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E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi katoa huri noa o Aotearoa; tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou. Nga apiha me nga toa o Te Taua Moana o Aotearoa e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and officers and sailors of the Navy I offer warm greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge: Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, Chief of the Defence Force; Rear Admiral Jack Steer, Chief of Navy; Commodore Wayne Burroughs, Deputy Chief of Navy; Commodore John Martin, Maritime Component Commander; and Warrant Officer of the Navy Dean Bloor.
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today to review the 2013 Fleet Divisions. It is the first time I’ve had this honour in my role as Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief. The last time I attended Fleet Divisions was in 2011, my predecessor Sir Anand Satyanand was the reviewing officer. Since that time there have been some major changes in personalities. In addition to my changed circumstance, the Navy has a new Chief of Defence Force and a new Chief of Navy. Today the Navy will welcome a new Warrant Officer of the Navy.
Today also is an opportunity to celebrate all that the Navy and its people have accomplished over the past year. Before I present a number of awards recognising excellence, I want to speak briefly on three things: connections, change, and looking to the future.
The Navy and Governors-General have a shared history, and we have shared aspirations for New Zealanders today and in the future. Our country’s first domiciled representative of the Crown was a Naval officer, Captain William Hobson RN, who signed, on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, a treaty – Te Tiriti o Waitangi – recognised as the document that brought two peoples together and founded modern New Zealand.
Since my appointment to this role, the Navy and I have shared some special experiences! Those include celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Navy with a number of activities, including presenting a new Queen’s Colour to the Navy, on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of New Zealand.
Last year was also a great year that included the Navy’s presence at Waitangi, where the Navy accompanied me on to Te Tii marae for my first visit as Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief. I was also the Reviewing Officer of the Beat Retreat and Sunset Ceremony. Both ceremonies showcase the blend of our Maori and British heritage. We will mark Waitangi Day in the same way again in just a few weeks’ time.
In June I embarked upon HMNZS Otago to visit the remote atolls of Tokelau, where on that journey my status as a “land lubber” was confirmed without reservation. Also, I was officially welcomed to Devonport Naval Base in August, preceding another sea adventure, on-board HMNZS Canterbury, sailing out of the Auckland Harbour with the Young Blake Expedition Team to the Kermadec Islands. And that brings me to my next engagement with the Navy, which is today’s Divisions, led by your new Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Steer.
Speaking on the subject of “change”; there are many exciting developments within the wider Defence Force, guided by the Future35 Strategy. The first stage of that plan, anchored to 2015, is the development of the Joint Amphibious Taskforce. The new Mine Counter Measures / Rapid Environmental Assessment boats, Takapu and Tarapunga, being built in Opua will strengthen the goal, with the first overseas deployment taking place possibly in just 5 months’ time.
And the F35 Strategy is much more than a document. It underpins the vision of our Defence Force: Joint Operational Excellence. That strategic direction is underpinned by the Navy’s enduring vision – to be the best small nation Navy in the world.
It is about working together to defend our nation, the security of its interests, and the protection of its people, fundamental values and institutions. The Royal New Zealand Navy, and the New Zealand Defence Force more broadly, is internationally recognised as a highly professional and effective fighting force. All three of our Services have played a role in maintaining and enhancing New Zealand’s reputation as a good international citizen.
As 2013 begins, I wish you all the very best for the year ahead. I encourage you to hold of the values of the New Zealand Defence Force; Courage, Commitment, Comradeship and Integrity, as you go about your many and varied roles within the Navy.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.