Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei,
tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou.
Kia ora tātou katoa.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.
I acknowledge: Deputy Prime Minister Hon Paula Bennett; Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Little; Hon Ururoa Flavell; Nigel Gould, Chair of the Young Enterprise trust; and the 2017 NZ Business Hall of Fame laureates. Tēnā koutou katoa.
Thank you for inviting David and me here this evening.
I am delighted to support the Young Enterprise Trust – a programme that is paving the way for our next generation of young entrepreneurs – and to join with you in acknowledging people who have made such a positive difference to the economic and social wellbeing of New Zealand.
New Zealanders can sometimes be modest about celebrating their achievements. There’s a tendency to let deeds speak for themselves.
We’re not keen on being singled out – no matter how deserving that attention may be.
Such modesty could be said to reflect the sentiments of the whakatauki:
Kaore te kumara e korero ana tona ake reka – the kumara does not brag about its own sweetness.
So all the more reason for organisations such as the Young Enterprise Trust to promote public recognition of outstanding individuals and what they have done to make New Zealand a more prosperous society.
The American comedian Milton Berle is remembered for saying “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”. This sounds like the thinking of an entrepreneur – someone who is willing to take risks, think creatively and work hard.
It’s a common thread in the stories of Business Hall of Fame inductees.
Thomas Edmonds, George Methven, David Nathan and Choie Sew Hoy had the courage to leave their respective home countries and come to New Zealand in the 19th century, in search of new opportunities.
Thomas Edmonds’ legacy is to be found in most New Zealand kitchens, and the rising sun logo on the baking powder packet has become one of our best-loved brands.
George Methven’s company is still going strong 131 years after he founded it in Dunedin, and it’s still producing award-winning products.
David Nathan went from selling goods from a tent in Russell in 1840 to founding what became one of New Zealand’s largest companies.
Choie Sew Hoy overcame racial prejudice to prosper as a trader and mining magnate in Otago.
These were all remarkable, industrious, innovative people who played a significant role in the development of this country.
The contemporary inductees for 2017 are no less impressive. Sir Graeme Harrison founded one of our biggest export companies which is now NZ’s fifth largest exporter; John and Leonie Hynds’ manufacturing business went from a backyard operation to a company employing over 600 people which is a leading innovator, manufacturer and supplier of services to civil contracting in NZ;
Mavis Mullins has developed her family business into a world class shearing business and has served in many governance roles in a wide range of disciplines from health to technology and Maori business development; and
Pam Williams founded one of NZ’s largest vertically integrated seafood companies and co-founded five other businesses in Whanganui. countries. P Air Wanganui
As just the 3rd woman to become Governor-General, it should not be surprising that I am delighted to see increasing diversity in the 2017 list of inductees. It’s good to have reminders that New Zealand has benefited from the leadership, skills and ambition of men and women from diverse backgrounds, traditions and ethnicities.
Not least because the young people who are participating in the Young Enterprise Trust teams reflect the diverse communities of New Zealand and will be inspired by a broader range of role models.
I am looking forward to my association with the Young Enterprise Trust. I was pleased to become its Patron and will be intrigued to see what valuable ideas and talents come out of the programme.
It’s tantalising to speculate whether one or more of those young people will become business titans in the future and see their names in the Business Hall of Fame.
To the descendants of the 19th century businessmen who are being recognised this evening – you can be proud that their achievements are being recognised tonight.
Congratulations to the four 21st century inductees and thank you for your valuable contributions to your communities.
Please enjoy your well-deserved moment in the spotlight.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa