Rau rangatira mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.
Thank you for inviting David and me to help celebrate a new era for Te Papa.
First, I am delighted to inform you all that we have agreed to be joint founding patrons of Te Papa Foundation.
It was an easy decision to make.
Our work with national cultural institutions over many years comes from our genuine commitment to support art and culture – and because we believe that such institutions both inspire us all and also serve as expressions of who we are as a nation.
We are very excited about Te Papa Foundation because it provides a new vehicle of support for the work of this fantastic institution.
Te Papa has come a long way since James Hector pioneered the Colonial Museum in the 1860s. At the time, the Museum’s role in categorising and collecting samples was appreciated for the insights it would give for economic development. He would be overjoyed to see Te Papa’s facilities and the collections maintained by the current curators.
Similarly, Bishop Monrad, who donated a substantial collection of works by Old Masters to the Museum in 1869, would be gratified to see how the National Art Collection has grown from that seed collection.
David and I see Te Papa as a perfect example of what we want to promote in Aotearoa New Zealand during my five years in office.
It embraces art, history, the natural environment, and a rare obligation to help us to meet the challenges of the future. Innovation, science and deep scholarship are all part of its work.
We appreciate Te Papa’s celebration of diverse arts and culture, its collections and its stunning exhibitions.
We are excited by Te Papa’s pursuit of innovation, whether it be in collection care or in the development of interactive, multi-media visitor experiences.
We welcome Te Papa’s promotion and showcasing of diverse perspectives, from home and abroad.
And we respect Te Papa’s national leadership role and the international reputation it has earned.
The proof is in the numbers – 26 million visitors since Sir Peter Blake led a child in each hand through the doors on opening day in 1998.
Above all, Te Papa is our national wakahuia, our treasure-box of cultural and scientific taonga.
The precious objects on display here this evening are part of us – of our individual and collective sense of identity.
They are also part of the world’s cultural heritage. When I see distressing images of war zones, where wanton destruction of irreplaceable heritage is taking place, I am reminded how privileged we are to live in our small corner of the world – where we can protect what is important to us – and celebrate cultural diversity and tolerance.
As our society, technology, and knowledge evolves, so too must Te Papa. Its exhibitions and experiences must resonate with the times. At the same time, it must meet its obligations to maintain and expand its collections.
This new Foundation will boost Te Papa’s ability to attain those goals. In particular, Te Papa will be in a better position to secure significant items that might otherwise slip from our grasp and be lost to the nation.
There are many treasures which should belong to us all and be seen by us all.
I have high hopes for this Foundation. New Zealanders are generous – we are the fourth most generous country per capita, giving $2.67 billion per annum, which represents 1.35 percent of GDP.
My thanks to everyone who is committed to supporting the Foundation’s work – and I hope you will all spread the word – to help others see that even small contributions by individuals create wealth for humanity.
David and I look forward to working with Te Papa Foundation in the years ahead, and celebrating the exciting outcomes of its work.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.