Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou.
Kia ora tātou katoa.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.
It is a great pleasure for David and me to welcome you all to Government House this evening. As patron of the Auckland Arts Festival I’m delighted to be able to join you in celebrating the continued success of the festival.
This evening also an opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of Carla van Zon, who retires as Festival Director at the end of this month. David is a long-time friend and former colleague of Carla’s and he will speak a little later about the impact Carla has had on the arts world, both here and in Wellington.
The success or otherwise of festivals like the Auckland Arts Festival hinges on the hard work and expertise of people like Carla. Music, theatre art and dance are magical to the viewer but underpinning it all, unseen, is a vast human machinery. What audiences see is the result of months, even years of hard work by many people. Festivals don’t just organise themselves! As we’re doing tonight, occasionally it’s nice to pull aside the curtain and acknowledge the people who make it happen.
The value of the Festival to the New Zealand arts community is huge. Each year, the Auckland Arts Festival offers an incredible platform for our arts practitioners, enabling them to trial new works and reach out to new audiences. Inclusion in the programme is a boost in what can be a precarious industry.
The Festival also brings us some of the very best performers in the international arena. The Auckland Arts Festival is key influencer in our own arts scene, offering inspiration and enjoyment to audiences and artists alike.
The purpose of the arts is to provoke some sort of response in others. Joy, laughter, hysteria, rage, sadness – all sorts of human emotions can be evoked. The act of coming together to view paintings, see a theatre piece, enjoy a concert or marvel at a dance work is an expression of who we are as a community. As theologian and writer Thomas Merton said “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
I’m sure the 1.5 million attendees who have been lost and found at the Auckland Arts Festival since 2003 would agree with that point.
I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening. I will now ask John Judge, Chair of the Auckland Arts Festival Trust, to speak.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.