New York

12 February 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at Waitangi Day celebration hosted by New Zealand

Thank you for inviting me to this wonderful celebration. Happy Waitangi Day!

I am delighted to be here. I deeply appreciate the UN’s partnership with New Zealand. And I am especially impressed by Maori culture.

Last year, I visited Taupo to see the Tuaropaki Trust. The indigenous people there have built a thriving modern business based on timeless ancient wisdom. This was an inspiring example of sustainable development in action.

In Taupo, I received much more than a tour of a multimillion dollar enterprise. The Maori people there welcomed me with beautiful songs. They gave me their friendship. And they taught me about true respect for our planet and each other.

I shared those experiences at the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in New York. My basic message then and now is that the United Nations will do everything we can for indigenous peoples – and we count on them to help lead the world to a more sustainable future.

You have all seen that New Zealand’s wonderful gift of a Rimu Wall that was unveiled this morning.

It features 40 beautiful new tukutuku panels that the Maori weavers made by hand. I thank them very much.

The United Nations will safeguard these treasures on behalf of the peoples of the world.

The panels all have special meanings.

One of them is called “The Eye of the Needle”.

It is inspired by a saying that different coloured threads must all pass through the same needle. According to tradition, the needle represents the law, faith and love.

This is a powerful symbol of our common humanity.

Let us be inspired on Waitangi Day to celebrate New Zealand’s strong partnership with the United Nations – and to renew our pledge of solidarity with all countries and peoples.

Thank you.