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.
It’s my pleasure to welcome you all to Government House Wellington for this year’s Royal Society Te Aparangi Wellington Research Honours. I’d like to specifically acknowledge: Mr Paul Atkins, Chief Executive of the Royal Society Te Apārangi; Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase, Chair of the Academy; Professor Jeroen Douwes, Director of the Research Centre for Hauora and Health, Massey University; Professor Dame Jane Harding, incoming President of the Royal Society Te Apārangi; in absentia, Dr Brent Clothier, current President; Her Excellency Ms Iona Thomas, British High Commissioner, and Mr Matthew Thoume; and, of course, to all of tonight’s awards recipients, your friends and families. Tēnā koutou katoa.
I’m delighted to host this year’s Royal Society Te Aparangi Wellington Research Honours awards ceremony here at Government House.
As I’m sure many of you will know, I served as Chief Executive of the Royal Society prior to becoming Governor-General – and it remains an organisation very close to my heart: one that so clearly sees the immense value of knowledge, and that supports and celebrates our continual thirst for discovering new things.
All throughout my career, I have worked to promote the importance of expert knowledge for the wellbeing of our communities – a cause I remain committed to in my role as Governor-General.
The winners of tonight’s awards work across diverse fields: from climate change and freshwater ecosystems, to the decolonisation of research methodologies. Collectively, your work affirms the spirit of the whakataukī: ‘Whaia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou. Seek knowledge for the sake of your wellbeing.’
Your knowledge and achievements contribute to the wellbeing of all New Zealanders – cultural, physical, spiritual, economic – and to the wellbeing of our environment. Tonight’s recipients can be proud to add to the legacy of these awards – and the Royal Society more broadly – and I’m sure you will in turn inspire many others following in your footsteps. On behalf of all New Zealanders, I thank you for your contributions.
One of my roles as Governor-General is to serve as chair of the Rhodes Scholarship selection panel – supporting some of our brightest young scholars at the beginning of their postgraduate research journeys.
This year’s interviews took place just a few weeks ago, and it was a privilege to hear these wonderful, inspiring young people speak about their plans and about what motivates them. A common theme I noted was their commitment to achieve collective good – for humanity and the natural world.
That heightened sense of community and collective responsibility is also apparent in work being undertaken by some of my other vice-regal patronages – including Te Tātai Hauora o Hine, whose Hapu Māmā hub in Porirua I was proud to open in March of this year, and whose work I am so thrilled to see being acknowledged tonight.
I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate Professor Dame Jane Harding, on your appointment as the new Royal Society President. You have a long association with Government House, and I wish you all the very best as you take up your appointment. I also wish to acknowledge Dr Brent Clothier for the valuable contributions he made during his time as President.
Finally, I wish to acknowledge the recent passing of a wonderful scientist and a wonderful man – my dear friend Professor Richie Poulton. Richie’s generous and dedicated leadership of the Dunedin Study cemented its place as the benchmark longitudinal study worldwide – one that continues to contribute to a deeper and richer understanding of so many aspects of our lives. He will be dearly missed.
To all of tonight’s recipients – my very warmest congratulations once again. I wish you all the very best with your current and future projects, which I know will continue to expand and deepen our understanding of ourselves and the precious world around us.
Kia ora, kia kaha, kia manawanui, huihui tātou katoa.