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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




The Governor-General is the officer appointed by the Crown to act as its representative in the Government and administration of New Zealand. The office, under its present title, is, strictly speaking, a comparatively recent event in the history of New Zealand, although its origin is to be traced from 1839. In that year Britain officially extended its administration over New Zealand by proclaiming it part of the Colony of New South Wales, and it provided that the officer to be responsible to the Crown for that purpose was to be the Governor of New South Wales who was to have a deputy stationed in New Zealand, to be known as the Lieutenant-Governor of that part of the colony of New South Wales. In the following year, however, New Zealand was created a separate colony quite distinct from the Australian colonies, and the Crown's representative stationed in New Zealand was henceforth given the style of Governor of these islands. Such remained the position until this century when the colony attained the status of a Dominion (1907), the office of Governor being raised in status to that of Governor-General in 1917.


Donald Edgar Paterson, B.A., LL.M.(N.Z.), LL.M., J.S.D.(YALE), Lecturer in Jurisprudence and Constitutional Law, Victoria University of Wellington.

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