Prime Minister John K' />

Former defence chief Jerry Mateparae's appointment as governor-general is a "mismatch", says long-time activist John Minto.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday announced the appointment yesterday and said Lieutenant General Mateparae would bring a lot of mana to the job when he takes over from Sir Anand Satyanand in August.

Lt Gen Mateparae was chief of the Defence Force until he retired in January and took over as head of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) the country's top spy agency. He will step down from this post when he becomes governor-general.

Mr Minto said the Government's appointment was surprising.

As the country's top spymaster Lt Gen Mateparae was involved in overseeing two controversial pieces of legislation which would seriously encroach on the civil liberties and freedoms of New Zealanders, Mr Minto said.

"Before Parliament are the Search and Surveillance Bill and the SIS Amendment Bill. Both extend state control over the private lives of individuals, such as removing the right to remain silent if charged, and allowing greater intrusion into New Zealanders lives when there is no demonstrable need.

"Mateparae the spymaster is promoting legislation which Mateparae the governor-general, will sign into law.

"It's a mismatch," said Mr Minto.

He said the GCSB role meant he was also responsible for running the Waihopai spybase in the interests of American foreign policy rather than the interests of New Zealand.

A similar situation existed through his previous role as head of the Defence Force, which saw him active in supporting New Zealand troops in Afghanistan.

"In both these situations Mateparae's political views and instinctive interests lie outside what many New Zealanders feel is appropriate for this country.

"Mateparae may have many admirable personal qualities but his appointment is as controversial as the policies he supports and promotes," Mr Minto said.