It is hard to think of a less controversial choice for the next Governor-General than Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae.

In as much as one can judge a person's character from watching him conduct press conferences over the years through the Defence Force's triumphs, tragedies and scandals, he appears to be a humble person, a straight player, a very nice man, with not an ounce of guile.

He has not let his power and leadership roles in the Defence Forces go to his head. He is not up himself and one can only hope that he will remain so by the end of his term.

With so much going for him, it's a pity that the Government has chosen to allow him to stay on in his role as a senior public servant, running the country's spy agency, the Government Security Communications Bureau.

It's hardly mana-enhancing for him or the office.

It is not appropriate for him to stay in his job and shows poor judgement by him, and the Government.

As the person to whom the Government will soon answer - constitutionally if ceremonially - he should be separating himself from the Government immediately.

Instead he will continue to report to the PM, no doubt trotting up to the ninth floor of the Beehive every few weeks to give John Key or cabinet committees briefings on foreign intelligence matters.

The fact that his work remains largely hidden makes the constitutional offence less visible.

The fact that there are matters of life and death on people's minds makes it less important.

Key says he took advice from the State Services Commission and the cabinet office and there was is no legal reason why Lieutenant General Mateparae shouldn't stay in his job.

But that doesn't make it right.

Clarification: General Mateparae is staying put in his current job as spymaster until June and will be sworn in as Governor-General in August.