Waiho i te toipoto
Kaua i te toiroa
Me mahi tahi tatou
Mo te oranga o te katoa
Let us be close together
Not far apart
We can work together
For the wellbeing of everyone
I acknowledge His Worship the Mayor of the Far North, the Honourable John Carter, members of the Waitangi National Trust Board, and Greg McManus, Chief Executive of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
Thank you all for coming this evening and a special thank you to all the people who have hosted us or spent time with us over the last three days, and helped to make our time in the Bay of Islands and Kaitaia so memorable.
In early February, Governors-General traditionally visit Waitangi, but a busy formal programme prevents us from venturing further afield.
Hence our return, just weeks after David and I were here last.
This is in fact our third visit in a month, as we were here at the commemoration of the reinstatement of the Maiki Hill flagstaff in late January.
Over the last three days we have met people of all ages and backgrounds, from many different walks of life, including new citizens at a citizenship ceremony at Kaitaia.
A common thread has been their attachment to the Far North, and their commitment to their whanau and their communities.
We have been inspired by individuals who embody the whakatauki –
Mahia te mahi hei painga mō te iwi –
Do the work for the betterment of the people.
People who see challenges, who see need, and also see opportunities for change.
I am thinking of the enthusiastic powhiri we received from the staff, parents and children at Kaitaia primary school where there is a wonderful sense of unity and inclusiveness.
And meeting with your own Local hero Ricki Houghton and his team at He Korowai trust in Kaitaia who are working so effectively to provide housing and support for those in need, and their next door neighbour - the former New Zealander of the year – Dr Lance O’Sullivan – with his innovative and far reaching healthcare model that he is spearheading through the MOKO foundation.
We have seen outstanding enterprise and innovation. For example the wonderful Murray whanau who have developed a remarkably strong whanau model for their Kai Ora honey business, which has already developed a strong export order book and is diversifying into different honey-based products through their focus on research and development.
And also the QRC Tai Tokerau College, which is providing innovative and effective training in hospitality and tourism for young people of the region.
We have seen care and concern for the environment.
Yesterday we spent a magical morning on Urapukapuka Island where Project Island Song is effectively collaborating with DOC to keep the island pest-free, and restore the natural eco-system and endangered species of birds and reptiles.
We also visited the beautifully restored Pompallier House and had a splendid guided tour led by students from the Russell Primary School.
And everywhere we have experienced the strong and ever present sense of the past that pervades this landscape.
As they say, we live with our history, but unless we understand it, we cannot learn from it.
Today David and I had such an opportunity.
Previously, we have not been able to linger at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Today, we had the luxury of a full two hours to explore the Whare Runanga, the Treaty House and the Waitangi museum.
Together the history they represent and the stories they tell reflect our past and inform our future.
When I tell people that they must visit Waitangi, now I will be able to say it with even greater authority.
I will conclude with another whakatauki which sums up the kaupapa of the people who have hosted us this week:
Manaaki whenua, manaaki tangata, haere whakamua
Care for the land, care for the people, and go forward.
I wish you all the best in fulfilling that vision and I thank you for your hospitality and generosity in sharing your stories with us.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.