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.
David and I are very pleased to be here to celebrate Waikato excellence in science and innovation.
Governors-General have the privilege of acknowledging and encouraging outstanding New Zealanders who are making a positive difference in our communities – whether it be at investiture ceremonies or at events like this.
As it happens, one of my goals during my term is to put a spotlight on science and innovation in New Zealand.
It is an obvious focus, given that scientific advances are needed to address a myriad of global and local challenges – whether it be the control or elimination of disease and medical conditions; the sustainable use of resources and energy; sustainable food production; or environmental degradation.
So it is very pleasing to see recognition for the people who are advancing our scientific understanding in these areas – and to see this recognition coming from the Waikato community that they have served.
I appreciate that the Kudos Awards are also a good way to raise public awareness of the links between research, innovation, and economic prosperity – and I hope that they are having the desired effect of attracting more young people into science.
One of my predecessors, Lord Bledisloe, spent much of his five years as Governor-General giving advice to farmers and exchanging letters with Sir Ernest Marsden of the DSIR about such topics as casein water glues, extracting alcohol from potatoes, a flax factory for Foxton, oil exploration, asbestos, gold, plastic moulded goods, coal bisquetting, chilled meat exports and fish.
Lord Bledisloe was particularly interested in pigs, having farmed them himself in the UK. Such was his enthusiasm, he once favourably compared Matamata people to the pig, which he noted ‘should be fine in front with plenty of substance and stability behind’. As I was born in Matamata, I’m not sure that I regard this as a compliment or a comparison to be repeated.
You will be pleased to know that I do not presume to have such expertise – nor the wish to impart it.
I probably have more in common with Lord Cobham, who cheerfully announced that he knew nothing about science at the beginning of a very lengthy memorial lecture to scientists at the Cawthron Institute.
I may not have a scientific background but I sincerely value and appreciate what I learn from our scientists and researchers. When I act as official representative for New Zealand overseas, or welcome Heads of State and members of the Diplomatic Corps to New Zealand, and the occasion arises – and it is surprising how often it does – I am proud to share what I have learnt about the exciting work being undertaken by our scientists and entrepreneurs.
Congratulations to all the finalists this evening. This is your night. On behalf of all New Zealanders, thank you for all your good work, and I wish you all the best with your research in the future.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa