New Year Message

The Governor-General, Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, has issued his 2010 New Year Message highlighting the role of New Zealand's emerging leaders.

After the bustle of Christmas, the New Year is a time for everyone to treasure their family and friends.  In the southern hemisphere, we are blessed with a festive season that falls in the summer months, allowing us to enjoy days on the beach, at the bach, at New Zealand's many parks or being at home with friends and family.

The New Year is also a time for making resolutions-to complete tasks, to break habits or generally to live up to our aspirations.  While 1 January is technically no different from other days of the year, the fact that we make resolutions speaks of hopes that we all hold for the future.

2010 will be a significant year for New Zealand.  It marks the 170th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, which established New Zealand as a modern nation, and the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.  These are two very contrasting anniversaries-one that speaks of partnership and togetherness and the other of a conflict that claimed the lives of more than 50 million people including many New Zealanders.

Ironically, the response of people after the War was not despair but a resounding vote of faith in the future.  People established families and built stronger communities.  As grandparents blessed twice in that regard last year, Susan and I are particularly conscious of the sense of optimism and hope that comes with the birth of a child.  While people born after the War continue to contribute as leaders, this 2010 anniversary year is a reminder that new leaders are constantly emerging and that we need to nurture them.

The last year has been difficult, as New Zealand has been buffeted by parts of the economic crisis that has enveloped much of the world.  Initially centred on the global financial sector, this crisis has caused business failures and job losses.  In such an environment one might expect people to be despondent and downcast.

However in the ongoing journey as representative of the Queen, we have been continually impressed by our meetings with New Zealanders of many walks of life. Visiting regions as diverse as Westland, Otago and Taranaki, from the smallest settlements to the main centres throughout the country, opening new hospitals and school facilities, and in presenting a wide array of awards, we have sensed a firm feeling of nationhood and of optimism that extends beyond individual hopes, for our communities and our country.  In particular we have observed the contribution of younger New Zealanders.  Despite establishing families and paying off mortgages many are making a significant contribution to New Zealand's economy and society.

Undoubtedly individuals, families and communities have been hurt by the crisis, but New Zealanders' best qualities - ingenuity, tenacity and humour- have enabled them to rebound.  Community groups and volunteers have responded to those in need, while businesses continue to create and market innovative products and services.  New Zealanders have called on their tight connections to friends and family and proved that these are vitally important in times of adversity.

The New Year break is therefore not just a time to relax and take time off from the challenge of the economic crisis-it is a time to cement the bonds between those we care about and to invest time and thought into our relationships with young New Zealanders.

It seems fitting to suggest, 170 years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and 65 years after the end of the Second World War, that a challenge should go out to renew the spirit of partnership and hope that came out of both events.  Tomorrow's leaders need the skills, confidence and support to take on the mantle of community leadership.  We should all focus on identifying and encouraging these leaders whether they emerge in public positions, through voluntary service to others, in sport, education or business.  I believe this is a New Year resolution proposal that we can all build on.

Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, GNZM, QSO

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