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Speech

Pōwhiri at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Issue date: 
Friday, 13 May 2022
Speaker: 
The Rt Hon Dame Cindy Kiro, GNZM, QSO

Ka mimiti te puna i Taumārere. Ka toto te puna i Hokianga Ka toto te puna i Taumārere Ka mimiti te puna i Hokianga.

When the spring of Hokianga dries up that of Taumārere fills up. When the spring of Taumārere dries up that of Hokianga fills up.

It is a great honour to be here, and to be acknowledged as an uri nō Te Tai Tokerau, nō Ngāpuhi nui tonu. I tenei wā, kei kōnei e mātou I te pito ō te whenua, kō Waitangi.

I am mindful of the tīpuna who have gone before, including two signatories of Te Tiriti, and a grandmother with whakapapa to this rohe, kō Hukatere Miha Maihi.

I am also mindful of the responsibility that I bear to uphold the mana of other iwi, ki te Whare Ariki o te Kīngitanga me ngā Rangatira ō te mōtu, ngā tino nui ngā mihi mahana ki a koutou!

On this occasion of such profound personal significance, I am grateful to have my whānau and my husband Richard by my side, whose love and support has carried me here today.

I am honoured to address this whare as New Zealand’s 22nd Governor-General.

I also speak to you today as a wāhine from Te Tai Tokerau with dual British and Māori ancestry; as a mother and grandmother with a Welsh husband and Chilean daughter-in-law; and as someone whose career has straddled academia, health, and the public service.

In just a few weeks’ time, I will travel to the United Kingdom to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. For 70 years, Her Majesty has served as our Queen with extraordinary humility, selflessness, and grace.

My first trip to the United Kingdom as Governor-General has special personal significance – closing the circle formed of my close connections to Te Tiriti, my British heritage, and my holding of this office of te kāwana tianara o Aotearoa.

Six months ago, when I swore my oath of allegiance to Her Majesty, I became New Zealand’s third Governor-General of Māori descent.

Our first, Sir Paul Reeves, reflected that, ‘Te Tiriti O Waitangi is much more than the signatures of 546 Māori and one non-Māori on a document. It is a moral force … an obligation of honour.’

This paepae has borne witness to many key moments in our struggle to fulfil that obligation: to build mutual respect and understanding as Treaty partners.

Our increasing desire to do right by our ancestors is reflected in the physical developments here, on the Treaty Grounds – e wāhi i kotia ai te pito – including this sacred whare, which was the vision of Sir Apirana Ngata.

Annual commemorations to mark the New Zealand Wars, and the teaching of New Zealand history in schools, demonstrate this country’s corresponding desire to build a more honest understanding of who we are.

By looking back without judgement or shame, we are better able to move forward as a nation in manaakitanga, mōhiotanga, and murunga hara.

I understand the unique position I occupy as both the Queen’s representative, and as an uri ō Ngāti Hine, ō Ngāpuhi nui tonu. Over these next four and a half years, I will strive to be a Governor-General true to all aspects of who I am.

I recently hosted Te Taumata ō Ngāti Whātua ki Ōrakei at Government House Auckland, and was posed a particularly searching question by one of the koroua: ‘Do you govern?’

In this role, I have come to a much deeper understanding and appreciation of New Zealand’s three main branches of Government: the Legislature (Parliament), Executive (the Prime Minister and Ministers), and Judiciary (the judges).

These branches operate independently, but each acting as a check on the other, to ensure the proper functioning of our democracy – something we must remain vigilant to protect.

As we face the ongoing consequences of COVID-19, climate change, and disturbing international discord, we must also continue to take heed of the wisdom of those who have come before us, and remember that we are here to preserve the interests of future generations.

As Governor-General, at this juncture in our history, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve all my fellow New Zealanders: to be there with them in times of adversity and joy, and to continue building a society according to the hopes enshrined here, on these grounds, 182 years ago.

To close with the words of the great Sir James Henare: ‘Kua tawhiti kē tō haerenga mai, kia kore e haere tonu. He nui rawa ō mahi kia kore e mahi tonu.’

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

Last updated: 
Saturday, 14 May 2022

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