The reason why the earthquakes did not defeat Christchurch is because of you, and what has united all of you.The Prince of Wales
Kia ora tātou katoa.
(Greetings to us all)
Honourable Gerry Brownlee, Your Worship the Mayor, Mr Townsend, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
Peter, thank you for your kind words of welcome. Thank you also to the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and the Air Force Museum for hosting us all in this wonderful venue.
As you all know, this is Catherine’s first visit to New Zealand, and the two of us could not be more grateful for the way in which we have been made to feel so very welcome. There have been many highlights from the past ten days in this beautiful country - Catherine beating me at sailing does not count amongst them, not for me anyway.
There have been a number of moving reminders this week of harder days in New Zealand's past - particularly poignant during this centenary year of the start of World War One. The war memorials at Blenheim and Cambridge stand in simple tribute to the selflessness of those who have gone before in this great nation, sacrificing all they have for their descendants.
Here in Christchurch, I recall in 2011 hearing first hand about the courage of ordinary members of the public, first responders, the Student Army and many others in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes. Both Catherine and I have found ourselves moved this morning by the reminders of how awful the second earthquake was, striking as it did out of the blue in the middle of an ordinary day.
Something similar has now struck our neighbours in the Solomon Islands. I know that all of you will join with Catherine and me today in passing on our thoughts and prayers to the people of the Solomon Islands at this very difficult time for them.
For you in Christchurch, it is inevitable that, after such a shocking and disruptive experience, choices about the way forward will be challenging.
Yet, what has struck me on this visit - three years on - is the resilience and adaptability of Christchurch. Despite the daunting job ahead of you, life continues with classic Kiwi humour, creativity, innovation and determination. Christchurch remains a buzzing, thriving city.
The reason why the earthquakes did not defeat Christchurch is because of you, and what has united all of you.
Firstly, you have stayed in Christchurch and stood by it - or perhaps you have even moved here since the earthquakes. This is your home.
Secondly, you all care deeply for Christchurch. Whether you are members of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce or other community or educational organisations, it is clear that you want to do your very best for your city.
And thirdly, you believe that Christchurch has a strong future - that it is worth your energy, your investment, your time and your skills. You should be proud that, because of the undaunted spirit of New Zealanders, Christchurch is a city that has chosen not only to survive but to thrive.
Catherine and I look forward to returning to see how this historic and yet energetic, 21st century city takes shape. Our heartfelt wishes go out to you as you continue on this journey to rebuild Christchurch.
Tena koutou katoa.
(Greetings to you all)