudsman. Powles also acted as New Zealand's first Race Relations Conciliator. On the international stage, Powles did a substantial amount of work in promoting the office of the ombudsman.

Powles died in Wellington on 24 October 1994, and his ashes were buried at Karori Cemetery. [1] [2]

Other information

Powles' son is diplomat Michael Powles, a former New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji, and former Ambassador to Indonesia, China, and the United Nations. His grandson is Timothy Powles, producer, engineer and drummer for Australian band The Church.


Related Research Articles

New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade

The New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade was a brigade of the New Zealand Army during the First World War. Raised in 1914 as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, it was one of the first New Zealand units to sail for service overseas.

Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps

The Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps (RNZAC) is the overall umbrella grouping of Regular Force and Territorial Force units equipped with armoured vehicles in the New Zealand Army. The corps was formed in 1942 as the New Zealand Armoured Corps, before being given the Royal prefix in 1947. The RNZAC is second in seniority of corps within the New Zealand Army.

The Human Rights Commission is the national human rights institution (NHRI) for New Zealand. It operates as an independent Crown entity, and is independent from direction by the Cabinet.

Carl Berendsen New Zealand civil servant

Sir Carl August Berendsen was a New Zealand civil servant and diplomat. After being in the Education and Labour Departments he joined the Prime Minister's Department in 1926, becoming its head in 1935. He was the creator of the Department of External Affairs, and collaborated with Michael Joseph Savage and Peter Fraser. He was Secretary for External Affairs 1928–32, Head of the Prime Minister's Department 1932–43, and Secretary of the War Cabinet 1939–43. He attended all Imperial Conferences 1926–43, and assemblies of the League of Nations and later the United Nations.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (New Zealand)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) is the public service department of New Zealand charged with advising the government on foreign and trade policy, and promoting New Zealand's interests in trade and international relations.

Merwyn "Merv" Norrish is a New Zealand diplomat who served as New Zealand’s Ambassador to the European Community, Acting High Commissioner to London, Ambassador to the United States, and Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

Frank Henry Corner was a New Zealand diplomat. Corner served as New Zealand's Ambassador to the United Nations and the United States, before becoming New Zealand's third Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs (1973–1980).

George Laking

Sir George Robert Laking was a New Zealand diplomat who served as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador to the United States, Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Chief Ombudsman.

Sir Alister Donald Miles McIntosh was a New Zealand diplomat. McIntosh was New Zealand's first secretary of foreign affairs serving as the principal foreign policy adviser to Prime Ministers Peter Fraser, Sidney Holland, Keith Holyoake, and Walter Nash. He is widely considered to be the father of New Zealand's independent foreign policy and architect of the former Department of External Affairs, now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in New Zealand.

Sir Jack Kent Hunn was a New Zealand civil servant. Hunn served as Secretary of Defence, Secretary of Maori Affairs, Secretary of Justice, and Chairman of the Fire Service Commission.

Foss Shanahan was a New Zealand diplomat and public servant.

Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment

The Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment was a mounted infantry regiment from New Zealand, raised for service during the First World War. It was assigned to the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, and formed part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

Gordon Bisson

Sir Gordon Ellis Bisson was a New Zealand Court of Appeal judge and a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.

Brian Elwood

Sir Brian George Conway Elwood is a former New Zealand lawyer, politician, and public servant. He served as mayor of Palmerston North from 1971 to 1985, and was the Chief Ombudsman of New Zealand from December 1994 to June 2003. In the latter role, he was responsible for investigating complaints against central and local government agencies, including Ministers of the Crown.

The Capture of Jericho occurred between 19 and 21 February 1918 to the east of Jerusalem beginning the Occupation of the Jordan Valley during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of the First World War. Fighting took place in an area bordered by the Bethlehem–Nablus road in the west, the Jordan River in the east, and north of a line from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. Here a British Empire force attacked Ottoman positions, forcing them back to Jericho and eventually across the Jordan River.

Capture of Jisr ed Damieh

The Capture of Jisr ed Damieh took place on 22 September 1918 during the Third Transjordan attack of the Battle of Nablus which, along with the main Battle of Sharon formed the Battle of Megiddo fought during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of the First World War. Units of Chaytor's Force under the commanded by Brigadier-General William Meldrum, and known as "Meldrum's Force", attacked and captured the bridge. This successful attack cut the most direct line of retreat from the Judean Hills for the Seventh and remnants of the Eighth Armies, while units from these two armies were moving towards, and crossing the Jisr ed Damieh bridge over the Jordan River. This victory by Meldrum's Force opened the way for Chaytor's Force to advance along the main Nablus to Es Salt road to capture Es Salt and to continue on to the victory at the Second Battle of Amman.

The Battle of Ayun Kara was an engagement in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign during the First World War. The battle was fought between the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and a similar-sized rearguard from the Turkish 3rd Infantry Division, which was part of the XXII Corps of the Ottoman Eighth Army under Kress von Kressenstein.

1st Machine-Gun Squadron (New Zealand)

The 1st Machine-Gun Squadron was a sub-unit of the New Zealand Military Forces during the First World War. It was part of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, and served with them in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign from 1916 to 1918.

Battle for No.3 Post

The Battle for No.3 Post was fought during the Gallipoli Campaign in the First World War, between the forces of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and the Turkish 19th Division.

The 1935 King's Birthday and Silver Jubilee Honours in New Zealand, celebrating the official birthday of King George V and the silver jubilee of his reign, were appointments made by the King to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by New Zealanders. They were announced on 3 June 1935.


  1. Hunt, Graeme (28 November 1994). "NZ's first ombudsman dies after distinguished career". National Business Review. p. 9.
  2. "Cemeteries search". Wellington City Council. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  3. New Zealand Army Orders 1946/87
  4. "No. 42233". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 27 December 1960. p. 2.
  5. "Honours and Awards" (15 February 1990) 23 New Zealand Gazette 445 at 446.
Government offices
New creation New Zealand Chief Ombudsman
Succeeded by
Sir George Laking