I begin by greeting everyone in the languages of the realm of New Zealand, in English, Māori, Cook Island Māori, Niuean, Tokelauan and New Zealand Sign Language. Greetings, Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Taloha Ni, and as it is morning [sign].
I then specifically greet you: John Wignall, Vice-President of the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand; Your Worship Tim Shadbolt, Mayor of Invercargill; Richard King, Chief Executive of Invercargill City Council; Greg Larkin and members of your extended family; Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls.
As Patron of the Royal Humane Society of New Zealand, I would like to speak briefly of the significance of the honour just conferred this morning.
The Royal Humane Society of New Zealand has been part of New Zealand life since 1898. While there were traditionally significant awards for those in the military who had performed acts of bravery in wartime, there was perceived to be a need for awards in peacetime, to honour, as well, brave civilians, who risked their lives undertaking brave acts.
In its time, the Society has recognised a great many people who have, in dangerous circumstances, either saved, or attempted to save the lives of others, sometimes at the cost of their own life.
While the Government itself later established awards for civilian bravery, the Royal Humane Society’s awards continue to be officially recognised. Along with honours made by the Order of St John, Royal Humane Society of New Zealand awards are the only non-government honours that can be worn with Royal honours.
It is not then surprising then that this Society has been supported by every Governor-General with patronage since its inception and it is a great honour, as current Patron, to continue to be able to recognise the brave among us.
Bravery is, in essence, the product of courage, which is well described by the author C.S. Lewis. He wrote: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”
Courage, which underlies all other virtues, is something that is not common in all people. The few that display it however are usually humble in their acceptance of the good that they have done and pass it off as something that anyone would have done in the same circumstance.
However, it is not often that a person is placed in circumstances, where bravery and courage is called for, to attempt to preserve the life of another.
The silver medal which I have had the privilege of awarding this morning represents significant bravery displayed in attempting to rescue another whose life was in danger, and is a demonstration of the greatest of human qualities – that of putting one’s own life in danger to save another.
Greg Larkin, your actions on 4 January this year where, along with Barry Robertson, you put your life at great risk to save a young woman from drowning in dangerous waters, is worthy of both praise and acknowledgement.
You have displayed the greatest of human qualities - courage, and it has been an honour to confer the handsome medal on you this morning.
And on that note, I will close in our country's first language offering everyone greetings and wishing everyone good health and fortitude in your endeavours. No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā koutou katoa.