Source: New Zealand Governor General
E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
I specifically acknowledge
Deputy Prime Minister the Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Primary Industries Hon Damien O’Connor
Minister of Customs Hon Meka Whaitiri
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Members of Parliament
Local Government representatives
Peter Carr, President of the New Zealand National Fieldays Society; members of the Board, and Chief Executive Peter Nation
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for inviting me today. On a personal level, I spent most of my childhood here in the Waikato – and it’s always good to see these green fields again.
It’s an honour to be here at the 50th anniversary of New Zealand’s premier agricultural event – and for anyone wanting to feel the pulse of the rural sector, Fieldays is an obvious destination.
I have come here today to listen and to learn.
During their term, Governors-General have a unique opportunity to go to the farthest corners of New Zealand and to hear from every sector.
It’s a privilege I do not take lightly. It is important to get some understanding of what challenges communities are facing, to learn about their success stories, and to hear about what people want to see happen.
What I learn I take with me – when I am visiting other communities around New Zealand, to my discussions with the Prime Minister and her Ministers, and with diplomatic representatives from overseas, and when I represent New Zealand on international visits.
Today, I think back to my childhood, when Mystery Creek was the name of a stream – not the vast enterprise of today – and the Bledisloe Hall was still a feature of Garden Place.
I like to think this is a much happier home for a building named after one of our great Governor-Generals, Lord Bledisloe.
I say that because Fieldays would have been all his Christmases rolled into one.
Having been a pig farmer himself, Lord Bledisloe was keenly aware of the need to keep up to date, to improve, to consider new ways of doing things, and to pass on that knowledge to his audiences.
The Ahuwhenua Trophy, established with Sir Apirana Ngata to promote and recognise innovation, leadership and excellence in Māori farming, is just one of his legacies to the agricultural sector.
Those two gentlemen would have not have been surprised to see agribusiness continue to play such a central role in our 21st century economy, but they could not have imagined how sophisticated contemporary farming methods would become – or the current challenges around biosecurity, climate change and global market fluctuations – or the steps we are taking to meet our needs and the needs of the wider world, manage our resources effectively, and minimise our impact on the environment.
This is clearly a very difficult and stressful time for all the sectors affected by the shadow of mycoplasma bovis.
In what are already highly demanding and complex operations, farmers will have to deal with yet another set of demands, with possibly distressing consequences.
It will no doubt be a hot topic of conversation over the next few days, and mutual support and community will be more important than ever in months ahead.
We can’t take resilience for granted, and it’s good to see Fieldays playing its part with a Wellbeing Hub and the increasing emphasis on addressing rural health.
All the very best for 2018’s Fieldays. I hope that there is just enough rain to get those serious buyers lining up to make their purchases – but not too much to keep them away – and I wish everyone involved in the farming sector every success with the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
I now declare Fieldays officially open.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa