Captain William Hobson (served 1840–42) reached New Zealand early in 1840. He served as lieutenant-governor under Sir George Gipps, who as governor of New South Wales was also governor-in-chief of New Zealand. In 1841 New Zealand became a separate Crown colony with Hobson as governor.
In 1917, partway through the term of Lord Liverpool (1912–20), the title of governor was further upgraded to Governor-General. In those days he also represented the British government in New Zealand, a function that since 1939 has been carried out by the British High Commissioner. The Governor-General represents the monarch, who is New Zealand's head of state.
Until the late 1960s New Zealand's Governors-General were British, mainly minor aristocrats or admirals and generals. Each normally served a five-year term.
Few had visited New Zealand, so they needed advice about its climate, customs and cultures. They turned to several sources. Retired Governors-General or friends who had lived here passed on helpful tips. New Zealand House in London also assisted.
They also had 'Notes for My Successor', the little desk file written or updated by the retiring Governor-General. In a few typewritten pages it set out what the new person could expect – the climate, local tradespeople, prices and the many perquisites and burdens that went with the job.
The notes were never meant to be published. They were too scrappy, personal and informal for that. Still, they were refreshingly frank, so let's peer over the viceregal shoulders to see what the King's and Queen's men really thought about New Zealand's top job.
How to cite this page: 'Notes for My Successor - tips for new Governors-General', URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/politics/tips-for-new-governors-general/notes-for-my-successor, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Dec-2012