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State Dinner

Issue date: 
Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO

E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi katoa huri noa o Aotearoa, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.  Te manuhiri tuārangi, te manuhiri waewaetapu nau mai haere mai.  Na reira e te iwi, nau mai haere mai ki te Whare Kāwana o te Whanganui-a-Tara. 

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, greetings to you all.  To our esteemed guests who have travelled a long way to be here I extend a special welcome.  Indeed, you are all very welcome to Government House Wellington.

I specifically acknowledge: His Excellency Taur Matan Ruak, President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and Her Excellency First Lady Dr Isabel Da Costa Ferreira; His Excellency Dr José Luís Guterres, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation; His Excellency Abel Guterres, Timor-Leste’s Ambassador to New Zealand and His Excellency Tony Fautua, New Zealand’s Ambassador to Timor-Leste.  I also acknowledge Rt.Hon. David Carter, Speaker of the House of Representatives; and Hon Anne Tolley, Minister of the Crown; Bem Vindo ba delegasaun husi Timor-Leste hotu.

Your Excellency, it is my great pleasure to welcome you, the First Lady and your delegation to New Zealand, and in doing so returning the warm hospitality you extended to me during my visit to Timor-Leste last year.  And I am especially pleased that you have chosen to visit New Zealand as one of your first State Visits.  Your visit, and its timing, demonstrates the closeness, friendship and mutual respect between our two countries.   

Since my visit last year we have seen a significant milestone in Timor-Leste’s history, with the conclusion of the UNMIT and ISF missions in Timor-Leste.  As you have shown over the past year, the desire of the Timorese people to stand free from outside security support is being fulfilled.  Timor-Leste is continuing its progress in transitioning to a secure and stable country.  The peaceful elections in Timor-Leste last year, including your own as President, are conspicuous examples of the strong commitment that the people of Timor-Leste have to democracy and Timor-Leste’s bright and prosperous future.

Your journey to self-determination has not been an easy one.  For 24 years you and your people fought for independence, and we are in admiration of your people, including those in your delegation, who endured the hardships and personal sacrifices in your quest.  New Zealand has stood beside Timor-Leste since the people of Timor-Leste voted overwhelmingly for independence in 1999, and which was finally achieved in 2002.  We also stood with you in the aftermath of that period, and our soldiers and police remained in Timor-Leste to support your efforts to bring about an enduring peace.

New Zealand continues to be at your side today, although now we do so with a broader focus.  In the security arena we support you in more focused ways, through our Mutual Assistance Programme and the Community Policing Project.  These projects, with the support of the Government of Timor-Leste, are delivering positive results for Timor-Leste and increasing the visibility of our cooperation and our joint achievements.  The personal support you have given to the Community Policing Project has been a key factor in its success, and I am sure the remaining four years of the programme will continue to be positive. 

Your Excellency, you and your predecessors have established a firm foundation that has seen significant progress in your country over the past 11 years.  The broadening of our relationship during that time is evident in people-to-people initiatives.  It’s great to see here tonight young Timorese who are studying on scholarships in New Zealand.  It is young capable people like them who will have responsibility for the next chapters in Timor-Leste’s development and history.  I hope that they will retain fond memories of their time in New Zealand, and enrich our country-to-country connections.

Your Excellency, it is pleasing to see that we are cooperating to build Timor-Leste’s economy too.  I am well aware of the quality of your coffee, and note that the coffee plantation that the New Zealand Aid Programme supports has been so successful that New Zealand companies now import beans from it!  This is a wonderful example of how development assistance can turn into economic growth.

I have witnessed personally the competence, determination and perseverance of the people of Timor-Leste.  You and your people have held firm to aspirations of independence and prosperity since 1975.  During those 37 years, you have demonstrated that you are more than capable of overcoming any obstacles in your way.  You have demonstrated that a small nation can, with determination, character and co-operation, successfully transition out of colonisation, occupation and conflict into a permanent, sustainable and prosperous peace.

Your struggle was not without cost, both to Timor-Leste and to those countries that have supported you.  We are very honoured that earlier today you visited our National War Memorial and laid a wreath in remembrance of those New Zealanders who lost their lives in Timor-Leste.  We are also pleased that you were able to meet with some of their families.  We remember those men.  New Zealand and Timor-Leste will forever be linked by the ultimate sacrifice that they made.  Lest we forget.

Your Excellency, the relationship between New Zealand and Timor-Leste is built on a strong foundation and visits such as yours serve to reinforce the closeness and warmth of our friendship. Let me assure you, our commitment to Timor-Leste and its people remains. You can be sure that we will continue to stand alongside you, endeavouring to provide you with the support you need as you build your nation.  And most importantly, we look forward to our relationship progressing beyond the security cooperation into new forms of friendship and engagement.

Your Excellencies, there is a Maori proverb that captures the essence of our relationship - "Mau tena kiwai o te kete, maku tenei" which literally translates as "You at that handle, and me at this handle of the basket".  In keeping with that enduring spirit of friendship, cooperation and goodwill, I welcome you, the First Lady and your delegation to New Zealand.

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 25 June 2013

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