Dame Cindy Kiro will start her new role as Governor-General with at least one advantage: she already knows the words to God Save the Queen.
"I'm in my 60s and I remember the days of going to the Civic Theatre in Auckland, and the Civic Theatre had an organist who would come out of the pit at the front and play God Save the Queen, and we all stood and sang God Save the Queen.
"That was a moment of grandeur. I remember that. It happened in all theatres."
The country, she admits, has changed since then.
On the day Kiro was revealed as the next Governor-General, she said she hoped that her own life story from a poor family in south Auckland to being the Queen's representative would show other Maori women just how far they could go.
Kiro was born in Whangarei, the eldest of six children. When she was about 2, her family moved to south Auckland and then west Auckland.
Her family was poor, but Kiro did not know that at the time.
"We were all in the same boat. I had a pair of gumboots and a pair of sandals. They were my sole footwear possessions, and most of the time we didn't wear shoes. That was quite normal in my neighbourhood."
"When I got my first pair of black patent shoes, I felt like I'd become royalty overnight."
She is very close to royalty now.
She has described her role in jobs such as Children's Commissioner and advocating for Government policy changes as giving a voice to those who did not have one.
She is now moving into a role in which she is the voice for the Queen – and her own voice needs to be muted: the role of Governor-General is non-political.
Asked if she had any qualms about giving up her own voice, she said it was appropriate for the role.
"The Queen is someone I admire. She has dedicated her life to service. Clearly, I need to understand that as [representative of] the head of state, I am no longer responsible for trying to influence the Government agenda.
"But I still have a critical mind, I still can make sense of the world, and I can still use the role to support the things I think are important for bringing the country together. That's a unique life opportunity."
The Governor-General acts on the advice of the Government of the day, including giving the Royal assent to laws passed by Parliament.
Asked what she would do if faced with signing a law she believed would be detrimental to society, Kiro says "I will do my constitutional job".
"I look forward to being able to watch what governments do, but that won't be my business. I'm in a constitutional role, and I am grateful and honoured."
Kiro is of Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine and Ngāti Kahu descent while her father is British.
Her first names are Alcyion Cynthia - both from Greek mythology. She has no idea why - but has a theory. She shares Alcyion with her aunt and suspects it was a nod to the Maori Battalion's links with Greece, where the Battalion fought in World War II. History means a lot in the north.
The Waitangi Tribunal has found Ngāpuhi did not cede sovereignty to the Crown when signing the Treaty of Waitangi. Asked if that put her in a peculiar position, Kiro notes "I often find myself in peculiar positions".
When she was at university, Kiro took part in a Treaty of Waitangi protest march. It earned her a telling-off from her grandmother, who had spent part of her life at Waitangi Marae and had strong views on the Treaty relationship.
"She said it was disrespectful. She honoured the Treaty as a solemn oath between peoples, and I needed to respect it."
Her grandmother's views had made Kiro pause and reflect on "what Maori understood at the time to be an agreement of good faith and genuine relationship".
"That's a long-winded way of saying there are going to be tensions inevitably. There always are in relationships. But it's an honourable and solemn relationship and one I feel uniquely blessed to experience both personally as well as intellectually."
The Treaty march was one of two protests she took to the streets for: the other was an anti-nuclear march which her mother took her to as a teenager.
Kiro credits her high school teacher, Dame June Mariu, for teaching her the lesson that she now hopes young Maori women will take from her.
"Her job didn't stop at the classroom door."
Mariu had wanted her to be teacher. Kiro laughs at this: "the thought of teaching people like us in the class did not inspire me, I have to say."
It was what persuaded her to go to university, however.
Kiro was the first in her family to get a university qualification. She briefly flirted with the idea of politics, but says it never really appealed. She liked research and knowledge.
Her career has largely been in academia: holding senior roles at Massey University, Victoria University, and the University of Auckland. She had only recently started as chief executive of the Royal Society – Te Apārangi when the Prime Minister summoned her.
Kiro and her husband Richard Davies will move into Government House after taking over from Dame Patsy Reddy in October.
Davies is Welsh and a doctor with a low-cost practice attached to Auckland City Mission. He says he hopes to keep that practice going, and do some clinical work himself in Wellington.
Government House will also be home to their pug dog, Pebbles: "she's adored. The cutest, most adorable doggy in the world," the impartial Kiro insists.
Kiro's appointment sparked a lot of accolades, but also some critics.
In a 2009 protest march calling for tougher penalties for child abuse, Christine Rankin, said the then Children's Commissioner Kiro was a "waste of space" and needed to show more courage.
In response, Kiro had said Rankin and groups such as the Sensible Sentencing Trust were the "hang-em-high" brigade.
On MagicTalk on Tuesday, Rankin said she had had little respect for Kiro as Child Commissioner, and "she was an apologist for people who committed appalling crimes against children".
However, Rankin said 12 years had gone by "and I hope she has grown and developed in that time, and she does a wonderful job."
When Kiro is asked about Rankin prior to that interview, Kiro says simply she does not know if Rankin has been among those congratulating her on her appointment.