Tihei Mauriora. Te Whare e tu nei tēnā koe, e nga maunga nui tēnā koutou, e te roto nui Taupō tena koe, e nga kuia karanga tēnā korua kei te mihi atu ko te karanga roimata, e nga kauhautu, tēnā koura, e te Ariki Ta Tumu tēnā koe, e nga rangatira ma e nga kuia ma e nga koro ma, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
Ko Tongariro te maunga
Ko Taupō te moana
Ko Ngāti Tūwharetoa te iwi
Ko Te Heuheu te tangata
I then greet 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 specifically greet you: Sir Tumu Te Heuheu, Paramount Chief of Ngāti Tūwharetoa; Barry Wards, President of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand and fellow members of your executive; Mike Britton, the Society’s general manager and your fellow staff; Dr Philip Hart, David Underwood, Dr Peter Maddison and Gordon Ell, Distinguished Life Members of the Society; Your Worship, Sue Morris, Mayor of Ruapehu District and Deputy Don Cameron and fellow councillors; Peter Buckley, Chairperson Environment Waikato, and your fellow councillors Laurie Burdett and Paula Southgate, members of the Environment Waikato Regional Council; Don Stanley OBE, Chair of Stanley Construction Ltd; Distinguished Guests otherwise; ladies and gentlemen.
It has been with pleasure that my wife, Susan, and I have accepted the invitation to attend today’s official opening of the new Forest and Bird Ruapehu Lodge.
As Patron of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, it is also a great pleasure to have been asked to officially open the new Lodge, which I will do in a short time by unveiling a plaque. However, before doing so, I would like to reflect on this unique part of our country and its ongoing significance.
Established in 1887, the Tongariro National Park was the first national park in New Zealand and the fourth in the world. Its creation 123 years ago, came just 15 years after the establishment of the world first national park at Yellowstone in the United States in 1872.
Tongariro National Park is a place of extremes and surprises, a place to explore and remember. From herb fields to forests, from tranquil lakes to desert-like plateaux and the mountains of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, the Park is a place of striking contrasts.
It is a Park that New Zealanders and international tourists travel to every year to enjoy the many activities and sights it has to offer, including two of New Zealand’s largest ski fields. Not surprisingly, it also has a dual international standing as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
That this Park exists for all to enjoy and share rests with the vision of Sir Tumu’s great great grandfather, Te Heuheu Tukino IV, who gifted the three mountains to the Crown in the year before he died.
To Ngāti Tūwharetoa, the three mountains at its heart are a venerated part of their history, heritage and whakapapa and so to give them to the Crown was a mighty gift. The ongoing significance of that gift, was made clear in the mihi with which I opened my speech that acknowledged the ongoing connection between Mt Tongariro, Lake Taupō, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and their Paramount Chief with whom it is a pleasure to share this podium.
As a gift to the nation, the work of protecting this park falls to all New Zealanders. While the primary agency is the Crown, represented through the Department of Conservation, organisations such as the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand have also played a significant role.
Established in 1923 and now with some 30,000 members, it is New Zealand’s largest independent conservation organisation that works to preserve our natural heritage and native species.
One its many initiatives, to enhance access to the park so the Society’s largely urban membership could better enjoy the park’s features, was the construction of the first Ruapehu Lodge built here in Whakapapa Village in 1967.
The destruction of the Lodge in a fire in October 2008 was a great loss to the Society. As many members have stayed in the Lodge in its 41 years, for it to be gone was like losing an old and beloved friend.
Undeterred, the Society set to work to rebuild the Lodge. With funds from insurance, as well as significant fundraising to rebuild it to today’s stricter building code while using more environmentally sustainable materials, this new Lodge now stands before us.
To everyone who has contributed to this new Forest and Bird Lodge, whether that be by donations, volunteering, or assisting in other ways, I would like to offer my thanks.
Building on the significance of the original gift of the land on which it sits, and without the work and support of so many people in many differing organisations and groups, this would never have been achieved.
On that note of anticipation in the continued use and longevity of the new lodge, I will close in our country’s first language, offering everyone greetings and wishing you all good health and fortitude in your endeavours. No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā koutou katoa.
To find out more about the Lodge, click here