E ngā mana e pae nei, otirā Taranaki Maunga, tena koutou.
Haere mai tatau katoa i tēnei po
ki te whakanui i te Ahurei o Aotearoa,
me tona timatanga i a Kupe.
Me tana hoa rangatira a Kura-maro-tiri.
No reira tena tatau katoa.
Greetings to the authorities gathered here, particularly those that derive from Mount Taranaki.
We gather to celebrate the festival and its opening night focussing upon Kupe.
Not forgetting his wife, Kura-maro-tiri.
And so good evening all.
The Prime Minister of Samoa, the Honourable Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Neioti Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi,
Mr Tou Travel Ariki, President of the House of Ariki in the Cook Islands;
Ministers of the Crown
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of Parliament,
Mayors and Councillors of the Wellington Region,
New Zealand Festival Board, management, and staff; and Festival artists and waka crew.
It is a great pleasure for David and me to be here tonight.
As it happens, David and I have a long association with the New Zealand Festival, dating from its beginning over 30 years ago.
As Governor General, I was delighted to become Patron of the Festival, because I value the immense contribution it has made to arts and culture in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
The Festival’s kaupapa very much aligns with my goal to promote creativity, innovation, diversity and leadership during my term as Governor-General.
Kupe – a Waka Odyssey promises to be the most spectacular launch event in the Festival’s history and a taste of 2019’s Tuia – Encounters 250, the national commemorations next year to mark 250 years since the meeting of Māori and Lieutenant James Cook and the crew of the Endeavour in 1769.
Our waka are part of our nation’s DNA, our whakapapa, and descend from the great ocean-going canoes, waka hourua.
They speak of the restless spirit that carried our Pacific whanau to venture over the horizon, in search of a new home.
They remind us of the journey that lies in the past of all New Zealanders – whether it be Māori, whose tupuna arrived many centuries ago, or the most recent immigrant.
They bring alive the feats of the great Polynesian navigators.
We salute the knowledge and skills that they developed, and the crews who have braved the waves and the winds to follow in their path.
We acknowledge Kupe, the greatest of all those ancient navigators, and imagine his first landfall in Whanganui-a-Tara, in present-day Seatoun, when the hills were clothed in forest and ringing with birdsong, and when the Miramar Peninsula was still an island, Motu Kai-rangi.
E kore e ngaro, he takere waka nui
we will never be lost: we are the hull of a great canoe
expresses his resilience, courage and optimism. His feats continue to inspire generations of mariners.
Our ancestors brought skills, know-how and ingenuity to the challenge of surviving in a new land.
They were equally sustained by the cultural traditions of their forebears, and by the wisdom, talents and insights of their artists and musicians.
Just as we will be this evening, with this taster of the cultural largesse to come, over 24 days of Festival performances, by artists from many different countries.
Thank you to everyone who has made tonight’s event possible, so we can share in this recognition and celebration of who we are, where we stand and what we can be –
nā wai tatau, to tatau turangawaewae me ngā arapounamu kei mua i a tatau.