Linwood North School
Rau rangatira mā, e nga tamariki o tēnei kura, e huihui nei,
tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou, kia ora tātou katoa.
Distinguished guests and students of the school,
greetings to you all.
What an exciting day for everyone – for the teachers, for the students, and for everyone in your community. David and I are delighted to be able to join you in celebrating the official opening of your new buildings and grounds.
When I learned of the very long journey that you have been through to completely rebuild the school and especially the challenges and hurdles you faced to get a new School Hall, I knew that I wanted to come here today to celebrate with you.
And how special it is to have this ceremony 110 years to the day after the first school was established here.
You must be very pleased to have a hall again, where you can all come together for prize-givings, assemblies, and performances, as well as brand new classrooms and grounds to play in.
Primary schools are special places for me, because both of my parents were primary school teachers.
When I was small we lived in the country, in the middle of the North Island. My parents were the only teachers at the school and so I went to school with them.
Just as the Prime Minister has gone back to work with baby Neve six weeks old, my mother took me with her to her work.
So there I was, in a cot at the back of the classroom, with all of the children in the class helping to take care of me.
As soon as I could walk and talk, it didn’t take long for me to want to join them in class, because I wanted to do what they were doing.
I loved primary school. I enjoyed playing in the playgrounds with my classmates. And I really enjoyed learning new things. That was a long time ago, but I can tell you – people don’t stop learning. I still find it exciting and I still have plenty to learn!
Some of you might be wondering what the Governor-General does, so I thought I might tell you a bit about my role.
I represent our Head of State, Queen Elizabeth, who is the Queen of New Zealand. She is in fact the Queen of 16 different countries in the world, so she appoints a Governor General to represent her in each of the countries apart from the United Kingdom, where she lives. I am her representative in New Zealand for a term of 5 years.
David and I live in Wellington in Government House, which was built specially for the New Zealand Governor-General to live in over 100 years ago. There is another, smaller Government House in Auckland for us to live in when we are there. Sadly there isn’t one in Christchurch.
We have met the Queen twice at Buckingham Palace in London, and when members of the Royal Family come to New Zealand, they usually stay at Government House.
When Presidents and Kings and Queens of other countries come to New Zealand, we give them a special, or state, welcome on the front lawn at Government House. We have a powhiri and a haka, a military guard of honour with a military band and a 21 gun salute.
If you are visiting Wellington with your class or your family, you are most welcome to come to Government House. Though we can’t provide you with a state welcome, we will be pleased to give you a guided tour.
From time to time I have the opportunity to travel overseas to represent New Zealand. It can be for lots of different reasons, including funerals of important people or ceremonies such as WW1 commemorations or celebrating Anzac Day in Gallipoli.
Twice a year I also hold investiture ceremonies to award medals to those special New Zealanders who are recognised for their service to our country in the New Years or Queens Birthday Honours. We hold these investiture ceremonies at Government House in Wellington and Auckland.
For many years South Islanders have had to travel to the North Island to receive their awards, but later this year we are going to hold our first investiture ceremony in Christchurch.
One of the most important parts of my job is to go to as many places as I can in New Zealand and meet people, because the Governor-General represents all New Zealanders.
So that’s why I am in Christchurch this week, meeting people who are doing great work in your communities, and finding out what exciting things are going on – and that’s why I am here today, to celebrate your brand new school.
I know this rebuild hasn’t been easy, with all kinds of problems getting in the way – including earthquakes and a fire. But your teachers, trustees and members of your community have all worked tirelessly to see this project through. You’ve now got a safe and modern school, and this magnificent hall that also can be used by your community.
Congratulations to you all.
And to the Linwood North students, please help to look after your new school, listen to your teachers, work hard, have fun, and make your parents proud.
I am now very pleased to declare Linwood North School’s new buildings officially open.