The announcement of Jerry Mateparae as the new governor general is a surprise call from this current government. His previous roles included the Head of the Defense Force and more recently the director of the government security agency. However if I was a pessimistic man living in an economy bordering on the brink of financial ruin or revolution, then having Gerry at the head would certainly calm any nerves a prime minister may have.
Constitutionally his powers would not rival the legislative role he enjoyed as the head of the defense force however his influence whether social or political would be similar to those intentions that the Roman Emperor bestowed on Russell Crow in the movie ‘Gladiator’.
His calming presence would extend to grass roots communities and provide politicians with the flexibility of focussing on rebuilding a depressed society. His military mana would also extend to his former colonels and generals who still consider him as their rangatira. His international relationships formed through fire and military diplomacy would still hold weight therefore cementing alliances required when a country becomes a target for international acquisition through force. His longstanding loyalty to New Zealand coupled with the new role of being the country’s custodian in times of political upheaval guarantees a level of comfort not necessarily enjoyed if anyone else was appointed the governor general. Not forgetting his whakapapa and the high representation of M?ori in the military, if you go to a civil or foreign war there is no better man to have then Gerry.
Of course he is the second Maori to be appointed with the first Maori being Te Ati awa kaumatua Sir Paul Reeves. Sir Paul is considered a peacemaker. Jerry’s legacy would be measured by that standard and the tests that will befall him will be considerably higher than those ever experienced by earlier governor generals.
Nevertheless I am critical of the appointment only because it showcases the pre-emptive nature of this government to speculate on events that do not need to happen, whether natural or man-made. Alternatively the doom day scenario of a country in revolt is no stranger in this modern day age of communication technology. North Africa upheaval is a testament of this dilemma currently faced by governments unaccustomed to grass roots dissatisfaction. Whether NZ is heading that way is not far from being a speculative call like on the stock market. However if you a betting man then hedging bets is a legitimate strategy and John Key is a legend in the world’s biggest casino.