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 specifically acknowledge Dame Claudia Orange,
Dr Rhian Salmon, and Ms Sarah Barclay, President of Zonta.
And a special welcome to the secondary school students who are with us this evening. Thank you for joining with us as we celebrate women in science. I hope that you will be inspired to find a role for yourselves in science and technology in the years ahead.
Given that so much of contemporary life is underpinned by scientific inquiry and progress, it makes sense to harness the potential of all of the world’s population and not just the male members, as we seek answers to the evolving challenges.
So like Zonta members, I am keen to encourage greater participation by women in STEM subjects.
As New Zealand freshwater ecologist, Stella McQueen, says
“At its heart, science, technology, engineering and mathematics is about understanding the world, and solving problems. The more diverse the minds and perspectives of the people working in STEM, the better for everyone.”
In this 125th year of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, one of my goals has been to put a spotlight on the breadth of women’s achievements in Aotearoa/New Zealand, in the hope that I too can contribute to positive change.
I have welcomed opportunities to speak about gender equity and to host events at Government House, including the official launch of Suffrage 125.
Our all-female investiture ceremony here last month was a notable celebration, and last Monday we saw another milestone, when for the very first time, more women received Queen’s Birthday Honours than men.
If those statistics are to become the norm, then please make sure to continue to nominate outstanding women for Royal Honours.
Recognition of achievement is the end point of the equation, but those of you who attended this year’s International Women’s Day breakfast will recall Helen Clark reminding us that there is still work to be done.
We all need to ensure that there is true equality of opportunity so that women are not disadvantaged by conscious and unconscious bias.
We would all like to see a world where organisations like Zonta and Global Women are superfluous.
Until that day, your advocacy and support will continue to make a positive difference in the lives and status of women.
I encourage you to continue pressing for flexible working conditions, to put your hands up for positions of responsibility, and to do what you can to support other women coming up through the ranks.
It is up to women of influence to use our influence well.
Zonta is playing its part with work in schools and promotion of women leaders in science and design. The Zonta Science award being announced this evening is a wonderful example.
This prestigious accolade will provide a valuable boost to the winner’s career in science, and Zonta members and sponsors can take great satisfaction in knowing that they have contributed to practical outcomes that will benefit us all.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.