The Republic of Korea's National Foundation Day

  • Phil Heatley
Energy and Resources

E Nga Waka                          [Distinguished representatives]

E nga Mana                           [Esteemed guests]

E nga Hou e wha                            [Travellers from near and far]

Tena Koutou katoa               [Greetings to you all]

Your Excellency Ambassador Park, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you, Ambassador, for the kind invitation to join you in celebrating Korea’s National Foundation Day.

It’s a pleasure to celebrate this special occasion with you during the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries - New Zealand’s and Korea’s 2012 Friendship Year. 

We have a lot to celebrate.  Our friendship is warm and deep, as demonstrated by the welcome our Prime Minister and Ministers have received on their visits to Korea this year.  We also enjoyed hosting Foreign Minister Kim in New Zealand in August.

We can also look back at our shared struggle on the battlefields of the Korean War and our co-operation in the foundation years of the Republic of Korea.  These experiences forged our political, security and defence links, and helped create a common vision for a better future.

We take pride in the extensive bilateral links we have built over the years of Korea’s rapid and impressive development and emergence as a world economic leader.  Korea is now New Zealand’s fifth largest trading partner, our second largest market for tourists, and our second largest source of international students.

We have an expanding range of joint science and technology projects, and established links in film and sports.  This year, we signed an agreement allowing for close co-operation between New Zealand and Korea on issues relating to Antarctica.

We can both celebrate the presence of almost 30,000 New Zealanders of Korean ethnic origin who contribute talent, determination and drive to New Zealand’s diverse population, as shown by the Estrella Quartet’s performance tonight.  It is great to see our friends in Korea lay as much claim as we do to our Kiwi champions Cecilia Cho, Danny Lee and Lydia Ko.  Yes, they are definitely Kiwis, but they are very much a part of you, too.

In closing, this year Korea has brought to New Zealand a wave of Friendship Year cultural events, from traditional Korean music to K-Pop, and tonight a wonderful feast of Korean food.  In Korea, I understand we have shared New Zealand theatre, music and dance.  We have both enjoyed sporting and academic exchanges.  

In this spirit of sharing, we were thrilled that one of Korea’s top actresses, Ms Ha Ji-won, who was appointed New Zealand Cultural Ambassador in 2008, was able to meet my colleague Murray McCully, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, during his visit to Seoul last month to receive a plaque of recognition for her work in helping to promote links between our two countries.

Thank you for sharing so much of Korea’s great spirit with us over the years.  We are proud to be your friends and look forward to even closer ties over the next 50 years.

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:  please join me in a toast to his Excellency President Lee Myung Bak and the people of the Republic of Korea: to the President.