E ngā iwi o Taranaki e pae nei, tena koutou.
Taranaki Tūturu, tena koutou; mihi mai, whakatau mai.
He taonga nui a Pukeiti, me ngā tūmanako a Te Kaunihera a Rohe, otirā, te hapori whānui o Taranaki.
Tēnā, haramai tatau katoa, ki te whakatutuki, i te kaupapa nui nei, me te manawanui.
His Excellency Mr Fausto Lopez Crozet, Ambassador of the Argentine Republic, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you for inviting David and me here today.
We are delighted to show our support for one of New Zealand’s most loved and admired gardens and the work that you are doing to assist in the regeneration of the rainforest here.
You could not ask for a more magnificent setting and I am not surprised that you get nearly 30,000 visitors a year.
David and I are keen gardeners ourselves, though we don’t get much opportunity to spend time in our own garden these days.
I am delighted that a Governor-General’s role provides an opportunity, in some small way, to do some good with regard to our carbon footprint.
I am referring here to invitations to plant trees, which I am always very pleased to accept. So thank you for giving me that opportunity today. And I hope that this will encourage people here today to also plant trees, whenever they can.
I like to think that I am building on the work of one of my predecessors, Lord Bledisloe, who was Governor-General from 1930 to 1935.
He was a very keen proponent of Arbour Day and lectured audiences at great – some might even say exhaustive length about what trees to plant where, which varieties would attract birds, and which would nourish the soil.
He wanted more New Zealanders to cherish our native species and experience what he described as “the beauty, the melody, and the fragrance of Nature”.
I am sure he would have appreciated the efforts that have been made here to plant rimu and other native species and to reduce the predator population – thereby progressing regeneration and the preservation of birdlife.
As it happens, the kaupapa of Pukeiti aligns also with my own programme’s focus on promoting creativity, innovation, diversity and leadership.
A garden is often compared to a canvas, because like great artists, great gardeners must understand their materials, master technique and develop a refined aesthetic sensibility to realise their vision.
Gardeners are constantly innovating, because a garden doesn’t stand still and there are always challenges to overcome. Fortunately, gardeners are also a determined bunch.
As the renowned British gardener Vita Sackville-West observed, gardeners are innately enterprising and optimistic, always thinking that they can improve things and find better ways to do them.
And Pukeiti is a fine exemple of that vision, determination and expertise in action.
When Douglas Cook and others embarked on the huge task of creating these gardens, they must have been spurred on by the knowledge that they were creating something special that would provide pleasure for future generations.
How pleased they would be to know that Pukeiti has not just secured an international reputation for its plant collections, but also has become such a valuable public amenity.
I want to conclude with a poem by Hamish Keith that I chose to put in my website blog on National Poetry Day.
Most people would associate Hamish with art and cultural criticism. But like so many other New Zealanders, Hamish is inspired and replenished by time in his garden.
The pleasure of my garden is an hour or two of dappled morning light.
I do not speak to plants.
They have no conversation.
My thoughts are noise enough.
In this silent occupation.
Once fed and watered, infirmities amputated,
And small rebellions quelled,
Something is said;
A large green sigh
And a promise for tomorrow
Pukeiti has delivered Douglas Cook’s promise for tomorrow.
I look forward to seeing something of it today, and returning in the future to see how it evolves – and of course – to check on the progress of the tree I am planting today.
Congratulations to everyone associated with maintaining this extraordinary garden.
The Rainforest Centre marks the beginning of a new chapter for Pukeiti and I am very pleased to declare it open.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa