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Speeches

C. Craig: Address to World Summit 2013

PhotoI shall begin briefly by referring to the role New Zealand plays with regard to peace, security and human development. I shall then identify challenges that New Zealand now faces in fulfilling this role, challenges that I believe are shared by many other nations. I shall then conclude with thoughts on how we as political leaders and those with influence might address these challenges and actively work for a better world.

New Zealand is a small, beautiful, and resource rich nation at the bottom of the South Pacific. Primarily made up of two islands which we creatively called the North and South Island, it incorporates many smaller islands. It is a remote location and was one of the last places on earth to be settled. In the 1800s the native Maori people petitioned Britain to make New Zealand a colony, and this was formalized by a treaty with the British crown in 1840. New Zealand has since that time remained within the British Commonwealth and retained as its primary allies and partners in international affairs the nations of the western alliance: Britain, the USA, Canada, and most importantly Australia. New Zealand and Australia have a proud and co-operative history especially in our military efforts, having fought side by side as brothers in all major conflicts.

New Zealand, though small in population (now just over 4 million people), has always punched above its weight in international affairs. We have fought in support of our allies in all major conflicts and have participated and still do in numerous peacekeeping roles not just in the Pacific but around the world, where we always acquit ourselves well and make lasting friendships. Proportionally, we have given international aid more generously than nearly any other nation and at least until the late 1980s sent proportionally more mission and aid workers into the world than most other nations.

However, times are changing; there are new challenges that face us. People are now more focused on their own self-interest, economically we are not as strong, and financial resources are scarce. We spend less and less on our military forces and more and more on the welfare of our own people. We eat in abundance; our fastest growing health problem is obesity. We give aid to many nations, but they are small contributions and most never reach the needy people in a way that will make a lasting difference.

It is timely to look ahead and ask ourselves what is our role and how will we contribute to a better future.

I find it is often a simple story that inspires us, and many of you will be aware of the story known as "The Good Samaritan.” It is the story of a traveler who stopped to help a stranger; the stranger was a man of another tribe and race with whom the traveler had no bond. The traveler took the stranger who had been beaten up by robbers, he transported him on his own donkey, and paid for his care. He even came back to check on him and meet any further expenses until the stranger could once more make his own way in the world.

From this story I identify three lessons that we as leaders may learn.

Firstly we must look to ourselves and our communities and ask, are we prepared and ready to help others? Do we care? It seems to me a great problem exists especially amongst the younger generation of the affluent nations. There is a philosophy that many are adopting that centers on one’s own self and promotes happiness through the consumption and ownership of material things -- a philosophy big on rights but light on responsibilities. Such self-seeking thrives when traditional family bonds and religious belief are weak. Surely we as political leaders must do what we can to strengthen family and encourage faith and belief.

Secondly, we must have the strength to help others. Can we resist the robbers and those who would prey upon the weak? I think it is a good thing to be strong and to join with others in alliances. We live in a real world where there is real evil, not all people are well intentioned. But while it is useful to be strong, we must remember that there is no virtue in strength alone. We must be committed to use our strength for that which is right and good. Will we protect the innocent and the vulnerable? Will we defend the liberty and freedom of not just our own but also those who are strangers to us?

Finally, I believe we must look at how we give international aid. It is easy to give little amounts to many and then look for applause. It is far harder to travel with a stranger using your own donkey while you walk and then commit not just to meet their expenses but to come back again until such time as they can stand on their own. True aid is that which gives without expectation of return; it doesn’t have political ties and truly seeks to restore the other to productivity --not a hand-out that leads to dependence but freely given assistance so that the other might reach self-sufficiency. Many of us will have heard that wise saying: “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day but teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” It requires so much more to teach a man to fish, but I believe it is the course we must pursue.

In conclusion, then let us be the champions for strong families, leaders who encourage faith and belief and promote a philosophy that says it is good to help those who are strangers to us. Let us seek strength but only so that we may defend liberty and freedom for all peoples.

Let us build nations that are generous. Let us not assume a false generosity for the sake of applause or to extend our economic influence but a genuine generosity, giving freely to others so that they may stand on their own.

Let us be leaders who restore the dignity of others, who promote peace and unity.

In whatever way we are able to do this, we bring credit not just to ourselves but to the nations we represent.