E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa. Welcome to Government House Wellington.
To my fellow members of the selection panel – I’m looking forward to working with you during tomorrow’s interview process.
And to our shortlisted candidates – my very warmest congratulations. Your selection represents a significant achievement in itself, and is a testament to your outstanding academic careers so far, as well as your commitment to using your talents for the good of others.
As I’m sure you well know, New Zealand Rhodes Scholars have included some of our most distinguished writers, scientists, judges, public servants, and athletes.
Sir Arthur Porritt, one of my own predecessors as Governor-General, was a Rhodes Scholar. During his time in Oxford, he represented New Zealand at the 1924 Paris Olympics, where he won a bronze medal in the 100-metre dash.
It was a race that would be immortalised in the 1981 film, The Chariots of Fire. However, such was the humility of Sir Arthur, that he didn’t allow for his name to be used in the film: the third-placed New Zealander instead rather innocuously named ‘Tom Watson’.
Sir Arthur would go on to become the Queen’s Surgeon, before serving as our first New Zealand-born Governor-General. His brilliant career is an example of the many extraordinary places a Rhodes Scholarship might lead, as well as the qualities a Rhodes Scholar might possess.
In my own life and career – much of which has been spent in academic settings – I have tried to always keep a sense of curiosity in the world and in others, as well as a desire to never stop learning.
These qualities have served me well, and have, I’m sure, played a large part in my becoming Governor-General – a role I feel deeply honoured to hold.
During my time here in Government House, one of my key priorities is to highlight the work of those New Zealanders pursuing excellence in their chosen fields. Our future, and the future of our planet, depends on the integrity of our evidence-based decision-making. From reading your applications, personal statements, and letters of recommendation, I feel confident that our future is in good hands.
I understand the nerves you might be feeling in this moment – but I hope you are able to enjoy this evening, and your interviews tomorrow. They are an opportunity to share with us a stronger sense of who you are, and who you hope to become.
I’d like to conclude by wishing all of you, all the very best – wherever your paths in life take you. I have no doubt you will each go on to achieve remarkable things, and help to make our country a better place for future generations.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.