The Hon. Dame Silvia Cartwright PCNZM DBE QSO DStJ was appointed in November 2018 to lead the Public Inquiry into the Earthquake Commission – the statement announcing her appointment by Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Hon Dr Megan Woods, can be read here(external link).
Born and raised in Dunedin, Dame Silvia obtained her law degree at Otago University and went on to become the first female Chief District Court Judge in 1989, and in 1993 the first woman to be appointed as a High Court judge.
Dame Silvia served as the 18th Governor-General of New Zealand, from 2001 to 2006. She was the second woman to hold the position, following in the footsteps of Dame Catherine Tizard.
Dame Silvia headed up the inquiry into the Allegations Concerning the Treatment of Cervical Cancer at National Women’s Hospital and into Other Related Matters. The findings and recommendations of the Inquiry were published by the Government in August 1988 in what has become known as the Cartwright Report. The report led to significant reforms affecting the treatment of cervical cancer and wider healthcare delivery in New Zealand.
She went on to serve on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women - the United Nations treaty body that oversees the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Dame Silvia was also one of two international judges to sit on the Cambodia Tribunal, trying former leaders of the Khmer Rouge accused of committing war crimes and genocide.
In March 2018, Dame Silvia was appointed to chair the New Zealand Law Society's regulatory working group, looking at the processes for reporting and taking action on sexual harassment and violence, discrimination and bullying in legal workplaces.
In 1989 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, followed by Principal Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2001.
She received the Queen's Service Order in 2006.
Dame Silvia is married to Peter Cartwright CNZM QSO and lives in Auckland.