Sir Cyril Newall (1941-46) was granted Arms after his appointment as Governor-General and “a sprig of New Zealand fern” alludes to his connection with New Zealand. His Arms are the first to make reference to New Zealand.
Lord Freyberg was born in Britain, but grew up and went to school in New Zealand. His early life and later career as Commander of the 2 New Zealand Expeditionary Force in World War II are reflected in his motto “New Zeal and Honour,” which is a play on “New Zealand Honour”. He is the only Governor-General to hold the Victoria Cross (received during World War I) and a representation of this decoration is shown below his Shield.
Lord Norrie’s Arms were inherited but on being appointed a GCMG and becoming eligible for supporters, he chose a dark bay racehorse supporting between the forelegs a frond of New Zealand fern, alluding to his passion for racing and New Zealand. His name and dates were originally carved in relief on the panel. However, the letters were too large and in a different style to the others. At Lord Norrie’s request, they were corrected and this accounts for the name and dates shown as recessed.
Sir Bernard Fergusson’s Arms were inherited, except for the supporters, granted on being appointed a GCMG. The Sinister supporter (a Māori chief) alludes to New Zealand.
Sir Arthur (later Lord) Porritt, the first New Zealand-born Governor-General, alludes to New Zealand with the inclusion of a Tui as his Sinister supporter and fern fronds in the Crest.
Sir Denis Blundell, the first New Zealand resident Governor-General, has a Moa as his Sinister Supporter. The Moa represents the City of Wellington, for which Sir Denis’ family, have had a long association. The owl represents the law and the laurel is for Lady Blundell, whose second name is Daphne (Greek for laurel).
The Arms from 1977 onwards are much richer in New Zealand symbolism.
Sir Keith Holyoake’s Arms feature a crest of a Kiwi holding a Māori patu-paora surmounted by a Royal Crown. Sir Keith was the first Governor-General to be permitted to include a Royal Crown in his Arms. He was also the first New Zealander to be appointed a Knight of the Order of the Garter for services to New Zealand and the Commonwealth. The Shield of his Arms are encircled by this high honour. As a former farmer, Sir Keith’s Arms feature as supporters an Aberdeen Angus Bull and a Coopworth Ram. As a former Prime Minister and member of Parliament, the Bull holds a Mace representing that of the New Zealand House of Representatives while the Ram holds a Black Rod representing that of the New Zealand Parliament.
Sir David Beattie’s Arms features a piwakawaka (fantail) on a circlet of pohutukawa blossoms and stars (estoils) as the crest. The fantail is also found in Australia, where Sir David was born and pohutukawa is a tribute to the North Shore of Auckland while the stars are from the Arms of Dilworth School. On the shield are featured the Royal Crown, reflecting the office of Governor-General, the full wigs of a Supreme Court judge and two bees, which are a play on Sir David’s surname and a reflection of his busy and varied career. The supporters are an athlete, representing Sir David’s interest in sport and his chairmanship of the Sports Foundation, and a judge of the Supreme Court, reflecting his appointment to that office in 1969.
Sir Paul Reeves’ Arms were the first arms to feature a motto in Māori—Whakarongo, which translates as “to listen” or “to be informed.” The crest features a parson bird (tui) holding the three white feathers of Parihaka, reflecting both Sir Paul’s service in the Anglican Church and his connections with Taranaki Māori as a member of Puketapu hapu of Te Atiawa iwi. The supporters are a brown kiwi, a symbol of New Zealand, and a white heron or kotuku, a bird of great spiritual meaning to Māori. Both are holding a bishop’s crook, again a reference to his service in the Anglican Church as Bishop of Waiapu, Bishop of Auckland and Archbishop of New Zealand. This is also reflected in the Shield, which displays three bishop’s mitres. The Royal Crown reflects Sir Paul’s role as Governor-General while the distinctive shape of Mt Taranaki can also be seen.
Dame Catherine Tizard was the first New Zealand woman to be granted a Shield, Helm and Crest, reflecting the high office she held. Her arms include on the shield, a lymphad, which also appears on the Arms of the McLean family (Dame Catherine’s maiden name), the City of Auckland (of which she was a long-time councillor and mayor) and the University of Auckland (of which she was a senior tutor in zoology). The Crown on the sail indicates that Dame Catherine held Vice-Regal office. The escallops again allude to Dame Catherine’s interest in marine zoology. The cat in the crest alludes to her initials (Catherine Anne Tizard). The cat is holding a “Kate Sheppard” Camellia, named after one of the pioneers of women’s suffrage in New Zealand and the first President of the National Council of Women (1896). The supporters are two Kereru (New Zealand wood pigeons), one holding the Mace of the House of Representatives and the other the Mace of the Auckland City Council, alluding to Dame Catherine holding high political and civic offices. Overall, the crest and supporters are a play on the saying “cat among the pigeons” with the motto literally translating as “may the happy cat flourish.”
The armorial bearings of Sir Michael Hardie Boys’ include on the Shield, the Royal Crown reflecting his service as Governor-General. The judicial wigs reflect his service as a Judge of the Court of Appeal. The Cross forms the badge of the New Zealand Order of Merit of which Sir Michael was the first Knight Grand Companion (GNZM) and the foundation Chancellor. The four stars allude to the Southern Cross, which was also found on the early Badge assigned for use by Governors of New Zealand. The bellbird on the crest is noted for its clear song and it alludes to Sir Michael and Lady Hardie Boys’ interest in music and the outdoors. The anchor is from the Badge of the Boys’ Brigade with which Sir Michael had a long association. Likewise, the motto Certus et Constans (Sure and Stedfast) is the motto of the Boys’ Brigade. The two weka supporters are a reference to the origin of Sir Michael’s surname—the New Zealand wood hen is a hardy and delightful native bird.
Dame Silvia Cartwright chose not to seek Armorial Bearings. Her panel shows the Collar of the New Zealand Order of Merit, of which she was Chancellor, the Insignia of the Principal Companion of the Queen’s Service Order and Insignia of a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
The Armorial Bearings of Sir Anand Satyanand allude to his Indo-Fijian heritage and career in the law, as a barrister, District Court Judge and Ombudsman. He was born in New Zealand and is the first Governor-General of Indian descent. Trumpet shells are found in the Indo-Pacific region and often used in ceremonial welcomes. The three shells represent his three children. In the centre, a White Fronted Tern or Tara (which is also his mother’s name) is pictured above the Scales of Justice. His Crest depicts a Kiwi supporting the Mace of the House of Representatives symbolising his role as an officer of Parliament (ombudsman) and as Governor-General. Between the Mace and the Kiwi is a Barrister’s wig. His Supporters are two Indian Elephants with garlands of Karaka leaves and fruit. The motto "Through truth comes joy" is play on Sir Anand's name - in Hindi "Anand" means rejoicing and "Satya" means truth.
Like Sir Paul Reeves, Sir Jerry Mateparae’s Arms also feature a motto in Te Reo Māori. It reads “he tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata”, from the whakatauki “He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata'. ‘What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people’. It features Sir Jerry’s favourite bird, the pīwakawaka, with feathers shaped like bayonets and its wings upturned and outstretched to reflect the winged badge of the Special Air Service (SAS) in which he served. The Dexter supporter is a European woman holding a cat, which represents Lady Janine and their family cat, Boots. The Sinister supporter wears the uniform of Lieutenant in the New Zealand Army, reflecting Sir Jerry’s rank. He is also wearing a kaitaka (cloak). On the shield, Sir Jerry's tribal affiliations of Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu and Te Atihaunui a Pāpārangi are represented by the three kotiate, or whalebone clubs. The kotiate are based on a design found in the Whanganui region, where Sir Jerry is from. The Fess in the centre of the shield draws inspiration from the ceremonial sash worn by the Chief of Army and Chief of Defence, both positions he held in his military career.