Honorable Speaker of the Niue Assembly Atapuna Siakimotu; Honorable Premier and Members of the Cabinet; Honorable Members of the Niue Assembly.
It is an honour and a privilege to be invited to be with you at this special sitting of the Niue Assembly. I believe this may be the first time a Governor-General has been invited to address this Assembly. Thank you for this invitation which I deeply value.
I also wish to acknowledge the presence here with me today of two New Zealand Ministers, Hon Judith Tizard and Hon Mahara Okeroa. I am grateful they have been able to join me on this visit.
As representatives of the New Zealand Government they bring added substance and strength to our delegation. I know their perspectives in the areas of arts, culture, heritage and language will be much sought after as we move through the programme of activities today.
I believe it is also appropriate to acknowledge both the New Zealand High Commissioner to Niue, His Excellency Anton Ojala and Niue's High Commissioner to New Zealand, Her Excellency Sisilia Talagi.
It is important that we acknowledge how well we, and the overall relationship, are served by our respective diplomatic representatives.
Just a few minutes ago you heard me speak at the Flag Raising Ceremony. I sought to use that opportunity to highlight the vitality of the relationship we have. I also wanted to emphasise how necessary it is for all Niueans to think of themselves as part of one family, wherever they currently live. Finally, I wanted to stress the crucial role of culture, heritage and language.
I know that these are issues and concerns you share. Certainly they are themes that come through strongly when I meet with the Premier.
This is not the time for another long speech from me - you will be pleased to hear. I hope, however Mr Speaker, that you will allow me one or two comments as an Ombudsman and as Parliament's Registrar of MP's Pecuniary Interests.
I have never been an elected member of a national assembly. My professional career has taken me in a different direction.
My career has, however, allowed me to see how important the role of elected representatives is to the functioning of any dynamic, healthy and forward-looking community.
Those who drafted Niue's Constitution set out a balance between 14 village-based constituencies and six Common Roll seats. In doing so, they ensured a balance between local and national perspectives. This balance tends to work well in other countries too.
Of course the composition of any elected Assembly is only as good as the commitment of those elected.
Niue has before it many exciting challenges and opportunities. As members of this Assembly, much will depend on the determination and commitment you give to your positions as Assembly members. I wish you well in all your endeavours.
This is my first visit to Niue and it is clear from the programme your Government and my officials have prepared that they intend for me to see a great deal of your island, its charms and its challenges.
I am looking forward shortly to visiting some of Niue's quality infrastructure that has been developed for education, and for health.
As a parent, I understand just how important it is to be confident that the fundamentals such as education and health are of a high standard, and are accessible to everyone.
I am told you have a very good education system that produces quality results. I congratulate you for this. A strong education system will stand Niue in good stead for the future.
I am also told that the New Niue Hospital Niue Foou, which was built after Cyclone Heta destroyed its predecessor, is among the finest in the Pacific. I am eager to see this facility - as a visitor of course, not a consumer of its services.
One of the things I am most looking forward to while I am here is meeting as many people as I can.
If we do have the opportunity to talk, please tell me about your hopes and aspirations - both for the future of Niue, and for the future of Niue's relationship with New Zealand.
Your thoughts on these matters will give me the understanding I need to serve as Governor-General for Niue.
Honorable Speaker; Honorable Members of the Assembly - once again, thank you for the privilege of being with you for this special sitting of your Assembly. I am greatly honoured.
Please allow me to conclude these remarks by speaking in Maori issuing greetings and wishing you good health and fortitude in your endeavours
No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, kia ora koutou katoa.