Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei,
tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou.
Nau mai, haere mai ra ki Te Whare Kawana o Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all, and welcome to Government House Wellington
I specifically acknowledge:
Her Excellency Laura Clark British High Commissioner
Susan Niblock United States Deputy Chief of Mission
The Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand Former Governor-General
Lady Susan Satyanand, patron of the Ballet Foundation;
trustees of the Ballet Foundation;
Stephen Fyfe, Frances Turner and Patricia Barker - respectively Chair, Executive Director and Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet;
- tēnā koutou katoa.
David and I would also like to acknowledge the death this week of Norma, Lady Beattie. Government House was her home from 1980 – 1985 when her husband Sir David Beattie was the Governor-General. They were both arts lovers and I am sure that they would have enthusiastically supported this innovative use of the Government House ballroom for tonight’s celebration of ballet.
It is a great pleasure for David and me to welcome you all here this evening. We are delighted to be able to share Government House with you for this very special celebration of ballet.
As many of you know, David and I have a great love of the arts. When we first arrived at Government House, we determined that we would prioritise the importance of creativity and use this magnificent property whenever we could to showcase our arts and culture.
And what better way than inviting artists to perform here?
Since its refurbishment, Government House has become a showcase for New Zealand visual arts – you’ll be able to take a closer look at some of the paintings, ceramics and sculpture throughout the house later – but it is also proving to be a splendid venue for performance.
We’ve hosted a performance by the New Zealand String Quartet, we’ve staged a one woman play and a fashion art extravaganza. In a few weeks time we are hosting a cabaret evening for NZ Opera and later in the year we are hosting a Ball for the Royal Scottish Country dance society.
This evening will be our first ballet performance.
Each event is different in its own way but put together, they demonstrate the wonderful diversity of our culture. New Zealanders have embraced the classical European traditions of music, opera, ballet and theatre, as well as modern art forms, blending with Maori and Polynesian cultural expression to provide our own unique blend of arts and culture.
The arts are an intrinsic part of the human experience. All of us can sing, dance, paint and tell stories but those who do it at the highest level deserve our admiration and support. Careers in the arts are difficult to sustain and we should all be proud of the many performers from this country who have managed to forge world class careers.
No career is built without significant input from other people. Parents, teachers and mentors all have a role to play. So do organisations like the Ballet Foundation. Our current and future dancers are extremely fortunate that the Foundation exists to support ballet in this country.
By promoting and supporting ballet, the Foundation is helping classical ballet to survive and remain relevant and exciting for 21st century New Zealanders. By providing funding and scholarships, it gives dancers the freedom to follow their dreams.
Philanthropy plays a vital role in the arts. Without organisations and individuals prepared to offer financial support, our cultural horizons would be significantly narrowed.
Thanks to the Ballet Foundation, talent is being discovered and nurtured, dancers are being enabled to transition into other roles in dance and young New Zealanders are given the opportunity to see and experience ballet.
The Foundation’s contribution is vital in enabling ballet’s continued presence in our cultural landscape.
I hope you enjoy this evening’s celebration of ballet. I’m really looking forward to seeing these talented dancers perform.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa