New Zealand names new governor-general

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New Zealand on Tuesday named former military chief Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae as the country's new governor-general, making him only the second Maori to hold the office.

Mateparae, 56, will be sworn in at the end of August after incumbent Anand Satyanand steps down, Prime Minister John Key said.

"I believe he will bring great mana (authority) and a wide range of qualities to this role, including judgement, energy and an enthusiasm for encouraging excellence in others," Key said.

Queen Elizabeth II remains the official head of state in New Zealand, a former British colony, but the governor-general acts as the monarchy's representative in the country. Key's office confirmed the queen had approved the appointment.

Mateparae joined the military at the age of 17 and rose through the ranks to become the first Maori head of the New Zealand Defence Force in 2006, holding the position until January this year.

He took up a role as director of the Government Communications Security Bureau, the government's main intelligence agency, after stepping down as head of the military. He will leave his position before his installation as governor-general.

During his military career, Mateparae served with the elite Special Air Service (SAS) regiment and was posted to East Timor and Papua New Guinea's Bougainville.

He also completed a tour of duty with UN observers in southern Lebanon in the mid-1990s, monitoring a truce agreement in the country.

Mateparae said his appointment for a five-year term was an unexpected honour.

"You cannot imagine my surprise," he told reporters. "I look forward to serving our country and New Zealanders."

New Zealand's only other governor-general of Maori descent was Paul Reeves, who held the post from 1985 to 1990, according to the official website

© 2011 AFP

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