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Speech

At his Swearing-in Ceremony

Issue date: 
Friday, 5 September 1958
Speaker: 
Viscount Cobham, GCMG, TD

First, I must thank you, Mr Prime Minister, on behalf of myself and my family for the warmth of your welcome to us on our arrival in New Zealand.

For us, your gracious speech is the culmination of many expressions of good will which reached us from New Zealand when the news of my appointment became known, and which put us in such good heart during the somewhat arduous though exciting period of preparation.

I am, of course, aware that in this impressive ceremony, the people of New Zealand are once again giving expression to their traditional loyalty to our Queen and to the Royal Family. This loyalty has been unfaltering since your earliest days, and is the most precious asset of the great family known as the British Commonwealth.

This is my third visit to New Zealand, and I am indeed fortunate in that I have never come alone, for every good thing becomes better by being shared.

Twenty odd years ago, I had the pleasure and privilege of coming with an M. C. C. team, and, during the three months we spent with you, we all grew to know the meaning of New Zealand hospitality and good fellowship.

Then, seven years ago, my wife and I paid a visit to our properties in Christchurch. On that occasion, work kept me with my nose all too adjacent to the grindstone; but we did have time to spend a few days in the lakes - although I regret to say the Lake Coleridge trout proved singularly unco-operative.

Now, through the generosity of your Government, Mr Prime Minister, I return as your Governor-General with a family large in number but not as yet in size. For them this is, too, a great adventure, and they are looking forward to some happy years ahead in their new home and among new friends.

No one who bears our family name can feel a stranger in New Zealand, and I feel so proud and happy that I am being given the chance to carry on in some small measure the work begun by my great-grandfather a century ago.

For I have come here to serve you and to work with you. There can be no honour greater than that of representing the Queen in one of her Dominions, and I assure you that I am very conscious of my great responsibility. It is with a sense of deep humility that I say that I will do my utmost to justify your confidence and maintain the very high tradition of service set by a long line of industrious predecessors.

Just before leaving England, we were graciously received in audience by Her Majesty the Queen, and she spoke of her recent tour in New Zealand in such warm and affectionate terms that it made us very aware of our own great responsibility in keeping bright this well-forged link in the chain that knits the whole Commonwealth.

For it cannot be too often repeated that, provided always that it remains true to itself and its ideals, the Commonwealth affords the brightest hope for the future peaceful development of mankind.

Our forefathers who brought to these distant shores their faith, their democratic ideal and their traditional culture, would indeed be proud of the way in which their vision has become reality during the last 100 years.

They would be proud to see how those early peaceful settlers, farmers and professional men have, with their Mori brethren, welded themselves into a self-governing Dominion, with a fine record of achievement in peace and of steadfastness in war.

They would see the two races - European and Mori - living together in harmony, each making towards the common weal their contributions in gifts of mind and spirit.

They would see a nation small in size but great in heart, which has competed with their larger friends in many fields, but notably in agriculture, in medicine, in science, and in sport.

You will, I know, be delighted to hear of the visit which has been planned by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. I know that she will receive a traditional welcome to New Zealand, and we are, for our part, delighted that the beginning of our term of office is to be so pleasantly honoured.

Since our ship left England, we also heard that Mr Macmillan is to pay a visit to New Zealand early in the New Year. I am sure that he will also enjoy his tour enormously. It may not be without significance that he is, I believe, a keen fisherman.

Finally, I would like to say, sir, with how great a feeling of regret my wife and I heard of your decision to retire from public life. We in England have for long known that in you we had a staunch friend and ally, and I feel sure that all in New Zealand would like to join me in wishing you every good thing in those years that lie ahead.

And so, once again, thank you, Prime Minister, on behalf of our whole party for the gracious words with which you have greeted us.

Last updated: 
Friday, 9 January 2009

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