E nga mana, e nga reo ,e nga iwi o nga hau e wha – tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tātou katoa. Distinguished guests, greetings. Te manuhiri tuarangi, te manuhiri waewaetapu naumai haere mai. To our visitors who have travelled from afar, and to those who are here for the first time welcome.
Your Excellency, Shri Pranab Mukhergee the President of India, I extend to you a warm welcome to New Zealand. We are greatly honoured by your visit to New Zealand, the first by a President of India.
Members of Parliament, Excellencies, distinguished guests, members of the Indian community in New Zealand, ladies and gentlemen -
India and New Zealand have a longstanding and warm relationship. Our historical ties reach back to the 1890s when the first Indian migrants came to New Zealand. Our enduring ties stem from shared democratic traditions; our Commonwealth heritage; and a common law legal system, business, language, sporting passions and personal links. ANZAC Day earlier this week provided a timely reminder that soldiers from New Zealand and India fought alongside each other during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.
Your Excellency, New Zealand has ambitious goals to develop closer political and economic relations with India. Your visit and the recent meeting between our two Prime Ministers augers well for closer political ties.
On the economic front, we want to grow our links in trade, investment, education, skilled migration and tourism. In that regard, New Zealand welcomes the Indian Government’s focus on business, its energetic international engagement and its ambitious modernisation agenda. New Zealand wants to be part of India’s growth story.
Although total two-way trade in goods and services between India and New Zealand crossed $2 billion in 2015, we could do better.
Trade in services has been a bright spot in our relationship - two-way services trade reached $649 million at the end of 2015 – making India our sixth-largest services market.
Our education and tourism linkages increased significantly between 2014 and 2015. India is now New Zealand’s second largest source of international students, and we note that there will be announcements made during Your Excellency’s visit on the India-New Zealand education relationship.
We are also pleased to note that we are well on track to receive 50,000 tourist visitors from India in 2016. The Air Services Agreement being signed tomorrow will open up new opportunities for Indian, New Zealand and third-country airlines, to grow our people-to-people connections.
Your Excellency, India has the potential to influence the direction and success of the wider Asia-Pacific region including New Zealand. A successful India will, over the next twenty years, draw global and regional attention, and with that commerce, jobs and opportunities.
As active members of the Asia-Pacific region, India and New Zealand have a common stake in the prosperity and stability of our region. We work closely together in settings such as the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum to advance our mutual interests. New Zealand and India also work constructively together as members of the Commonwealth and the United Nations.
New Zealand appreciated India’s support for our campaign for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for 2015-2016. We value the frequent exchange of views with India on issues before the UN Security Council of importance to India, such as peacekeeping and terrorism sanctions. New Zealand remains supportive of Indian permanent membership of any reformed UN Security Council.
It is people-to-people links that underpin our bilateral relations. New Zealand is home to people from all over India. Over 160,000 people of Indian descent, or four percent of New Zealanders, call New Zealand home. This includes a number of high-profile New Zealanders who contribute to the vibrancy and prosperity of Kiwi society – including some of our guests here this evening.
As a testament to this Hindi is the fourth-most spoken language in New Zealand. India is our number one source of skilled migrants. Three Members of Parliament of the 120 members in the New Zealand Parliament are of Indian-origin.
We also have shared heroes. Mahatma Gandhi is an admired figure in New Zealand; and Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s legacy as Everest pioneers is also well known in India.
And of course, we have a shared love of hockey and cricket. We were very pleased to host the Indian cricket team last year for the Cricket World Cup. We greatly appreciated the warm hosting of New Zealand’s mens and womens teams for the recent T20 Cricket World Cup in India. Cricketers such as Sir Richard Hadlee, Stephen Fleming, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, and Daniel Vettori are well known in both countries. And I would note that last night former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum helped the Gujarat Lions to a nail-biting win over MS Dhoni’s Supergiants!
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen in recognition of the longstanding friendship between our two countries and peoples, and for the prospect of future opportunities, it is my privilege, on behalf of the Government and people of New Zealand, to propose a toast - to His Excellency, Shri Pranab Mukherjee the President of India, and the Government and people of India.