Dame Catherine Tizard has died peacefully at her home on Sunday night after suffering a long illness. (File photo)
Dame Catherine Tizard has died peacefully, aged 90, at her home on Sunday night after suffering a long illness, her family confirmed.
She was surrounded by her family when she passed.
“She was a woman of amazing energy, intelligence and warmth. She had a long and distinguished life of public service. She was a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother; and a confidante, mentor and friend to many more. We will miss her more than we can ever say,” her family said in a statement.
“In the current circumstances we cannot and would not ask others to join us to farewell her. She had wanted a private cremation, and as she was both a scientist and a good citizen, so it will be.”
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The family were grateful to all her friends, and to their extended family, and to the carers, especially her GP, who had also supported and loved her over the years.
The family said they hope to arrange some way to honour her memory in public, in future.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led tributes to Tizard, saying she was deeply saddened by her death.
She paid tribute to her long and distinguished life of service to New Zealand.
“Dame Cath was a true trailblazer for women in public life,” Ardern said in a statement.
“She took her first steps into governance on her local Play Centre Committee, while raising four children. She was elected to the Auckland City Council in 1971 and in 1983 became the first woman to be elected Mayor of Auckland.
“On leaving that role, she became our 16th Governor-General and also the first woman to hold that office, from 1990 to 1996.
“As Governor-General she succeeded in making the office of Governor-General more accessible for New Zealanders,” Ardern said.
Tizard was a member of the Order of New Zealand, and a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order, as well as holding four separate damehoods.
“These honours reflected her extraordinary life of public service,” Ardern said.
“On ending her term as Governor-General, she continued her involvement with a large number of community and arts groups.
“In everything she did, she demonstrated her remarkable qualities of leadership and determination, combined with a down to earth approach and an irrepressible sense of humour.
“Our thoughts are with her family at this time,” Ardern said.
Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro and Dr Richard Davies also expressed their sadness.
“Dame Cath will always have a special place in our history as the first woman to be appointed as Governor-General. New Zealanders remember her fondly as someone who brought extraordinary energy and enthusiasm to the role,” they said in a statement.
They said they appreciated her good humour and her forthright, unpretentious approach which enabled her to connect with people from all walks of life.
“We can thank her for blazing the trail for the women who followed her example and took their place in public life.”
Kiro had extended her sincere condolences directly to Tizard’s whānau and had expressed her wish to join them in honouring Tizard’s memory when circumstances allowed.