Rau rangatira ma e pae nei; tēnā koe, tēnā korua tēnā koutou katoa. E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o nga hau e wha, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen warm greetings to you all.
Nga mihi nui ki te Arikinui Kiingi Tuheitia, te Kahui Ariki whānui, me Tainui.
I also acknowledge: Hon Nanaia Mahuta; Mr David Bennett MP; Mr David Hoey, CEO of WorldSkills International; Mr Mark Callaghan, CEO of WorldSkills Australia; Director General Dr CHOU Chung-Hsing, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Auckland; Ms Jyotsna Sitling, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, India; Hera White, Director Maori at Wintec, and Tame Pokaia, Wintec Kaumatua - tēnā koutou katoa.
Thank you for your warm welcome and for inviting me to the opening of the Oceania WorldSkills Competition. I extend my own welcome to competitors who have come from overseas. I hope you have a stimulating and enjoyable time here in Hamilton, and that you perform to the very best of your ability.
I want to start by address by acknowledging the recent passing of Sir John Ingram. We are all obliged to Sir John for his part in establishing WorldSkills in New Zealand, and for his great support for young people and their training in the trades.
WorldSkills is a fantastic initiative, which I’ve had the opportunity of observing for many years. And now as the Governor-General I take an interest in it because it is an excellent incentive for our young people who are in vocational training. I also take an interest in it because it aligns with an acronym I use to guide my engagements - SERVE - Service, Enterprise, Rangatahi or young people, Volunteering and Excellence.
Most of the organisations for which I’m patron reflect SERVE. I chose to be patron of WorldSkills New Zealand because it clearly ticks all of those boxes. WorldSkills and the preparatory work that leads to competition sets up young men and women for ongoing work – enterprise - either in employment or as independent operators; it is dependent on the generous time and expertise of a multitude of volunteers who serve WorldSkills; and it promotes high standards of performance – across a huge range of vocations.
Our young people are our future – and an intrinsic part of the evolution of New Zealand as a nation. A highly skilled workforce is going to make all the difference to our economic, social and cultural wellbeing.
I’m pleased to hear that there will be school students coming to see the competitions this week. We need young people seeing the opportunities in gaining a trade if we are to overcome our skills shortage in New Zealand. The greater the exposure that young people get to the range of options available to them, the more likely they are to take them up.
I think the young competitors here today are the best advertisement for trade training. They clearly have a passion for their work and also happen to be very good at what they do. The two don’t always go hand in hand!
I congratulate the WorldSkills competitors. Getting here requires commitment and constant upskilling in your trades. These things are important if we are to be current with world practice – and if we want New Zealanders to have continued confidence in the work tradespeople do.
The American writer William Faulkner once said “Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself”.
You WorldSkills competitors will have gained a place here because you have been prepared to put in the time and effort to do things to the very best of your ability. I’m sure you will be quite satisfied and proud of your work and effort so far. Well done, you have done a good job. But the competition is about to take a huge leap forward.
My advice to you is to keep up the high expectations of yourselves – the attitude you bring to WorldSkills and the work you do. I know that from this experience, and especially for those who are successful, there are some pretty exciting opportunities down the line and you can become leaders in your trade. Enjoy the experience.
In conclusion, I am delighted WorldSkills is giving our best young trades men and women a chance to test themselves against the best of other countries, and an opportunity to achieve world-class standards.
I wish all the competitors all the best over the next few days. Do your best, if you make mistakes learn from them. Take the things you learn here with you to San Paulo and into your future careers. Kia ora huihui tātou katoa