Kia ora koutou. Greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge: His Worship the Mayor Alistair Sowman; Bernie Rowe, Chair of the Marlborough Research Trust; and Gerald Hope, Chief Executive, Marlborough Research Centre.
It’s great to be here in sunny Marlborough, particularly after the rough weather we had yesterday in Wellington!
We arrived in Picton this morning where we were welcomed onto the Waikawa marae; we caught up with students at Queen Charlotte College, and then moved on to Marlborough Girls College and a meeting of people from the Top of the South Aviation Business Cluster. That’s just today – and we have a very busy and interesting few days ahead of us.
Regional visits are an opportunity for me to promote the things which are important to New Zealanders – to recognise people who work tirelessly for their communities as volunteers, to celebrate excellence, innovation, and enterprise; and to connect with our rangatahi – because they are the key to our future and we all want the best for them.
With regards to this evening, I can confirm that like most New Zealanders, we like food and beverages. And so we are keen to find out how this Food and Beverage Innovation Cluster works. We are looking forward to hearing about your innovation, the research projects in train and what’s happening in the region’s wine industry. It’s one thing to read all about it, but something else to see and hear it for ourselves.
There must be something in the water here because there seems to be a real pioneering tradition in Marlborough. The region has produced remarkable individuals with vision, determination and resilience; and the flexibility to adapt and innovate.
The first pioneering settlers who came here from Polynesia and settled at the Wairau Bar are the earliest example. They had the know-how and the determination to migrate here over thousands of miles; and the ability and nous to quickly adapt to a completely different environment and flourish.
We know there was a reasonably large group of first settlers because of the genetic variation which has shown up in the mitochondrial genomes. Cutting-edge science has helped us understand more about our history.
And here in Marlborough, science, facilitated by the Marlborough Research Centre, is helping us to address issues of the moment. The Centre is helping to secure a better future – by finding new, diverse ways to think about the products that are produced here.
It is hard to imagine Marlborough without vineyards and aquaculture, but of course it took some pretty determined pioneers to get those industries off the ground.
Some far-sighted people in the 1980s came to the realisation that future growth would be assisted by science-based research and a dedicated research centre. In their assessment a research centre would be able to expedite innovation and help the region to respond to particular needs. Everyone, from garlic growers to viticulturists, salmon farmers to orchardists has benefited from the work done here. The advances have been reflected in Marlborough’s substantial contribution towards New Zealand’s reputation and prosperity.
It’s a sign of the times to see increased interest in sustainability and the profitable use of waste products. The Marlborough Grape Marc initiative has highlighted the benefits of working collaboratively to deliver solutions which will benefit everyone.
I am told that the Food and Beverage Innovation Cluster was developed pretty quickly – because you have good networks and key people who were able to sit around a table, come to a decision and act quickly. We will be visiting two of the Cluster members this week – Sanfords and Cuddon Limited.
Manufacturing is also on our agenda because it is the lead industry in the regional economy.
This morning it was great to see how enthusiastic the Queen Charlotte College students were about the aquaculture programme there.
And it was good to hear about the Aviation Business Cluster’s plans and the contribution they will make to growth in this region.
I guess people here will be anticipating that infrastructure development, innovation and value-added industries will deliver more high-value jobs for Marlborough. Certainly that will be good for Marlborough’s young high-achievers.
In closing my remarks, congratulations to the Marlborough District Council, the Marlborough Research Centre and the partners in the Food and Beverage Innovation Cluster for the tremendous progress made to date. I hope the Cluster continues to grow and prosper and I wish you all the very best for your future work.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa