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Past Ombudsmen

Leo Donnelly ONZM

Ombudsman 1 August 2016 – 28 June 2018
Photo of Leo Donnelly, former NZ Ombudsman

After working initially for the Parliamentary Counsel Office, Mr Donnelly joined the Office of the Ombudsman in 1985 as an investigating officer in the then newly established Official Information Act section of the Office. He was appointed a Senior Investigating Officer of the official information section in 1990 and Assistant Ombudsman in November 1996.

In September 2004, Mr Donnelly was appointed to the newly established position of Deputy Ombudsman and was appointed temporary Ombudsman for one year on two occasions in 2016 and 2017.


Ron Paterson ONZM

Ombudsman 4 June 2013 – 30 June 2016
Photo of Ron Paterson, former NZ Ombudsman

Prior to taking up Office as an Ombudsman, Professor Paterson was a Professor of Law at the University of Auckland, and was New Zealand’s Health and Disability Commissioner from 2000-2010. With law degrees from Auckland and Oxford Universities, Professor Paterson has held Fulbright and Harkness Fellowships.

Professor Paterson was co-editor of Medical Law in New Zealand (2006), and author of The Good Doctor: What Patients Want (2012). He was previously Chairman of the New Zealand Banking Ombudsman Scheme, and a member of the Board of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.


Dame Beverley Wakem DNZM CBE

Chief Ombudsman 23 April 2008 – 9 December 2015

Ombudsman 1 March 2005 – 23 April 2008
Photo of Dame Beverley Wakem DNZM CBE, former NZ Ombudsman

Dame Beverley’s 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.


David McGee CNZM QC

Ombudsman 19 November 2007 – 31 May 2013
Photo of David McGee CNZM QC, former NZ Ombudsman

Prior to his appointment Dr McGee was a long serving staff member within the New Zealand Parliament. He joined 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 authored Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand which is the authoritative guide to parliamentary procedure in New Zealand and 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.

In the 2002 Queen's Birthday and Golden Jubilee Honours, he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to Parliament.


John Belgrave DCNZM

Chief Ombudsman 1 July 2003 – 3 December 2007
Photo of John Belgrave DCNZM, former NZ Ombudsmen

Mr Belgrave had served as Secretary for Justice and Secretary of Commerce, Director of the State Services Commission and Comptroller of Customs prior to becoming Chief Ombudsman. 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). He died in office in December 2007.


Mel Smith CNZM

Ombudsman 5 December 2001 – 2 December 2005; 7 December 2006 – 7 December 2007
Photo of Mel Smith CNZM, former NZ Ombudsman

Melwyn (Mel) Smith served as temporary Ombudsman from 5 December 2001 to 2 December 2005 and was reappointed temporarily from 7 December 2006 to 7 December 2007. During his time at the Ombudsman, Mr Smith was involved in many high-profile investigations.

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. In 2006, Mr Smith was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM). Mr Smith died in May 2022.


Sir Anand Satyanand GNZM, QSO, KStJ

Ombudsman 10 February 1995 – 14 February 2005
Photo of Sir Anand Satyanand GNZM, QSO, KStJ, former NZ Ombudsman

Sir Anand was appointed a District Court judge in 1982, and in subsequent years served on many community, administrative and community boards and committees.

During his time as Ombudsman, Sir Anand was involved in the delivery of a Commonwealth Secretariat programme for newly appointed Ombudsmen and Ombudsman investigators.

In 2006, Sir Anand 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.


Sir Brian Elwood CBE JP

Chief Ombudsman 14 December 1994 – 30 June 2003
Ombudsman 2 November 1992 – 13 December 1994
Photo of Sir Brian Elwood CBE JP, former NZ Ombudsman


A barrister and solicitor, Sir Brian 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 1999 Sir Brian was elected President of the International Ombudsman Institute.



Susan Richards

Ombudsman 24 July 1992 – 31 October 1992; 3 August 1993 – 30 November 1993
Photo of Susan Richards, former NZ Ombudsman


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. In 1984, she had been appointed First Assistant in the Office.




Nadja Tollemache OBE

Ombudsman 13 May 1987 – 30 June 1992

Photo of Nadja Tollemache OBE, former NZ Ombudsman


Nadja Tollemache OBE was the first woman appointed to the role of Ombudsman in New Zealand. Ms Tollemache moved to New Zealand after being called to the bar in the UK in 1960.

She was also the first female academic appointed to the Auckland Law School by then Dean Professor A G Davis, lecturing in jurisprudence and administrative law among other subjects from the late 1960s until the mid-1980s. As a lecturer she taught a number of prominent members of the legal profession. Following this period at the Auckland Law School Ms Tollemache was appointed Ombudsman, serving from 1987 to 1992. In 1995 she became the first Banking Ombudsman. She was also awarded an OBE for her services to law. Ms Tollemache died in May 2022.


Sir John Robertson KCMG CBE

Chief Ombudsman 21 December 1986 – 14 December 1994
Ombudsman 30 October 1984 – 20 December 1986
Photo of Sir John Robertson KCMG CBE, former NZ Ombudsman

Sir John Robertson began his career as a draughting cadet in the Lands and Survey Department in 1942. He served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in the Pacific during the Second World War. He was a State Services Commissioner, Secretary of Defence and Secretary for Justice before being made an Ombudsman. Sir John had previously been a chartered accountant and career civil servant.

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.

Sir John was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1982 Queen's Birthday Honours. In the 1994 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.


Lester Castle CMG

Chief Ombudsman 16 October 1984 – 26 November 1986
Ombudsman 6 April 1977 – 15 October 1984
Photo of Lester Castle CMG

Lester Castle was a Wellington solicitor, council member and President of both the Wellington and New Zealand Law Societies.

In 1977, on the retirement of Sir Guy, Lester Castle was also appointed as an Ombudsman. Mr Castle later replaced Sir George Laking as Chief Ombudsman in 1984, a position he held until his death in 1986. 



A. Eaton Hurley CMG

Ombudsman 1 March 1976 – 31 August 1980
Photo of A. Eaton Hurley CMG, former NZ Ombudsman

Eaton Hurley was a Wellington solicitor and specialist in local government.

In 1976, he served as Ombudsman for four years until 1980 with responsibility for local government matters north of, and including, Taumarunui, Taupō and Wairoa counties. He was made a companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in the 1981 Queen’s Birthday Honours.



Sir George Laking KCMG

Chief Ombudsman 6 April 1977 – 15 October 1984
Ombudsman 13 October 1975 – 5 April 1977
Photo of Sir George Laking KCMG

George Laking was born in Auckland in 1912 and worked as a lawyer in government departments before becoming a diplomat, serving in Washington and London.

Laking was Ambassador to Washington from 1961-1967, and became an Ombudsman after working at the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Permanent Head of the Prime Minister’s Department.

He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in the 1985 Queen's Birthday Honours. Laking chaired the Government commission which recommended changes in the alcohol licensing laws. These resulted in the 1989 Sale of Liquor Act.


Sir Guy Powles ONZ KBE CMG ED

Chief Ombudsman 13 October 1975 – 5 April 1977
Ombudsman 1 October 1962 – 12 October 1975
Photo of Sir Guy Powles ONZ KBE CMG ED, New Zealand's first Ombudsman

New Zealand’s first Ombudsman, Sir Guy had been a lawyer, soldier, administrator and diplomat.

Born in Ōtaki in 1905, he qualified LLB and practised as a barrister in Wellington. During World War 2 he served as an artillery and staff officer in the Pacific, rising to the rank of colonel. After the war, he began a diplomatic career as First Secretary at the Washington Embassy. As High Commissioner to Samoa from 1949-60 he was closely involved in achieving Samoan self-governance. He was later appointed High Commissioner to India and Ceylon, and Ambassador to Nepal. Powles was awarded honours including ED (1944), CMG (1954), KBE (1961), ONZ and 1990 Medal (1990), and Hon. LLD from Victoria University of Wellington (1969).

Sir Guy was appointed the first New Zealand Ombudsman in 1962. From 1975, he was Chief Ombudsman until his retirement in October 1977.

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