Sir Jerry's Waitangi speech focuses on women's influence

5:47 pm on 6 February 2013

The Governor-General, Lieutenant-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, has paid tribute to the role women have played in creating today's New Zealand.

Sir Jerry delivered his first-ever Waitangi speech at Government House in Auckland on Wednesday. It is his second Waitangi Day as the Queen's representative.

Sir Jerry Mateparae is challenged on Te Tii Marae during a visit to Waitangi on Tuesday.

Sir Jerry Mateparae is challenged on Te Tii Marae during a visit to Waitangi on Tuesday. Photo: GOVERNMENT HOUSE

Sir Jerry told the crowd he likes to think Maori and Pakeha signed the treaty 173 years ago as a commitment to a relationship together but also to provide hope for a better future.

He says while debate over the treaty continues, its important to remember those discussions now happen with an understanding of how fundamentally important the country's founding document is.

Sir Jerry also paid tribute to the women who have shaped New Zealand, beginning with the 13 who signed the Treaty in 1840, and who 30 years later campaigned to get women the vote.

He said above all, today is a day to recognise the contribution of every New Zealanders, for making this country good and great.

Earlier, the Governor-General told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme Waitangi Day is becoming increasingly a day of celebration throughout New Zealand between two peoples who have a pretty good relationship.

He said New Zealanders are now more inclined to celebrate the national day in their own unique way.

Though there are bumpy times, the relationship between the two peoples is now going pretty well, he believed.

Sir Jerry said the Queen is very interested in what happens in New Zealand and he would send a note to Britain regarding the activities of the past few days.

Ahead of his speech, Sir Jerry told Morning Report women had a more significant role at Waitangi.

"One signed on the day and maybe 13 or so signed the Treaty. One woman was denied the act and so her husband said, 'Well, if she can't sign, I don't sign'".

Sir Jerry said those actions are part of the contributions men and women have made to the fabric of New Zealand society.

Wednesday is also the 120th anniversary of Women's Suffrage.