Kia ora tatou. Nga mihi o te tau hou.
New Year greetings to you all. I hope you all have been able to relax and share time with family and friends during the festive season so far.
Today, when our thoughts turn to the year ahead, I too am focussing on the future. In my final year as Governor-General, my programme will focus on the contribution of science and innovation in New Zealand, now and in the years ahead.
We all understand and appreciate the countless ways that we’ve benefited from scientific inquiry and human ingenuity. For myself, this includes a recent stay in hospital where I had a complex medical procedure which would not have been available in my parents’ time.
In an age when humanity faces significant environmental challenges, science provides us with the evidence and the understanding we need to make necessary change. Furthermore, innovation gives us the tools to make that change, and will drive the development of knowledge-based, sustainable economic activity.
This year, I will visit our universities to see what exciting developments are taking place now, across a broad range of disciplines – and I’ll promote, here and overseas, and with our young people, and on social media, what I have learnt. I will be very happy to do my bit to communicate how science and scientists and innovation and innovators have had, do have, and can have a positive influence on New Zealand and New Zealanders, and on our global village. We all need to raise awareness of science, engineering and technology.
Above all, I will be conveying the message to our young people that science and innovation are fascinating and hugely relevant; from the big issues like combating climate change and disease, or saving endangered species – to the innovations changing the way we live, such as smart technology in our phones, homes and cars; or wearable technology, and on-line education. In their future careers, there will be many opportunities for them to work across disciplines, and to embrace different perspectives from technology, science, design and communication.
So much that seemed impossible in the past, is now possible. This is due to the creative insight, determination and application of dedicated individuals, our often unsung heroes. More than ever before, we need people with those qualities, and we need to recognise, value and support them in their work.
As we look forward to the exciting year ahead, my best wishes go to all New Zealanders, wherever they may be, and I wish you all the very best for a safe and prosperous 2016.
Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM QSO
Governor-General of New Zealand