Source: New Zealand Governor General
Rau rangatira mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi nui ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge: Mr Geoff Clews, Chairman of the Sir George Elliot Charitable Trust.
I am pleased to welcome you here to Te Whare Kawana o Tāmaki Makaurau.
This is the first event I have been able to host in Auckland since becoming Governor-General. Given my background in academia, I am pleased that it is one acknowledging and celebrating students on their journey to higher learning.
Sir George Elliot was a proud Aucklander who dedicated much of his life to the benefit of the city’s people, and had the generosity and foresight to ensure his trust would continue this legacy beyond his lifetime.
George Elliot clearly understood that one of the most effective ways to strengthen a community is to invest in the education of its young people.
Education will ultimately provide answers to the great challenges of our time – climate change, inequality and the ongoing consequences of Covid-19.
Growing up in Auckland, education was something I loved from a very early age. I soon came to see that tertiary education was the path meant for me, and was very proud to be the first in my family to attend university.
I know the past two years have been immensely difficult for senior students across Aotearoa. Last year proved especially challenging for those in the upper North Island, for whom learning became a mostly solitary experience.
That Vicki, Hirimaia and Ali succeeded to such a high degree, despite the added stress and uncertainty of learning under lockdown, is a testament to their resilience and commitment.
In my previous roles in universities, one of the most rewarding aspects was mentoring students through their academic journey.
I always found such joy in imagining what a student’s future might look like after graduating, and how they might apply their knowledge to the wider world.
It also made me truly appreciate how higher education has the potential to positively impact successive generations.
Kofi Annan put that sentiment well when he said:
“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society, in every family.”
Vicki, Hirimaia and Ali – take the time to reflect on your achievements in the knowledge that your schools have not only recognised your academic attainment, but also your potential to lead.
I hope you are proud to add your name to the list of others awarded the Sir George Elliot Scholarship. As a recipient, you become part of a legacy of excellence and leadership across a range of fields.
Whichever path you choose to take, I hope it gives you the chance to give back to your communities, just as Sir George Elliot did during his lifetime and beyond.
Congratulations once again to our recipients – I wish you every success on your journey from here.
Kia ora, kia kaha, kia manawanui, huihui tātou katoa.