Sir Jerry gives final Waitangi Day speech

  • 06/02/2016
Sir Jerry Mateparae (Simon Wong, file)
Sir Jerry Mateparae (Simon Wong, file)

There has been a "momentous" shift in the status of the Treaty in recent years, but New Zealand must turn to innovation to build on its cultural heritage, the Governor-General has said in his last Waitangi Day speech.

Speaking at Government House in Auckland, Sir Jerry Mateparae said understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi and its promises was key to New Zealand's future.

"Progress for Maori represents progress for all New Zealanders and is contingent on continued and consistent observation of Treaty principles," he said.

"After many years of struggle, we've seen momentous change, including in the status of the Treaty."

But Sir Jerry said in his last year on the job, he was focusing on how New Zealand could build on its heritage with science and innovation.

"Our immigrant forebears needed to be curious, ingenious and resourceful to survive and flourish in this new land," he said.

"Those qualities are needed more than ever as we face the multiple challenges of the 21st century."

He said New Zealand needed to promote opportunities for experts and celebrate scientific achievement.

"If we shower the same accolades on our scientists as we extend to our sporting heroes ... if we value and support clever and dedicated research scientists and practitioners in their efforts to save lives and save the planet, then more young New Zealanders will think about the exciting and rewarding possibilities that lie ahead," he said.

Waitangi Day was a good opportunity to remember the role of New Zealand's natural environment, Sir Jerry said.

"We also need to bring the same collective expertise and energy to our duty of care for these beautiful islands we are fortunate to call home."

Sir Jerry will step down as Governor-General when his five-year term ends later this year.