Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei,
tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
Distinguished guests - warm greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge:
Dr Selwyn Maister, Chair of Paralympics New Zealand;
Fiona Allen, Chief Executive of Paralympics NZ
Sir Paul Collins, Chair Sport NZ and High Performance Sport NZ and Mike Stanley, President NZ Olympic Committee – tēnā koutou katoa.
It is a great pleasure for David and me to welcome you all to Government House this evening.
As patron of Paralympics NZ, I’m pleased to be able to host you and I’m delighted that I get to officially begin my duties as your patron with a celebration.
Patronage organisations like Paralympics NZ have a very important role to play in the life of a Governor-General. When I began my term I thought very hard about what I wanted to achieve during my time in office. I also gave thought to which organisations I’d like to work with to achieve those goals.
To me, Paralympics NZ, the work it does and the athletes it supports, encapsulates a number of things that are integral to the New Zealand psyche – determination and drive, a desire to be the best and of course, a love of sport. But more than that, Paralympics NZ uses the power of sport to positively influence community perceptions of disabled people and to promote a more diverse and inclusive society.
So I was very pleased to accept your offer of patronage and to continue to build on the relationship begun by my predecessor, Sir Jerry Mateparae.
Over the last year, I have been privileged to meet a number of summer Paralympians at investiture ceremonies we have held at Government House. This recognition at the highest level shows how visible Para athletes have become. They are making an enormous impact on New Zealand’s consciousness, challenging bias and changing perceptions of disability.
More importantly, Para athletes are being celebrated and given the same respect and honour accorded to our other Olympic athletes. Paralympians have broken free of the idea that it’s about limitation and instead tell a story of achievement being limitless. It’s an important and meaningful distinction and one that has now been embraced by the public.
The members of the New Zealand Paralympics team we are sending to PyeongChang in 2018 have a lot to look forward to. It is a great honour to represent your country and to do it at the highest level of your sport is a very special privilege.
To the 2018 New Zealand Paralympians – Adam Hall, Corey Peters, Carl Murphy and Aaron Ewen - I’m sure each and every one of you has a goal in mind, whether it be a personal best or a medal. I hope that you achieve, and even exceed, your aims. Rest assured we will be following your progress. There are many people standing behind you cheering you on – your friends, your family and 4.8 million other New Zealanders.
I would also like to congratulate the coaches, support staff and the other members and supporters of the Paralympic NZ community who are here this evening. Your skills, help and guidance are vital to the success of the team and your contribution is greatly valued and appreciated.
Congratulations and good luck to the 2018 New Zealand Paralympics team. I look forward to following your progress.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa