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, warm greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge: Minister of the Crown, the Honourable Alfred Ngaro; His Excellency the British High Commissioner to New Zealand, Jonathan Sinclair and Chair of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Board, Bronwyn Smit - tēnā koutou katoa.
It is a great pleasure for David and me to welcome you all to Government House this afternoon. I’m delighted to have this opportunity to acknowledge the work of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and its Fellows.
Sir Winston Churchill was one of the modern era’s greatest politicians. More than fifty years after his death, he still looms large in the public imagination as a potent symbol of courage, inspiration and steadfastness.
Lines from Churchill’s World War Two speeches remain eminently quotable and he has been depicted in well over 200 movies, TV series and even video games. A soldier, author, war correspondent, artist, historian - a keen bricklayer too - his life experience and range of interests was formidable.
Given the diverse nature of Sir Winston’s interests, it’s appropriate that the fellowships established in his memory have such a broad focus. Part of the Fellowship’s strength is that it’s open to anyone who wishes to apply, regardless of their profession, level of education or chosen subject matter. This allows for a magnificent range of enquiry, where research around the work done by women during the First World War sits comfortably alongside investigation into indigenous cultural tourism.
Equally as laudable is that the personal development and research that comes out of the fellowships is put to good use in our communities and workplaces. The work being produced is not arcane or esoteric; it has practical and intellectual applications that benefit many more people than just the recipient.
Over the years, the Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowships have done much to encourage professional links with other countries. They have opened doors for international co-operation at a very personal level and the relationships formed often yield dividends for years afterwards. With more than 870 people travelling under the auspices of the Trust since its inception, the benefits in terms of understanding and inter-connection have been immense.
The Fellowships are also a reminder of our traditional links to the UK and Australia, who both offer Winston Churchill Fellowships of their own. Though the relationships between our countries have changed over the years, we still hold in common the desire to “make this muddled world a better place”, as Sir Winston Churchill put it. The fellowships that bear his name play their part in helping us to make this happen.
To the members of the Trust – thank you for your continued support for New Zealanders. Your careful stewardship of the Trust has enabled it to flourish and grow. The expansion of the Trust to include special purpose fellowships like the Winston Churchill McNeish Writers Fellowship is a case in point.
I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Lady Helen McNeish, for the generosity shown by her and her husband, the late Sir James McNeish, in making that fellowship possible. I’m looking forward to hearing from Carolyn Gillum, the 2015 Winston Churchill McNeish Writers Fellow speak about her experiences a little later.
To the other fellows being recognised today - congratulations on the successful conclusion of your fellowship experience. I hope your discoveries and learnings will lead to great outcomes.
Thank you to everyone – trust members, fellows and supporters for your contributions so far and good luck in your future endeavours.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa