Tihei ki te whei ao
Ki te ao marama
Kei āku nui
Kei āku rahi
Nōku te maringa
tē tae mai ki te whakamānawa
i o koutou ratonga,
ki nga kāwanatanga
o whenua kē,
hei tāhuhu mo Aotearoa- New Zealand
Tena tatou katoa
Ah, the light of day brings warmth to this very important occasion
To one and all, Greetings. I am honoured to be with you this evening to recognise the service that you provide to citizens and governments of other countries on behalf of all New Zealanders.
Thank you so much for inviting David and me here this evening.
It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the easing of some the constraints of the past few months.
I am delighted that my final engagement as Governor-General should be spent with members of the Diplomatic Corps.
The international dimension of my role, whether as Ambassador for Aotearoa New Zealand, or as host to the Corps within New Zealand, has been fascinating and instructive.
Over the last five years, it has been my honour to welcome new envoys to Aotearoa and to bid them farewell on the completion of their term.
It has been a privilege to host you and your predecessors at Waitangi and at Government House on Waitangi Day, Aotearoa’s national day.
Circumstances have conspired to keep me in Aotearoa much more than I had expected when I took on this role five years ago.
However, you are such excellent Ambassadors for your countries – in every sense of the word – that David and I have drawn up an expanding list of places we intend to visit, albeit in a private capacity.
I appreciate that there is a vast difference between travelling to other countries and living there for an extended period of time.
Leaving the familiar world far behind and transplanting yourselves and your families to new and unfamiliar surroundings requires sacrifice, commitment and resilience.
I also recognise that in these uncertain times, your thoughts will be of home, of the people you know whose lives have been impacted by COVID, and your concern that loved ones there are being kept safe and well.
In her 2020 Christmas message, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth concluded with the reassuring words: “You are not alone”.
It’s a message that you must have been called upon to deliver to your compatriots many times over the last 18 months, and I cannot imagine the particular stresses involved in helping people who have been impacted by border closures, visa issues or unemployment because of COVID-19.
I hope that just as you have been called upon to support others, that you have in turn received the support that you need to get through these difficult times.
Her Majesty’s message that we are not alone reminds us of the need for swift global responses to global problems.
In such circumstances, some might say that the skills and experience of a diplomat have never been more vital for the survival of human societies – and the wellbeing of the planet itself.
So as we say in New Zealand, “Kia kaha – be strong”.
Much will depend on what you do to keep lines of communication open, share understandings and opportunities, give frank advice and work for resolutions to the many thorny issues confronting us in 2021.
Thank you for your commitment to perform that role and provide those services.
I wish you all the very best for the remaining time you will spend in New Zealand and for your future postings, wherever they may be.