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Speech

Matariki Reception

Issue date: 
Friday, 19 June 2015
Speaker: 
Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO

E te Atua,manaakitia tēnei hui.
Awhinatia mātou, i roto i o mātou mahi.
Ko te Wairua tapu, to mātou Ariki – amine.

Rau rangatira mā,
Rangatahi mā,
Tēnei ngā mihi māhana,
a māua ko Janine.
Nau mai, haere mai,
ki te Whare Kāwana ki te Whanganui a Tara,
ki konei tātou whakanui i a Matariki - te Tau Hou Māori.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.

Distinguished guests and young people,
All greetings from Janine and me.
Welcome to Government House Wellington
To our celebration of Matariki – the Māori New Year
Greetings to us all.

It is a great pleasure for Janine and me to welcome you all to Government House this evening to celebrate Matariki - the Māori New Year, New Zealand’s New Year, our New Year - with you all.

“Ka puta Matariki ka rere Whanui.  Ko te tohu o te tau e! – Matariki reappears, Whanui starts its flight.  It is the sign of the new year”. 

Throughout history the stars of Matariki have been important for navigating and determining our seasons.  They are well-known throughout the Pacific – Matari’i in Tahiti, Mata-ali’i in Samoa and Makahiki in Hawaii – and have defined how we live in the southern hemisphere.  Matariki connects us to our kith and kin in the wider Pacific. 

The arrival of the Matariki stars - the seven stars of the Pleiades or Seven Sisters in the Taurus constellation – just before dawn tracing the path of the rising sun, is a signal for Matariki celebrations to begin.  Their rising signals that the short days of winter are about to lengthen again.  One cycle is finishing and another is beginning.  It is a time of remembering those who have passed.  It is also a time of celebration, of feasting, of getting together with family and friends. 

It’s a time of optimism and planning for the future.

This year the theme of our work at Government House is Nationhood.  We are looking back at past events which helped shape our nation – such as the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi; the establishment of Wellington as our capital 150 years ago; the Gallipoli landings a century ago; and 40 years since Whina Cooper led the historic land march to Wellington. 

On Anzac Day we were able to gather together in our thousands at the new National War Memorial Park – Pukeahu - to honour the brave men and women who have died in the service of their country – and in particular the hundreds who lost their lives on that day 100 years ago after landing in Anzac Cove.

Nationhood, like Matariki, is not just about reflecting on the past and the events which made us the way we are today – it’s also about the present and the future.

It’s about celebrating and preserving the things that are uniquely ours: our precious landscapes; our fragile flora and fauna; and our arts, culture and heritage.

Nationhood is also about the role we play in our region and on the international stage – and the principles that we want to uphold as citizens of the world.

It is about what kind of country we want to be, and what kind of future we want to leave for generations to come.

We can all contribute to that vision, by thinking about citizenship in a very active way.   As much as we have our rights and privileges, we also have our responsibilities – to each other, to our neighbours, to our communities, to our world!

In this season we look back to the example of our predecessors and look forward to new beginnings.  I for one am honoured to celebrate Matariki with representatives of our diverse communities, and our churches and schools; along with people who have received honours for their contributions to New Zealand; and our newest New Zealand citizens from the citizenship ceremony we hosted here earlier today. 

Matariki is a time to celebrate. 

There are more than 60 Matariki events being held in the Wellington region over the next few weeks.  There’s something to suit every taste and interest – from a Poi E/Thriller Flash Mob that will replicate Taika Waititi’s moves in ‘Boy’ to First World War waiata; from photography, music, drama, ta moko, art and ceramic exhibitions to star gazing at the Carter Observatory.

So it’s only right that we should also get in the spirit of things at Government House.  We hope you enjoy our hospitality tonight and our fantastic young performers from Hato Paora College.  They were here just last month for our ceremony of welcome for Prince Harry.  And as you leave, you will be given a moe moe potato to plant.

I like to think that tonight’s reception fits in with Wellington’s theme for this year’s Matariki - ‘He rau tangata, he kōingo aroha’ – people gather and affirm love in a myriad of ways.  The diverse group of people here represent the myriad of cultures which have found a home in New Zealand, brought together tonight in the spirit of Matariki.

In your own way, you are all people of influence and you will play a positive role in the evolution of our communities and our nation. 

“Matariki whetu ki te Rangi, Tāngata ora ki te Whenua - Matariki star in the Sky, Humankind’s well-being on Earth.”

Na reira, tena tatau katoa, e huihui mai nei i te kaupapa o tenei po – Matariki.  Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.  Please enjoy our Matariki hospitality - whanaungatanga me manaakitanga (family and hospitality) - this evening.

Last updated: 
Friday, 19 June 2015

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