Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā e huihui nei; nga mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge: Lt-Gen Tim Keating, Chief of the Defence Force; Col Steve Franklin, Colonel Commandant; Lt Col Rian McKinstry, CO 1 NZSAS Regiment; and the men and families of the NZSAS Originals present here today - tēnā koutou katoa.
Life certainly has its serendipitous moments. The first of your Originals’ reunions I attended was as the escort officer for Graham Boswell. And as these things happen, I was probably designated that task by the then OpsO, Captain Steve Franklin! So today, Janine and I are honoured to host you Graham and Beryl again; and also the other Originals and your families at Government House to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the NZSAS and possibly your final reunion.
When the 182 men arrived at Waiouru on the 7 June, 1955, it spelled the start of a new and unique Army unit – the New Zealand Special Air Service Squadron. Today, it seems slightly ironic that an organisation famed for its secrecy should recruit its first members via ads in the newspaper. The advertisements certainly struck a chord - 800 men applied. Coming only 10 years after the end of the Second World War, and soon after the Korean War, many of them – you - were civilians and many had previous military experience. Accordingly, the competition to be selected was fierce – 49 men missed the cut!
Tomorrow it will be 60 years since those first recruits marched in to Waiouru. Over this weekend we are mark that anniversary, and also celebrating the legacy of the NZSAS Originals.
It takes a special type of person to volunteer to go into something new – the ambiguity of the unknown, the prospect of adventure and the challenge. Major Frank Rennie had the enviable task and the Originals obliged their OC of stepping in to a broad canvas and to fill in the detail. On operations in Malaya the Originals created the culture and set a standard for those who followed.
Like many others who are here today, I am proud to have followed in the footsteps of the Originals. Our time in the NZSAS has provided defining experiences. For me, it reinforced the things that matter – people - and it clarified teamwork - no one person has a monopoly on all the answers and that in teams ethos, values, standards and commitment matter.
To you Originals, thank you for your service and for taking up that initial challenge. As the philosopher Thucydides said “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it."
In closing, please enjoy the hospitality of the House. Today is an occasion to reunite and reminisce with mates. It’s also a time to remember those who no longer stand beside us.
We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
Always a little further: it may be
Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow
Across that angry or that glimmering sea ...
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa