Queen Elizabeth II has approved the use of the honorific ‘The Right Honourable’ for the offices of Governor General, Prime Minister, Parliament Speaker and the Chief Justice of New Zealand with immediate effect.
The changes will not be retrospective but apply only to the current and future incumbents of the respective offices.
In a press statement issued on March 27, 2009, the Queen had re-designated the Governor General from a ‘Principal of the New Zealand Order of Merit’ to a ‘Knight Companion of the Order.’ This followed the reinstatement of titles within the New Zealand Honours System, which brought back Knighthood.
Until the issue of the latest order, the style of address of the Governor General was ‘The Honourable Sir Anand Satyanand GNZM, QSO.’
As the Chancellor of the New Zealand Order of Merit, he carries the titular honorific of ‘Your Excellency,” and referred as ‘His Excellency.’ His wife is addressed as ‘Your Excellency Lady Susan Satyanand,’ and referred as ‘Her Excellency.’
A Government notification said that the service of the most senior members of the judiciary and the executive in New Zealand was recognised by their appointment to the UK Privy Council and their consequent right to use the title ‘The Right Honourable’ for life.
“This ceased in 2000 when the previous Prime Minister (Helen Clark) decided not to suggest any further appointments to the Privy Council, a practice that continued with the election of a new government in 2008,” the notification said.
Prime Minister John Key said he was personally content with the hitherto title of ‘Honourable’ but appreciated the Queen’s desire to recognise the services rendered by the person holding the high office.
“Her Majesty believes it is appropriate also to acknowledge the service of the Governor-General, the Queen’s representative in New Zealand, the Speaker, the highest officer in the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice, the head of the judicial branch of Government,” he said.