Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou.
Nau mai, haere mai ra ki Te Whare Kawana o Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all, and welcome to Government House Wellington.
I specifically acknowledge the Prime Minister, The Rt Honorable Jacinda Ardern;
the Honorable Maggie Barry, MP;
Her Worship Lianne Dalziel, Mayor of Christchurch;
His Worship Meng Foon, Mayor of Gisborne;
Sir Eion Edgar and Jan, Lady Edgar, Patrons of the Icon Awards;
Icon Award recipients Ans Westra and Patricia Grace; and tonight’s Icon Award recipients.
Tonight we are celebrating something very precious to all cultures – the arts and the people who create them.
Artists need time, space and resources to develop their ideas and hone their technique. Throughout history, various forms of patronage have made this possible.
Te Tumu Toi/The Arts Foundation, and the generous individuals and organisations that support its work, are maintaining this fine tradition of patronage here in Aotearoa New Zealand.
David and I are firm believers in and supporters of the vision of the Arts Foundation. We have both worked in governance roles with various arts organisations, and we do understand the difference sponsorship makes to the ability of artists and arts organisations to continue with their work.
Now that I am Governor-General, I am delighted to be able to support the Arts Foundation in a special way by hosting this Icon Awards ceremony.
Tonight we are all here to acknowledge five amazing New Zealanders whose talent, ideas and creativity have enriched our society, and contributed to the evolution of arts and culture both at home and beyond our shores.
When we think of the word ‘icon’, it could be argued that the word has become somewhat debased through overuse – or misuse.
However, if we think of an icon in its sense of being something precious and worthy of veneration, representing qualities and attributes that we value highly, then the Arts Foundation Icons are truly deserving of this title.
An Icon Award is given to a select cohort of people, working across various art forms. These are people who have inestimable value to us, who are influential and inspirational and sometimes provocateurs, whose work is world class and represents a legacy to our culture.
Their work helps us confront the big questions; it brings us joy, wonderment, and insight into the human condition – and it will remain part of our cultural heritage in years to come.
Picasso said that all children are artists and the trick is to keep that ability as we become adults.
While we may all have a creative spark within us, it seems that only some of us can really kindle that spark, and nurture it with hard work and determination to fully master the mysterious alchemy of the creative process.
The process can be hard and lonely, and only some artists are fortunate to achieve recognition and success.
Only a select few can create work that will inspire succeeding generations to build on their achievements.
Just as every artist is building on the work of those who went before, the medallions that will be presented this evening to our icon awardees are imbued with the mana and the mauri of those distinguished artists who have previously held them.
I will not hold up proceedings any longer, except to express my congratulations and thanks, in advance, to all our new Arts Foundation Icons for what they have achieved, and to wish each of them many more years of inspiration and achievement.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa, and please enjoy the hospitality of Government House.