Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa. Welcome everyone to the Legislative Council Chamber for this ceremony to confirm Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Normally, this ceremony would have been held at Government House in Wellington but with that House being closed for a major conservation project, it seems appropriate to hold it in this room, the one chamber in Parliament House where the Sovereign or her representative is welcome.
In a formal sense, the brief ceremony about to commence is another step in a process that began some three months ago when I dissolved Parliament and signed the writs authorising the Chief Electoral Officer to hold the General Election in November.
That process reaches its high point tomorrow when, from this Chamber, I will read the Speech from the Throne that will outline the new Government's agenda for the parliamentary term.
But in a wider sense, these events are yet another affirmation of the strength of our nation's constitution and democracy. That should always be a cause of celebration.
Dr Smith, as the Speaker-elect, you have been chosen by your peers to undertake a role of great significance in our parliamentary democracy.
It is a role with a colourful past that stretches back, not only into New Zealand's history, but as well to 14th Century England, where the "Speaker" was chosen to be the one who spoke for the House and to represent the House to the Crown.
The relationship was aptly summarised by Speaker William Lenthall in 1642 when King Charles I, with an armed guard, entered the House of Commons to arrest five Members of Parliament for treason. Lenthall refused to give their whereabouts, famously saying: 'I have neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak in this place, but as the House is pleased to direct me.' No Sovereign has set foot in the House of Commons ever since.
Dr Smith, as Speaker of the House, it will fall to you to fairly, faithfully and without fear or favour, uphold the privileges of this House and of its members. In doing so, you will play a significant role in protecting the rights and freedoms of all New Zealanders.
It gives me great pleasure to now commence the formal ceremony. No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tena koutou katoa.