It is a very great pleasure once again for me to present the Supreme Award, for New Zealand Exporter of the Year. This is a very exciting and eye-opening event. How much we all learn as we listen to the achievements of our exporters.
New Zealanders excel in many spheres - not just on the sporting field, but in science and art, in music and technology, in initiative and inventiveness. Tonight's Awards recognise that underpinning all this, is the economic base built and maintained by our exporters. All New Zealanders, in all that we do, are dependent on their energy, their efficiency, their imagination and their skills. We must never forget that.
The Award that I am to present sets the Judges an unenviable task. Our export industry is immensely strong, especially when you consider that New Zealand is the same size as Manchester or Miami. It is extraordinarily diverse, in products and services, in terms of measurable quantities and values, in length of experience. Some in our export sector are traditional and vitally important, some excitingly innovative, on the cutting edge of technology - with a vision of tomorrow made today.
The high quality our exporters achieve has been demonstrated by the seven winners already announced. From them, the Judges have had to select the best of the best.
I suppose that, sometimes, it is obvious who this must be. But that can rarely be so. It is hard to envisage excellence above excellence. All I know is that it has had to be done; and the Judges have made their decision. It remains only for me to announce it to you.