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Dame Sylvia Opens Visitor Centre Extensions

Dame Sylvia Opens Visitor Centre Extensions

Dame Silvia Cartwright performed her final official duty as Chair of the Board of Trustees yesterday, formally opening extensions to the Treaty Grounds Visitor Centre. The new facility was financed from the Trusts own resources.

In commenting on the preceding five years she said its been a time of transition and evolution of the Board. I can say that the Board is in excellent shape to support and develop this wonderful place, and I look forward very much to being an observer on the sidelines as this iconic property is developed with all the love and the passion that members of the Trust Board, local iwi and local authorities have. Its a unique Board that has a passion for this land and the history of this country, and it is also a highly competent Board, one that has achieved a great deal.

I see Waitangi as holding an increasingly important place in the hearts and minds of New Zealanders, and also becoming a place where visitors to New Zealand get a better understanding of our culture. If theres a well-run facility here, where people know they can come and get high-quality education, historical and cultural experiences, then that shifts the mood and makes more people understand that this is truly the birthplace of our nation. I think the Board has really run with the opportunities, and weve had wonderful support from very highly skilled staff. Today Waitangi is not only recognised as the birthplace of our nation, Te Pitowhenua, but is also treated with the respect that comes with that title.

We've vastly increased the cultural and educational programmes. The Board and staff are very much trying to use Waitangi in accordance with the vision the Bledisloes had, which was a place for all New Zealanders, a place of recreation, education and cultural events.

On the recently raised issue of the Treaty Grounds growing commercial success, Dame Silvia said that the Board had been aware for some time that the Governor-General needs to be kept safe from any commercial risk. The Board recognised that some years ago and has been developing its own structures to ensure that there is no problem there, so I dont think there is any major problem to confront at this stage.

The way that the Board and its staff operate here is a model for the rest of New Zealand. Everything is done bi-culturally, comfortably and appropriately: its a way for the future of the whole of the country. I am so proud of the way the Board and the staff operate, as a way of showing how the Treaty was always meant to be, the way the Bledisloes always meant it to be.

This has been one of my most enjoyable experiences as Governor-General. Its been a real privilege to be part of this. The Treaty has brought us together may the Treaty bind us together.


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