E nga mana, e nga reo, tena koutou.
E te rangatira Matiu o Ngati Whatua, tena koe mo to mihi aroha.
Rau rangatira ma, o Hui te Ananui a Tangaroa,
tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.
Me te Hari Huritau.
Good evening and greetings to you all.
And to our rangatira Matt Maihi of Ngati Whatua, thank for you kind welcome.
to the many authorities associated with the Maritime Museum I also extend my greetings.
And Happy Birthday.
Thank you for your very special welcome to us. We are delighted to join you in your 25th birthday celebrations.
I became Patron of The New Zealand Maritime Museum/Hui te Ananui A Tangaroa, because in this island nation, we are all connected with the sea and its stories.
With 15,000 kilometres of coastline, the 9th largest in the world, and our close proximity to the sea wherever we are, we cannot help but be a maritime nation.
Aotearoa was the last major land mass to be reached by humans, after voyages across vast tracts of ocean.
The first arrivals, estimated to have been around 700 years ago, were due to the expertise of the great Polynesian navigators and seafarers.
The Europeans who followed centuries later are also remembered for some extraordinary feats of navigation and seamanship.
Anyone whose family has a long history in Aotearoa shares stories about the experience of sea voyages. Indeed, some might say that sea voyaging is deep in the core of our collective DNA.
When I arrived this evening in the Museum’s waka, Haunui, I was reminded of this history, and of a glorious May morning last year when I arrived at the Venice Biennale in a large ceremonial gondola - the Distodona - accompanying our artist Lisa Reihana.
I was in Venice to open her exhibition, Emissaries, which focussed on the encounters between European seafarers and the indigenous peoples of the Pacific.
From the early 1800s, the sea played a role in Māori becoming emissaries themselves, as they traded timber, firewood, flax and produce around European settlements, here and in Australia. At the same time, European traders were bringing goods that would transform human settlement in Aotearoa.
We tend to forget that our economic survival still depends on the shipping of imports and exports across the thousands of kilometres of ocean that separate us from our trading partners.
The founders of this museum wanted to remind us of the links we have forged through our maritime life-lines to the world.
They envisaged an institution dedicated to telling New Zealand’s maritime history, providing a home for collections held by the Auckland Maritime Society and Auckland Museum.
They must have been delighted to see their vision finally realised twenty-five years ago, when the Prime Minister of the day, the Right Hon Jim Bolger, cut the ribbon to open what was then known as the Auckland Maritime Museum Hobson Wharf.
The 160,000 visitors who come here each year see not only what the pioneers of the museum planned for them to see, but also the more recent focus on modern commercial shipping, lifeboat services, pilotage, coastguard services, and marine surveying.
And Having just been out on the harbour myself, I know how thrilling it is to have the chance to venture out there on a heritage vessel.
I offer my congratulations to the staff and volunteers who make all of this possible.
Looking ahead, no doubt joining forces with Regional Facilities Auckland will open up new possibilities for the Museum, and this story of voyaging will evolve still further over the coming decades.
I wish everyone involved with the Maritime Museum all the very best with those plans.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa