On this visit, I have no doubt that it will be Catherine and not just me who falls for New Zealand.The Prince of Wales
Rau rangatira mā o Aotearoa,
Tēnā koutou katoa.
(Distinguished people of New Zealand, greetings to you all.)
Your Excellencies, Prime Minister and Mrs Key, Chief Justice and Mr Fletcher, members of the House of Representatives, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.
Your Excellency, thank you for your kind words and for welcoming us all here to Government House.
Thank you also for hosting Catherine, George and me during our time in New Zealand. I hope that George doesn’t keep you up! He's at his most vocal at 3am, as you may have noticed - I swear I heard him doing the haka this morning. He's a bonny lad and you'll be pleased to know that he's currently preparing for life as a prop forward!
I cannot tell you how happy I am to be back here in God’s Own Country as I have learned to call it and this time with my wife and son.
When I returned to New Zealand for the first time as an adult in 2005, I came mainly to watch the All Blacks against the British and Irish Lions the best way to be introduced to this sports-passionate nation.
In subsequent visits, my affection and admiration for New Zealand has only deepened. In 2011, in Christchurch, your country underwent its worse crisis in modern history. I had the chance to witness just how stoically and selflessly the people of Christchurch responded to the appalling tragedy. Next week Catherine and I will have the chance to see how the city is coming back to life.
On this visit, I have no doubt that it will be Catherine and not just me who falls for New Zealand.
The qualities that New Zealanders share in common with one another warm-heartedness, generosity, neighbourliness, openness, an instinctive sense of justice and freedom, to name just a few are qualities that I suspect given your modesty you may take for granted. But they are qualities for which New Zealanders are admired the world over.
One of the things that I think we all value about New Zealand is the integrity of its institutions. The foundation of New Zealand’s government is represented in this very room by a portrait of Queen Victoria, during whose reign the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, laying the foundations for today’s great nation.
At the heart of New Zealand’s democracy is its Parliament, represented here today. A Parliament that has continued to assemble without interruption since 1854 unbroken by war, civil disturbance or political upheaval.
Within this tradition of continuity, New Zealand repeatedly demonstrates its progressiveness. I know, for example, that it’s a matter of pride to New Zealanders that this was the first country in the world to give women the vote.
New Zealand’s ability to innovate reaches beyond politics into commerce, industry and quality of life. The list of inventions and technical and medical breakthroughs far outstrips New Zealand’s relatively small population.
New Zealand should be rightly proud of its enviable history of blending continuity and innovation. Yet you combine all this with one of the most beautiful and varied landscapes in the world and some first-class wine as well! New Zealand truly is a very special place.
On a personal level, on visits such as this, I am reminded time and time again of New Zealanders’ deep affection for The Queen, who in 2012 celebrated her Diamond Jubilee year.
This evening I have the privilege of unveiling a new portrait of Her Majesty, commissioned by the New Zealand Portrait Gallery and painted by young New Zealand artist Nick Cuthell, who is with us this evening.
I hope that I am not giving away any secrets before the portrait is unveiled if I say that Her Majesty is portrayed wearing her silver fern brooch, which provides a simple but clear reminder of Her Majesty’s deep affection for the people of New Zealand.
It now gives me and Catherine great pleasure to unveil this portrait of Her Majesty the Queen of New Zealand.
Kia ora tātou katoa.
(Greetings to us all)