Speech at Powhiri by Helen Clark

28 Apr 2009

E te Kingi Tuheitia, te Ariki Tumu, Ta Paora Reeves, Parekura, Lady Raiha, me Tukoroirangi, tena koutou,

Tena koutou i mau mai te aroha o nga iwi o Aotearoa.
(I acknowledge that you have brought the best wishes of the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand)

E rau rangatira ma, tena koutou katoa
(I acknowledge all distinguished people here today)

Buenas tardes a todos
Bon après-midi à tous
Marhaba (MAAR- HA- BA)

Thank you Deputy Secretary-General for receiving me today and for your friendship.

Thank you also to UNDP Associate Administrator Ad Melkert for his welcome to me today and throughout the past week, and to all UNDP staff who have welcomed me into the headquarters here in New York, and via video conference and emails from around the world.

Today I am truly humbled to be formally presented here to the UN and to UNDP by senior Maori leaders who have travelled to New York for this occasion.

Kingi Tuheitia, Atawhai, and your delegation from Tainui and Kingitanga – your presence means so much to me, especially because I myself come from a district in the tribal area of Tainui.

Rangatira Tumu Te Heu Heu – you have done so much to advance Maoridom and build good relations with Pakeha, following in the footsteps of your late father and those who went before him. You know the UN system, having chaired the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO.

Sir Paul Reeves, our former Governor General and Anglican Archbishop, from Taranaki Whanui, also knows New York well, having served here as an envoy of the Anglican Church.

My old friend Hon. Parekura Horomia served as Minister of Maori Affairs in my government for 8.5 years.

So I come with many blessings from New Zealand to take up this new role. It is a large and challenging role, and I am excited by it.

Last week, I moved through our headquarters in New York, meeting many staff, and doing a lot of listening.

I know that I am entering an organization for which people work because they believe in it and its development mission.

I know that this is a hard time to be pursuing this mission, as our world faces multiple crises, all of which impact especially adversely on developing countries.

We are in the midst of a global recession; we have the huge climate change challenge; in the past year we have faced food shortages and very high energy prices; and now the swine influenza again raises the issue of how to mobilise against diseases which can spread so quickly around the globe.

But out of crisis also comes opportunity to look at fresh ways of doing things and to innovate. That is what we at UNDP must do as we pursue the goals set down in our strategic plan and as we support the ongoing process of UN reform so that we truly can deliver as one.

At the top of my priorities now will sharpening our focus on poverty reduction and the MDGs. With my background of working for economic and social justice, nothing is more important to me.

A new deal for the world economy and a new deal for the environment should also be capable of tackling poverty, including tackling energy poverty and providing a low carbon footprint route to development. I hope we in UNDP can support an outcome at Copenhagen which is conducive to that.

I come as the first female Administrator of UNDP – so it goes without saying that gender equality is important to me and must be pursued as a core value of our organization.

As Chair of the UN Development Group, I pledge UNDP’s full commitment to working constructively with all our partners in the UN family, and also to building the very best relationships we can with the widest possible range of stakeholders in development – partner governments and civil society, donors, the IFIs, NGOs and all other contributors.

I also want to communicate more widely the work of UNDP – we have much to our credit and the story must be told.

Much hard work and many challenges lie ahead, but I am confident that working as a team, and alongside others in the UN family and other stakeholders, we can make a difference for the better.

I look forward to moving out beyond New York to meet more of our people in our many locations around the world. I know that some of you work in exceptionally challenging circumstances and I thank you all for your dedication and service.

I thank the Secretary-General for nominating me to this position and the General Assembly and members of the UNDP Executive Board for the confidence they have placed in me.

I conclude with a proverb from Aotearoa/New Zealand :
“Ahakoa te tuarangi, ka rongo tonu au te haruru o nga Maunga » (« Even though I am far from home, I can still hear the sound of our distant Mountains.”)

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tenaa koutou katoa.
(Greetings to you all)

Thank you.