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Champion Canterbury Business Awards

Issue date: 
Wednesday, 2 October 2013
Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO

To find out more about the 2013 award winners, click here

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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 specifically acknowledge: Peter Townsend, Chairman of the Champion Canterbury Business Awards and your fellow directors; Your Worship Bob Parker, the Mayor of Christchurch; Dame Margaret Bazely, Chair of Environment Canterbury; Members of Parliament and Your Excellency Caroline Chrétien, Dean of the Diplomatic Corp and other representatives of the Diplomatic Corps - tēnā koutou katoa.

Thank you for inviting me here to speak at these awards.  Having attended the announcement of this year’s finalists, I’m pleased to return to help announce the winners.

The recovery and rebuild of Christchurch and Canterbury has been a key focus of my term as Governor-General, and at each occasion I return here, it brings home to me the spirit and fortitude of the people who live here.

Nearly two weeks ago I visited for the gala re-opening of the historic Heritage Hotel.  Events like that and these awards send a very important message to the rest of New Zealand.  When many are keen to define this area solely in seismic terms, tonight you are signalling very clearly that Christchurch is on the up, the recovery is in full swing and you’re very much open for business!

In those first few bleak post-earthquake months, experts painted a grim picture of what was likely to happen to the Canterbury economy with predictions of business and customer flight.  I know it hasn’t been easy, but you’ve proved them wrong.  The fact that we are here tonight is a testament to your commitment to your city, to your region and to the people of Christchurch.

Good business people look for opportunities and I salute the innovative thinking that has taken place here over the last two years especially.  You have found new premises, found new ways of doing business, and if you’ll excuse the pun, you’ve thought around the square.  It reminds me of the story about the retailer who had to find a solution to what could have been a disaster.  Confronted with two competitors’ signage, on one side reading “Best Deals” and the other reading “Lowest Prices”, what to do?  The business owner knew he had to act fast, and his solution was quite simple.  In front of his shop he placed a sign reading “Main Entrance”.  I’m sure you all wish dealing with competitors was that easy.

Seriously, however, by doing whatever it took to keep going you demonstrated a commitment to this city and region which has had a flow on effect for the wider community and New Zealand.  You have shown leadership and affirmed your confidence in the future and by doing this you have set a great example for others to follow.

Tonight sees a return to business as usual for the Champion Canterbury Business Awards following the different format of last year.  Tonight we laud achievement in business and the contribution business makes to the Canterbury region.  These awards recognise businesses and organisations that place service to their customers and the community first as well as acknowledging excellence and enterprise – all values that we as a nation hold dear.

I know people’s reaction to business can sometimes be mixed. I always keep in mind the words of Winston Churchill who said “Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse pulling a sturdy wagon.”

Looking at the list of finalists here this evening I can tell that Canterbury’s horse is in fine fettle and the wagon master is a very capable driver.

Earlier this evening I spoke to the representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, many of whom are here tonight, who are visiting Christchurch on a study tour.  I told them how impressed I was by what has been achieved here in the face of immense adversity.  I am not unaware that it has taken its toll in terms of effort and energy.  It has been a hard road that you have all had to walk, and your journeys have been tough at times.  However, in true Canterbury terms you have come to this momentous point changed and the better for it.

In conclusion, I wish to congratulate all the finalists here tonight.  Not all of you will be winners, but to make it to this stage is a job well done.  Your business acumen, innovation, commitment to excellence and other outstanding attributes have been noted and you should feel proud of what you have achieved.

To the winners, tonight will be a highpoint.  It is of course not the end.  You’ve set high standards and it’s those benchmarks that you will have to maintain, or even exceed.  To my mind, that’s what will define how capable the Canterbury wagon drivers are in encouraging an increasingly improving horse to pull an ever increasing wagon of opportunity in this town, in this region and in New Zealand.  Let the good work continue.

Last updated: 
Wednesday, 2 October 2013

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