Rau rangatira mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi nui ki a koutou. Nau mai haere mai ki Te Whare Kawana o Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Kia ora tātou katoa.
It’s my pleasure to welcome you all to Government House Wellington for this vice-regal reception acknowledging the supporters of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award in New Zealand.
I’d like to specifically acknowledge: His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh; Mr Joe Harawira, Kaumātua; Mrs Rānui Ngārimu, Kuia; Brigadier Alex Potts, Private Secretary to His Royal Highness; Ms Emma Brown, Chief Executive, Duke of Edinburgh New Zealand; and Mr Ken Hames, Board Chair, Duke of Edinburgh New Zealand.
As many of you may know, it was here, at Government House, back in 1963, that my predecessor Sir Bernard Fergusson hosted the inaugural National Council meeting of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Programme in New Zealand.
The Awards have undergone many changes in the succeeding years – including, of course, being renamed the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Awards, in honour of one of this country’s great adventurers and ambassadors.
This year also marks the 70th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s successful summiting of Mount Everest – and I know that the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards’ enduring association with Sir Ed gives them a special quality for all those who undertake them here in New Zealand.
Sir Edmund Hillary was of course a hero in the most immediate sense. However, his heroism went well beyond feats of endurance and daring. His was, as Jan Morris of TIME Magazine put it, the heroism of example: of debts repaid and causes sustained. And it’s that quality that made him so inspirational – and the perfect role model for young New Zealanders completing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
I regularly host ceremonies here at Government House, and across New Zealand, presenting Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Gold Awards to successful recipients.
It always fills me with such pride and hope for our future to meet these wonderful and impressive young people. I am consistently struck by their commitment to the pursuit of excellence, their perseverance in the face of hardship, and sense of civic duty and community service. These are all qualities that Sir Ed so perfectly embodied – and which our society so dearly needs.
That the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has not only survived, but prospered over these past 60 years, reflects not only its ability to adapt to changing times, but also the universality and timelessness of those fundamental values at its heart.
My sincerest congratulations to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Programme – for reaching this significant milestone, and for the positive impact you’ve had on so many New Zealanders’ lives. I wish you all the very best for your future.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.