Sir Denis Blundell (as he was known) while perhaps best remembered as a former Governor General of New Zealand had been a distinguished member of the legal profession and diplomat before assuming this high profile but largely ceremonial role.
New Zealand born Sir Denis attended Cambridge University and was admitted to the Bar in England. By 1930 he was back in New Zealand, becoming a partner in the high-profile Belly Gully Law Partnership in 1936. His military biography records he was Officer in Charge of the 23 Battalion, 5 New Zealand Infantry Brigade during World War II.
Sir Denis served as New Zealand High Commissioner (Ambassador) to the United Kingdom from 1968 to 1972. His appointment as Governor General on the recommendation of Sir Keith Holyoake, shortly to end his own term as one of New Zealand’s longest serving Prime Ministers, drew attention to the intertwining of personal and professional relationship within the elites of a small country. (He was to be followed in the role by Holyoake himself.) Holyoake somewhat injudiciously referred to his personal friendship with Blundell during the latter’s swearing-in.
The supposedly apolitical appointment role had attracted criticism from Leader of the Opposition Kirk for just that reason. However, Blundell’s uniqueness came from being the first New Zealand born Governor General since the role had previously been filled by United Kingdom notables of varying pedigree and distinction. On that point, there was general agreement; the monarch’s representative in New Zealand should be a New Zealander.
Died 24 September 1984
Aged 77 years
Block Z 000