Rau rangatira mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi nui ki a koutou. Nau mai haere mai ki Te Whare Kawana o Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Kia ora tātou katoa.
It’s my great pleasure to welcome you all to Government House Wellington to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Theatre Artists’ Charitable Trust.
I wish to begin by specifically acknowledging members of the official party: Mr Ian Fraser – Chair of the Theatre Artists’ Charitable Trust; Dame Carolyn Henwood – Founding Trustee; Judge James Johnson, Ms Debbie Fish, and Ms Charlotte Bates – Trustees.
I’d also like to acknowledge some of the very special guests in attendance here this evening: Hon Grant Robertson – Minister of Finance; His Excellency Mr Rashed Matar Alqemzi – Ambassador for the UAE; Hon Sir Mark O’Regan and Hon Dame Susan Glazebrook – Supreme Court Justices; Her Worship Tory Whanau – Mayor of Wellington; Rt Hon Sir Kenneth Keith – Member of the Order of New Zealand; Dame Kate and Dame Miranda Harcourt; and Caren Rangi – CEO of Creative New Zealand.
Tēnā koutou katoa. As I’m sure many of you are aware, the Theatre Artists’ Charitable Trust was launched by my predecessor, Sir Paul Reeves, here at Government House back in 1987. I’m very proud to continue the vice-regal connection as your Patron.
It’s a great testament to the work of the Trust that the Circa Theatre remains such a cultural touchstone at the heart of Wellington.
With the Trust’s support, Circa is able to foster the talent of those who are its lifeblood: the actors, directors, and writers; the design, production, and technical teams – and all those whose work and ingenuity culminates in world-class theatre productions here in Wellington.
New Zealand playwright Bruce Mason called the theatre ‘a damnably chancy business.’ I know that forging a career in theatre takes great courage and commitment, as well as creativity and skill – and I commend and admire all those who do so.
On that note, I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge those in the room and wider creative community who have endured such a difficult past three years – as I know COVID-19 has had a particularly significant impact on the theatre and live performing arts sectors.
Through such times, the generosity of donors remains as important to theatre and the arts as ever. I also wish to sincerely thank all of those generous donors who see the joy and benefit of supporting New Zealand’s creative sector – notably, in the case of the Trust, Chapman Tripp and Creative New Zealand.
Beyond his comment about the ‘chancy’ nature of theatre, Bruce Mason also said that ‘theatre is necessary if you want to live in a society that is truly civilised – for it is the dramatist’s first duty to entertain; his second, third, and last to show us what we are, and, if so persuaded, what we may be.’
His words echo the whakataukī: ‘He toi whakairo, he mana tangata – where there is artistic excellence, there is human dignity’. Both the Trust and Circa Theatre clearly believe and embody these words.
At its best, a theatre is a place where life unfolds before our eyes – where we are taken out of ourselves into lives and worlds of others: from the Forest of Arden, to the plagued city of Thebes.
While onscreen storytelling remains as popular as ever, I know that theatre will always possess something that film and television never can: the magic of live performance.
It is only in the theatre that we, as a privileged audience on a particular night, witness and participate in something unique. Once the doors are closed and the lights go down, a special bond forms between the audience and the performers in that room. It’s another of the ways in which theatre creates community.
My sincere thanks and congratulations once again to the Theatre Artists' Charitable Trust for your support of this precious and powerful art form. I wish you and the theatre community of Wellington all the best in the years ahead.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.