Rau rangatira mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou.
Kia ora tātou katoa.
Distinguished guests, warm greetings to you all.
Dayle, Lady Mace, Co-Chair of Te Papa Foundation and Foundation Trustees;
Evan Williams, Chair of Te Papa; and
Geraint Martin, Chief Executive of Te Papa.
It’s a real privilege to join you all for a special preview of Te Taiao Nature tonight.
Like many of you here, David and I have a keen interest in conservation and sustainability, so we are looking forward to seeing how Te Papa has approached these new exhibitions about New Zealand’s unique environment.
Sir David Attenborough said “No one will protect what they don’t care about – and no one will care about what they have never experienced”.
New Zealanders like to think that we have a strong attachment to our environment, but the reality is that around 85 percent of us live in towns and cities.
Our attachment to our landscapes is not always based on a lived experience of the natural world.
Te Papa has an important role to play in enlightening New Zealanders about the realities we face: the fragility of our environment and the imminent threats to our surviving native flora and fauna – and indeed to the wellbeing of our planet.
A better understanding about the eco systems that sustain us will help to engender a greater sense of empathy with the natural world; and lead us to further reflect on our personal responsibility and the collective action we need to take to preserve it.
The opening of the Te Taiao Nature exhibitions is perfectly timed, coinciding not only with the UN global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystems, but also the recent release of the Ministry for the Environment’s report on our own environment in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The priority issues it identifies, include threats to
our flora, fauna and ecosystems;
to our soil and water;
the impact of pollution; water usage;
greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
I’m sure the Ministry’s policy advisors will be keen to access the data Te Papa will be collecting on visitors’ responses to these new exhibitions.
David and I, along with our fellow New Zealanders, regard Te Papa as ‘Our Place’. We feel invested in its progress and we are delighted to be co-patrons of Te Papa Foundation.
To Foundation members here tonight, thank you for your commitment and I hope you will join me in encouraging friends and colleagues to follow your example.
I won’t hold things up any further, except to say congratulations to everyone who has played a part in bringing together the biggest milestone to date in Te Papa’s renewal programme.
Thank you for doing so much to create a more informed community of New Zealanders who will care about the environment sufficiently to act for positive change for our future.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.