LYN PROVOST
Public servant
1950s

New Zealand's first female auditor-general

Lynn Provost, the first woman to reach the pinnacle of public accountancy in New Zealand, likes to credit the idea of girl power in her family.

She says she grew up with the idea that women could do anything.

Born into a "very matriarchal" Gisborne family in the late 1950s, she took that idea to Victoria University in the 1970s, where she was one of few females in an accountancy class of several hundred students.

And Provost maintained that idea during her successful career in auditing and public service.

As a university graduate she landed a job in the Audit Office, where she soon aimed for the top.

For some years she worked in the private sector overseas, before returning to New Zealand and public service - the Audit Office, State Services Commission, Archives NZ and the police.

At Archives NZ, Provost reached the role of acting chief executive. In the police force as a civilian staff member for eight years from 2001, she was a deputy commissioner, the first woman to hold the role.

She carried that pioneering female spirit into her next job, from 2009 to 2017, as New Zealand's first woman to be Controller and Auditor-General.

As the country's top public sector auditor, she oversaw numerous controversial inquiries, such as those into Canterbury's earthquake recovery agencies, Whānau Ora and the Mangawhai Heads sewerage scheme.

In 2015, Provost was recognised by a transtasman accountancy organisation with an award for her "outstanding contribution" in public administration.

Last year she was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the state.