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U.S. Independence Day
U.S. Independence Day Reception Remarks by Chargé d’affaires, Kevin Covert
July 9, 2021

Tena tatou – Welcome to our celebration of America’s Independence Day

Tena tatou!

E te mana whenua, Te Ātiawa, tēnā koutou
E te Pirimia Tuarua, Grant Robertson, tēnā koe
E te Tumuaki Tuarua o Manatū Aorere, Mark Sinclair, tēnā koe

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā kāranga maha e hui hui ne
Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa

Tihei MAURI ora!

Ko Shenandoah te maunga
Ko Chesapeake te moana
Ko Covert te hapu
Ko Kevin toku ingoa
Ko Lesya taku hoa wahine
Kei te Mihana o Amerika ahau e mahi ana

Nō reira, nau mai, haere mai ke Te Ahumairangi!

Nau mai e ngā hua
O te wao
O te ngakina
O te wai tai
O te wai Māori

Ko Ranginui e tū iho nei
Ko Papatūānuku e takoto nei
Tūturu whakamaua

Kia Tina! TINA!
Haumi e, hui e, TĀIKI E! 

Dear Mr. Speaker, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers of the Crown and Members of Parliament, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, and members of the Diplomatic Corps, Mayors and Council Members, senior Defence leaders, friends and whānau.

Welcome to our celebration of America’s Independence Day.

And welcome to the National Library – Te Ahumairangi.  It is right and just that we gather here today, in the presence of He Tohu:

  • He Whakaputanga, the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand;
  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Treaty of Waitangi; and
  • Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine, the Women’s Suffrage Petition.

The ideas that these taonga represent – self-determination, national sovereignty, and human rights – are now generally accepted and honored around the world.

And as we gather in their shadow, we respect the mana of this place, we honor those who came before us, and we feel the power of their words.

For we gather here today to celebrate the creation of a nation founded on an idea.  The simple yet powerful idea that all men and women are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable, universal human rights.

We celebrate that idea, even as we acknowledge our imperfections as a nation and accept our responsibilities as a society to live up to that promise.

This is the second time in two months we have celebrated freedom in America.

On June 19th, President Biden signed into law a declaration making “Juneteenth” a federal holiday, marking the date 156 years ago when a Union general rode into Texas and informed the Black slaves living there that they had been freed.  That all slaves in America were now free.

On June 19th, 2021, President Biden acknowledged that we still have much work to do, to heal as a nation, and to live up to our founding promise.

As the brilliant young poet Amanda Gorman sang on Inauguration Day:

Yes, we are far from polished

Far from pristine

But that doesn’t mean we are

Striving to form a union that is perfect

We are striving to forge a union with purpose

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us

But what stands before us

And what stands before us, my friends, as we celebrate this Independence Day together, is a shared commitment to honor the timeless truth of our Declaration and the hope it holds for all.

I believe, that – working together – we can be a force for good and make this world a better place.

Working together, we can deliver vaccines to the Pacific Island countries.  We can cut carbon emissions and invest in green growth.  We can prevent extremists from exploiting the internet to spread hate and sow division.

We can defend human rights, uphold democratic values, and protect religious freedom. We can put a woman on the Moon and send people to Mars.

I know we can, because I have seen what we can do, working together, here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

I have seen hope and expectation in the eyes of a 12-year old New Zealand student, Sophie Ineson, who boldly asked the Prime Minister why there were not more women working in space.

We wondered ourselves, and introduced Sophie and the Southland Girls’ High School to three of our NASA interns — all Kiwi women.  After spending time with them and hearing their inspirational stories, we know that we won’t have to wonder much longer.

And so, my friends, we come together today to celebrate America’s 245th birthday and to renew the promise that America represents.

And as we do so, we also celebrate you, our partners and friends.  We restore our faith in each other.  And we promise to build a better world, together.

Thank you for your attention and your friendship.  And happy birthday, America!

I would now like to invite Deputy Secretary Mark Sinclair – and all of you – to please join me in a toast to the health and happiness of the people, the government, and Her Majesty the Queen of New Zealand.

To the Queen!


Photo album on Flickr