Auckland's first female mayor and New Zealand's first female Governor-General

Dame Catherine Tizard paved the way for New Zealand women by smashing through several glass ceilings during her career in local body politics.

During her lengthy time in public office, Dame Catherine was both the Mayor of Auckland City (1983-90) and the 16th Governor-General of New Zealand (1990-96) – in the process becoming the first woman to hold both posts.

A year after becoming Auckland's first female mayor she was made a dame. She remained mayor until 1990, during which time she was one of the driving forces in Auckland gaining hosting rights for that year's Commonwealth Games. She was also instrumental in the development of the Aotea Centre.

Dame Catherine took office as Governor-General in late 1990; becoming the third female Governor-General in the Commonwealth's history.


In 2002 she was made a Member of the Order of New Zealand.

Tizard has previously published her memoir, Cat Amongst the Pigeons, and has also spoken about how her political skills were based on being "sensible and cheerful and not bearing grudges".

Prior to chasing a career in local body politics, Dame Catherine completed a degree in Zoology and also taught at Auckland University. She was also a long-time panellist on popular TVNZ chat show Beauty and the Beast.