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 is a great pleasure to welcome Defence Force Chiefs, distinguished representatives of the nations that competed for the King’s Cup – and members of the New Zealand team who are here today.
The race for the King’s Cup honoured the occasion of the Royal Henley Peace Regatta in 1919, and the memory of the teams that took part in it.
A member of the New Zealand team, Darcy Hadfield won the sculls event. A year later, he became New Zealand’s first Olympic Medallist, winning a bronze medal at the Olympics in Antwerp.
Last year, Richard and I went to the Waitemata Rowing Club when Darcy’s whanau gifted his medals and sporting memorabilia to the club.
In 1919, Darcy and the hundreds of thousands of war-weary troops in the UK and Europe wanted to return home to their families. Some waited years before a ship was available. The delays must have seemed interminable.
Sporting fixtures were one way to refocus, celebrate the return to peace-time life, and rehabilitate men who bore the psychological and physical scars of war.
The 1919 Royal Henley Peace Regatta was one such event, and included teams from Australia, Canada, the United States, France, New Zealand and the UK.
A hundred years later, teams from Germany and the Netherlands joined them for the centennial race.
It was a fitting way to honour the huge sacrifices of their forebears, and to celebrate the strong bonds of friendship enjoyed by those nations today.
Congratulations to members of New Zealand’s 2019 team who have joined us today.
As your Commander-in-Chief, I thank you for representing Aotearoa New Zealand at Henley.
No doubt it was a great experience to participate with people from all three services in such a unique event – and something you will long remember.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.