My greetings to our distinguished guests, and men and women of our Defence Force. I specifically acknowledge
Lieutenant General Tim Keating, current Chief of Defence Force, and Mrs Brenda Keating
Air Vice-Marshal Kevin Short, soon to be Chief of Defence Force, and Mrs Sherryll Short
Vice Admiral David Johnston –Vice Chief of the Australian Defence Force designate.
Ms Helene Quilter, the Secretary of Defence
Single Service Chiefs and Portfolio Heads
Warrant Officer Danny Broughton, the current Warrant Officer of the Defence Force and Mrs Jacqui Broughton
Warrant Officer Class One Mark Mortiboy, and Mrs Wendy Mortiboy; and
Single Service and Joint Forces Warrant Officers.
It is my privilege to be present at this day of transition for New Zealand’s Defence Force, acting in my role as Administrator for the Government and representing the office of the Governor-General.
Through the Defence Act 1990, the Governor-General is formally the Commander-In-Chief of our Defence Force, with the responsibility of signing the Commissions of all Officers in the New Zealand Defence Force.
Hence the Governor-General’s enduring interest in the leadership of our Armed Forces.
About fourteen-and-half thousand New Zealanders serve in the Defence Force. They come from all walks of life, and work to secure New Zealand, our freedoms, and our way of life.
New Zealand has a proud history of joining international action in response to the break-down of international law and humanitarian crises.
Our participation in United Nations and other international coalitions underlines New Zealand’s reputation and credentials as a good citizen of the world.
Today, we acknowledge the stewardship of the Defence Force by Lieutenant General Tim Keating over the past four-and-a-half years.
Under his watch, our military have continued to uphold a valued reputation for skill, professionalism, and high standards.
Lieutenant General Keating has worked tirelessly to improve the esprit de corps of the organisation, with a focus on improving the welfare, support, and wellbeing of his people.
This commitment is probably best epitomised in his personal leadership of Operation Respect, a programme he introduced to challenge deep-seated cultural norms in order to make the Defence Force a safer workplace, especially for women in uniform.
I acknowledge the support Lieutenant General Keating has been given in this task by his wife, Mrs Brenda Keating.
Brenda is the Chairperson of the Force 4 Families Steering Group – which provides support to the families and friends of service personnel, especially when their loved ones are operationally deployed.
Today the baton of responsibility is being passed from Lieutenant General Keating to his successor, Air Marshal Kevin Short.
Like his predecessor, Air Marshal Short has had a long and distinguished service career in the New Zealand Defence Force.
He will take on the challenges of leading a military organisation – challenges which must be met if Defence Force personnel are to be well trained, equipped and able to succeed in the most hostile and demanding of environments.
Air Marshal Short will almost certainly be asked by Government to send young New Zealanders under his charge into harm’s way – whether that be combat or a crisis where the Defence Force’s skills and equipment make them ideal first responders.
In responding to this challenge – often referred to as the ‘burden of command’– Air Vice Marshall Short can have confidence that he will head a highly professional force of good people who are proud to serve our country with honour and discipline.
On behalf of the people of New Zealand, I sincerely thank Lieutenant General Keating for his service and wish his successor, Air Vice Marshall Short, every success with his new command of our armed forces and their mission to act as a force for good – in New Zealand and in the wider world.