Rau rangatira ma e huihui nei,
Ngā Minita a te Pāremata,
Ngā Pīhopa a te Hāhi Mihingare,
Ngā Mema a te Poari o Marsden,
Ngā tāngata katoa o Rangihoua whenua rāhui,
Tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou katoa.
I specifically acknowledge: Hon Christopher Finlayson; Hon Maggie Barry; Archbishops Brown Turei, Philip Richardson and Winston Halapua, Archbishops of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia; John King, Chair of the Marsden Trust Board; and Hugh Rihari of Ngati Torehina.
Tēnā koutou katoa.
Thank you for inviting me to be part of these bicentennial commemorations, and the official opening of the Rangihoua Heritage Park.
I am particularly pleased to be here, following my visit earlier this year to Wairau Bar, near Blenheim.
I say that because Wairau Bar is now considered to be one of the first major entry points for Polynesian migration to this country. And with this location being the site of the first permanent European settlement, it feels like I have joined two important historical dots.
As we know, the arrival of the Kendall, King and Hall families would not have happened without the friendship and accord between Samuel Marsden and Te Pahi and Ruatara. And the mission would not have survived without the protection and support of the people in Rangihoua pā.
The optimism and co-operative spirit that underpinned the enterprise were to be sorely tested in subsequent years. Nonetheless, the mission was a noble experiment and - although it did not live up to the expectations placed upon it – we acknowledge the role it played in the development of literacy, agriculture and Christianity in New Zealand.
As we approach the closing days of 2014, I am mindful that the opening of Rangihoua Heritage Park aligns with the focus of the programme of work I have for 2015, themed around Nationhood.
In 2015, we will commemorate significant anniversaries for our nation: the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi; 150 years of Government in Wellington; the centenary of the Gallipoli landings; and 50 years of independence for the Cook Islands.
Today we have been reflecting on what the events and aspirations of Rangihoua mean to us as a nation. Next year’s anniversaries will be further opportunities to commemorate significant events that have contributed to the New Zealand we know and enjoy today – and to consider the kind of country we want for our children and grandchildren.
It is my hope that visitors to this park will reflect on the spirit of accord that was here at the beginning of European settlement; and in doing so they will be mindful of the whakatauki: “Ma whero ma pango ka oti ai te mahi”.
I hope that they will recall the story of Rangihoua, and consider the importance communication, understanding, commitment to a common goal and respect have if such an accord was to work for the mutual benefit of both partners. “Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora te iwi” – it is indeed with your basket and my basket that the people will thrive. These issues remain as current for us as they were 200 years ago.
Today is Rangihoua’s day. With this Heritage Park, Rangihoua will achieve a more prominent place in the consciousness of our nation. And as more New Zealanders become aware of its story, with its cast of remarkable characters, its disappointments and achievements, there will be all the more reason to visit this beautiful part of our country.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge Ngati Torehina, the Rangihoua Native Reserve Board, the Department of Conservation and the Marsden Cross Trust Board - Te Ripeka o Te Matenga – for bringing this Park to fruition.
It is now my privilege and great pleasure to formally open the Rangihoua Heritage Park.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa