Kei nga Mema Paremata, e manaaki nei i tō tātau Paremata Taiohi, tēnā koutou. Taiohi mā, e hine mā, e tama mā, nōhou te aro māngai, mo Aotearoa. Tēnā koutou katoa.
I’d like to specifically acknowledge: Rt Hon Trevor Mallard, Speaker of the House; Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Minister for Youth; and Phillip O’Shea, New Zealand Herald at Arms Extraordinary. And of course, to all our newest Members of Parliament – tēnā koutou katoa.
It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to New Zealand Youth Parliament 2022.
This is the first Youth Parliament I have had the pleasure of opening in my term as Governor-General, and it seems fitting that the 10th occasion of this event, which has produced some of our country’s finest leaders, falls on the same year we mark 70 years since Queen Elizabeth II became our sovereign.
My role, as Governor General, is to carry out the functions of Her Majesty, as our Head of State and Queen of New Zealand. This connection dates back to the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840 by our first Governor, William Hobson, on behalf of Queen Victoria.
The common saying goes that the Queen reigns, while the Government rules. And while the Sovereign does not govern, they or their representative have a duty to ensure that those who do, do so properly and responsibly. The Sovereign embodies a sense of continuity and unity that transcends party politics.
As many of you may know, the Governor-General and the House of Representatives together make up our Parliament. The Governor-General signs all bills into law, dissolves Parliament, appoints the Prime Minister and Ministers of the Crown after the political formation process, and summons Parliament to meet.
A fundamental part of my job is to make sure that there is always a Government in place with a democratic mandate to govern.
Youth Parliament provides a wonderful opportunity for young New Zealanders – for you all – to learn more about country’s parliamentary processes.
I hope it also provides you with a clearer view of the manifold ways you can participate in our democracy: whether that’s starting a petition, submitting to a select committee, or marching for a cause you believe in.
In all your engagements with our civic society, I would encourage you to remember that the collective is always more important than the individual. True and lasting progress comes, not when individual voices dominate, or personal agendas are pursued, but when citizens come together and use their voices and their votes to achieve change.
The health of our democracy should be measured by the extent to which every person, every group, and every community has the means to shape the country we all share and call home.
Otto von Bismarck, the 19th century Prussian statesman, famously said: ‘Laws are like sausages – it’s best not to see them being made.’ I would suggest that law-making has come a long way since the days of von Bismarck, and I do hope you enjoy experiencing the inner workings of our democracy over the next few days.
I look forward to following your speeches on Parliament TV, watching Youth Parliament in session, and enjoying the reporting of our Youth Press Gallery.
When you leave this precinct in a few days’ time, I hope you will carry this experience with you, and share what you’ve learned with your friends, your whānau, and your communities.
I urge you all to continue using your voice, listening to your communities, and creating change – and I look forward to seeing the way you all help to shape Aotearoa New Zealand’s future.
On that note, it gives me great pleasure to declare 2022 Youth Parliament officially open.
Kia ora, kia kaha, kia manawanui e huihui tātou katoa.