E ngā mana, e ngā reo,
nei ra te reo mihi maioha ki a koutou
i ēnei mahi nui, i ēnei mahi hira.
Aku mihi ano hoki ki a Ngai Tahu, te manawhenua o Te Waipounamu,
(My sincere and warm greetings to the leaders and supporters of this important work. And I acknowledge also, Ngai Tahu as the manawhenua of Te Waipounamu).
Ladies and gentlemen – it’s wonderful to be here. David and I are absolutely delighted to attend the launch of the Mt Terako Covenant.
As Her Majesty the Queen’s representative in New Zealand, I welcome this opportunity to see New Zealand’s first contribution to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.
I look forward to reporting on today’s events to Her Majesty – and keeping her informed on progress as further Covenants are registered.
It is highly appropriate that the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, set up to mark Her Majesty’s 25th jubilee in 1977, should now be closely involved in this initiative to mark her 90th birthday.
I want to acknowledge all the landowners who have worked with the National Trust in the intervening years to protect and conserve precious native habitats across New Zealand.
They took the long view, beyond short-term economic gain, because they appreciated the inestimable value of the natural capital to be found in our remaining forests and wetlands.
They accepted responsibility for conserving those values, with support from the National Trust. And we owe them a huge debt.
Sue and Peter, you are part of that fine tradition, and the Mt Terako Covenant will be your legacy, not just to New Zealand, but also to the Commonwealth ideal, by contributing to a wider movement to protect indigenous forests throughout the Commonwealth.
We may be a very urban nation, but New Zealanders retain a huge affinity with the natural landscape.
The whakatauki, or proverb Whatungarongaro te tangata toitū te whenua reminds us that when humans have long gone, the land will still remain.
The question is, what state will we leave it in? Our history has shown that we can’t take our natural heritage for granted, and our native flora and fauna are constantly threatened with loss of habitat.
It takes commitment and effort by individuals to turn the tide, helped by organisations like the National Trust and DoC. The QCC initiative has been able to build on that concerted effort.
David and I were keen to come here because this project aligns with our values and our interests in sustainability and conservation.
We welcome opportunities to support and highlight the work of individuals and organisations that have a positive impact on our environment.
We hope more New Zealanders will consider how they too can contribute – whether it’s by becoming involved in predator-free programmes, the restoration of wetlands and forests, or simply encouraging native birds with the appropriate planting in their gardens.
Today, on behalf of all New Zealanders, I congratulate everyone involved in the QCC and wish you all the very best with your plans to extend the network.
By unveiling this plaque, I hereby celebrate the formal registration of the Mt Terako Covenant.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa