E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou.
Kia ora tātou katoa.
David and I are just delighted to be here – and as it happens, our first extended regional visit in my role as Governor-General will be to Nelson and Tasman in November.
We have already received a wonderful welcome at Whakatu Marae this afternoon, and we are looking forward to catching up with more people from the region this evening.
I am particularly pleased that my second speaking engagement as Governor-General gives me an opportunity to affirm the value of the arts.
David and I are both very enthusiastic supporters of the arts, and our work in governance roles in national arts organisations, over many years, has been one way we could contribute to a more sustainable arts sector in New Zealand.
We became involved because we love the arts, and we believe that artistic expression and appreciation is central to what it is to be human.
We treasure the works of art we have in our own home and they are an indispensable part of our world.
Art was obviously very important to Bishop Suter and we can be thankful that his wife Amelia had the determination to establish this Gallery as his legacy.
Since then, the Suter has provided enormous public good, enabling people to share the experience of seeing profound, inspirational, stimulating, entertaining, provocative and creative works.
We all know that when resources are scarce, arts projects are easily trumped by other priorities, and it can be a long haul to get funding for major arts infrastructure. As New Zealand writer and poet Elisabeth Smither said, “Anyone who is going to be in the arts has to be patient and courageous”.
So congratulations to all the people here tonight who embraced this project and worked long and hard to see it through.
I am not surprised two of the exhibitions are called The Promised Land, and Land of Milk and Honey. That just about sums up Nelson – the sun, gorgeous scenery, and food and wine, and of course, its fantastic arts and crafts sector.
We are so pleased to see the Suter open its doors again and will be visiting regularly in the years ahead.