17 Aug 2011

Sir Anand criticises low voter turnouts

6:56 pm on 17 August 2011

The outgoing Governor-General has used his farewell speech at Parliament to criticise New Zealanders' low voting rates in local body elections and declining voting in general elections.

He says people's knowledge of governance needs to be strengthened.

Sir Anand Satyanand and his wife Lady Susan were hosted at Parliament on Wednesday for a farewell lunch.

Sir Anand spoke of the honour and privilege he has felt being the Governor-General.

He said New Zealand had a proud history with the suffrage movement, when all people regardless of gender, race or income were given the vote.

Sir Anand said this was promoted as an international first but the country might want to practice a little more of what was preached.

Prime Minister John Key paid tribute at the lunch to Sir Anand and Lady Susan for reaching out to many New Zealanders in their roles.

Mr Key said Sir Anand's legal and judicial background meant he was assiduous in his parliamentary duties, including appointing ministers and giving royal assent to legislation.

Maori welcome, gun salute

Sir Anand and Lady Susan arrived at Parliament shortly before midday for a Maori welcome and a military guard of honour.

They were greeted in pelting rain by Prime Minister John Key and the Speaker, Lockwood Smith, amid the sound of a 21-gun salute from the harbour and a naval band.

The vice regal couple lunched in the banquet hall at the Beehive with 240 guests including Ministers, MPs, the Chief Justice and members of the judiciary.

Sir Anand's last official day is next Tuesday.

Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae will be sworn in as the next Governor-General on 31 August.