Last week, Dame Cindy Kiro was formally sworn in as New Zealand’s first Indigenous Māori woman to be named Governor-general.
The Māori peoples account for around 17 percent of New Zealand’s population but are still socially and economically disadvantaged. They continue to be over-represented in statistics for criminal justice and health problems, and children from the Māori community make up the majority of those who end up in state care.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a speech at Dame Cindy’s swearing-in ceremony, saying: “I know as the first Māori woman to hold this role you are mindful that your opportunity here also provides inspiration that reaches far and wide for many from all walks of life.”
So far, Prime Minister Ardern has appointed New Zealand’s most diverse parliament, including many women representatives among the legislators. For Dame Cindy, the celebration of diversity is key to the success of the nation and pledges her commitment to migrants and marginalized citizens.
“Communities develop resilience when people feel connected, have a sense of belonging, and have a place to stand,” said Dame Cindy while delivering a speech at the ceremony.
“I will connect to new migrants and former refugees, and celebrate the many diverse cultures and religions gifted to our nation by those who have chosen to make New Zealand their home,” she added.
Dame Cindy earned a Ph.D. in Social Policy and an MBA (Exec) in Business Administration from the University of Auckland and Massey University. She has forged a career in academics and has held various leadership roles at many New Zealand universities. She was the first in her family to achieve a university qualification.
Source image: AAP Image/Ben Mckay via Reuters