Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Nau mai, haere mai ra ki Te Whare Kawana o Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen – warm greetings to you all, and welcome to Government House Wellington.
I’d like to specifically acknowledge: Gillian, Lady Deane; Hongzhi Gao, Virtuoso Strings Trustee; Graeme Ogilvie, Virtuoso Strings Trustee; Joyce Fuatavai, Former Virtuoso Strings Trustee; Lila Crichton Junior, Featured Performer.
During my time as Governor General, I hope to ensure Government House is a place all New Zealanders feel welcome and a sense of belonging.
In that spirit, Dr Davies and I are so pleased to be able have you here this evening, for this pre-Christmas treat.
I think the past two years have made us all appreciate the joy and unifying power of attending live performances. I’m very excited to hear our students play in just a few moments.
First, though, I do want to take this opportunity to acknowledge Elizabeth, Director of Education at Virtuoso Strings, and everyone who makes this programme possible.
I know that the work involved in sustaining these kinds of initiatives is often not glamourous. I know it can involve long hours, overflowing inboxes, and complicated funding applications. But I know these things are done with an understanding of the powerful impact music can have on young people’s lives.
Through Virtuoso Strings, you give students a priceless gift – the ability to express themselves through music. You also give them an appreciation of the power of collaboration, commitment, and creativity.
These qualities are not only important in the arts, but across every facet of life – and will be essential whether students choose to become concert violinists, teachers, or businesspeople.
From my previous work in universities and as Children’s Commissioner, I’ve learned there are few greater or sadder wastes than wasted potential. And I know there are many talented young people around the country who don’t have the kinds of opportunities that Virtuoso Strings provide – who don’t have the support, or the platform, to be able express themselves and explore their creativity.
That’s something I hope will continue to change, and why Virtuoso Strings’ work is so precious.
The importance of access to the arts can be found in the whakataukī: ‘he toi whakairo, he mana tangata’ – ‘where there is artistic excellence, there is human dignity.’ This is something Virtuoso Strings clearly understands.
I want to finish by wishing you, the students, all the best, for whatever the future holds, and whichever path you choose to follow.
Hold fast to those things that bring you joy, work hard, help others whenever you can – and I am certain you will have bright and happy futures ahead.
I wish you all a safe and joyful festive season. Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.