Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou.
Nau mai, haere mai ra ki Te Whare Kawana o Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
Kia ora tātou katoa.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all, and welcome to Government House Wellington.
David and I are just delighted to be able to host this 40th anniversary celebration for the Queen Elizabeth the Second Trust.
We have a strong interest in sustainable approaches to land use and conservation in New Zealand, so we appreciate the vital role the Trust plays in protecting our precious ecosystems, in perpetuity.
I was delighted that New Zealand’s gift to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday was funding to the Trust to support the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy in New Zealand.
In November last year, David and I went to Sue and Peter Turnbull’s property at Mt Terako to launch the initiative and to see for ourselves the spectacular mountain landscape that the Turnbulls were placing in covenant.
As New Zealanders, we have the great good fortune to live in the last major land mass to be accessed by human beings.
So the whakatauki “Whatungarongaro te tangata toitū te whenua” – the land endures after we have gone – has particular resonance for us all.
As kaitiaki, or guardians, of this young and stunningly beautiful country, we have a responsibility to ensure that the catastrophic environmental degradation – so prevalent in so many parts of the world – is not the legacy that we leave to our children.
As a country, we have prided ourselves on doing things differently – taking an innovative, independent line.
We are fortunate that 40 years ago, some far-sighted landowners showed that kind of thinking when they conceived of the QEII National Trust.
We owe an enormous debt to those visionaries – and to the people all over New Zealand who have committed to follow in their footsteps.
Covenanters have helped promote the ethos of kaitiakitanga of our precious flora and fauna – often at considerable personal cost – in terms of lost opportunities for economic return, and in the cost of measures they have put in place.
The fact that this cost has not deterred New Zealand landowners to enter the QEII fold shows the influence of its ethos in shaping New Zealanders’ attitudes towards conservation.
New initiatives and partnerships are promoting the conservation message further afield. QEII’s involvement in the million metres stream project will help restore our streams and rivers to life; enthusiastic Weedbusters will give our native species a chance to flourish; and sophisticated and innovative approaches to predator control are cause for increasing optimism about the outcome of our battle to eradicate possums, mustelids and rats.
Transformation of our landscape will be due transformative thinking – and the work of our environmental heroes who are quietly getting on with the work of fencing off streams and forests, restoring wetlands, planting native species, eradicating pests and trapping predators.
These unsung heroes deserve our deepest gratitude.
Because of their work, we can look forward to the day when our great forests are alive with the deafening birdsong that woke Captain Cook’s sailors when their ships anchored on our coastline; to the time when our streams run clearer and free; and to the time when our flora and fauna lose their endangered status.
On behalf of all New Zealanders, my thanks to everyone involved with the QEII National Trust for the part you are playing in that process.
Congratulations on reaching your milestone of 40 years of operation, and I wish you every success with your vital work in the years ahead.
Kia ora, kia kaha, kia manawanui, huihui tātou katoa
I now invite Mr Mike Jebson, Chief Executive of the QEII National Trust to speak.