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Source: New Zealand Governor General

Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging members of this evening’s official party: Terry Shubkin, CEO of Young Enterprise; Phil Muir, Chair of the Young Enterprise Trust, its trustees and ambassadors; Peter Thompson, Chair of the Business Hall of Fame selection panel, and members of the panel; and of course, New Zealand Business Hall of Fame laureates, past and present. Tēnā koutou katoa.

As Patron of the Young Enterprise Trust, it’s my great pleasure to be here in support of an organisation that so proactively supports our next generation of entrepreneurs and businesspeople.

I am also delighted to join with you in acknowledging seven outstanding New Zealanders and their achievements in the business world.

There can be no doubt that business plays a fundamental role in the wellbeing of our society: whether through providing employment, fulfilling a need, or helping to build prosperity across communities.

Long-term business success requires not only creativity and of course hard work – but also a willingness to take risks where others might not, as well as an ability to learn from inevitable setbacks. These are things I’ve come to learn in my own life and career – including during the Executive MBA I completed prior to my PhD.

As the whakataukī says: ‘I orea te tuatara ka patu ki waho – a problem is solved by continuing to find solutions.’

As Governor-General, one of the great joys of my job is in acknowledging the remarkable work and service of New Zealanders across our communities. As a country, I would suggest that we are not always so good at celebrating our own and each other’s successes.

Which is why events such as this, and organisations such as the Young Enterprise Trust, are so important – in the way that you promote public recognition of outstanding individuals, and how they’ve helped to make New Zealand a more prosperous society.

The stories of this year’s seven inductees all tell of the sort of creativity and perseverance I’ve referred to.

Take Kelly Tarlton: whose name is now synonymous with the marine wonderland he conceived and brought to life, whose concept and design has been imitated across the world, and whose aquariums continue to promote awareness and conservation of our marine environments.

Or Theresa Gattung: the first female CEO of an NZX listed company in her role at Telecom, and whose ongoing charitable work seeks to support the relief of poverty, reduce inequality, and protect our biodiversity.

All of tonight’s recipients are profoundly inspiring – not only for what they have achieved in their respective business careers, but because they remained true to their values, been brave enough to risk failure, and set the highest standards for themselves and those around them.

One of my key areas of priority as Governor-General is kotahitanga – the celebration of diversity and commonality – and I am delighted to see such diversity in this year’s list of inductees: a clear reminder that New Zealand is made stronger by not only what we have in common, but what makes us each unique.

This evening is special in another way, as I’ve mentioned, in its support for the aspirations and ambitions of the next generation of New Zealand entrepreneurs. 

Young Enterprise plays a valuable role in teaching students about the business world, and giving them hands-on experience at running their own companies.

I’m very much looking forward to my ongoing association with the Young Enterprise Trust during my term as Governor-General, and to seeing the kinds of ideas and talents that emerge from the programme.

At a time when the world is facing so many great challenges – climate change, conflict, the growing and unknown influence of technology – we need the inspiration and energy of our young people to be our guiding light.

It’s exciting to imagine that some of the young people in this room will become business titans of the future, and join tonight’s laureates in the Business Hall of Fame.

My sincere congratulations once again to all those acknowledged tonight – and to the families and representatives of those whose legacies we are honouring with posthumous awards.

The success of tonight’s laureates stands as a testament to their passion and belief – as well as the support and love of those around them. I’m sure your example will serve to inspire future generations of New Zealanders.

Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.