Rau rangatira mā - nga Takawaenga Kāwanatanga - e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Nau mai, haere mai rā ki Te Whare Kāwana ki Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Na reira, kia ora tātou katoa.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all and welcome to Government House. I specifically acknowledge the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, HE O'love Tauveve Jacobsen – fakalofa lahi atu.
It is my pleasure to welcome you all here today. I extend a special welcome to the Ambassadors, High Commissioner and representative who have come across from Canberra.
In our final months at Government House, Janine and I are taking the opportunity to acknowledge those whom have given service to the people of New Zealand.
You, members of the Diplomatic Corps, have given exemplary service in support of the relationships between our countries, bi-laterally and collectively, and in doing so, to the people of New Zealand.
It has been my privilege as the Governor-General to formally welcome all of the Heads of Mission who are here tonight.
You may recall that at the luncheon after you had presented your credentials, I pointed out that there would be three ceremonies of welcomes: the first, was the reception and powhiri on the South Lawn, the second, the presentation of your credentials, and the third, at the lunch. All three ceremonies, and the lunch especially, are a part of our custom of extending hospitality – or manaakitanga – to guests and also of seeking to establish a relationship with our guests - whanaungatanga.
During my term as the Governor-General, I have enjoyed getting to know Members of the Diplomatic Corps in both a professional and personal capacity, and to learn more about the countries that you represent. I hope that you too, have enjoyed your time in New Zealand.
Where Janine and I have travelled to your home countries, we have appreciated the welcome, the hospitality and the friendship extended to us by your Head of State and your people.
Without exception, as a Corps and as individuals, you have excelled in representing your countries in New Zealand, and also played an essential role in representing New Zealand back to your home countries. There are many initiatives across the relationship spectrum – with business, academia, the arts and culture, education, sport, tourism, agriculture, technology and in our diverse communities that are testament to your assignments here being successful.
It’s fair to say that I now have a deeper appreciation of the role that you play in maintaining warm bilateral relations between our countries, governments and peoples; and in strengthening our ties regionally and multi-laterally, whether it be in international organisations like the UN or in the Commonwealth, the Pacific, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe or in the Americas.
There is a Māori whakatauki or proverb which goes: “Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini – For my strength and success is not mine alone, but that of many”.
In holding this reception, I want to acknowledge the responsibilities, expectations and pressures that come with your roles, and to thank you – individually and collectively - for your dedication, your professionalism and your continued support during my term as Governor-General.
I am conscious that the role of the Diplomatic Corps extends beyond dealing to matters of state diplomacy. It certainly plays out by building relationships between the leaders and governments of our nations. However, it is the friendly face in times of trial, and the support you and your staff give to our peoples through the provision of consular services and people-to-people interactions that I also acknowledge.
Members of the Diplomatic Corps, in serving your countries in New Zealand, you have also served the people of New Zealand. On behalf of all New Zealanders, I acknowledge your support, your counsel and your contribution to ensure warm relations between our countries.
You are very much part of our New Zealand family – our whānau. While the presentation of your Credentials marked the start of a relationship, tonight’s event does not mark the end of that relationship. It is a signal to start a new chapter – which is very fitting – given we are currently in the period of Matariki - the Māori New Year - which signifies a time for remembering those who have been and welcoming new beginnings and the change that represents.
Please enjoy our hospitality and the camaraderie we offer this evening. No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.