Trailblazing public servant Lyn Provost to receive honorary doctorate

Te Herenga Waka–Victoria University of Wellington alumna Lyn Provost will receive an honorary Doctor of Commerce during graduation week in December.

“Lyn Provost has been an inspirational figure for women in the public service over the course of her distinguished career, and a trailblazer in traditionally male-dominated fields,” says the University’s Chancellor Neil Paviour-Smith.

She completed a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration at the University in the 1970s, one of only a small number of women studying accounting in a class of 500. She joined the Audit Office—now Audit New Zealand—and then spent some years as a chartered accountant in private practice overseas. Returning to New Zealand she became the Assistant Controller and Auditor General responsible for the audit of the acclaimed accrual-based financial statements of the Government. She went on to senior roles in the State Services Commission and Archives New Zealand, an organisation she helped establish as a department in the early 2000s, and came to public prominence in the next phase of her career as New Zealand’s first female and first civilian Deputy Police Commissioner.

Lyn Provost then went on to a seven-year tenure as Controller and Auditor-General—the first time this role had been held by a woman. In this capacity she oversaw numerous controversial inquiries, including those into Canterbury's earthquake recovery, Whānau Ora, and the Mangawhai community wastewater scheme.

Although she has retired from public service, she continues to be a prominent advocate for public accountability and transparency, as patron of Transparency International New Zealand and a public member of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board. She maintains a strong connection with the University as chair of the advisory board for the Brian Picot Chair in Ethical Leadership, based in Wellington School of Business and Government.

“She has devoted a large part of her life to improving New Zealand’s public sector and ensuring greater accountability of our public servants,” Mr Paviour-Smith says. “In doing so, she embodies the intellectual integrity and civic-mindedness we seek to instil in all our graduates and is a deserving recipient of an honorary doctorate.”

The University Council will confer an honorary doctorate on Lyn Provost at a graduation ceremony on Tuesday 8 December.