Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Folk songs as senior German leader welcomed

One of Germany's most senior political figures conducted a rendition of a folk song Viel Gluck und viel Segen at Parliament today.

Professor Norbert Lammert, the Speaker of the German Federal Parliament, made the gesture after a formal welcome in which his opposite, David Carter, sang Pokarekare Ana.

There was some discussion among the German group before their own performance, indicating it wasn't planned.

But Lammert was soon enthusiastically conducting the touring party, who sang in full voice and in front of a reproduction of the Treaty of Waitangi in Parliament's Matangireia room.

Earlier, Carter said it was the most important visit he had hosted in his almost four years as Parliament's Speaker.

Germany stands as a "beacon of stability" in a region challenged with terrorism, a refugee crisis and instability within the European Union caused by Brexit.

Lammert, who has been Speaker of the Bundestag since 2005, and was previously a Government minister, said today's welcome was authentic and provided a framework "to make us all aware of what we are, where we come from and what we are going to do".

"You have kindly mentioned, Mr Speaker, the relationship of your country to Germany. I should perhaps add that whenever we think of our own history, we are aware of a particularly complicated history.

"There is never, ever a starting point in history. Whatever we do, we never find the white paper in front of us, but the written paper."

Lammert said New Zealand and Germany share values and it made sense and seemed to be more necessary than ever to cooperate and work together.

The German delegation is now in Wellington after a visit to the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre on Saturday.

Afterwards, Lammert told the Politik website that New Zealand could "do more" in terms of taking more refugees: "If I compare the sheer numbers in relation to the total number of inhabitants and in relation to the space available, there does seem to be room for more."

Tomorrow, Lammert will meet Prime Minister John Key, and speak at a function to mark the 20th anniversary of MMP - New Zealand being the first country after Germany to adopt the system.

His time in New Zealand comes after Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited in 2014. Key led a New Zealand delegation to Germany last year.

- NZ Herald

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