Time to acknowledge Auckland’s founding father – lets put up a statue to Governor Captain Hobson

Blessing of the Fishing Fleet – Auckland Anniversary Day:Speech notes Mike Lee

Tena koutou katoa.

First of all I wish to extend to you the warm greetings of the Mayor of Auckland Len Brown who cannot be with us at this particular event as he has other engagements on this important day – in fact I believe right now he is out on the harbour on the HMNZS Wellington.  .  May I also extend to you all the greetings of the new Auckland Council.

Can I also acknowledge the dignitaries present her today, the members of the clergy,  Rev Wayne Toleafoa principal chaplain RNZN, Rev Chris Barnes, Anglican Chaplain of the Mission to Seafarers, Ngati Whatua  kaumatua Matt Maihi,  fishing industry leaders here in Auckland Shane Walsh Sanford manager of inshore fisheries.  Shane is also the driving force behind the Auckland seafood festival.  Congratulations Shane the festival this year has been more successful than ever.  Also inshore fleet manager of Sanford Jim Fitzpatrick.  And representing the captains and crews of the fishing fleet Caption Bob McCallister and his lovely wife Gracie.  Jim is the president of the the NZ Fishing Industry Guild.  May I also greet the captains and crews of the fishing fleet here today. Ladies and Gentlemen – citizens of Auckland.

It is right and fitting that today and by tradition we Aucklanders focus the celebrations of anniversary of the founding of this great city on our magnificent Waitemata Harbour.

For it was the Waitemata  Harbour – with all its manifest advantages that persuaded Governor William Hobson, the first Governor of New Zealand to carry his flag here and establish the capital of the new colony of New Zealand.  We remember he did so at the invitation of the great Ngati Whatua ancestor Apihai te Kawau And it was Governor Hobson who first called this place Auckland.Historian and commentator Gordon McLauchlan makes the argument that it is William Hobson who should be considered the true ‘father of Auckland’, and as I stand here on Hobson Wharf can I congratulate that citizen who last week wrote to the NZ Herald proposing that the time was long overdue that we in Auckland put up a statue to Governor Captain William Hobson.

Governor William Hobson

Irish Born - Governor William Hobson - First Governor of New Zealand and founding father of Auckland.

Governor Hobson, is very much one of us -  unlike all the other colonial governors he never made it home to England – he lies with us still – in a rather humble (and rather neglected) grave in Grafton. 

Governor Hobson, Captain Hobson was of course a Royal Navy man and when you think about it, a navy captain is a very fitting person to have founded a city which has such a proud maritime history.

New Zealand is very much an island nation and Auckland is very much a Harbour City –  and not just a harbour city but a Port City the location of the largest port in the country – the Ports of Auckland,  100% owned by the people of Auckland.

The wisdom of Governor Hobson’s decision to build a city here has been borne out – and though we grown away somewhat from our maritime roots, for it is still largely by the maritime trade that Auckland makes its way in the world.

And we can see out on the Harbour today – all the varied elements which make up our proud maritime tradition –

  • the seafaring tradition of the Maori people is symbolised by the Ngati Whatua waka taua, Mahuhu o te Rangi
  • the Royal New Zealand Navy represented by the frigate HMNZS Wellington and fisheries patrol vessel HMNZS Rotoiti
  • the working black boats, the tugs and merchant ships –
  • the vast yachting and recreational power boat fleet which has made NZ one of, if not the leading yachting nation in the world

and last but not least the ships of our proud, hardworking and economically vital fishing fleet.

If one studies the history of the great maritime nations of the Old World, Portugual, Spain, Holland, Britain, France and Norway you will find that it was the fishing fleets of those countries which for a number of technical and economic reasons formed the foundation – the very backbone of those great maritime nations.  And that is true today, with the new economically powerful countries of Asia.

New Zealand for its part is a relatively small country – with a relatively small population.  But we in NZ don’t always appreciate that New Zealand’s coastline being 15,134 km is the 9th largest in the world, and New Zealand’s marine fishing territory – our Exclusive Economic Zone is 4.4 million square kilometres – the 4th largest EEZ in the world.

So small we may be – but in terms of ocean territory, New Zealand is a veritable Super Power.  So the importance of our fishing industry and our fishing fleet should never be underestimated.

Our fishing fleet not only feeds New Zealand but also helps feed the world. New Zealand’s total annual fish and seafood exports amount to 287,000 tonnes a year  – worth some $1.4 billion dollars annually – and rising.

The fishing industry also provides employment for nearly 27,000 New Zealanders. 

The new Auckland Council and its Waterfront Development Agency following on from the former Auckland Regional Council is very much aware of the critical importance of the our fishing industry to New Zealand – and to Auckland for food, for jobs and for exports and we pledge to work closely and supportively with the Fishing Industry.   While our waterfront has enormous potential as an attraction and entertainment precinct for both Aucklanders and our visitors alike – we are also determined that this will remain a working waterfront. And I believe Aucklanders understand and support this.

So let us acknowledge today the hardworking men and women of our fishing industry and can I on behalf of the laypeople here today endorse the prayers of our chaplains and the blessing of Rev Chris Barnes and say ‘God Bless the ships of the fishing fleet and all who sail in them.’

Na reira, tena koutou, tena kutou, tena koutou, katoa.

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