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.
The first thing I want to say is congratulations to every singer here today. You can be proud of making it into the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir.
This Choir has such an impressive pedigree, and deserves credit for helping to develop astounding singing talent in New Zealand.
Over the years, the Choir has identified our best young singers, brought them together as peers and helped provide the skills and experience they needed, whether or not they wished to pursue a professional career.
Members of this year’s Choir are following in the footsteps of some very impressive alumni, including Simon O’Neill, Jonathan Lemalu, Christopher Bruerton, Anna Leese Guidi and Madeline Pierard – and who knows what lies ahead for you?
You might very well look back on this week from a stage in the Met, Covent Garden or the St James Theatre one day and think, ‘This is where it all began’.
What a wonderful thought.
I was delighted to be invited to hear you today because I am passionate about the arts – particularly opera – and I want to do what I can to encourage and support our emerging singers.
You are fortunate to know the joys of music-making with others.
At the same time, you are benefiting in so many other ways – in terms of skills, appreciation of beauty and form, and the development of personal qualities such as discipline and resilience.
I know it is school holidays – and you could be doing any number of other things. It’s a testament to your dedication and love of music that you have given up valuable ‘down time’ to be here.
It will be worth it. I suspect that many of you would agree with a Time magazine writer who said that singing in a choir is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking and more fun than working out.
So work hard, have fun, and I wish you all the best for a fantastic week of music-making.
Kia ora huihui tatou katoa