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Governor-General’s Waitangi Day Address

Governor-General’s Waitangi Day Address

Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO
Governor-General of New Zealand

Waitangi Day Address

Government House Auckland

6 February 2016

Tihei mauri ora!

E te tini, e te mano, koutou katoa kua haere mai

ki taku pōwhiri ki te whakanui i te rā tapu,

mo Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Nau mai, haere mai ki te whare Kawana ki

Tamaki Makaurau.

Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.

To the many, many people who have come at our invitation to celebrate this sacred day for the Treaty of Waitangi, I welcome you to Government House Auckland. I extend my greetings to all who are gathered here.

I would especially acknowledge; His Worship the Mayor of Auckland Len Brown; Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Members of Parliament and Members of the Judiciary – tēnā koutou katoa.

On this Waitangi Day, when we recall the pact made between Queen Victoria’s representative and Māori, I want to acknowledge a significant milestone for her great great grand-daughter, our current monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who celebrates her 90th birthday in April.

For all of us, Queen Elizabeth’s lifetime of service is truly exemplary and it is extraordinary to think that she is still maintaining a full programme of engagements.

I am looking forward to sharing in the official birthday celebrations and conveying, on behalf of all New Zealanders, our best birthday wishes to Her Majesty.

This is the last time Janine and I will be commemorating Waitangi Day – our National Day – in our capacity as the Vice-Regal couple.

Over the past four and a half years, we’ve visited sites where the Treaty of Waitangi – Te Tiriti o Waitangi – was signed in 1840. It has also been our privilege to host fellow New Zealanders on Waitangi Day, at our residences in Auckland and Wellington.

It’s a day when I have thought about my connections with both Treaty partners – first, as the Queen’s representative in New Zealand – and secondly, through my Māori heritage and Te Hapuku, one of three rangatira who signed the Treaty in Hawkes Bay on the 24th of June 1840.

I can appreciate the challenges of drafting a Treaty in 1840 that could reconcile the concerns and rights of Māori with the concerns and demands of new immigrants – European settlers.

I can appreciate that the third article, which accorded Māori the rights of British subjects, represented a novel approach for the times.[1]

And, I can also appreciate that the English and Māori versions of the Treaty were prepared in haste, and reflected very different world views around concepts like sovereignty and the ownership of land.

Lieutenant Governor Hobson, signing on behalf of the Crown, did not live long enough to see the high hopes of the signatories confounded by those differences.

My tīpuna Te Hapuku most certainly did. His life spanned from the early days of contact between Māori and Pākehā – through to the armed conflict of the New Zealand Wars.

In 1932, Lord Bledisloe, the Governor-General of New Zealand, generously purchased James Busby’s house – where the Treaty was first signed – along with the surrounding land, for the people of New Zealand.

At the first Waitangi Day celebrations at Waitangi, in 1934, he reminded his listeners how important it was for Pākehā to observe the terms of the Treaty, to ensure that Māori had the chance of living their lives “with reasonable prospect of success”. [2]

Clearly, in the intervening 96 years, the articles of the Treaty had not been observed, and the huge loss of Māori land was effectively denying many Māori the prospect of success.

After many years of struggle, we’ve seen momentous change, including in the status of the Treaty.

In my lifetime, we’ve seen New Zealanders of Māori and Pākehā descent joining together in Treaty Settlements. We’ve seen the energy and optimism generated by the promise of a better life for future generations of iwi, of New Zealanders.

Progress for Māori represents progress for all New Zealanders – and is contingent on continued and consistent observation of Treaty principles.

That is why we still need to work towards greater understanding of what the Treaty promised – and of the justice and merits of the restitution process.

In thinking about our future, as well as focussing on how we are building on our heritage, I am focussing, in my last year as Governor-General, on how modern New Zealand is working in the realm of science and innovation.

Our immigrant forebears needed to be curious, ingenious and resourceful to survive and flourish in this new land.

Those qualities are needed more than ever as we face the multiple challenges of the 21st century.

There is a whakatauki, or proverb about the links between knowledge, wisdom and wellbeing, which goes: “Mā te ronga, ka mōhio; Mā te mōhio, ka mārama; Mā te mārama, ka mātau; Mā te mātau, ka ora – Through listening comes awareness; through awareness comes understanding; through understanding comes knowledge; through knowledge comes life and well-being.”

We need to draw on our collective knowledge. We need to value and support creative, purposeful and patient inquiry across a broad range of disciplines. We need to promote opportunities for our experts to bring that knowledge together, to develop new approaches and new products and to work for our collective good.

Increasingly, innovation will come from people of different backgrounds and disciplines. We can see this in our creative industries where techniques in computer-based bio-modelling; artificial intelligence; automation and robotics; forensic science and meat processing have come together with the skills of artists, storytellers and designers to create award-winning special effects.

We also need to bring the same collective expertise and energy to our duty of care for these beautiful islands we are fortunate to call home.

When it comes to the environment, we need to observe, to listen and to learn. If more of us develop an understanding of the physical world and how it works, we will be compelled to take greater care of it, and thereby secure the well-being of future generations.

If we shower the same accolades on our scientists as we extend to our sporting heroes; if we take inspiration from our great Nobel Prize winners Ernest Rutherford, Maurice Wilkins, and Alan MacDiarmid; if we show due pride in the many innovations we have delivered to the world, from aortic valve replacement to earthquake-strengthening ‘base-isolation’ technology; if we value and support clever and dedicated research scientists and practitioners in their efforts to save lives and save the planet – then more young New Zealanders will think about the exciting and rewarding possibilities that lie ahead – and more will seek to make their own contribution to a better future for us all.

On this Waitangi Day, as we remember the historical basis for our nation’s identity, and commit to a better collective future, let us also put knowledge of our natural world and achievement in science and technology as part of that history – and put them firmly in the centre of the story of our future.

Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.


[1] Chapter 2 of Claudia Orange The Treaty of Waitangi

[2] The true significance of Waitangi to the people of New Zealand, speech delivered by Lord Bledisloe at Te Tii Point, 5 February 1934.

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