Kia ora tātou katoa, Jingeri and
Good evening and welcome to you all.
I specifically acknowledge Louise Martin and David Grevemberg, respectively President and CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation;
Mike Stanley and Kereyn Smith, President and CEO of the New Zealand Olympic Committee;
And our Commonwealth and sport partners.
And I give a very special welcome to the athletes and coaches who have joined us this evening.
David and I were at Queenstown in December for the arrival of the Queen’s Baton in New Zealand, and we have been looking forward to coming to its Yugambeh home here on the Gold Coast and supporting our national team at GC2018.
As the representative of Her Majesty The Queen of New Zealand, who is also Head of the Commonwealth, I am delighted to be here to share in this celebration of our Commonwealth connections.
In an increasingly uncertain world, the Commonwealth has the potential to be a potent force for good.
Representing 2.4 billion people, sharing many common ties and values, the Signatories to the Commonwealth charter affirm the importance of celebrating diversity, championing smaller and vulnerable states, and fostering tolerance, peace and international cooperation.
That ethos underpins the philosophy and operation of the Commonwealth Games. It makes good sense to us in New Zealand, a nation founded only 178 years ago by a Treaty between the Crown and Māori, where 25 percent of our citizens were born outside New Zealand, and where we are blessed with one of the most diverse populations on the planet.
This level of diversity is a game-changer for the way that we see the world and it fosters increasingly strong cultural connections with other nations.
It also challenges old stereotypes about what it is to be a New Zealander, and that’s not a bad thing.
Internationally, New Zealanders are frequently called Kiwis, which is ironic when you consider that a kiwi is a flightless bird that spends much of its time tucked away in its burrow.
We are, in fact, great travellers and OE, or ‘overseas experience’, has been a traditional rite of passage for generations of young Kiwis.
In reality, we have more in common with a migratory bird than a kiwi.
A common migratory path in recent years has been here to the Gold Coast, where nearly 50,000 New Zealanders have chosen to live and work.
No doubt some of them will be experiencing conflicting loyalties this week during the Games. They are examples of the increasingly fluid identities and allegiances we experience as global citizens.
So when we celebrate sporting achievement and pride in the performances of our national team here at Gold Coast 2018, we are also happy to celebrate the successes of our friends in the other Commonwealth nations and territories, and to support and affirm the importance of maintaining the Commonwealth Games’ moniker as the ‘friendly Games’.
Thank you all for the part you have played in continuing this tradition and making these games such a resounding success.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa