Kia ora tātou katoa. Nau mai, haere mai ra ki te Whare Kawana o Tāmaki Makaurau.
My very warmest welcome to you all to Government House Auckland, and in particular to Mr John Whitehead, Chancellor, and Mrs Barrett-Whitehead. I wish to begin by saying how deeply honoured I am to take on the role of Prior of St John.
I understand this is the first time a Prior has been installed in New Zealand rather than in the United Kingdom. While of course the circumstances are not perhaps as we might have hoped, I am proud to be a part of this small piece of history.
I am also immensely proud to lead one of the most highly respected and principled organisations in New Zealand – an organisation that operates with the health and wellbeing needs of all New Zealanders at its heart.
We don’t have many organisations in New Zealand that can claim nearly a thousand years of history – let alone one that also maintains such a clear sense and view of the future.
St John exemplifies the whakataukī: ‘Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua’ – ‘I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past’.
The values that were there at the outset of St John – of service, respect, and care – are values that endure, and nowhere more so than in its network of truly remarkable volunteers and staff.
I know that St John operates across a range of areas that many people might not appreciate, beyond its near-ubiquitous ambulance service: from youth programmes and homelessness outreach; to opportunity shops and pet therapy.
I look forward to forming a deeper understanding of St John through my role as Prior, and doing all I can to support this extraordinary organisation to succeed and thrive.
I know Dr Davies will be a great support to me in this role, and lend his own expertise to the work of St John as the Patron of Community Health Services – a role I know he is equally proud and excited to take on.
So, my thanks once again. It truly is one of the great honours of being Governor-General to serve as your Prior, and I will do my very best to uphold the mana of that long relationship in the years ahead.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.