Richard Fuchs Archive Launch 2008 - Governor-General's Speech:

May I begin by greeting everyone in the languages of the realm of New Zealand, in English, Maori, Cook Island Maori, Niuean, Tokelauan and New Zealand Sign Language.

Greetings, Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Taloha Ni – and as it is evening and the sun has set [sign]

May I specifically greet you: Mrs Soni Mulheron and your family; Our guest of honour this evening, Steven Sedley; Hon Judith Tizard, Associate Minister of Arts and Culture; Chris Finlayson, Member of Parliament; distinguished guests otherwise; ladies and gentlemen.

It is with delight that my wife Susan and I welcome you all to Government House tonight to launch the Richard Fuchs Archive – and to celebrate the life and work of an extraordinary person.

It is most exciting to find that we have in our history a composer of great stature – and that we are now able to hear his works.

Richard Fuchs arrived in Wellington in 1939 from Germany. I am told that he had been imprisoned in a concentration camp and that his music had been banned because he was Jewish.

The Second World War broke out shortly after his arrival in New Zealand and he found himself identified as an 'enemy alien' and subject to a number of restrictions.

He was not allowed to pursue his profession as an architect, in which he has already gained a great reputation in Germany, or to travel more than a few miles from his home.

As his grandson, the Wellington actor, director and writer Danny Mulheron put it well when he said in the press release announcing this concert: "It was a cruel irony to have been confined in Dachau for being a Jew and then to find himself confined in Karori for being a German!"

I would like to pay tribute tonight to Richard Fuchs and all those who have played a role in resurrecting his work.

And while we celebrate him, I think it is also timely to remember the many others, mainly Jewish people, who arrived here from Europe in those troubled years – famous names such as Maria Dronke, Fred Turnovsky, Arthur and Lisl Hilton, Ernst Plischke, Peter Munz – and many others.

Moving to this small, distant land, so far from home, into what we would now call 'culture shock.' Like all migrants they had the difficult- ies of adapting to a new land. There must have been a considerable amount of, what the anthropologist Dame Joan Metge has famously termed, 'talking past each other'.

But as refugees—people who left because they were forced or compelled to leave—there was also the sense of despair in being unable to return home and of family and friends who were unable to escape and had perished in the horrors that unfolded in Europe.

What occurred was vividly brought home when in April 2007 I opened the Wellington Holocaust Research and Education Centre on Yom Hashoah, the Jewish International Day to commemorate the millions who died during the Holocaust.

But despite all that those who settled in New Zealand had suffered and endured, and all that they had lost, they brought to bear not only their great talents but also a great generosity.

New Zealand culture, and particularly that of Wellington, was enormously enriched by their contribution. And that has continued to be the case through efforts of their children and grandchildren.

Ours is now a far more diverse nation that at any point in its history. The last Census revealed that 23 per cent of New Zealanders were born overseas and a major challenge for those arriving in New Zealand, is how to integrate into our society and yet hold on to their own culture, customs and languages.

It is important that they are able to be New Zealanders and to 'be themselves'. It is equally important that other New Zealanders recognise, respect and understand the various cultures that make up our country in the 21st Century.

The example of those Jewish people who came from Europe in the 1930s and 40s and have given us such a rich heritage reminds us of how important it is for New Zealand to appreciate the talents of its new migrants.

The challenge for New Zealanders today is to allow people to speak with their own voices while they become New Zealanders.

There is a Maori saying that expresses the concept of identity in community:

'Ko tou reo, ko tuku reo te tuakiri tangata, Tihei uriuri, tihei nakonako': which translates as: "Your voice and my voice are expressions of identity; May our descendents live on and our hopes be fulfilled."

Richard Fuchs is a wonderful example of someone gave his huge talents to his new country. He is now to be celebrated as a German composer – and as a New Zealand one as well.

I would like to thank those who have worked to bring his 'voice' back to us, and particularly historian Steven Sedley, who played such an important role in rediscovering Richard Fuchs' work.

On that note I would like to close by offering you all greetings and wishing you good health and fortitude in your endeavours in New Zealand's first language – Maori:

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tena koutou katoa.

After the formalities are completed, I would like to invite you to wander around the public areas of Government House later this evening. It has housed 19 Governors or Governors-General prior to our arrival in August 2006 and houses many artefacts, taonga and art works that reflect New Zealand's history and culture. This building opened 98 years ago and will soon close for a major conservation project that will ensure it continues to serve our nation for another century.