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Dame Cindy was born in Whangārei, the eldest of six children. She is of Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kahu and British descent, and was the first person in her family to achieve tertiary qualifications: a PhD in Social Policy and an MBA (Exec) in Business Administration.
Much of Dame Cindy’s career has been in the tertiary education sector, holding leadership roles at Massey University, Victoria University Wellington/Te Herenga Waka and the University of Auckland, where she was Director of the Starpath Project investigating the impacts of socioeconomic status on educational achievement in New Zealand. Her public sector roles have included Children’s Commissioner and Chair of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group. She has also devoted time to voluntary and community organisations working on reducing child poverty, environmental causes to protect the natural world and addressing family violence.
Prior to taking up her role as Governor-General in October 2021, Dame Cindy was Chief Executive of the Royal Society Te Apārangi. Dame Cindy is the first Māori woman to be appointed as Governor-General. She was appointed as a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DNZM) for services to child wellbeing and education on the New Year 2021 Honours List.
Dame Cindy is married to Dr Richard Davies, a GP at a low-cost general practice attached to the Auckland City Mission. She is the mother of two sons, step-mother to two sons, and grandmother to two grandsons.
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