Reception for the Diplomatic Corps
Rau rangatira mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi nui ki a koutou. Nau mai haere mai ki Te Whare Kawana o Te Whanganui a Tara. Kia ora tātou katoa.
Nǐ hǎo, Namaste, Kumusta, Kon’nichiwa, Kia orana, Talofa lava, Mālō e lelei, Ni Sa Bula Vinaka, and warm Pacific greetings to you all.
It’s my pleasure to welcome you, our distinguished Diplomatic Corps, to Government House Wellington, in one of my first engagements as Governor-General.
I’m pleased this reception falls so early in my term, as I look forward to developing relationships with you all over these next five years.
I’m also looking forward to the international dimension of my role, as an ambassador for Aotearoa New Zealand overseas – when that again becomes possible.
On that note, I acknowledge what a difficult time it must have been for many of you – separated from friends and family through closed borders, and home countries continuing to grapple with the consequences of COVID-19.
The life of a diplomat is often portrayed as highly glamourous: of first-class travel and extravagant soirées.
And while tonight might not do much to alleviate that last stereotype, I appreciate the real sacrifice you’ve all had to make, and how hard overseas postings can be on spouses and families.
I wish to acknowledge the work you do in strengthening global cooperation at a time when it couldn’t be more important.
As someone who has spent much of their life in the field of academia, I understand the importance of international collaboration.
You only have to look at the list of Nobel Prize Laureates to understand that humanity’s best work transcends borders and, increasingly, disciplines.
I also wish to thank you for the work you do for foreign nationals here in New Zealand.
One of my key priorities as Governor-General is to celebrate New Zealand’s extraordinary diversity, and to shine a spotlight on the contributions of all our diverse communities to New Zealand society.
In achieving these aims, I see that you have a key part to play. You not only represent the bond of friendship between New Zealand and your home countries, but as a vital touchpoint for those of your countrymen and women who have chosen to make New Zealand their home.
As Costa Rican-New Zealand poet, Carina Gallegos, puts it so well: 'once upon a time | all of us here | were one of them there.'
In the present company, I’m sure it won’t be controversial to say that I believe in the power of multilateralism – in the contribution of the many.
But I believe this always needs to be balanced with an appreciation of the sacredness of place: our unique history, geography, and culture. This means protecting, respecting, and treasuring our native land and people.
We have a whakataukī that says: ‘Piki atu ki te taumata o toku maunga. Ka kite au i te mana, i te ihi o te whenua nei nō ōku tūpuna – I climb to the summit of my mountain to see the lands of my ancestors.’
I understand one or two of you will be moving on and heading home soon, and I wish you all the best for your future postings and careers.
For those of you who remain, or who have recently arrived, I imagine that over the coming summer and festive periods, your thoughts will very much be on your friends, family, and colleagues at home.
I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy our great walks and beaches, to experience some real Kiwi hospitality, and, above all, to get some well-earned rest.
I look forward to meeting you all properly over the course of this evening, and to developing a strong relationship with you during my term.
And I share your hope that the months and years ahead will herald a continued sense of optimism and progress – as, together, we face the challenges of our times.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.