French Fest. Flag Raising.
21 September 2007
Your Excellency, Monsieur Le Gras, Madame Le Gras, dignitaries, special guests and the people of Akaroa, who make this part of Christchurch so vibrant and unique. Welcome.
This is a poignant moment in the history of Akaroa as we raise the flags of two nations, with traditions and customs and peoples that are joined by the arrival of a ship over 167 years ago. The Comte de Paris brought 57 French and nine German settlers who set up camp at Akaroa and began to build homes and establish gardens and farms. You can still see evidence of the walnuts, willows, grapevines and roses that they brought with them. That was the start of a relationship between France and New Zealand, and today this ceremony will mark a new future together.
This weekend, we commemorate the spirit of those pioneers and celebrate the other important aspects of Akaroa’s history, from the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, to the many cultures who have called Banks Peninsula 'home' over the centuries, and we mark this with the celebration of French Fest.
If you look across the harbour, you’ll see the digging stick of the ancestral Chief of the Waitaha people – Rakiahutu. This peak is also known as Mt Bossu, and legend states that Rakiahutu broke his digging stick here when carving out the mountains and lakes of the South Island. One early name for Banks Peninsula was – Te Pataka o Rakaihutu – the store house of Raikaihutu – which recalls that Rakaihutu and his Waitaha people were able to live on the abundance of seafood, foods from the forest, and bird life, to be found here.
Tonight we celebrate together all the history and stories of Akaroa – and especially the French - by feasting - with French food and New Zealand wine - in honour of our relationship with the French Embassy and the people of France.
It is now my great pleasure to invite His Excellency Monsieur Legras to offer his thoughts. Your Excellency -