Ka tanuku, ka tanuku
Te tihi o, Ahumairangi
E ngā aitua o Wahine, e moe
Tatau e pae ora nei
Ki tēnei whakamau-maharatanga
Tēnā tatau katoa.
The crest of Ahumairangi crumbles
Sleep on you who were lost in the Wahine
My greetings to us all, alive, and gathered here
To commemorate 50 years
The Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister;
the Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister;
His Worship Justin Lester, Mayor of Wellington;
Peter Reidy, Chief Executive of Kiwirail;
Wahine survivors and rescuers; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Fifty years ago today, on the 10th of April 1968, New Zealand and the world watched tragic events unfold on this harbour.
As the Lyttelton-to-Wellington ferry Wahine neared the mouth of Wellington Harbour, it was hit by the combined impact of cyclone Giselle from the north and a second storm coming from the south.
The images of the Wahine drifting, helpless in the howling winds, and listing into the sea are indelibly imprinted in our national memory.
Fifty years on, we honour the memory of the 51 passengers and crew who died that day, and the two people who subsequently died as a result of the disaster.
Our thoughts go to the families who were left bereft by the tragic deaths of their loved ones, and we welcome those who are able to be here today to mark this 50th Commemoration.
For you, Wahine Day resonates in a way that your fellow citizens cannot begin to imagine. We acknowledge your sorrow and your loss.
Today, we also acknowledge the people who survived the sinking and made it ashore through the surging seas.
And we acknowledge the bravery of the people who played a part in bringing surviving passengers and crew to safety, in what was an unprecedented community response to a maritime disaster.
Earlier today, a Dawn Service was held at Eastbourne near the spot where the main mast of the Wahine stands as a permanent memorial to the 49 people who lost their lives on that coastline.
This ceremony, near another Wahine mast, enables us to gather in remembrance of the 53 people who died as a result of the worst maritime disaster in New Zealand’s recent history.
In so doing, we say: New Zealand remembers.
No reira, naia te whakaaro
“E huri rā o mahara, e Wahine e.”
Kia ora tatau
And so there is the thought
O Wahine, how the memories stir
Kia ora everyone.