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.
Members of the Diplomatic Corps, representatives of parties to ACAP, their delegates, advisors and observers – good evening.
First, let me congratulate His Excellency Mr Rodrigo Espinosa, The Ambassador of the Republic of Chile, on the wonderful news that your country is going to create the Rapa Nui Rahui Marine Protected Area.
I am sure that everyone here today will appreciate the positive impact that this marine reserve will have on the conservation of globally threatened species.
I was delighted to learn that there have been very positive discussions between New Zealand and Chile in relation to protecting the critically endangered Antipodean albatross, which breeds in New Zealand but ranges across the Pacific.
As the representative of the Queen of New Zealand, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, I am mindful that the Prince of Wales is also a passionate advocate for the conservation of albatrosses.
David and I are very pleased to support ACAP’s mission. We appreciate your work to improve the conservation status of these magnificent seabirds.
New Zealand is an appropriate venue for this meeting, given our very extensive coastline and exclusive economic zone.
The sea is an intrinsic part of our sense of what it is to be a New Zealander – for recreation, as a food source, and employment for a significant proportion of the population.
As our Government Statistician, Liz MacPherson, has observed, "We're a maritime nation. Having healthy and resilient oceans is important for all New Zealanders and for our economy."
Healthy and resilient oceans are also vital for the survival of our seabirds.
New Zealand may be the seabird capital of the world, but it’s hard to take pride in that status when we know that so many of our seabird species are at risk of extinction.
So ACAP’s mission has a special resonance for us here in New Zealand.
Acknowledging the impact that humans have had on our seabirds is the first step towards doing something about it. We have a collective responsibility to do what we can to halt and reverse that trend.
As with so many of the challenges the world faces, a multi-lateral approach is needed to bring about positive change, particularly for those great ocean-going birds that know no boundaries.
I appreciate the work that ACAP is doing to promote best-practice and research that could lead to new, effective ways of helping these fragile populations to stabilise and recover.
Gathering data, providing advice, and raising awareness will, I hope, encourage more nations to come on board with your work.
As Governor-General of the Realm of New Zealand, I will have the opportunity to visit our sub-Antarctic islands during my term of office.
While I am there, I will take particular interest in the albatross population, and the progress being made with predator control.
I appreciate the collective expertise gathered here today and the progress you have made to date. You are working for a great cause, and I wish you well with your work.
On behalf of my fellow New Zealanders, a very warm welcome to visitors from overseas and I hope this week’s meeting will provide new inspiration, new ideas and practical initiatives to promote and thereby further improve the conservation status of albatrosses and petrels, wherever on the world’s oceans they may be.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa