Kia ora koutou. Nau mai, haere mai ra ki Te Whare Kawana ki Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
Greetings to you all, and welcome to Government House.
It is a great pleasure for Janine and me to welcome you here today, so that we, Janine and I, can acknowledge and thank you for the support you’ve given us during our term in Government House.
We have a huge range of people here tonight. Suppliers of produce and wine, florists, cleaners, gardeners, photographers, plumbers, alarm installers and pest controllers are just some of the people whose services Government House needs in order to work well.
We also welcome people who support the office of Governor-General – from Parliament and Cabinet Office, the Protection Services, VIP transport and the HR and IT people from CASS.
And lastly we welcome people who have supported Janine and me personally – from medical personnel to the people who take good care of Boots our cat when we are away.
Government House is one of our two principal homes away from home. It is where we receive Royalty, Heads of State, and Ambassadors and High Commissioners. During our time in office, Government House has hosted the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall twice, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George, and Prince Harry.
We have welcomed thousands of people to this ballroom, to the dining rooms of the House and onto the North Lawn. Last year we welcomed 1800 people to the Bledisloe reception on Waitangi Day. Our visitors have come from all walks of life – refugees, new citizens, Honours recipients, volunteers in our patronages and charities, opera lovers, members of service organisations and school children.
The Visitor Centre, which was opened by the Prince of Wales in November 2012, has changed the dynamic of the House. It means that we sometimes have chance encounters with members of tour parties who come through the House to learn about its history and the role of Governors-General.
All of these visitors, wherever they have come from, have high expectations.
Events run smoothly and the House and gardens look pristine because of people such as yourselves, working behind the scenes, in support of our staff.
The household team has asked me to convey their thanks to you. I want to tell you how grateful we are that we can call on the professional services of people who are responsive, accommodating, flexible – who understand and appreciate the idiosyncrasies of a heritage building and approach the challenges here in a timely manner - and who have a can-do attitude.
Ladies and gentlemen, individually and collectively you help make Government House a place New Zealanders can be proud of. You help us to showcase the best of our heritage and New Zealand hospitality.
To all of you here tonight, thank you for your support.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa - please enjoy the hospitality of Government House.