Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui mai nei, i te kaupapa o tēnei po – the Blake Awards - tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tātou katoa. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen gathered for the Blake Awards - greetings one and all.
I specifically acknowledge: Pippa, Lady Blake and Sarah-Jane Blake; Hon Nikki Kaye, Minister of the Crown; Sue Foley, Deputy Chair of the Sir Peter Blake Trust Board and board members; Chris Mace, Chair of the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards Selection Panel, panellists and Blake medallists; Air Vice-Marshal Kevin Short, Vice Chief of Defence Force, and Service Chiefs - tēnā koutou katoa.
Thank you for inviting Janine and me here this evening. A Black Tie dinner to recognise outstanding leaders is a cause for celebration.
It’s quite a contrast to my last engagement with the Sir Peter Blake Trust on the Auckland Islands earlier this year. It was summer, the sun turned up and the weather conditions were outstanding. The dress code was a little more casual. And like tonight the company was most interesting and entertaining – royal albatross, yellow-eyed penguins, southern right whales, Chris Mace, Dr Gary Wilson and Sir Richard (Hannibal) Hayes. As to who was interesting and who was entertaining I will leave to you to decide!
Being able to step where quite possibly no human being has set foot before, and where my footprint might be the only human footprint ever on a piece of the Earth, is an awesome experience. And to see some of the research work and conservation projects being done, which are both special and valuable in understanding Earth’s past as much as our future was a unique privilege. It underlined the importance of this outstanding natural environment and the valuable information it holds for humanity. It is an area to be understood, treasured and protected.
I am reminded of the last log entry that Sir Peter Blake made, when he wrote:
“Dusk has turned the surface of the river into a greasy grey, with the sky quickly darkening after the sun's orange and golds have gone.
"Again, I raise the question: why are we here? Our aim is to begin to understand the reasons why we must all start appreciating what we have before it is too late. We want to restart people caring for the environment as it must be cared for. We want to make a difference."
These Leadership Awards are very much about people who have made, or are making, a difference.
The work that the Sir Peter Blake Trust does, in developing leadership capability, celebrating leadership and motivating future leaders is about making a difference. Whether it’s in conservation, science, sport, business, education or any human endeavour; we need leaders who would encourage us to believe, who would show us a way, who would keep us focussed on the goal, and who would help us understand why we need to make a difference.
Every year, the positive influence and example of Sir Peter Blake lives on through this Trust. Its work spreads wider and deeper. The Trust mobilises and inspires new generations of New Zealand adventurers, environmental stewards and leaders.
Our young people certainly know how to dream big. It’s up to us to help them achieve their dreams: to develop their self-confidence and self-belief so they can achieve and make a difference too. The Sir Peter Blake Leadership Week theme “Believe You Can” like Peter’s legacy and places like the Auckland Islands; is important for the next generation and all generations.
I’m very much looking forward to my Dream Team visit to St Anne’s School in Wellington next week. It will be my fourth outing as Dream Team leader and it’s one that I always find inspiring. Young New Zealanders have some pretty amazing aspirations; from being Captain of the Black Sticks to wanting New Zealand to be a place where opportunities lie and leaders rise. Those two dreams were expressed to me by young people I met at Greenmeadows Intermediate in Manurewa last year.
As co-Patron of the Trust, I am again privileged to have this small part in acknowledging outstanding people. This occasion and the Blake Leaders and Blake Medallist exemplify the Māori whakatauki or proverb: “Ka mate te kainga tahi, ka ora to kainga rua – When one house dies, a second lives”. The Sir Peter Blake Trust and its emphasis on leadership show us that something good can arise from misfortune.
Tonight we are celebrating another outstanding group of men and women who add to Sir Peter Blake’s legacy and the Blake leadership alumni. Their examples affirm the importance of appreciating what we have, working for a greater good and making a difference.
Let me close by saying congratulations to the recipients of the awards this evening, and to everyone involved with the Sir Peter Blake Trust for your contribution and for making a difference. Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.