New Zealand High Commission Pretoria, South Africa
Speech by Hon Phil Heatley at South Africa's National Day Reception in Wellington: 27 April 2012
This speech was given on Freedom Day, South Africa's National Day by Hon Phil Heatley, New Zealand Minister of Energy and Resources. The Minister delivered it at the South African High Commission's National Day function on 27 April 2012.
"Your Excellency High Commissioner Mongalo, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is my honour and privilege to represent the Government and people of New Zealand in celebrating the National Day of South Africa.
E ngā mana, E ngā reo, Tēnā koutou katoa.
Distinguished guests, Foreign representatives, Greetings to you all.
New Zealand is proud of the stance that it took against apartheid and I am doubly honoured to be able to join with you this evening in celebrating ‘Freedom Day.’
We also applaud South Africa’s journey over the last eighteen years as a unified and democratic nation and the renewed aspirations of its government and people in ‘building unity and prosperity for all.
As you have noted, Your Excellency, this year also marks the 100th anniversary of the formation of the ANC Party – an organisation that has played such a fundamental role in creating the South Africa of today.
South Africa is one of New Zealand’s closest friends in Africa. We have a growing trading relationship. We maintain a constructive partnership in the multilateral arena, promoting and supporting a robust international system. Our countries also have historical links, including fighting alongside each other in World Wars I and II.
This is a relationship with great potential. South African has the largest economy in the continent and is a gateway to other parts of southern Africa. South Africa’s economic importance is also recognised on the international stage as part of the ‘BRICS’ group of leading emerging economies.
New Zealand companies have seen the opportunities in this vibrant economy, with close to 250 Kiwi firms now operating there. This includes New Zealand’s largest company, Fonterra, which has a major joint-venture with the leading South African dairy brand, Clover Industries.
The New Zealand government is committed to growing the trade and investment relationship in the coming years. Our joint efforts on the Track II Trade study, and the progress we have made on the related work programme, should help to support this goal.
Increasingly, the South Africa–New Zealand relationship is moving into exciting new areas. This has seen a number of key agreements signed in recent years, such as the Film Co-Production Agreement you mentioned, High Commissioner. Other agreements include a Fisheries Co-operation Arrangement concluded in 2007, and the 2009 amendments to the existing bilateral Air Services Agreement, which allowed for improved air links between our two countries.
We look forward to further realising the potential that exists between our two countries. Building on the friendship that we share and making the most of the great opportunities for growth.
Of course, it is impossible to discuss the relationship between New Zealand and South Africa without mentioning the “S-word” – sport. There is strong rivalry, but also a passion for sport that links our two countries.
I know that when Prime Minister Key and his family travelled to South Africa in 2010 to attend the FIFA World Cup they thoroughly enjoyed their visit.
We were honoured to have the Deputy President and a number of senior ministers come to New Zealand the following year to be part of the Rugby World Cup and help support the Springboks.
Wellington was home base for the Springbok supporters in the early part of the competition, and the green and gold fans were out in force on the streets. Luckily for us, this time South Africa did not spoil our World Cup ambitions, as they have had a habit of doing in the past.
Unfortunately, New Zealand was less successful during the South African cricket team’s tour of this country during the summer, although we were delighted to host such an impressive and talented team.
Your Excellency, before I conclude please allow me to acknowledge the considerable contributions you have made in your role as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps. It has been a busy period and we certainly could not have accomplished so much without your unstinting support. Thank you very much.
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a toast to His Excellency President Zuma and the people of South Africa – to the President."