E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
Thank you for inviting David and me to attend this evening’s performance to celebrate 50 years of achievement by the New Zealand School of Dance. Unfortunately David is unwell and unable to attend this evening.
We are enthusiastic supporters of the arts – and we appreciate this opportunity to acknowledge this School as one of our cultural power-houses, responsible for the development of generations of world-class dancers.
During my term of office, I am promoting creativity, innovation, diversity and leadership. Clearly this is an institution that encapsulates all of these qualities.
At the School’s core is a kaupapa of fostering creativity and innovation, of incubating diverse talents and dance forms, from classical to contemporary, and inclusive of a unique Māori and Pasifika sensibility.
The training young dancers receive here opens doors for them, here, and in dance companies around the world.
Having this school has given them a goal to aspire to and the training to bring them up to their full potential as professional dancers.
It is hugely important to have such pathways for our performing artists in New Zealand.
If we think back to your beginnings 50 years ago, the school can be seen as part of a shift in New Zealand’s cultural landscape.
In 1967, we got new currency and our first New Zealand-born Governor-General, Sir Arthur Porritt.
We were deferring less to “the Home country” as a source of excellence in all things, and we keen to acknowledge and celebrate what we had here.
In 1967, no-one could have imagined how complex and diverse that cultural journey would become, that in the 21st century, New Zealand dancers would not be obliged to leave New Zealand to pursue a career, or that our dance companies would be touring the world to international acclaim.
Life in New Zealand is so much the better for these changes, and this School can be proud of the role it has played in our transition to cultural confidence.
I am delighted to be here and wish everyone associated with the school all the very best for your next 50 years.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa