E kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi nui ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa
I specifically acknowledge:
Mr Keu Mataroa, Consul-General of the Cook Islands.
Thank you all for inviting Richard and me to join you at Homeland today. We are delighted to have this opportunity to acknowledge your dedication and service on behalf of the nations you represent.
And many thanks to Peter Gordon and his team here at Homeland. Peter is renowned for showcasing the best of homegrown cuisine – and for paying homage to the cultural influences that make Auckland such a vibrant and wonderful city – so, he really is the perfect host for tonight’s dinner.
As Governor-General, I have the privilege of representing Aotearoa New Zealand on state occasions and visits overseas. I welcome Heads of State when they come to our country, as well as incoming Heads of Mission.
I find the conversations on those occasions provide fascinating perspectives and new insights into the shifting geopolitical concerns of our times.
I have been looking forward to meeting the Consular Corps and hearing about the challenges you face and the opportunities in Auckland – and elsewhere in Aotearoa New Zealand – to foster people-to-people contacts, encourage cultural and economic exchanges – and assist travellers.
Whether you have been prompted to undertake this role out of a great affection for a particular country – or have been posted here as a representative of your nation’s diplomatic corps – you can take pride in knowing that you are helping keep lines of communication open and alive.
Those connections start within the Consular Corps itself. Your Speakers’ Corner initiative sounds like a great way to get to know your colleagues better, understand the nature of their work, and find synergies that are mutually beneficial.
The past few years must have had some particular challenges for members of the Corps. I can imagine the pressures you faced as a result of COVID-19, particularly when people came to you distressed about travel restrictions – or the wellbeing of sick relatives in their home country.
You did what you could to help when COVID put distance between families and nations, and now that the world is reconnecting, I trust that the pressures of recent years have diminished somewhat.
So many of you undertake your work on top of demanding day jobs and family responsibilities.
When so many of the big issues we face require global solutions, and countries grapple with increased population movements, your work will be even more valued in the years to come.
Thank you again for your generous gift of time, expertise and energy to the cause of international relations.