E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei,
tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou.
Kia ora tātou katoa.
I specifically acknowledge
Deputy Prime Minister the Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Primary Industries Hon Damien O’Connor
Minister of Customs Hon Meka Whaitiri
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of Parliament
Local Government representatives
Peter Carr, President of the New Zealand National Fieldays Society; members of the Board, and Chief Executive Peter Nation
Other distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for inviting me here today.
It’s an honour to be at the 50th anniversary of New Zealand’s premier agricultural event. For anyone wanting to feel the pulse of the rural sector in NewZealand, Fieldays is the obvious destination.
With more than 130,000 visitors from over 40 different countries attending over the four day period, it’s preeminence is unrivalled in the Southern Hemisphere.
This is my first visit to Fieldays and I have come today to listen and to learn.
During their terms, Governors-General have a unique opportunity to go to the farthest corners of New Zealand and to hear from every sector.
It’s a privilege I do not take lightly. It is hugely valuable for me to to get some understanding of the challenges our communities are facing, to learn about their success stories, and to hear their plans and dreams for the future.
What I learn informs my discussions when I am visiting other communities around New Zealand,
when I meet with the Prime Minister and other members of the Government,
with diplomatic representatives, and when I represent New Zealand on international visits.
Fifty years ago, when the first experimental farm festival was held at Te Rapa racecourse, I was a school girl in Hamilton. Mystery Creek was simply the name of a stream – not the vast enterprise we see today. And the Bledisloe Hall was still a feature of Garden Place in the middle of the city.
I like to think this is a much happier home for the building named after one of my most famous predecessors as Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe.
I say that because Fieldays would have been all his Christmases rolled into one.
Having been a pig farmer himself, Lord Bledisloe was a great enthusiast for agriculture in all forms and keenly aware of the need to keep up to date, to improve, to consider new ways of doing things, and to pass on that knowledge to his audiences.
The Ahuwhenua Trophy, established with Sir Apirana Ngata to promote and recognise innovation, leadership and excellence in Māori farming, is just one of his legacies to the agricultural sector.
Those two gentlemen would not have been surprised to see agribusiness continue to play such a central role in our 21st century economy, but they could not have imagined how sophisticated contemporary farming methods would become
– or the current challenges around biosecurity, climate change and global market fluctuations
– or the steps we are taking to meet our needs and the needs of the wider world, to manage our natural resources effectively, and to minimise our impact on the environment.
While our agricultural sector is highly successful and world leading in so many ways, I acknowledge that this is a very difficult and stressful time for farmers who are affected by the threat of mycoplasma bovis.
In what are already highly demanding and complex operations, these farmers have to deal with yet another set of challenges, with often distressing consequences. As well as the Government and industry financial compensation package, mutual and wider community support will be more important than ever for them in the months ahead.
We can’t take resilience for granted, and it’s good to see Fieldays playing a leadership role, with a Health and Wellbeing Hub onsite and an increasing emphasis on addressing rural physical and mental health issues.
I congratulate the pioneers, visionaries and volunteers who created Fieldays on achieving this half century milestone.
I wish you the very best for the 2018 Fieldays and I wish everyone involved in the agricultural sector every success in overcoming the challenges and making the most of the opportunities that lie ahead.
[I now declare Fieldays 2018 officially open.]
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa