E ngā iwi o ngā hau e wha, tena koutou. Nau mai ki tēnei whare. Nau mai i o koutou whenua, o maunga o moana.
Tau mai rā ki Aotearoa.
(Welcome to the four winds, welcome to Government House, acknowledging the lands you have come from, welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand).
Welcome to this dinner at Government House to celebrate the season of Matariki.
This year, in the spirit of Matariki hospitality, I took this opportunity to share our celebrations with representatives of some of the communities here in Auckland.
I am pleased that Professor Piri Sciascia and Dr Hiria Hape, Government House’s kaumatua and kuia, could be here to share their experiences and knowledge of Matariki.
When we or our forebears came to New Zealand, some of our cultural beliefs and practices were maintained, some were discarded, and some were modified over time.
In my own case, I am descended from English and Irish immigrants. As a child, I remember Guy Fawkes Day, on the 5th of November, when effigies of a 17th century English rebel who tried to burn down Parliament, Guy Fawkes, were burnt on a bonfire.
Thankfully, that practice has waned and we now celebrate the 5th of November as Fireworks Night.
As our society becomes ever more diverse, keeping lines of communication are more important than ever.
Appreciating each other’s culture is a useful first step towards developing the tolerance, inclusiveness and fruitful cooperation we need in a healthy, prosperous society.
This mutual respect goes beyond fascination and wonder about cultural performance. It needs to be based on an understanding and appreciation of the values that underpin it.
Achieving that spirit of mutual respect is dear to my heart, and something that I want to foster during my time in office. I think we all want a New Zealand where everyone can flourish and reach their potential.
My focus on diversity starts with Māori culture. It is what makes Aotearoa/New Zealand distinctive from other nations. This nation is the home of Māori language, arts and traditions.
It’s good to see Matariki celebrations gathering momentum. I think we can all relate to its spirit of culture and community; to its acknowledgement of the natural world that sustains us; and to the sharing of our hopes and plans for new beginnings in the warmer days ahead.
No doubt the cultures represented in this room have traditional celebrations that reflect similar sentiments.
Those cultural connections bridge the divides and link us together.
In Māori we say “Tuia i runga, tuia i raro. Tuia ki waho, tuia ki roto. Tuia i te whakaaro kotahi – Woven from above, woven from below. Woven from without, woven from within. Woven together as one.”
Tonight, we celebrate the distinctive threads that weave us together as one.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa
Once again, welcome, and I now invite Piri to speak