“New Zealand is a country that works”

Sir Anand Satyanand – new-zealand-is-a-country-sir-anand-satyanand-web

Indian Newslink Editor Venkat Raman has asked me to contribute an article to the 17th anniversary edition of the newspaper. Additionally, he has suggested that I take as a starting point, an excerpt of something I said at the Indian Newslink Lecture bearing my name in July and write about that in an expanded fashion.

The excerpt he referred to me said, “The values we consider important in life are not any birth right. They are grounded in the values of those who have preceded us, formed and shaped through education and through interactions with peers, colleagues and role models.”

Evidential Setting

To expand on all this, I refer to an evidential setting for this kind of thing to be said.

Many New Zealanders will have received hospitality from Maori people and been invited to attend an occasion on a Marae.

It will be recalled that a central practice followed by Maori in a Marae setting is for a song to be sung after a speech has been given.

This can be applied in other settings as well.

One of the most well-known songs or waiata heard on these occasions is that called ‘E Hara I Te Mea.’  The words of that song which translated mean ‘It Is Not A New Thing’ will be recalled by many, and go

Ehara i te mea

Nō nāianei te aroha

Nō ngā tupuna

Tuku iho tuku iho

Translated into English, the words of the whole song E Hara say as follows

It Is Not A New Thing

Not the thing

of recent times, is love

but by the ancestors it has been

passed down, passed down.


From the land, the land

comes the wellbeing of the people;

by the ancestors it has been

passed down, passed down.


Faith, hope
and love;
by the ancestors they have been
passed down, passed down.


The thought I was advancing, in my July spoken contribution, was allied to the song E Hara in two senses.

First, that our values and actions are drawn from precedents supplied by our parents and secondly that values and actions can come from learning experiences we may have derived from classmates, colleagues and friends.

Superdiverse New Zealand

May I suggest that the above is something well worth saying in a New Zealand that has reached a point of becoming described, by academic writers and population experts as superdiverse.

Those of us of Indian background can add into our country’s regular life, notions of enjoying traditional food and music.

Reflection on the many thousands from various backgrounds who, each Diwali now, enjoy the vibrant colours and rituals and who eat the special sweetmeats and watch the music and dancing, emphasise this.

Our country is considerably on its way to becoming an even more fully multicultural society. A key to New Zealand’s development has been recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi under which Maori agreed to share their land with those who arrived, so long as certain of their rights and practices were respected.

The arrival of New Zealand into being a fully multicultural society will call for people to continue their adherence to whatever religion or practices they choose and at the same time to respect others and their beliefs.

If this is accepted, the well-founded values of New Zealand – tolerance of others, encouragement for those less well off, to take two characteristics, will be joined by others.

New Zealand will in turn continue to earn the praise offered us by former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, when he said, “New Zealand is a country that works.”

In my view, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of the modern India, put it well when he once said, “Failure comes only when we forget our ideals and objectives and principles”.

I add congratulations on the achievement of 17 years in publication.


Sir Anand Satyanand is former Governor General of New Zealand (August 2006 to August 2011) in whose name we conduct the Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture every year. He is currently Chairman of the Commonwealth Foundation, London.

Taken as relevance, repetition of the following edited version of his address at the Sixth Annual Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture held on Monday, July 25, 2016 at Pullman Hotel Auckland would seem appropriate.

Reserve Bank of New Zealand Governor Graeme Wheeler was the Guest Speaker with Victoria University (Wellington) Professor Sekhar Bandyopadhyay as Master of Ceremonies and Business Journalist Rod Oram as the Summation Speaker.

Promoting values adds to good governance

Sir Anand Satyanand

July 2016 seems to me to be a very suitable time for you, Graeme Wheeler, as Governor of the Reserve Bank to be the lecture deliverer.

The Bank sits, as those who have followed contemporary events will know, at the junction between business and government with three statutory roles, first to manage monetary policy to maintain price stability, secondly to promote the maintenance of a sound and efficient financial system, and thirdly to meet the currency needs of the public.

Touching on the last item for a moment, it is amazing to think, as we recognise easily and use regularly the well-known Kiwi banknotes, with Sir Ed Hillary and Kate Shepherd and Sir Apirana Ngata (and occasionally at least for those of us in Wellington, the 100 dollar note with Lord Rutherford on them), that they have been with us since 1934 when the Reserve Bank began operations.

Before then, any Bank could and did issue their own banknotes.

High Value System

Touching on the second item, New Zealand can claim a sound financial system that commands high value and which is regulated by the Reserve Bank.  To start up and operate a Bank or an Insurance company, for example, requires compliance with strict oversight that is provided by the Reserve Bank.

The third element of the Reserve Bank’s remit has been much in public attention in recent times – namely the management of monetary policy – interest rates, loan to value ratios and so forth.

Clean Reputation

In the article I wrote for the Indian Newslink earlier this month, I made mention of our country having developed, over time, an internationally respected reputation for accountability and transparency of institutions which has ensured, for example, a prominent and positive placement on the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, which has been published since 1993.

I wrote, that for a relatively small country, comprising 268,000 square kilometres and housing 4.6 million people with a small economy, and a GDP generating $240 billion, has required continued activity by a number of players.  An Important contributor in that regard is our Reserve Bank.

What our Lecturer, commentator and others will all say, will be both interesting and challenging, I have little doubt.

The proper focus for this year’s Lecture is on another aspect related to good governance in our country. The values we consider important in life are not any birth right. They are grounded in the values of those who have preceded us, formed and shaped through education and through interactions with peers, colleagues and role models.

I hope that my curtain raising has made anticipation of Graeme Wheeler’s address something that will remain memorable.

In conclusion, adopting the risk of repeating something I said at last year’s Lecture, I am one who has long admired the phrase of Robert Louis Stevenson which is becoming a byword for this occasion: “Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.”

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