Credentials ceremonies at Government House

Credential ceremonies are an important part
of the Governor-General’s constitutional and ceremonial duties as Her Majesty’s representative
in New Zealand. The order in which each Head of Mission presents
their credentials is determined by the date and time of the envoys arrival into New Zealand. The credentials ceremony has a distinctive
New Zealand character and serves to welcome the new Head of Mission to Government House
and New Zealand. The distinctive part of the ceremony is the
powhīri, or traditional Māori welcome and brings an important Maori element to the welcome
to New Zealand. The designate Head of Mission arrives in a
Government House limousine, accompanied by Aide de Camp to the Governor-General and New
Zealand’s Chief of Protocol or a Protocol official. They are met by the Deputy Official Secretary
and the Governor-General’s kaumatua and kuia – male and female Māori elders – who
guide the Head of Mission through the cultural ceremony. Upon meeting the kaumatua and kuia, the Head
of Mission is invited to hongi. The hongi or pressing of noses signifies the
joining together of tangata whenua – the hosts, and the manuhiri – the visitors,
by this close face-to-face meeting. As the party enters the South lawn, a warrior
will approach and deliver a wero or a traditional challenge. Traditionally the wero was a way to test the
intentions of the visitor. Today it features more as part of the welcome
ceremonies accorded to distinguished visitors. By picking up the offering of the taki – in
this case, a carved dart – the visitors show that they have come in peace. Māori protocol requires men to pick up a
taki. If the Head of Mission is female, then the
Kaumatua, or an adult male member of her party will pick up the taki for the Head of Mission. The party is then invited to proceed. The visiting party is greeted by a karanga – a call of welcome, by a kuia – a female elder from the host’s side, which is then
responded to by the kuia on the visitor’s side. The karanga, which includes a welcome and
acknowledgment, recognises the essential differences between the two sides and helps them establish
common ground. The cultural party then performs a haka powhīri,
a further greeting to welcome the Head of Mission to New Zealand. The
Head of Mission and party members are invited to meet and hongi with the leaders of the
cultural party. The Head of Mission and the Aide de Camp move
to the saluting dais, and the inspection of a New Zealand Defence guard of honour begins The provision of a military guard of honour signifies New Zealand’s respect for the Head of Mission, the Ambassador or the High Commissioner. At the conclusion of the outdoor ceremony,
the Aide de Camp escorts the party inside. Accompanied by the Official Secretary of Government House, the Head of Mission enters the Blundell drawing room where the Governor-General is waiting. The Chief of Protocol announces the Head of Mission and invites them to deliver their speech. The Head of Mission gives the speech of introduction and presents their letter of credential. The Minister of the Government recommends the credentials be accepted. The Governor- General gives a speech of welcome. The Governor-General then introduces their
spouse, and the Minister. The Head of Mission introduces their party. The Chief of Protocol introduces representatives
from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Official photographs are taken Heads of Mission gather together for an official reception with the Governor General

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