Dame Catherine Tizard, born 1931, has made a valuable contribution to community and public life in New Zealand. She has been active in a wide variety of community, welfare, and cultural organisations for more than two decades and is a strong supporter of educational issues and women’s causes.
Before her appointment as Governor-General in 1990, Dame Catherine enjoyed a career in local government which spanned 20 years. She was an Auckland City Councillor for all of this time and was the first women to be elected as Mayor of Auckland in 1983. During her time in office, the city evolved into an international venue for sports and the arts, in addition to further developing its position as a major commercial hub. She was the driving force behind many city visions, such as The Aotea Centre and the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland.
She was also involved with a myriad of local organisations, including the Auckland Marriage Guidance Bureau, the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland Art Gallery, the East Secondary Schools’ Board of Governors, the Auckland Teachers’ College Board, and was Chairperson of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
In 1990, Dame Catherine became the first women Governor-General of New Zealand and remained in office till 1996. While she was Governor-General, she exhibited a commitment to the values of justice, equality, and service, which set the path for other Governor-Generals to follow. She also opened up Government House to many groups of citizens who were made welcome to the house, thus creating a sense that it was the nation’s home as well as hers.
Over the years, she has been the Patron of a wide range of charities and innumerable community organisations. She has been notable for contributing well beyond the expected duties and has taken a passionate and practical interest in helping women who have been disadvantaged in moving forward.
Dame Catherine has received many distinctions, including the Freedom of the City of London and an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Auckland.