Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has expressed her deep sadness at news of the death of Dame Catherine Tizard – Auckland’s first female Mayor and NZ’s first female Governor-General – who passed away at home on Sunday night following a long illness.
Yesterday, Ms Ardern paid tribute to 90-year-old Dame Cath’s long and distinguished life of service to New Zealand.
“Dame Cath was a true trailblazer for women in public life,” she said.
“She took her first steps into governance on her local Play Centre Committee, while raising four children. She was elected to the Auckland City Council in 1971 and in 1983 became the first woman to be elected Mayor of Auckland.
“On leaving that role, she became our 16th Governor-General and also the first woman to hold that office, from 1990 to 1996.
“As Governor-General she succeeded in making the office of Governor-General more accessible for New Zealanders,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Dame Cath was a member of the Order of New Zealand, and a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order, as well as holding four separate damehoods.
“These honours reflected her extraordinary life of public service,” Ms Ardern said.
“On ending her term as Governor-General, she continued her involvement with a large number of community and arts groups.
“In everything she did, she demonstrated her remarkable qualities of leadership and determination, combined with a down to earth approach and an irrepressible sense of humour.
“Our thoughts are with her family at this time,” the Prime Minister said.
In a statement, Dame Cath’s family described her as a woman of amazing energy, intelligence and warmth.
“She had a long and distinguished life of public service. She was a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother; and a confidante, mentor and friend to many more. We will miss her more than we can ever say,” her family said.
“In the current circumstances we cannot and would not ask others to join us to farewell her. She had wanted a private cremation, and as she was both a scientist and a good citizen, so it will be.”