Sir Jerry Mateparae: Our strengths hold us in good stead for year ahead

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Sad events have touched us all. Photo / Simon Baker
Sad events have touched us all. Photo / Simon Baker

New Zealand's new Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, gives his first New Year message in a tradition started by his predecessor Sir Anand Satyanand.

Kia ora. Nga mihi o te tau hou. Greetings to you all for the New Year. It's an honour, as Governor-General and representative of Her Majesty the Queen of New Zealand, to give my first New Year message.

The start of the year is a time when most of us take a break, catch up with family and friends and enjoy the long summer days. It's also a time when we reflect on the year that was and look forward to the year ahead.

The last year has been difficult. The loss of life from the earthquake on February 22, like the Pike River Mine disaster in November 2010, reminded us that life is precious. When the container vessel Rena went aground near Tauranga, we were reminded that protecting our pristine environment is also important to us. As a nation where the roots of family, neighbourhood and community run far and deep, these events touched us all.

While we remember these terrible events, we should not forget all that we have achieved. It was superb that the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup, giving us something to celebrate. Even more fantastic was the way we made the tournament our own, embracing the notion of a stadium of four million people.

Our response to the good and the sad times has galvanised my belief in New Zealanders. I have seen New Zealanders repeatedly demonstrating the values we all cherish. I have seen compassion, warmth, tolerance and a strong sense of community, where everyone is prepared to get stuck in and help friends and strangers alike. And I have been impressed by the ingenuity, talent and innovation demonstrated by our young people and leaders in many diverse fields.

We do not know with any certainty what lies in store for us this year. There are events like Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee, the Olympic Games and other commemorative events to acknowledge. There will also be other occasions to celebrate our heritage, our way of life and our aspirations for the future. Undoubtedly, there will also be occasions where we will need to comfort our fellow New Zealanders and again demonstrate our resolve.

Building a better future for our tamariki and mokopuna requires us to draw on the storehouse of New Zealand's strengths. Our values and our people have served us well in the past and will do so in the future. I intend to work to serve New Zealanders, bringing people together, promoting what is important to us and celebrating excellence. Most importantly, I urge you keep before you the sentiment of the proverb: "He aha te mea nui o te ao-What is the most important thing in the world? The answer is: he tangata, he tangata, he tangata - it is people, it is people, it is people."

Thank you and I wish you all a happy and safe summer holiday and a successful 2012.

Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM QSO

Governor-General of New Zealand.

- Herald on Sunday

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