Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e nga rangatahi o tenei kura,
tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
Distinguished guests and students of the school – past and present, warm greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge members of parliament, the Hon Paul Goldsmith, the Hon Nikki Kaye, and David Seymour,
Mayor of Auckland the Hon Phil Goff,
Headmaster Tim O’Connor and Scott Milne, Chair of the 150th Steering Committee.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to continue the long association between Auckland Grammar and our Governors-General.
Governor Grey, our third Governor, established the endowment to set up a grammar school in Auckland in 1850.
The Earl of Liverpool – our last Governor and first Governor-General - was on hand to open this magnificent building in 1916.
And during their terms Lord Norrie, Sir Arthur Porritt and Sir Jerry Mateparae all opened new facilities here. As did Dame Cath Tizard, though she was Mayor of Auckland at the time.
To have reached your 150th annniversary is an extraordinary milestone and tributes are due to staff – past and present – for so ably contributing to Auckland Grammar’s stellar record of achievement.
I imagine the Grammar old boys are enjoying this opportunity to catch up with their old teachers and school friends.
I am sure you all have great regard for this institution that has provided such an effective springboard for success and achievement in your lives.
Auckland Grammar old boys occupy significant leadership roles across New Zealand and beyond our shores.
We are at a point in our history when we need such expertise and leadership as never before.
As New Zealand faces the challenge of transitioning to new ways of living and generating wealth; of promoting and maintaining social cohesion; and of minimising harm to the ecosystems that sustain life on our planet; your expertise and influence will be more valuable than ever.
As you reflect on 150 years of the tradition and the contribution Grammar old boys have made to the development of this city and our nation, I urge you to turn your thoughts to the issues that pre-occupy us at this point in the 21st century.
New Zealand may be a small nation, isolated from much of the world, but we have the capability to adapt – to try things that can help our nation and the rest of the world.
Whether it be by working at a community level to clean up beaches, plant trees, restore wetlands, improve water quality and eradicate predators that are decimating our native wildlife;
Or by promoting sustainable business practices, working on scientific research or advising others on these matters.
And, in any event, making lifestyle changes to reduce your personal carbon footprint on the planet.
Every effort counts.
If we are to use Dr Jane Goodall’s analogy of the world’s environment as a jigsaw puzzle, by doing our bit, and knowing that people all over the world are working on their part of the jigsaw, we can make a difference.
After hearing Dr Goodall speak, I invited her to come to Government House to promote the Foundation that bears her name. She will be there next week, and in June, it will be the turn of the Aotearoa Circle to come to Government House.
Again, it will be instructive to hear how that group is bringing together leaders from Government agencies, academia and the private sector to address our significant environmental issues.
I am keen to do what I can to support such initiatives and to use the Government Houses in Auckland and Wellington for such fora and workshops. Please let me know if I can assist other groups to do the same.
Finally, as we look to the future, I hope you can bring your influence to bear on the lessons learnt in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacres.
From that tragedy we learnt that many New Zealanders know little about Islam or our Muslim communities – or indeed about the many different ethnic communities living in our towns and cities.
The terrorist attack encouraged people to step outside of their cultural bubble and extend the hand of compassion to people who they had previously seen as strangers.
But that was just the first step. The challenge is to foster an enduring sense of inclusion, to counter the politics of hate, and to make sure that behaviour that discriminates on the basis of race, culture, religious persuasion, gender, or sexual orientation, is repugnant and unacceptable to us all.
Quite apart from the moral imperative to respect the dignity and rights of fellow human beings, the stability and prosperity of our nation depends on everyone having the same opportunities to find their place in the sun.
It’s at school that many of us develop the bedrock of our values, our attitudes, and the moral compass that guides our behaviour.
It’s where the children from our widely diverse communities become New Zealanders, negotiating multiple cultural identities and influencing each other in many subtle ways.
I’m sure that Auckland Grammar today is vastly different from the school that many of you attended. And that’s as it should be, because Aotearoa New Zealand is a continuously evolving country. We will always be a work in progress.
I wish the Board of Trustees, Principal and staff all the very best with their mission to promote the school’s values of integrity, excellence, respect, courage, pride, commitment and humility.
Armed with such qualities, your young men will not only succeed, but will also be citizens who can make great contributions to the public good.
To the old boys present, I hope you enjoy these sesquicentennial celebrations.
I am delighted to declare the 150th celebrations officially open.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa