PM Address To Michael Hardie Boys Luncheon
Rt Hon Helen Clark
State Luncheon for Farewell
Sir Michael and Lady Hardie Boys
Wednesday 21 March 2001
Exactly five years ago today Sir Michael was sworn in as New Zealand's seventeenth Governor-General.
This formal farewell State lunch marks the completion of his term. It is the occasion to thank both Sir Michael and Lady Hardie Boys for their service to New Zealand, and to wish them well for the future.
The office of Governor-General has become over the years a New Zealand institution, developed and adapted to our society, our values, and our ways of doing things. Sir Michael has both been a part of that tradition and has made his own important contribution to it.
The most significant development for the office of the Governor-General in the 1996-2001 term was the introduction of MMP, and in particular the potential constitutional implications of the change.
In this new environment the appointment of a Judge as Governor-General was particularly important. As a Judge of the Court of Appeal, Sir Michael was well qualified to weigh evidence, distil relevant principles, and apply them to situations as they arose.
Since his appointment, Sir Michael's approach to the role of the Governor-General has been careful and constructive. In a series of constitutional speeches, given throughout his term, he has set out to inform the public about the constitutional principles and processes which would apply in situations of political uncertainty, such as the formation of a government following an inconclusive election. By emphasising throughout that these situations are for the politicians to resolve, Sir Michael has supported the evolution of the political process and correctly placed responsibility on the parties.
Thus Sir Michael has been Governor-General at a special time in New Zealand's political and constitutional history. His contribution to the understanding of the Governor-General's developing constitutional role is his legacy to the office.
As Governor-General Sir Michael has also represented New Zealand internationally. He has travelled extensively in the South Pacific. In addition to visiting Niue, Tokelau and the Cook Islands, for which he serves as Governor-General, he has also visited our Pacific neighbours, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia and French Polynesia. His visits to New Caledonia and French Polynesia were the first visits there by a New Zealand Governor-General.
At the invitation of the respective Heads of State he has also represented New Zealand at the inauguration ceremony for President Mbeki in South Africa, the official opening of the Olympic Games in Sydney, and wartime commemoration ceremonies in Turkey, France, and Crete.
An important event was the full State visit Sir Michael made to China at the end of last year.
Through the Governor-General's community role many New Zealanders have met Sir Michael. In the tradition established by former Governor-Generals, he has taken the office out to the people. He has travelled extensively within New Zealand .
In Sir Michael's formal role he invests many New Zealanders with honours awarded for service to our country. Sir Michael has said that he has felt humbled by the contribution so many people have made and are making. Those who have received the awards have also appreciated the warmth of interest Sir Michael has shown in them, and the effort he and Lady Hardie Boys have made to make them welcome at Government House and to make the day a special one for them.
What must be appreciated is that Sir Michael and Lady Hardie-Boys have themselves given five years of unstinting service to New Zealand. Their lives have not been their own and they have put public duty first. In the House of Representatives there will be widespread appreciation of how considerable that service and dedication has been.
On a practical note I observe that Sir Michael and Lady Hardie Boys share, in common with many New Zealanders, an interest in gardening. Under their stewardship the gardens at Government House have been a very worthy setting for the House. The gardens provide pleasure for all who visit. Full use has been made of New Zealand indigenous plants to very good effect. This is a tangible legacy of their time in residence, but also one which is symbolic of Sir Michael's term of office as the seventeenth Governor-General of New Zealand.
On this formal occasion, Sir Michael, we thank you for all those things that have marked your term of office, and in particular for your thoughtfulness, your interest in and concern for fellow New Zealanders, and your preparedness to put aside five years of your life for the considerable act of public service you have performed as Governor-General.