As I am among New Zealanders, may I begin by greeting everyone in the languages of the realm of New Zealand, in English, Maori, Cook Island Maori, Niuean, Tokelauan and New Zealand Sign Language. Greetings, Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Taloha Ni and as it is the evening.
I then greet you: Mike Stanley and Barry Maister, President and Secretary-General respectively of the New Zealand Olympic Committee; Dave Currie, New Zealand Chef de Mission; Your Excellency Rupert Holborow, High Commissioner for New Zealand to India; Peter Hillary and Jamling and Dhamey Norgay, the children of the conquerors of Mt Everest, the late Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay; Paul Collins, SPARC; New Zealand athletes; Distinguished Guests otherwise; Ladies and Gentlemen. And in the context of this gathering, may I add the greetings: Namaste, Namashkar, Sat Sri Akal, Kam Cho, Salaam Wailaikum.
It is a great honour for my wife Susan and me to be able to attend the Commonwealth Games here in India and to be here to support and encourage the New Zealand athletes.
This ceremony, where the flag bearer is announced, is a very special event because of being one of the few times during these Games that all the Kiwi athletes come together as a group and as representatives of New Zealand.
As I know from having attended a similar ceremony before the Beijing Olympics two years ago, this gathering is an important, albeit brief, opportunity to celebrate the spirit of New Zealand team and the nation and people you represent.
To be selected to participate in these Games you have proven yourselves to be the best in your sport. I hope that all of you stand here first and foremost as proud New Zealanders, and second as the wonderful sports people you are.
Susan and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best of luck in the coming days. We are sure you will make your family and friends and everyone back home enormously proud of your efforts in the coming two weeks.
We also look forward to cheering you on as you compete, and excel, during the week we will be here and we will continue to follow your other achievements throughout the rest of the competition.
I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge our host nation, India. It is hard to think of a country more different to New Zealand, with its ancient history, its teeming population of 1.2 billion, its rich and colourful languages, cultures and religions and its many development challenges.
Today is a special day for India, and not only because the Games will be officially opened tomorrow at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Today is the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, who played a key role in Indian independence. He is rightfully revered and honoured throughout the world for what he achieved and how he went about it by promoting non-violence and peace.
India has been generous in hosting these Games and I am sure you will respond to that in a way which reflects the generosity of spirit for which New Zealanders are well known.
Finally, I would like to congratulate the New Zealand Organising Committee on its selection of the memory of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay and “29028”—the height in feet of Mt Everest—as the symbol for these Games. To have the children of these two great men lending their support to this occasion is wonderful—thank you again for attending.
The ascent of Everest, which symbolises the gold medals you are all chasing, is only part of the message the achievements of these two great men impart. It speaks of a lasting connection and friendship between Nepal, India and New Zealand.
But most importantly, it shows that it is not simply enough to achieve greatness. It is what you do with your greatness that matters, and it is the way you wear that greatness—with humility, good humour and grace—that counts.
The point is well made by the stand out welcome banner of Sir Ed and Tenzing that hangs over the New Zealand building in the Games Village. As it quotes Sir Ed as saying: “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”
As Governor-General and Patron of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to Delhi and to wish you all the best of luck. I look forward to seeing many you achieve your own personal ‘29028s’ in the days ahead.
And on that note, I seek to close in New Zealand's first language Māori, offering greetings and wishing everyone good health and fortitude in your endeavours. No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tena koutou katoa.