An alternative Christmas message from the Head of State:
The Governor-General, Anand Satyanand, has urged people to learn from unsung heroes when times are tough.
Delivering his Christmas message to the New Zealand people, the first head of state of the Republic said that Christmas this year was a sombre occasion for many. "Some of those things which could once have been taken for granted suddenly seem less certain and, naturally, give rise to feelings of insecurity," he said. "People are touched by events which have their roots far across the world. Whether it is the global economy or violence in a distant land, the effects can be felt at home."
The Governor-General paid particular tribute to two Kiwis who gave their lives to save others. He spoke of the sacrifice of Elim Christian College teacher Tony McClean, who lost his life trying to save school children trapped in the swollen Mangatepopo Stream, and Austin Hemmings, stabbed while going to the aid of a stranger in Mills Lane in central Auckland. "Their bravery and instinctive behaviour in doing what was right speaks to all New Zealanders," he said.
He also noted the death of one of New Zealand's great heroes. "This year saw a mighty kauri fall, with the passing of Sir Ed. We must strive to fill the gap in the forest with new heroes."
Satyanand spoke of his delight in watching the successes of New Zealanders in many areas of endeavour over the past year. "The hearts of our community were warm with pride as we saw our athletes, writers, film-makers, scientists, comedians and others make their mark on the international stage."
He cautioned that the country continued to face many challenges in the upcoming year. "The strength of our community and the resoluteness of our nation will be tested by the economic crisis. We will have to continue to confront great issues like climate change, settlement of Treaty grievances, and increasing violence in our society."
Recounting a Maori proverb, the Governor-General urged the nation to work together to address these challenges: "Kaua e rangiruatia te hā o te hoe, e kore tō tātou waka e ū ki uta. Do not lift the paddle out of unison or our canoe will never reach the shore."
Satyanand said that over the next few days he would be spending some time relaxing at the beach with his wife Susan and their daughters and son, and he hoped that others would also find time to relax and spend with their whanau and friends.