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Being a New Zealander - Jim Anderton Speech

20 June 2002 Speech notes

Being a New Zealander

9:30 am
Thursday, 20 June 2002
Speech to launch the first Museums Business Forum
Angus Room, TelstraClear Centre, Level 3, Te Papa, Wellington

Today I want to talk about New Zealand.

I want to talk about who we are.

And I want to talk about where we are going.

What makes New Zealanders unique is our identity – as individuals, as communities and as a nation.

There is nowhere else like New Zealand. Our land and our people, our cultures and our heritage are special.

It is our strength.

The future of New Zealand is in the hands of New Zealanders.

While we can learn from other nations and work with them, only New Zealanders are committed to staying here and making our communities and our country flourish.

This Coalition Government has established the first programme to build our regions in nearly three decades.

It is long overdue.

All of New Zealand is now part of the Government’s regional partnership programme.

This means that in each region there is a partnership between key regional players, including local authorities, communities, iwi and businesses.

All 26 regions are now working on developing major regional initiatives based on the shared direction developed through a local regional development plan.

One of the first issues we faced was persuading some local authorities that they had a role in economic development.

For years local authorities were told not to get involved with anything, especially economic development of their region, unless they absolutely had to.

And for many years central government has been the missing link in regional development.

Regions and communities were left to their own devices.

Through this time museums have continued to contribute to their local economies.

Museums have a significant role in communities.

They are an important tourist destination and a vital part of the cultural tourism attraction of our towns, and cities.

The recent Tourism Strategy 2010 has said that cultural tourism can and should be developed further.

The Coalition Government has recently agreed to provide funding for research into the demand for cultural tourism by both domestic and international visitors.

Museums employ people, pay rent or rates, and are part of the economic web in our towns and cities.

All local institutions have an important role in assisting regional development.

In my home town of Christchurch, the Canterbury Development Corporation encourages local business, creates jobs and attracts businesses to the city.

It is supported to the tune of $3 million each year by the Christchurch City Council.

In each region key agencies like the CDC are vital. Councils, polytechnics and museums have a role in building local communities and economies.

Much of the last three years has been about encouraging communities, towns, and regions to have confidence and the commitment to get involved again.

If we are going to succeed on the world stage we need to be more confident about who we are.

We need to be prepared to celebrate New Zealand, our history, our differences and our land.

We celebrate the All Blacks. When our Super 12 team is winning, local confidence rises measurably. In Canterbury of course they are one and the same thing now.

We are proud of New Zealand’s America’s cup team.

It is time to ensure that national pride is not solely based on whether our sports teams are winning or losing.

One of the distinctive sounds of New Zealand is Pokarekare Ana. For New Zealanders overseas to hear it playing is spine tingling. I would support giving Pokarekare Ana some status as our national song alongside our national anthem.

We also need to celebrate our differences.

I think one key difference between New Zealand now and New Zealand three years ago is we have greater confidence.

Our regions are booming, all of them are in positive growth mode and many are growing at over four per cent per year.

There are 104,000 more jobs in New Zealand now than there were three years ago.

New Zealanders need to take control of our own destiny.

We need to continue building up our regions and our communities.

We need to build the New Zealand economy rather than deplete our economic strength.

That is why establishing the locally owned Kiwibank, with 300 branches, has been such an important step. All the profits from the Kiwibank stay in New Zealand.

Bringing Air New Zealand back into public ownership has been an important step. We need a national airline.

There should be no more sales of strategic assets.

We need to have a national interest test on foreign trade agreements and on foreign investment. We should only sign agreements that are in our national interest, that support sustainable local jobs and provide us with long term development opportunities.

I believe we need to oppose merging the kiwi dollar with the Australian dollar. As well as being economically naive it would be a cultural step backwards.

The lobby for currency union has grown much stronger over the last two years, and it needs to be stopped in its tracks.

Building New Zealand’s identity is important.

You, as the keepers of our history, will understand this.

You have the ability to change the way people see themselves, their homes and their communities.

I am sure most of you are aware that museums are not limited by the walls of your museum building. You can inform the regional partnership programme by helping your region to identify strengths.

If our regions have a strong sense of identity then they will grow and contribute more to our local and regional communities and therefore to New Zealand.

At the regional development conference last year one Maori economic development expert described our regions as chapters in the book of New Zealand.

He said that you can’t understand New Zealand – you certainly won’t get the full story, until you read the whole book and understand every chapter.

I look forward to your contribution to the continuing story of New Zealand. I’m sure it will be an important building block to a better and more complete, New Zealand.

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