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.
I am delighted to be here and to have this opportunity to speak at the Best Design Awards.
During my five-year term as Governor-General, I am doing what I can to promote creativity, innovation, diversity and leadership, so I was keen to accept your invitation.
Design is an essential part of creativity and innovation, and in contemporary Aotearoa/New Zealand, we combine diverse global influences with our unique Māori and Pasifika aesthetic.
Our dynamic arts and design culture has something special to offer the world, and it’s important to recognise designers whose leadership, vision and expertise is inspiring others in their own design practice.
In an ideal world, the objects and spaces that surround us bear the imprint of good design processes. Your skills are invaluable and help construct the world we live in. Good design has a demonstrable effect on our sense of wellbeing.
However, as you well know, it’s work that is often taken for granted, and it deserves greater public recognition and support.
So I was interested to learn that research by Massey University assessed our design industry’s contribution to New Zealand’s GDP in 2016 at more than $10 billion.
And it found that if design were treated as an industry in its own right, its contribution would be bigger than agriculture, and on par with the retail trade.
The research draws clear links between firms that use professional design to find solutions and develop higher-value products and services, and their ability to remain competitive.
So good design is clearly good business, and these awards are a good way of getting the message out about our stellar professional designers and their contribution to New Zealand’s economic, cultural and social growth.
My plea is that whatever field of design you are working in, one of your goals should be to think about the impact of your work on our environment.
You will deserve undying gratitude from our citizens if you can contribute towards new solutions to many of the issues that face us, from climate change, to degradation of the environment, to the wise use of diminishing resources and the minimisation of harmful waste.
Because the scope of your work is so wide, your innovation and expertise can contribute in immeasurable ways to our quest to live inclusively and more sustainably, leaving a smaller footprint on the planet.
The Design Awards are a good place to start, and I recognise the ethos behind award categories such as the Design for Public Good Award, with its focus on work for the welfare of communities and the public interest.
And finally, as just our third female Governor-General out of a total of 36 (albeit 3rd of the past 6), I encourage the Designers Institute to lead by example in valuing the importance of gender diversity.
Just as our culture and style benefits from engaging with and incorporating many diverse ethnic influences, encouraging and recognising the contribution of women designers will add immeasurably not just to the design community but to our society.
By taking leadership and showing our young women that there are opportunities for them to succeed in design careers, you can help ensure that we benefit from the influence and creative ideas of 100% of our community, not just one half of it.
Once again, thank you for inviting us here this evening and giving us this opportunity to find out more about what is happening in New Zealand design, and to see the very best of it in 2018.
Congratulations to all the award winners tonight.
I expect that everyone is very keen to know who is receiving the John Britten Black Pin Award for 2018, so I won’t hold up proceedings any longer.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa