Dame Silvia Cartwright

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Dame Silvia Cartwright, PCNZM DBE QSO DStJ

Dame Silvia Cartwright’s career is studded with stellar highlights – she led the Cartwright inquiry into cervical cancer treatment at Auckland’s National Women’s Hospital; was New Zealand’s first female Chief District Court Judge (1989); was the first female High Court Judge (1993); was the second woman to serve as Governor-General (2001–06) and she was an international judge on the Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal. 

More recently, in 2018, Dame Silvia was appointed both as Chair of the Law Society Working Group reporting on professional conduct within the profession, and head of the inquiry into EQC’s handling of the Canterbury earthquakes.

Although her career has been mostly within Government and legal structures, Dame Silvia Cartwright has, nevertheless, been fearless and unafraid to stand up for what she believes. Dame Silvia created a stir when she said, publicly, “prison does not reform” – such a political statement was considered risky for the neutral position of Governor-General. Cartwright is, however, an evidence-based person who is prepared to talk about what she knows, and she was speaking with the knowledge of a Judge.

In this excerpt from Talk Talk Dame Silvia responds to Finlay MacDonald’s question “was becoming a judge an ambition?” and she goes on to talk about equal opportunities for women and how this impacted her role as Governor-General.

Find out more about Dame Silvia Cartwright:

Read more at NZ Herald Trailblazers. 

Listen as Dame Silvia talks about the results of the Law Society Work Group report.

Read Dame Silvia's biography. 

Image: Screengrab, Talk Talk, courtesy TVNZ.

Catalogue Reference TZP393613

Year 2010


Interviewer: Finlay MacDonald

Excerpt: 00:02:34

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