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Sir Jerry Mateparae

Sir Jerry Mateparae.

Lieutenant General Sir Jeremiah "Jerry" Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, KStJ, is High Commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom. Formerly, he was New Zealand's 20th Governor-General. Before becoming Governor-General he worked at the top levels in NZ Army and NZ Defence Force.

How did you get the job as Governor-General?

The job of Governor-General is not one that you can apply for, or make a career plan for. The Queen appoints the Governor-General, on the advice of the Prime Minister. In most cases, as it was in mine, getting a call from the Prime Minister to be asked to consider accepting the role of Governor-General comes as a great surprise!

What do you do on an average day?

The great thing about being the Governor-General is that no two days are the same! My core duties are constitutional, ceremonial, and community focused. The constitutional part means being the representative of our Head of State, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of New Zealand. The ceremonial part includes acting on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen at official ceremonies. The community part means engaging with New Zealanders from all walks of life, encouraging and fostering Kiwi values. I also get to travel internationally, to represent all New Zealanders. Examples of this include representing New Zealand at the 50th Anniversary of Samoa’s independence celebrations in Apia, and going to the 2012 London Olympics to support our New Zealand athletes.

What’s the best part of your job?

There are so many great parts of my job that it is very difficult to choose a ‘best’ part. One of the things I most enjoy is meeting New Zealanders and hearing their stories, their successes, and what they are passionate about.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

My wife Janine and I have a very busy programme and I would say the hardest part is finding time to accommodate all the events we are invited to and also finding time to spend with our children and grand-daughter.

Is being Governor-General something you always wanted to do?

When I left school, I had no idea that I would end up as the Governor-General. Indeed, my school Principal’s comments in my leaving testimonial indicated that my life would be shaped by the goals I chose and the people (friends) I associated with – good common-sense advice. Although I didn’t plan on being the Governor-General, I wanted to make sure I didn’t close off my options and that is why I have managed to do all of the things I have, including being Chief of the Army and Chief of the Defence Force.

How old were you when you joined the army?

I was 17 ½ when I joined the New Zealand Army.

What do you like best about being in the army?

The mission of the New Zealand Army is to be world-class. I knew that I wanted to be doing things with the best and liked the competitiveness I found in the Army. Everything we did involved a competition, either with someone else or bettering my own result. Joining the New Zealand Special Air Service was something that I chose to do because they are the best at what they do, and I wanted to serve with the best.

How many countries have you been to?

Other than South America, I have visited every continent in the world, including Antarctica.

I am interested in being a soldier. What subjects would you have to take at school and how long does it take to train to be an officer?

It doesn’t matter what subjects you take, because there are many different areas you can choose to specialise in when you enlist with the New Zealand Army. What is important is being the best in the subjects you do choose to take at school.

Can you speak Māori, and if so where did you learn?

I speak a little Te Reo, Māori, and learned from many different people. I am fortunate to have a Māori cultural advisor who has helped me with my mihi and speaking on the paepae as I visit the many marae and iwi throughout New Zealand.

Who did you admire when you were a kid?

I have always admired Sir Edmund Hillary. He is a legendary New Zealander who displayed courage, commitment, and passion in everything he set his mind to.

What was your favourite subject at school?

Maths. I can still remember my maths teacher from Form 3, which equates to Year 9.

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