E ngā Rangatira huihui nei, ngā Minita me ngā Mema o te Pāremata o Aotearoa, ngā Kaiwhakawā, me ngā whānau, tēnei aku mihi mahana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa. Distinguished guests, Ministers, Members of Parliament, members of the Judiciary, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.
It’s a great pleasure to welcome you all to Government House in Wellington for this ceremony to confirm the House of Representatives’ choice of Speaker. During the ceremony, I will also confirm the rights and privileges of the House and authorise the Speaker to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance to its members.
Our democratic processes are continually advancing and were given their ultimate expression when New Zealanders voted in last month’s General Election. The ceremony today is a consequence of the will of New Zealanders.
It’s particularly appropriate that this ceremony can once again be held here; Government House is both a magnificent venue and a heritage treasure. With the completion of the strengthening and refurbishment project earlier this year it’s also a safe place to conduct this important ceremony.
It therefore gives me great pleasure to commence the formal ceremony.
Ladies and gentlemen, while this has been a brief ceremony, its origins are steeped in history. There has been a Presiding Officer in the Westminster tradition since 1258.
Traditionally it carried some risks. History records that no less than seven speakers of the British House of Commons, who had to deliver some unpalatable news to a Monarch, were executed between 1394 and 1535. And so it is understandable that there was some hesitancy to take up the role and I understand, Dr Smith, you showed the traditional reluctance on being nominated.
The role of Speaker has also evolved. From the Crown’s representative to the House, the Speaker is now very much the representative of the House to the Crown.
That Parliament should choose its own representative was another step in the evolution of our inherited Westminster democracy and its progress from a feudal to a constitutional monarchy.
Dr Smith, as Speaker, you have been chosen by the members of Parliament to undertake one of the central roles in our democracy, upholding the rules of the House and rights of its members in an impartial way. The Speaker brings dignity to the proceedings of the House. Chairing its meetings and representing the House to international and other important visitors are at the core of your appointment. You also play an important administrative role in chairing three select committees and acting as landlord for Parliament’s grounds and buildings.
Dr Smith, I congratulate you on your appointment. By electing you to this high office, your colleagues have given you the singular responsibility to represent the House to the Crown, to New Zealanders, to other parliaments, and to the wider world. I wish you well with your endeavours and look forward to working with you and your staff throughout your term. Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.