Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae was sworn in as New Zealand’s 20th Governor-General for a five year term on 31 August 2011. He had previously worked at senior levels in the New Zealand public service and military as well as contributing to many sporting and community organisations.
He was born in Whanganui in 1954 and went to Castlecliff School, Rutherford Intermediate and Wanganui High School.Of Māori descent, his tribal affiliations are to Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Kahungunu. He also has links to Tūhoe and tribes in the upper Whanganui. He was New Zealand’s second Governor-General of Māori descent.
Sir Jerry Mateparae enlisted as a solider with the Regular Force of the New Zealand Army in 1972 before graduating from the Officer Cadet School at Portsea into the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment in 1976. He served in both battalions of the RNZIR and with the New Zealand Special Air Service. He commanded a regionally-based combined force Truce Monitoring Group on the island of Bougainville during Operation Belisi in 1998, for which he was made an Additional Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 1999 New Year’s Honours list.
He also served as Chief Observer in southern Lebanon with the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organisation (May 1994 to May 1995) and as Joint Commander for New Zealand forces in East Timor (December 1999 to July 2001). He was appointed Chief of Army in 2002 and Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force with the rank of Lieutenant General in 2006. He was the first officer of Māori descent to hold the rank and appointment.Retiring from the NZDF in January 2011, he was appointed as Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau.
Sir Jerry Mateparae is a graduate of the British Army Staff College (1989), the Australian Joint Service Staff College (1995) and the Royal College of Defence Studies (1999).He has a Master of Arts with First Class Honours from the University of Waikato, and was recognised by the University as one of its distinguished alumni in 2009. He is also a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management.
His community service includes the Rotary Club of Wellington, the Palmerston North Boys’ High School Board of Trustees and the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem. In the past, he has been a patron for various organisations and groups.
In May 2011, Lt Gen Mateparae received an honorary doctorate from Massey University and Singapore's highest military award, the Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang (Tentera) [Distinguished Service Order (Military)], from the President of Singapore, S R Nathan. In June that year,at Buckingham Palace, he was knighted by the Queen of New Zealand, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and made a Grand Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order.