Address at the State Memorial Service for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Ka kotahi atu te rerenga o te Kotuku ki tona taunga, ko te Atua e kiia nei: “Haere mai ki ahau koutou e taimaha ana, ā, māku ano koutou e whakaokioki”.
Ko te atua tōku piringa.
Kuini Irihapeti, koutou kua whetūrangitia. Ka tangi tonu te ngākau mōu. Haere, haere, haere atu ra.
Ka hoki mai ki te hunga ora. No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tātou katoa.
Elizabeth II became Queen of New Zealand on Waitangi Day, 1952. It was to be the beginning of a special and enduring bond between Aotearoa and our Queen.
Her Majesty and Prince Philip’s first Royal Tour to New Zealand the following year captured the hearts and imagination of the country.
New Zealand’s joy and excitement were soon replaced with shock and profound sadness with the news on Christmas Day 1953 of the rail disaster at Tangiwai.
Queen Elizabeth delivered her annual Christmas message from Auckland as our nation was grieving – and New Zealanders saw, not just a Queen who would join us in times of happiness and celebration, but one who would keep us always in her heart and in her prayers, and who would stand by our side in our sorrow and loss.
As Head of the Realm of New Zealand, Her Majesty held dear the islands and peoples of Tokelau, Niue, and Kūki ‘Āirani.
She also carried a deep and abiding understanding of the relationship created by the Treaty of Waitangi – and recognised the ongoing need for reconciliation, healing, and peace.
With each of her ten visits to New Zealand, the Queen left another indelible mark, and came to more intimately know and love our country.
I am honoured to have served as the sixteenth Governor-General in Her Majesty’s reign as our Queen, and to have carried out constitutional duties on her behalf at the heart of our democracy.
One of the final photographs taken of the Queen, shows her standing alone in the drawing room at Balmoral, awaiting the arrival of the new British Prime Minister.
The Queen smiles up at the camera with that characteristic expression filled with light and joy.
I am sure that the Queen’s undimmed spark came from the great pleasure she took in the world and in her work, which she carried out with unwavering loyalty and care, right until the end of her life.
In her role as Sovereign, the Queen supported over six-hundred charities, whose work provided comfort to the lonely, the sick, and the marginalised – and helped to protect our natural world.
She recognised extraordinary individuals from throughout the Realm of New Zealand, including those often hidden in our communities, who quietly commit their lives to the service of others.
And she strove to faithfully serve all the peoples of the Commonwealth, to whom she pledged her life.
In fulfilling those duties she inherited from her father – who she loved so dearly and lost so young – the Queen asked of us, simply, to have faith in her commitment, and to pray for her continued wisdom and strength.
In return, our Queen gave us a lifetime of dedicated service.
She urged us, in spite of our differences, to see ourselves in others; that universal wish to be understood and loved for who we are.
She showed us that though our lives can sometimes feel at the mercy of immense and indifferent forces, what matters most remains always within our control: the small acts of goodness and generosity we perform each day.
And she demonstrated that our values, ideals, and beliefs matter deeply – but matter most in helping us to listen, understand, and forgive.
In 1957, at the age of thirty-one, the Queen delivered her Christmas message, with words that ring as true today as they did those sixty-five years ago: ‘Today, we need a special kind of courage, not the kind needed in battle, but a kind which makes us stand up for everything that we know is right – everything that is true and honest. We need the kind of courage that can withstand the subtle corruption of the cynics, so that we can show the world that we are not afraid of the future. It has always been easy to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is much more difficult.’
We have, as a country, passed on our condolences to King Charles III and his family, who convey their deep gratitude for our words and prayers these past two weeks.
As we leave here today, let us cherish the memory of Queen Elizabeth: to take heed of her constancy and grace, to hold onto that sense of wonder and joy, and to keep in our hearts her example of steadfast service and selfless love.
Tērā te tairere, te taimimiti, timu noa, timu noa.