Dame Patsy Reddy is packing her bags at Government House. Who will be the Queen’s next representative in Wellington?
This afternoon the prime minister is expected to announce who will be the next governor general of New Zealand, ahead of the departure of Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, who was sworn in as the 21st GG for a five-year term in September 2016, and by pretty much all accounts aced it.
So who might be the masked governor? With just hours to go until Jacinda Ardern tears the papier mache pavlova off the new viceregal representative of Queen Elizabeth II, we’ve hurriedly imagined some options, and arbitrarily issued some odds.
Dame Sian Elias
The ex-chief justice left the benches of the Supreme Court in 2019 and has spent the last 24 months laying low. She’s got the qualifications, experience and wisdom to take on the role and is undeniably a frontrunner.
Lady Tureiti Moxon has a stellar track record, especially for Māori and especially in Māori health. The spirit of the times.
Sir Brian Roche, Heather Simpson, Dame Margaret Bazley and Paula Rebstock
It’s time to rethink what the role of governor general should be in 2021. We need to convene a group of experts and give them five years to review every aspect of our constitutional framework, with the governor general becoming the chair of that working group. After all, it’s how the government has addressed pretty much every other issue that has come up.
The chances of one of them being the actual GG: 15-1
Cometh the hour. The big-hearted soldier the moment demands?
Ardern has ruled out appointing “any past central government politician” but Winston Peters transcends both categorisation and rulings out. Stranger things have happened. He’s widely lauded for his time as foreign minister, he can flick on the gravitas when needed. He’s been there. He’s done that. And he has the greatest dog in New Zealand.
An ex-MP, but the former National Party leader’s arc is quite something: 30 years after he oversaw the Employment Contracts Act as PM, fair pay agreements were announced, the fruit of a working group he led. It would show some reaching across the aisle, too.
An ex-MP, but: a Pasifika community leader, a patron of important charities, and an all-round likeable legend.
As the most popular New Zealander (ever?), Bloomfield would be able to modernise the role of governor general. I bet most children wouldn’t have a clue who Patsy Reddy is, but Bloomfield can’t walk down a street without a heckle. After leading us through a pandemic, it’s time for the director general of health to put his feet up in government house.
Has the advantage of not having been in central government, but it’s hard to shake the Ngāti Whātua room.
The governor general is largely a ceremonial role these days, and who better to stand in for the Queen in photo ops and at ribbon cuttings than New Zealand’s own queen, Suzanne Paul. She’ll sprinkle a little bit of natural glow on the outdated office of governor general.
With the spectre of Trumpism lingering in the memory of all democracies, there will be plenty of anxiety in Wellington that a new host of The Apprentice might lead a country down a dangerous path. One way to neutralise this would be to put Mike Pero in a job where he’ll never really be able to run for public office afterwards.
Is the country changing too fast? Are people being left behind? Making John Banks the governor general would help reassure the dinosaurs of New Zealand that things are staying the same, plus the added bonus of Banks never doing his god-awful talkback show again.
Sending Charles to the antipodes might be helpful for QEII with some family issues but it would also be constitutionally tricky, and generally a terrible idea.
He’s just announced he’s standing down in September from the Spinoff editorship, he loves cutting ribbons, what else do you need?
Update: We were very wrong.