OFFICIAL OPENING OF GULF HARBOUR GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUBPrime Minister
Mr Goh and your fellow business associates, High Commissioner of Singapore Lam and Mrs Lam; Singaporean MP Dr Sin and Mrs Sin; Ministerial and Parliamentary Colleagues; Mayor Doug Armstrong and Mrs Armstrong; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I am pleased that I am still Prime Minister so that I am able to be here today to officially open the Gulf Harbour Golf and Country Club.
Gulf Harbour has been a major development project in New Zealand.
At the peak of construction, more than 300 workers were involved in various aspects of the development and more than $1 million was being spent a month.
I am told that digging the marine canal took ten months and involved moving more than one million cubic metres of earth - creating a site area more than four-times as big as that of the Sky City Casino site in Auckland.
The sheer scale and scope of this project is quite remarkable.
I read with interest that the Marine Village aimed for a mix of Italian and French architecture, mixed with the informality of the Bay of Islands.
It certainly brings new meaning to the term 'Global Village' - and it's some village.
This wonderful site, with its stunning setting, is also a testimony to the qualities of good leadership.
Leadership is an act of 'faith', both on the part of the leader, and of those who believe in his or her vision.
'Faith' is what separates leaders from managers. Managers have lots of ways to mandate their ends - rules, schedules, plans and procedures.
Leaders, whether they be in politics or business, go beyond these mechanics to inspire people to have faith in a vision and what is more, faith in their own abilities to carry out that vision.
Mr Goh and his team are true leaders in this respect.
They have taken a concept that was first born more than 15 years ago and have made it a reality against significant odds.
By the time Mr Goh's Yenom Holdings bought the site five years ago, two other companies had invested $54 million into the project without realising the original dream that is now stretched before us.
When Mr Goh bought the Gulf Harbour site in 1992, there was a marina and a 323-hectare farm grazing 300 head of cattle.
That farm remained a going concern till 1995 and while the cattle have been moved to other pastures, I was interested to learn that the farm manager of 42 years, is still on the Gulf Harbour payroll - now working on the golf course.
That's a more graceful way to make a career-change than in politics.
Today the area that makes up Gulf Harbour has been transformed into a $500 million seaside community that will accommodate more than 7,500 residents within ten years.
The concept of building an integrated high-quality lifestyle development has been realised - blending pleasure and living, with the sparkling waters of the Hauraki Gulf.
I understand that 1,000 people are already taking advantage of this 'paradise within paradise'.
Looking around I am tempted to join them!
Gulf Harbour is also looking forward to playing a major role in the New Zealand tourism industry.
It boasts an international standard 18-hole golf course designed by world-renowned golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jnr and of course there is the Gulf Harbour Marina - the second largest marina in Australasia.
Already, Gulf Harbour Country Club has been chosen as the venue for the 1998 Golf World Cup. This event will profile New Zealand on the world stage as not only a top golfing venue, but also as a sought after tourist destination.
Gulf Harbour this year also entered into an agreement to provide up to four bases for the America's Cup.
So, you all have a lot to be proud of.
Gulf Harbour is also a vote of confidence in the vision of a modern New Zealand.
In recent years, a lot of effort has gone into making sure that New Zealand is up there with the best countries in the world.
We have taken on board the wisdom of our forefathers - saving hard, paying off our debts and every now and again treating ourselves to a little reward for our efforts.
Today, our country's economy is growing steadily and the Government is committed to building on that growth to create a dynamic and vibrant future for all New Zealanders.
Part of that future is the continued role of foreign investment in our economy.
There has been a lot of talk - and some concern - in recent weeks about the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment and overseas investment more generally.
Let me first say that there is nothing underhand about foreign investment. From the earliest days, New Zealanders built their dreams on foreign investment.
New Zealand will continue to need significant new investment if we are to maintain the high levels of economic growth we have enjoyed through most of the '90s.
It has been estimated that New Zealand will need to generate between $75 billion and $100 billion in new investment over the next five years to secure economic and job growth.
It is unrealistic to assume that sort of money will come out of New Zealanders' pockets alone, so we must constantly work to encourage investors here.
The stakes for New Zealanders are incredibly high. Thirteen years of economic reform have created significant new jobs. Since 1991, 227,800 new jobs have been created.
According to the forecasters 'BERL', if New Zealand could achieve a net inflow of investment of two per cent of GDP a year, our unemployment rate could potentially fall to just 3.3 per cent by 2005.
That is as low as you could find it anywhere in the world.
That is why the Government works so hard to promote New Zealand as an attractive place to invest foreign savings to help build a better future.
It's all about one's vision for the future.
Some want us to be a tired and stodgy nation, frightened of foreigners and their investment skills, others like myself know that it is the influx of investment and skilled people that will build that better tomorrow.
An example of which we are celebrating today.
Gulf Harbour is proof of what vision, energy and drive can achieve.
The result is certainly something that all New Zealanders can be proud of and enjoy.
So, well done, good luck and thank you all for the commitment you have put into this development.