Your Excellency, Mr Javier Leon, Ambassador for Peru to New Zealand and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Your Excellencies, Members of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade - Foreign Service, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I greet you in the languages of the realm of New Zealand, Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Fakalofa lahi atu, Taloha Ni. Welcome to Government House.
I would like to extend a particular welcome, to Wellington also, to the Heads of Mission accredited to Wellington from Canberra. Thank you for travelling here tonight.
It is a matter of great pleasure to be your host this evening. It is only a little over 57 hours since I was sworn in as Governor-General of New Zealand and the settling-in process to this rather lovely home is still in progress.
However, it is not in any way a moment too soon, to host a dinner for the Heads of Mission in New Zealand for a variety of reasons.
First, New Zealand is a country as far away from the world as can possibly be. But we are a successful trading nation and we make our way in the world community by having strong and well-developed people-to-people contacts.
In the past because of our colonial history, New Zealand's foreign affairs were conducted in the country's name externally, but events in last 100 years have seen that progressively devolved to ourselves. In today's world, both in bilateral and private diplomacy, as well as multilateral and public diplomacy in membership of international organisations, New Zealand can be said to play a principled role, this reputation being something that has taken work over a considerable period to achieve.
It may be said that evidence of the present state of our country's commitment to contact and making principled contributions to world affairs is represented by the depth and quality of this evening's attendance by so many. It is remarkable to think that a country which is so many thousands of kilometres from the seaboards of American and Asian continents - let alone further afield - that we maintain relations with no fewer than 115 countries.
Looking around the room tonight, there are many faces whom I recognise, including some I have worked with in former roles to do with the Asia New Zealand Foundation and the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs. I also observe that there are also many I have met for the first time this evening and I look forward to taking advantage of that opportunity, beyond tonight, to further contact on other occasions in the future.
On diplomatic occasions as these, there is the opportunity to network and the opportunity to enjoy good food, wine and company. As to the second you will see that the considerable reputation of the Government House chefs is on display tonight with local fish and lamb and vegetables for you to enjoy and wines from the East Coast of the NorthIsland at Gisborne and from WaihekeIsland near to Auckland.
As to the first matter of networking can I note that conversation is the backbone of diplomacy. And can I also note that a great many diplomats I have known have been highly skilled practitioners in the art of conversation. And can I also note that at a number of your tables this evening there is, for a number of you overseas representatives, a senior New Zealand Foreign Service official with whom to converse.
Conversation and diplomats together may sound like a generality or a clich. If so, it is only because it is a generality which clothes an underlying truth. Conversation is the backbone of diplomacy, and in-turn, diplomacy is the backbone of peace and stability.
By continuing to talk with each other, by employing the internationally recognised norms of good diplomacy, a further contribution to global peace and cooperation may be possible.
I believe New Zealanders embrace the principles of diplomacy as much as any others facing a more direct threat. Indeed, as New Zealanders, we are aware of the role that diplomacy has played in securing our economic and cultural position in the world, as much as our security.
In my inaugural address on Wednesday, I quoted a well known New Zealand author, Witi Ihimaera, who coincidentally earlier in his life spent many years as a diplomat for our country. The quotation I used was about the multicultural nature of present day New Zealand being likened to the rope of man - te taura tangata in Maori. The same writer, in the same work said, in elegant terms, something else. It was about New Zealand's nature in an international setting, which, with your permission to indulge my enthusiasm for our country, I also quote. Ihimaera said:-
"All New Zealanders joyfully bring an example of what can be achieved in terms of excellence, equity and justice to mankind. In our own country we are showing that it is possible to resolve issues of blood, race, ancestry and identity. Internationally we bring a certain grit, determination, moral compass and integrity to the world's future"
Your Excellencies, I wish you all well during your tours of duty here in New Zealand and look forward both to meeting and to working with you in the future, be that here in New Zealand or otherwise.
I would now like to yield this podium to you, Mr Javier Leon, Ambassador for Peru to New Zealand and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.
Tena koutou katoa.