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U.S. Independence Day 2023
July 5, 2023

Ambassador Tom Udall Remarks U.S. Independence Day Reception

Ambassador Tom Udall Remarks U.S. Independence Day Reception

June 29, 2023

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

Ko Sangre de Cristo te maunga  

Ko Rio Grande te awa

Nō Santa Fe ahau

Ko Jill Cooper taku hoa wahine

Ko Udall tōku whanau

Ko Tom tōku ingoa


Members of Parliament,
The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and fellow Ambassadors, High Commissioners and colleagues from the Diplomatic Corps, Mayors and Council Members,
the Chief of Defence Force and other Defense leaders,
former Prime Minister Palmer,
the Police Commissioner,
Members of the Judiciary,
friends, whānau, and our sponsors of tonight’s event – 


Welcome to the United States’ 247th Independence Day Celebration!


While we know it’s not quite yet the Fourth of July, we are holding Independence Day celebrations in Wellington, Auckland, Apia, and Rarotonga this year.  So we spread our events across a few different dates.  And I wanted to celebrate in Wellington first.


What better place for our Independence Day celebration than Sky Stadium?  Honestly, I’m here to practice my congratulatory speech for when the U.S. Women’s soccer – I mean football – team beats the Dutch team here on July 27th!  


I’m giving fair warning to our Dutch colleagues now!  


I hope you bought your tickets because we will witness some incredible matches right here in this stadium!  Thank you to our friends at Sky Stadium for enabling us to host our event here tonight and for everything you are doing to support the FIFA Women’s World Cup.  I would also like to thank all of our sponsors who made tonight possible.  We are extremely grateful for your support.


Let’s talk about the Women’s World Cup for a moment.  It represents something important for me, my wife, our daughter, and all the important women and women leaders in our lives.  Our number one seeded women’s team represents –  for us and the world – the importance of women’s sports and issues such as pay parity for women across all fields of work.  

I salute the teams who are showing the world how to play first class soccer!  And I am glad to see that every woman playing in this year’s world cup will receive payment – a step in the right direction.


Thank you for supporting the United States, our team, and the tens of thousands of Americans who are about to show up in Aotearoa to cheer on the U.S. women.  You can’t keep us away!  


I am delighted to have so many Americans coming to New Zealand to experience what I’ve experienced over the past 18 months:


  • the manakitanga – wonderful New Zealand hospitality
  •  the tangata and taonga whenua – the people and treasures of the land, 
  • the aroha – love.  

Jill and I are loving our time in the Land of the Long White Cloud, and I know visiting Aotearoa will be a once in a lifetime experience for so many of my fellow Americans. 


What a year it has been!  The tone was set when President Biden held the first ever U.S.-Pacific Islands Summit last year.  

The Declaration on U.S.-Pacific Partnership that came out of the Summit, specifically recognized the power of sport to bring people together in the Pacific way.  


But the Declaration also did much more than that.  It put into writing what we are all doing – committing ourselves to working together to solve global problems. 


The Declaration has allowed the United States to put our words into action.  President Biden announced that, following consultations, we would recognize the Cook Islands and Niue.  The United States is well on its way to doing that.  


President Biden also announced the opening of new U.S. embassies in the Pacific.  We’ve since opened embassies in the Solomon Islands and Tonga.  


Last month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Prime Minister Chris Hipkins in Papua New Guinea while meeting Pacific Islands Forum leaders.  


We excited about all of these developments in the Pacific!  We are engaged!  We are committed!


We are also learning from and partnering with New Zealand as we engage more and more in the Pacific.  

Earlier this month we held the U.S.-New Zealand Strategic Dialogue here in Wellington.  It was the perfect opportunity to openly discuss how far we’ve come, and where we are going – together.  


Let me repeat that – together.  


Actually, there’s a perfect te reo phrase– mahi tahi to work together as one.  That’s what we do – the United States and New Zealand.  It’s what all of us in this room do.  We are stronger when we work together. 


We’ve seen our strength firsthand when we work together to tackle issues related to extreme weather and climate change.  


Earlier this year, Cyclone Gabrielle devastated New Zealand.  It claimed lives and destroyed property.  People from all walks of life – businesses, non-profits, government agencies, and individuals– came together to help.  Including disaster relief professionals from USAID that we were able to bring over.  


U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited a few weeks later and helped build relationships to further our work on climate issues.  


We also saw the first ever visit of a NASA Administrator, Bill Nelson.  NASA’s work in New Zealand does more than contribute to the booming aerospace industry.  It also provides imagery and data to help us identify extreme weather events early.  


These high-level visits always advance our goals together.


Speaking of together, I would like to close out my speech by returning to FIFA Women’s World Cup.  

This is a fantastic opportunity for us all to unite.  Sport is universal.  It doesn’t matter what language you speak, what color your skin is, who you pray to, or who you love.  You just get out on the field and play.  


I’m proud of the U.S. Women’s Team and their fight for equal pay as well as equitable treatment.  There’s still a long way to go to truly achieve equality and inclusion in sport.  However, as Americans – as humans – we work together to solve problems.  If you see something unjust, you come together and stand against it.  That is what we do in sport, it’s what we do in society, it’s what we do in democracies.  Let’s support our women over the next two months as they play hard.  And, let’s support each other.


Thank you for joining me in celebrating the 247th birthday of the United States.  In the year ahead, as we did over the past year, let’s work together as one.  Mahi tahi.


I would now like to invite all of you to please join me in a toast to the health and happiness of His Majesty King Charles the Third, King of New Zealand, the Government and the people of New Zealand.


To the King! 


I now have the honor of inviting Deputy Secretary for the Americas and Asia from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Deborah Geels – to give remarks followed by another toast. 


Photos and Social Media

Photos from the receptions can be found here: Auckland / Wellington.