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The Administrator of the Government

Rt Hon Dame Helen Winkelmann
Official photo of The Rt Hon Dame Helen Winkelmann
In between a Governor-General’s term ending and the appointment of the next Governor-General, there is a need to fulfil the functions of the office during the interregnum. Until the 21st of October 2021, these roles will be undertaken by The Rt Hon Dame Helen Winkelmann, Administrator of the Government.

The role of Administrator is given to the Chief Justice of New Zealand, with the line of succession following the next most senior members of the New Zealand judiciary.

The Rt Hon Dame Helen Winkelmann was appointed as Chief Justice in December 2018, taking office on the 13th of March 2019. Dame Helen succeeded Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias who concluded her 20-year term as Chief Justice in 2019.

Dame Helen Winkelmann is New Zealand’s 13th Chief Justice and is the second woman to occupy this role. She was born and raised in Auckland, studying history and law at University of Auckland before being admitted to the bar in 1985. After becoming the first female partner at Nicholson Gribbin (now DLA Piper), she became a High Court Judge in 2004, Chief High Court Judge in 2010 and was appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2015.

Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias speaking at an event she is hosting as Administrator
Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias speaking at an event in her capacity as Administrator in 2017.
There are several instances when the Administrator assumes the roles of Governor-General: during the interregnum, if the Governor-General is outside the country or if they are otherwise unable to perform their duties.

The Administrator has the same vice-regal powers as the Governor-General. They perform all constitutional functions the Governor-General  would, including attending Executive Council and giving Royal assent to new laws. They may also host events at Government House in the place of the Governor-General.

The Chief Justice has acted as the Administrator since around 1870. Prior to this, the position was filled by senior military officers from British imperial forces.  

For more information on The Rt Hon Dame Helen Winkelmann, please visit the Courts of New Zealand website.

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