The New Year is a time when we look ahead, and also a time to consider the year that has passed. Any year inevitably has its highs and lows but 2010 is one that New Zealanders will remember for its tragedies and natural disasters, including the deaths of members of the New Zealand Defence Force and, most recently, the terrible loss of 29 miners at the Pike River coal mine.
Despite such adversity, however, my wife Susan and I have also observed the strength and resilience that characterises the people of New Zealand and the fundamental values that we all share. The Canterbury earthquake in September, for example, caused massive damage that will take a long time to repair. It was a miracle that no-one was killed, and for that we can be grateful and, as well, for the timing of the earthquake and for the high standards of New Zealand’s building code.
While the fabric of homes, buildings, and roads was damaged, the fabric of the community remained strong. Rescue, emergency and civil defence services responded promptly, and the government and local councils began quickly the difficult and complex task of planning for rebuilding and restoration.
On two visits to Canterbury since the earthquake we have observed the response of the community to those most in need—neighbours helping neighbours, volunteers lining up to provide assistance of every kind, and support in donations flooding in from throughout New Zealand.
Alongside these challenges, New Zealanders also shared some highlights. For example, New Zealanders continued to shine in the world’s sporting arenas, with achievements at the Commonwealth Games in India, the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the Rowing World Championships at Lake Karapiro, and the Kiwis clinching the Rugby League Four Nations competition. Although the inaugural Constellation Cup for netball was won by Australia, it was a pleasure to be in Delhi and see the Silver Ferns win the final. The All Blacks’ performance in the Bledisloe Cup, Tri-Nations Championships and another Grand Slam, are all good signs for the Rugby World Cup in a few months.
In January, HRH Prince William New Zealand opened the new home of New Zealand’s Supreme Court by on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen. In October, Government House in Wellington, which has been closed for two years for a major conservation project, marked its centenary and Susan and I both look forward to welcoming New Zealanders back into the restored House in a short while.
This year will also see the end of our five year public journey in the role of Governor-General. It has been a privilege to acknowledge the efforts of a great many New Zealanders, both young and old, who are working to make our country a better place. The optimism, positive spirit and determination of people we have met in this way will be among our most treasured memories.
Susan and I have observed many times the extent to which fundamental values remain embedded in our national culture. Qualities such as tolerance, good-hearted concern for others and a practical can-do attitude, provide optimism for New Zealand’s prospects. As we join family and friends to enjoy the summer holidays, let us renew a commitment to these values, to ensure that they remain at the core of what makes us New Zealanders.
Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, GNZM, QSO
Governor-General of New Zealand
First, it's a shame this message isn't broadcast on the telly or radio. A printed release tends to get lost, despite it being intended as an address for the nation.
Secondly, compare the Governor-General's message to the Queen's Christmas Broadcast:
The Queen's message is generic, bland and foreign (and - surprisingly and uncomfortably - very biblical). The message shows thatcNew Zealand is not really on the radar of the British Monarchy, with no specific mention or acknowledgement of the matters of concern to Kiwis. In my view, the message stands as a strong reminder of the irrelevance of the Royals to Kiwis.
In contrast, Sir Anand's message touches on the events that have been central to the lives of Kiwis over the last year. Our tragedies. Our triumphs. A message that is more germane to our community.
If we're serious about having our Head of State fulfil their role as a community leader, reflecting the aspirations and agonies of a nation, then it seems plain to me that the Queen has done her dash. It's time our de facto Head of State, the Governor-General, be given that responsibility in their own right. Let's cut ties with the Monarchy and promote the Governor-General to Head of State.