Dame Cindy completed her primary and secondary schooling in Auckland. She went on to be the first person in her family to achieve tertiary qualifications: a PhD in Social Policy and an MBA (Exec) in Business Administration.
Much of Dame Cindy’s career has been in the tertiary education sector, where she became a distinguished researcher held leadership roles at Massey University, Victoria University Wellington/Te Herenga Waka and the University of Auckland. While at the University of Auckland she was Director of the Starpath Project, which investigated the impacts of socio-economic status on educational achievement in New Zealand.
Her public sector roles have included Children’s Commissioner (the first woman and first Māori to be appointed to the role) membership of the Ministerial Cross-Sector Forum for the Ministry of Education, and Chair of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group.
Dame Cindy has had extensive experience in the public health sector, including a role as General Manager Funding and Services Planning and Māori Health for the Auckland District Health Board.
Dame Cindy has also devoted time to voluntary and community organisations, reflecting her personal interests in supporting children, young people and disadvantaged members of society. This has included work on reducing child poverty, environmental causes to protect the natural world and addressing family violence.
Prior to taking up her role as Governor-General, Dame Cindy was Chief Executive of the Royal Society Te Apārangi. Dame Cindy is the first Māori woman to be appointed as Governor-General.
Dame Cindy was appointed as a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) for services to child wellbeing and education on the New Year 2021 Honours List.
Dame Cindy is married to Dr Richard Davies, a GP at a low-cost general practice attached to the Auckland City Mission. She is the mother of two sons, step-mother to two sons, grandmother to two grandsons, and has a wide extended family.