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Speech

United Nations Day

Issue date: 
Tuesday, 25 October 2016
Speaker: 
The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO

E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure for David and me to welcome you all to Government House this evening.

When I was first approached to be Governor-General, one of the things that attracted me to the role was the opportunity to contribute to New Zealand’s relationships in the international arena. In the 21st century, we have seen Governors-General take on a greater role in engagements with our international trading partners. I look forward to developing relationships with members of the diplomatic community and representing my fellow New Zealanders overseas.

I appreciate the efforts of UNANZ over the last 70 years to raise awareness and appreciation of the role of the United Nations in New Zealand.

For all of us, United Nations Day is an opportunity to affirm our mutual interest in international relations and our commitment to foster dialogue between nations.

I suspect few New Zealanders are aware of the role played by our wartime Prime Minister, Peter Fraser, in the establishment of the United Nations, 71 years ago.

If he were to take a stroll down Queen Street or Lambton Quay today, he would be astonished at the cultural diversity of contemporary New Zealand.

This diversity presents a continuing challenge: to embrace new cultures, to value differences, and to ensure equal opportunities for all, regardless of ethnicity, gender or religious convictions.

Human potential is too precious to be blighted by ignorance, prejudice and xenophobia.

For my part, I intend to promote the view that New Zealand has thrived on diversity – just as we have long valued the possibilities the UN provides for dialogue, peaceful exchange and advancement for the peoples of the world.

We have taken our UN responsibilities seriously – as a member of the Security Council; in our commitment to UN Conventions to which we are signatories; and in our cooperation with other nations on peace-keeping missions.

Sometimes problems may seem intractable, and consensus seems elusive, but whatever our frustrations, we remain committed to the United Nations ideal, to be ambitious and bold in our search for global solutions.

The United Nations Sustainable Development goals are a case in point. They will demand change and commitment at all levels – international, government, corporate, community and personal.

Now, more than ever, we need creative thinking and innovation in the search for sustainable solutions to the problems facing the planet, whether it be food and water security, environmental degradation, climate change or energy use.

Valuing diverse perspectives and tapping human potential will be essential, as will encouraging people to take on the responsibilities of leadership.

Only then can we really foster and progress the goals of peace, justice and stronger institutions; gender equality, educational achievement and economic development; and strengthened international partnerships.

As Governor-General of the Realm of New Zealand, which includes Niue, Tokelau and the Cook Islands, I have a particular interest in New Zealand’s work with our development partners in the Pacific islands.

We have contributed to a shift to renewable energy and more effective fisheries management – and these will be real game-changers for island nations.

Within New Zealand, UNANZ will play a role in educating New Zealanders about the Sustainable Development Goals – and about what they can do as individuals to help New Zealand reach its targets before 2030.

We all have a part to play. Over the next five years I will do my best to promote the values and innovative thinking required to achieve our national targets – and highlight instances where positive results are being achieved, when I am here in New Zealand, and when I represent NZ overseas.

Kia ora huihui tātou katoa, welcome again, and please enjoy the hospitality of Government House.

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 25 October 2016

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