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The Governor-General's blog

The official blog of the Governor-General of New Zealand

  • New Zealand Secondary Student's Choir performance at Government House

    Christmas was in the air as the New Zealand Secondary Students' Choir performed at Government House. Covid-19 may have curtailed the choir's 2020 programme and ruled out a trip to Europe, but the choir's polished performance was a testament to their professionalism and talent.

    Joining them for the performance was choir alumna and vice-patron Simon O'Neill, who added his soaring tenor voice to 'O Holy Night' and left guests wanting more with "Nessun Dorma".

    More images

    Image of Dame Patsy and the choir

     

  • Reception for the Diplomatic Corps

    Last night Dame Patsy and Sir David hosted one of their final official engagements for 2020 - a reception for the Diplomatic Corps. The reception was originally scheduled for earlier in the year, and had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Dame Patsy and the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, HE Mr Leasi Papali'i Tommy Scanlan, the Samoan High Commissioner, both spoke about the testing times experienced by people around the world and their hopes for a better year ahead.

  • Waitangi Day 2021 ballot - Entry Information

    Government House is holding a ballot for 30 people, each with a guest, to attend the Waitangi Day reception at Government House in Wellington from 4.30pm-6.30pm on Saturday 6 February, 2021.

    To enter, please email the following details to waitangi.reception@govthouse.govt.nz :

    • your name including your title (e.g Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr, Rev)
    • your postal address including postcode
    • your phone number
    • the name of the guest you would like to bring

    The draw for the ballot closes at midday on Thursday 17 December, 2020 and successful invitation recipients will be notified by email on 21 December, 2020.

    There is no requirement to bring a guest - solo applicants are welcome.

    Ballot entrants need to be 18 years of age or over at the time of entry and guests can be of any age.  

    Terms and Conditions

    Please note the following:

    The invitation includes entrance to the reception and light refreshments. All transportation, accommodation, parking arrangements and costs are at the entrant’s expense.

    Entrants may enter the ballot only once. Multiple entries will be discarded.

    Government House reserves the right to remove any person from the ballot. This includes incomplete entries. 

    Government House reserves the right to cancel the Waitangi Day reception in the event of adverse weather or a change in Covid-19 alert levels. Government House takes no responsibility for costs incurred by invitation recipients in the event of any cancellation.

    Invitations are not transferrable. Only the person who originally entered the ballot can be awarded the invitation

    Guests at the reception will be required to bring ID to enter Government House grounds.

  • Zealandia Sculpture at Government House Auckland

    After being postponed earlier in the year due to COVID-19, Gill Gatfield’s sculpture ‘Zealandia’ was officially welcomed to the gardens of Government House Auckland, where it is currently on loan. Zealandia stands 2.3m tall, carved from ancient stone sourced from the South Island. The top reaches towards Ranginui and the bottom connecting to Papatūānuku. Attending the event were some familiar faces; Dame Anna Crighton who earlier in the year received her DNZM from Government House Wellington, and former Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright.

    The sculpture is quite a well-travelled piece, it was sent to Italy to be included in the prestigious 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Gatfield was the only New Zealand artist represented that year.

    More photos

    Dame Patsy Reddy, Dame Silvia Cartwright and Gill Gatfield

  • Waitangi Day reception 2021 - ballot announcement

    Good news for those of you hoping that the ballot might return for the Waitangi Day reception at Government House.
    We've done some number crunching and found room for a few more people on the guest list for next year.
    We'll be opening the ballot to find 30 people, each bringing a guest, to join us at the 2021 reception in Wellington.
    The ballot will open at midday on Tuesday 15 December and will close at midday on Thursday 17 December.
    Check back here on Tuesday for more details.

  • Whakaari Commemoration

    On Wednesday 9 December Dame Patsy and Sir David attended the commemorations at Mataatua Marae in Whakatane marking the first anniversary of the Whakaari eruption. They joined the Prime Minister, Government Ministers, Members of Parliament, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Defence and Emergency Response representatives, Ngati Awa and whanau of those who lost their lives in a ceremony that honoured the memory of the 22 people who lost their lives as a result of the eruption.

    Speech transcript 

    Image gallery

  • Judges Dinner

    Tonight Dame Patsy and Sir David hosted a dinner for the Judges of the Supreme Court and Heads of Bench at Government House in Wellington. Heads of Bench are the senior judges of the Court of Appeal, District Court, Family Court, Youth Court, Employment Court, Coroner, Court Martial, High Court, Maori Land Court and Environment Court.
    In honour of the season, Christmas wreaths were much in evidence on the table in the Norrie Dining Room

    Image of Judges

    Image of table setting at the judges dinner

  • The Opening of the Restored Donald Woolshed

    On Sunday, Dame Patsy cut the ribbon to officially open a restored piece of Wairarapa’s agricultural history. The exact date the Donald Woolshed was constructed is not known, but estimates date it from around 1850-1870. It is constructed from totora wood, and was one of the oldest buildings in the area.

    The woolshed, now located at Cobblestones Museum in Greytown, has been largely restored with the help of dedicated volunteers in the area.

    Dame Patsy cuts the ribbon to open the Donald woolshed

    Representing Pāpāwai marae, Sir Kim Workman performed a karanga to bless the woolshed before it was opened.

    The Donald family had an important impact on New Zealand’s agricultural landscape, with William Donald being one of the first people to bring Romney sheep to New Zealand. Romney now makes up around half of all total sheep in New Zealand.

    William’s youngest son, Donald, was the inventor of the Donald (or Solway) Woolpress. This machine was at the time, the most cutting-edge woolpress in the country, faster, cheaper and more efficient than the competition.

    A descendent of the Donald family, Andrew Donald, attended the ceremony and spoke of his family’s legacy in the region.

    More photos

    Dame Patsy speaking in front of the Donald woolshed

  • Morning tea for the Aspen Institute New Zealand

    This morning Dame Patsy and Sir David hosted a morning tea for the Aspen Institute New Zealand, which was recently established as an affiliate of the Aspen Institute in the United States. Co-patrons Sir Don McKinnon and former Prime Minister the Rt Hon Helen Clark were amongst the guests, along with two other former Prime Ministers, the Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Palmer and the Rt Hon Sir Bill English.

    Image Gallery                          Speech transcript

  • Pet Refuge Christmas Celebration Dinner

    While working with her charity KidsCan, Julie Chapman discovered that over half of people facing domestic violence, they delay leaving for fear of what might happen to their pets. She decided to do something about this worrying statistic and along with Glenda Hughes, created Pet Refuge. The refuge will be a safe haven for pets to stay while their owners seek the help they need, and can later be reunited when they are in a stable environment.

    On Thursday night, Dame Patsy hosted Pet Refuge’s Christmas Celebration, to help them get closer to their goal of opening the refuge doors by mid-2021. The evening included speeches from Olympic gold medallist Rob Waddell, broadcaster John McBeth and a performance from Julia Deans.

    Julia Deans singing and playing guitar

  • Whakamana Hiranga Icon Awards 2020

    Actor Sam Neill, author Joy Cowley and artist and educator Dr Sandy Adsetts' long and inspirational careers were acknowledged at Government House this evening, with the presentation of the Arts Foundation's Whakamana Hiranga Icon Awards. Limited to a living circle of 20, the Icon medallion holders include Albert Wendt, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Sir Peter Jackson.
    Scene stealer of the night was Joy Cowley, who told a story about taking her tiger to the dental nurse, instead of giving a traditional speech.
    Performance artist Kalisolaite 'Uhila carried the torch for mid-career arts practitioners when he was announced as the latest Harriet Friedlander Residency recipient. The all-expenses paid residency will see him soaking up the the creative energy of New York - once the borders open of course.

    More images

    Image of Dame Patsy and Sir David with the recipients of the Whakamana Hiranga Icon Award recipients and the Harriet Friedlander Residency

  • Royal Commission of Inquiry Report into the Terrorist attacks on the Christchurch Mosques

    This afternoon Hon Sir William Young, Chair of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on the Christchurch Mosques, and Jacqui Caine, Commissioner, presented the Commission's report to the Governor-General.

    Hon Sir William Young, Dame Patsy and Jacqui Caine
  • State Opening of Parliament 2020

    Rain may have curtailed some of the normal ceremonial flourishes but there was still plenty of colour at this morning's 53rd State Opening of Parliament in Wellington. Dame Patsy delivered the Speech from the Throne to the assembled Members of the House outlining the Government's priorities for its term and following the ceremony, Dame Patsy joined the Prime Minister, Speaker of the House, members of the diplomatic corps, youth representatives and others at the Prime Minister's Reception.

    More images

    Highlights video

    Speech from the Throne

    Image of Dame Patsy heading through the Grand Hall to the Legislative Council Chamber

    Image of a member of the kapa haka group

  • Confirmation of the Speaker

    The first task of a newly elected Parliament is to elect a Speaker. Today, after the Rt Hon Trevor Mallard was elected by his colleagues, he came to Government House to have his election confirmed by the Governor-General.

    The Speaker is third in the order of precedence, after the Governor-General and the Prime Minister.

     

  • New Zealand Festival of the Arts and Wellington Jazz Festival patrons, partners and artists reception

    This afternoon Dame Patsy hosted a reception for New Zealand Festival of the Arts and Wellington Jazz Festival patrons, partners and artists at Government House in Wellington. Both events faced challenges due to the pandemic but planning is underway for 2022. Appropriately, given it was the final day of the Jazz Festival, the music waFestival of the Arts and Wellington Jazz Festival receptions supplied by the RNZAF Jazz Band, who didn't miss a beat - even when Dame Patsy popped over for a quick photo opp.

    More images 

    Image of Dame Patsy and RNZAF Jazz Band

    Image of Dame Patsy and Sir david with Festival Chair Geoff Dangerfield, Creative Director Marnie Karmelita, Executive Director Meg Williams and Claire Mabey

  • Ahuwhenua Awards 2020

    On Friday 20 November Dame Patsy and Sir David attended the 2020 Ahuwhenua Awards dinner in Rotorua. Until this year, the awards have recognised excellence in sheep, beef or dairy farming. This year marked the first time in the Awards history that excellence in horticulture was recognised.

    Dame Patsy presented the Ahuwhenua Trophy to Norm Carter, Chair of Te Kaha 15B, Hineora Orchard, which produces gold kiwifruit.

    Speech transcript

    Dame Patsy speaking at the Ahuwhenua Awards dinner
    Dame Patsy and Norm Carter with the Ahuwhenua Trophy
  • New Zealand Olympic Family lunch

    The sun shone for the New Zealand's Olympic Family as Dame Patsy hosted a lunch at Government House in Auckland to thank the people and organisations who play a role in getting the New Zealand Olympic team to the games, and in keeping support for our teams high in between times.


    The Tokyo Olympics will definitely be happening with announcements expected before Christmas as to how the event will be run. Great news for our New Zealand athletes who have kept up their training during the challenging events of this year.


    New Zealand has had a marvellous record of success at the Olympics over the last 100 years. Check out some of the best moments in this video from the New Zealand Olympic Committee

    100 Years of the New Zealand team

    More images

    IMage of Dame Patsy with NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith, President Mike Stanley and members of the board

    Image of Olympian Barbara Kendall

  • Global Women honorary life membership presentations

    A very special evening at Government House in Auckland tonight as nine members of Global Women were presented with honorary lifetime memberships. Global Women's objective is to increase diversity in leadership by facilitating the development of women leaders and the guest list reflected this mission.
    Unusually Dame Patsy was not the one presenting the awards this evening. As a founder member of Global Women she was one of the honorees alongside former Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley, lawyer Mai Chen, academic Dame Marilyn Waring, public policy reformer Ruth Richardson and business leaders Dame Alison Patterson, Joan Withers and Faye Langdon,
    The nine new life members were also honoured with a special haka from members of Titahi Ki Tua, a student group from AUT.

    More images

    Image of Dame Patsy and Dame Marilyn Waring

    Image of the nine Global Women Honorary Life Members

  • Paralympic Celebration Project

    As part of Paralympics New Zealand’s Celebration Project, this evening 18 Paralympians were presented with their Paralympian number pins at Government House Wellington. They are part of the group of 209 Paralympians who have represented New Zealand at the Paralympic Games since 1968 in Tel Aviv.

    The Celebration Project has been holding events all throughout 2020 to honour every member of our Paralympic family in the 52 years of New Zealand Paralympic history. There will hopefully be around 30-40 extra names to add to the prestigious list if the upcoming Paralympic Games are successfully held next year in Tokyo.  

    More photos 

    Group photo of all the Paralympians and those representing Paralympians honoured this evening

     

    Jan Apel

  • Gift of Hine Maioha by Te Roopu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa

    Te Roopu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa is a national weavers' committee, whose mission is to develop and extend the skills of weaving across Aotearoa. Today the committee members presented Dame Patsy with Hine Maioha, an exquisite example of a tarapouahi (flax shawl), created by weavers in various locations around the country. The exterior of the tarapouahi is tasselled and the interior facing features taniko patterns. The tarapouahi was woven especially for Dame Patsy.

  • Zealandia 25th Anniversary Reception

    This evening at Government House, Dame Patsy hosted a celebration for the 25th Anniversary of Zealandia. 25 years ago, Jim Lynch’s plan for an urban eco sanctuary nestled in the hills of Karori began, it would be a pest-free environment where Aotearoa’s native flora and fauna could thrive. The urban eco sanctuary has been so sucessful, native bird sightings around the city have dramatically increased over the past 10 years, some by as much as 700%!

    The sanctuary is surrounded by an 8.6km fence which is designed to keep out harmful pests like possums, stoats and mice. This gives native flora and fauna a place to thrive away from unnatrual predators.

    More photos

    Jim Lynch, Denise Lynch and Nicola Willis

  • I'll Tell You This For Nothing - My Mother The War Hero

    The ballroom at Government House transformed into a theatre this evening with a performance of Kate JasonSmith's one woman play "I'll Tell You This For Nothing - My Mother the War Hero". Kate took the audience on a journey through her Mother's life, from rural Ireland to nursing service on the battlefields of World War Two. By turns comedic, dramatic and ultimately moving, it was an acting tour de force.

    Image of Kate JasonSmith on stage

    Image of Dame Patsy and Kate JasonSmith

  • Watch Here - Appointment of the New Ministry 2020

    Aotearoa New Zealand’s new Ministry was appointed this morning at Government House Wellington. The 26 Ministers and two Parliamentary Under-Secretaries were welcomed into the ballroom with a karanga from Kuia Ranui Ngarimu, which was returned by newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta.

    More photos

     

  • Royal Society Te Aparangi Research Honours Aotearoa 2020

    Last night Dame Patsy presented awards to eight recipients of the Royal Society Te Aparangi Research Honours, including the most prestigious award, the Rutherford Medal to Distinguished Professor Brian Boyd.

    Speech transcript

    Image Gallery 

    Distinguished Professor Brian Boyd - Rutherford Medal
  • Tiger Moth pilot Rona Fraser, MNZM

    This week saw the conclusion of the Queen’s Birthday investiture ceremonies, where many amazing Kiwis received their New Zealand Royal honours. The citations merely scratch the surface of a lifetime of outstanding work achieved by the recipients – a great example of this was Tiger Moth pilot Rona Fraser, MNZM.

    The nonagenarian pulling up to Government House in her new Kona blue Mustang was a hint there was more to her than you might think! (blue was her second choice, she would have preferred purple). Rona arrived to receive an MNZM for services to women and aviation; among her achievements was founding the New Zealand Association of Women in Aviation in 1959.

    Rona Fraser, Dame Patsy Reddy
    The NZAWA has helped encourage more women to join the world of aviation through mentoring and scholarships. The group includes female pilots, flight attendants, balloonists, parachutists and everything in between. After Rona met with her in Rotorua, New Zealand’s most famous aviator, Jean Batten, was patron of the organisation for many years until her death.

    Rona’s own journey to the skies began after being inspired to fly from World War II pilots. She went on to become the first woman gain a private pilot’s licence after World War II, and the first woman to fly solo from the Wellington Aero Club. She began her aviation training in 1952 flying Tiger Moths and her first solo flight happened after just four and a half hours of dual flying. Rona then became licenced to fly an Auster Aiglet, Chipmunk, Piper Cub, Tri Pacer and a Citabria.

    Image of Rona Fraser and Dame Patsy Reddy
    Rona Fraser and Dame Patsy Reddy

    As well as being an accomplished pilot, early in her career Rona was a skilled welder; she was the only woman welder in the General Motors body shop in Petone at the time. She was also a welder at Seaview’s Ford plant and later worked at an engineering firm where she learned to use the lathe machine. Rona then started a riding school at her farm in the Wairarapa, where she bred Arabian horses.

    In 2012 she was interviewed by Radio New Zealand, it’s worth hearing more about her trailblazing life - click this link to listen.

     

  • T G Macarthy Trust

    Today Dame Patsy hosted the annual meeting of the Thomas George Macarthy Trust. The Trust has had a huge impact on charitable funding in the Wellington Region since it was established by T G Macarthy in 1912.  Governors of the Trust included the Prime Minister, the Catholic Archbishop of Wellington, the Governor, and Wellington's Mayor. It is one of New Zealand's largest perpetual charitable trusts with assets in excess of $90 million, and is administered by the Public Trust. Each year Trust income of around $2 - $3 million is disbursed.

    The aim of the T G Macarthy Trust was to help improve the quality of life for the disadvantaged and marginalised, to help young people develop and realise their potential, to look after and provide dignity for older people, and provide essential medical and emergency services.

    T G Macarthy came to Otago in search of gold. He established a brewery in Charleston before moving to Wellington and diversifying his business interests. He was a respected businessman and public figure,  was director of the Wellington Opera House and was on the Board of Directors for the Bank of New Zealand and the Wellington-Manawatu Railway.

    The Trust has given over $80 million to diverse not-for-profit community based groups in Wellington, the Wairarapa, Kapiti, Horowhenua, Manawatu and Whanganui Districts.

     

  • Troy Kingi, 2020 Artist-in-Residence

    Composer, musician, singer and actor Troy Kingi, Government House’s most recent Artist-in-Residence, confirmed his reputation as an artistic powerhouse during his stay here.

    There was a slight blip in his ambitious goal to release 10 albums in 10 genres in 10 years. In 2018, he didn’t release anything, but he is making up lost ground in 2021 with his plans to release four albums.

    Troy told us he relishes deadlines and song-writing comes easily to him. For him, each musical genre is an opportunity to re-invent himself with a new sound and persona. He wants each album to sound like a it has been made by a different artist.

    During his time at Government House, Troy completed two projects. The first involved translating the lyrics in his 2019 reggae album “Holy Colony Burning Acres” into Te Reo Māori, and then recording the vocals. The second was to write, record and mix an acoustic folk album, in collaboration with Delaney Davidson. Troy says it will be his most personal album to date.

    Work on the next genre album – inspired by 80s music – will have to wait until June 2021. That’s because there are several film commitments coming up. (Troy first appeared in Mount Zion in 2013, and has most recently appeared in Toke – there’s talk of a TV spin-off further down the track.)

    The 2020 Māori Music Awards were held (virtually) during Troy’s time at Government House. He pre-recorded five acceptance speeches for the categories he was nominated for, and he came away with three: Best Solo Māori Artist; Best Reggae Album and Best Music Video.  He was also a finalist in last night’s Silver Scroll Awards for his song “Mighty Invader”.

    Troy says that he will think back to his time in the Government House residency and recall how despite being out of his comfort zone, he was able to achieve so much.

    Troy does his best work in the wee hours. After his stay here, he can confirm that Government House's many tui are all-nighters as well.

     

     

     

  • Our Lady's Home of Compassion - visit and QSM presentation

    Today Dame Patsy visited Our Lady's Home of Compassion in Island Bay to meet the sisters and posthumously present the Queen's Service medal awarded to the late Sr Catherine Hannan.

    Sister Catherine, a member of the Sisters of Compassion for 66 years and a dedicated advocate for human rights in New Zealand and overseas, passed away before she was able to attend an investiture ceremony. Her insignia was presented instead to Congregational Leader Sr Margaret Anne Mills and will be added to the substantial number of honours awarded to members of the Sisters of Compassion already held in the order's archives.

    Dame Patsy also toured the museum, the Suzanne Aubert Heritage Centre and the chapel - the final resting place of Sisters of Compassion founder Suzanne Aubert.

    Image of Sr Margaret Anne accepting Sr Catherine's QSM for the Sisters of Compassion archives

    Image of a photo album from a previous Governor-General visit - Lady Fergusson receives flowers

  • Investiture Wellington Tuesday 27 October 5pm

    This evening concluded the Queens Birthday honours list investiture ceremonies at Government House Wellington, where 13 recipients were presented with their insignia. Among them was Dame Aroha Reriti-Crofts, recognised for her significant contributions to Māori wāhine and the community. Her extensive work in the health and education sector was acknowledged along with her contributions to the Māori Women’s Welfare League. Other recipients this evening include former Mayor of Whakatāne Tony Bonne and former Mayor of Central Otago Tony Lepper plus Helen Plume, who has contributed significantly to the global fight against climate change.

    More images

    Image of Helen Plume, of Porirua, CNZM, for services to the environment

  • Investiture Ceremony 23 October 2020 PM

    Central Otago poet Dr Brian Turner, ONZM and former Silver Fern Joan Harnett-Kindley, ONZM were among the 12 investiture recipients this afternoon at Government House. Other recipients were Scilla Askew, ONZM for services to music; Dr Jeremy Hill, MNZM for services to the dairy industry and scientific research; Jenny Noble, MNZM for services to health, particularly research for rare diseases; Tofilau Bernadette Pereira, MNZM for services to the Pacific community and women; Robyn Bisset, QSM for services to the community; Chandhu Daji, QSM for services to the Indian community and sport; Bill Sharp, QSM for services to youth; Terence Tauira, QSM for services to the Pacific community; Marie Taylor, QSM for services to horticulture and native revegetation; and Jim Thomas, QSM for services to victim support and the community.

    Image Gallery

     

    Dr Brian Turner, of Oturehua, ONZM for services to literature and poetry
    Mrs Joan Harnett-Kindley, of Wanaka, ONZM for services to netball and the real estate industry
  • Investiture Ceremony 23 October 2020 AM

    Another ten outstanding New Zealanders received their honour insignia from Dame Patsy this morning: Professor Richard Bedford, CNZM for services to governance; Steve Tew, ONZM for services to rugby and sports administration; Jackie Edmond, MNZM for services to sexual and reproductive health; Dr Janet Turnbull, MNZM for services to health; Angelica Edgley, MNZM (Honorary) for services to forensic science; Gillian Bishop, QSM for services to conservation; Dave Butler, QSM for services to conservation; Turangapito Parata, QSM for services to Maori, health and youth; Cushla Scrivens, QSM for services to historical research and heritage preservation; and Neil Taylor, QSM for services to people with intellectual disabilities and the community.

    Image Gallery

  • Investiture Ceremony 22 October 2020 PM

    At this afternoon's investiture ceremony, insignia were presented to Helene Quilter, QSO for services to the State; Dr Garry Forgeson, ONZM for services to oncology; Tony Wilding, ONZM for services to the dairy industry and the community; David Crerar, MNZM for services to mountaineering and outdoor recreation; Billy Graham, MNZM for services to youth and the community; Dr Sarah Leberman, MNZM for services to women, sport and tertiary education; Don Mackay, MNZM for services to seniors and the community; Mary Thompson, MNZM for services to netball administration; Kayla Whitelock, MNZM for services to hockey; Ella Buchanan Hanify, QSM for services to music; Andrew John, QSM for services to conservation and education; Trevor McGlinchey, QSM for services to Maori and the community; and Terry Roche, QSM for services to the community.

    Image Gallery

    Ms Helene Quilter, of Wellington, QSO for services to the State

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