The first Ombudsman, Guy Powles, was appointed on 7 September 1962. He had been a lawyer, soldier, administrator and diplomat prior to being appointed an Ombudsman. Sir Guy remained in office as Ombudsman until 1975 when he was appointed as Chief Ombudsman, a position he held until his retirement in 1977.
George Laking, who had formerly been the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Permanent Head of the Prime Minister’s Department, was appointed as the second Ombudsman in 1975 and became Chief Ombudsman in 1977. Sir George remained in office for two terms, retiring in 1984.
In 1976, another Ombudsman was appointed. Eaton Hurley, a Wellington solicitor and specialist in local government, served as Ombudsman for four years until 1980.
In 1977, on the retirement of Sir Guy, Lester Castle was also appointed as an Ombudsman. Mr Castle also had a legal background, as a Wellington solicitor, Council member and President of both the Wellington and New Zealand Law Societies. Mr Castle later replaced Sir George Laking as Chief Ombudsman in 1984, a position he held until his death in 1986.
Upon the retirement of Sir George in 1984, John Robertson (later Sir John) was appointed an Ombudsman. Sir John was a chartered accountant and long-term career civil servant. He had been a State Services Commissioner, Secretary of Defence and Secretary for Justice before being made an Ombudsman. Following Mr Castle’s death in 1986, Sir John was appointed Chief Ombudsman and he remained in office until 1994. He was a Director of the International Ombudsman Institute from 1988 and served as its President for two years from 1992 until 1994.
Shortly after Sir John became Chief Ombudsman, he was joined by Nadja Tollemache. Mrs Tollemache had been a lecturer in Jurisprudence and Administrative Law at the University of Auckland. Mrs Tollemache served as an Ombudsman from 1987 to 1992.
On two occasions, in 1992 and 1993, Susan Richards, who had worked in the office since 1970 as an investigating officer and Office Administrator, was appointed a temporary Ombudsman.
Sir Brian Elwood was appointed as an Ombudsman in 1992. A barrister and solicitor, he undertook many roles in local government and served several terms as Mayor of Palmerston North. He was appointed to chair the Local Government Commission which undertook a major review of local government in New Zealand in 1989. In 1994 he became Chief Ombudsman and in 1999 was elected President of the International Ombudsman Institute. Sir Brian served as Chief Ombudsman until June 2003.
Judge Anand Satyanand was appointed Ombudsman in 1995. A solicitor and District Court Judge, he served as Ombudsman until 2005. During his time as Ombudsman, Judge Satyanand was involved in the delivery of a Commonwealth Secretariat programme for newly appointed Ombudsmen and Ombudsman investigators. In 2006, Judge Satyanand was appointed Governor-General of New Zealand. In 2005, he was awarded the Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DCNZM) and with a view to his tasks as Governor-General, a Principal Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (PCNZM) in 2006.
Mel Smith was appointed a temporary Ombudsman in 2001. Most of Mr Smith's working life was spent in the Department of Justice in a variety of roles, including Chief Inspector and later Secretary for Justice. He also spent four years as Deputy Secretary for Internal Affairs. From 1996-2001, he was a self-employed consultant specialising in public service projects. In 2006, Mr Smith was awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM). Mr Smith was reappointed a temporary Ombudsman on 7 December 2006 for one year and shortly thereafter, at the request of the Prime Minister, commenced a review of the Criminal Justice Sector in New Zealand.
In 2003, on the retirement of Sir Brian, John Belgrave was appointed as Chief Ombudsman, a position which he held until his death in December 2007. Mr Belgrave had served as Secretary for Justice and Secretary of Commerce, Director of the State Services Commission and Comptroller of Customs. Mr Belgrave had also been involved in the development and implementation of New Zealand's economic, trade and competition policies, both here and overseas. In 2007, Mr Belgrave was awarded the Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DCNZM).
In 2007 Dr David McGee CNZM, QC was appointed Ombudsman until he retired on 31 May 2013. Prior to his appointment Dr McGee was a long serving staff member within the New Zealand Parliament. He became Parliament’s Office of the Clerk in 1974 and worked in several roles, including with Select Committees. He was appointed Clerk of the House of Representatives in 1985 and was a member of the committee which devised the legislation that became law as the Constitution Act 1986. He is the author of Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand, which is the authoritative guide to parliamentary procedure in New Zealand. He has also written extensively in the area of parliamentary and constitutional studies. He was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in 1977, was appointed as Queen's Counsel in 2000 and received a Higher Doctor of Laws from the Victoria University of Wellington in 2009.
Dame Beverley Wakem served as Ombudsman from March 2005, and as Chief Ombudsman from April 2008, until her term as Ombudsman ended in December 2015. Her background is in broadcasting, public relations, and consulting for both the public and private sectors. Her broadcasting career culminated in her appointment as Chief Executive of Radio New Zealand in 1984 – a post she held until 1991. In 1990, Dame Beverley was awarded a CBE for services to broadcasting and the community. In 2012, she was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the State (DNZM). Dame Beverley also served as President of the International Ombudsman Institute, the first woman and third New Zealand Ombudsman to hold this position.
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