2016 UN Day Celebration

Members, affiliates and supporters gathered at Government House in Wellington on 25 Oct to celebrate 70 years of the founding of the United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNA NZ).

Its founding members’ belief that the United Nations (UN) was the way to achieve prosperity and peace is as relevant today as it was 70 years ago. While the United Nations is still far from its ultimate goal, it has demonstrated its capacity to drive profound changes in attitudes to violence, human rights and global development. “We need to enrich our understanding of its work, affirm our support for it, and to strengthen the UN so it can serve us more effectively”, says UNA NZ President Joy Dunsheath JP. The celebrations at Government House also mark the 71st anniversary of the United Nations itself, which has been celebrated as United Nations Day on 24 October since 1948. View the press release here.

Over 280 guests from around the country attended the reception, which was hosted by their Excellencies the new Governor-General, The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy GNZM, QSO and Sir David Gascoigne KNZM. 

The Governor General's speech in opening the gathering (below) is followed by UNA NZ National President Joy Dunsheath (below) and UN Youth President Bhen Goodsir's speeches. The UN Secretary General's message was read by UNA NZ Secretary Karim Dickie. 

E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. 
Kia ora tātou katoa.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure for David and me to welcome you all to Government House this evening.

When I was first approached to be Governor-General, one of the things that attracted me to the role was the opportunity to contribute to New Zealand’s relationships in the international arena.
In the 21st century, we have seen Governors-General take on a greater role in engagements with our international trading partners.
I look forward to developing relationships with members of the diplomatic community and representing my fellow New Zealanders overseas.

I appreciate the efforts of UNANZ over the last 70 years to raise awareness and appreciation of the role of the United Nations in New Zealand.

For all of us, United Nations Day is an opportunity to affirm our mutual interest in international relations and our commitment to foster dialogue between nations.

Read the GG's full speech here.


The President's speech follows below:

Good evening,  

Tena Koutou, tena koutou, Tena Kotou Katoa

Ka nui te mihi                                                                      

kia Koutou katoa


Your Excellencies,           
Honourable Louise Upston
Members of Parliament, Members of the Diplomatic Corp and the Judiciary, Distinguished guests, supporters and friends of the United Nations Association of New Zealand …Ladies and Gentlemen I’m so pleased that you are here this evening to celebrate 70 years, yes 7 decades of dedication to the Charter of the United Nations by our own United Nations Association of New Zealand.

I wish to thank their Excellencies most sincerely for kindly hosting this reception and also, for this opportunity to speak and share some thoughts about the United Nations and our Association. Thank you, your Excellencies.

Now,… let’s travel back in time 71 years …. The devastating Second World War has just ended and the Charter of the United Nations comes into force on 24 October 1945, 71 years ago and 1 day.

A short time later in 1946 a group of New Zealanders get together and form the United Nations Association of New Zealand.  They are optimistic.

Their mission is to promote the United Nations.  As well as working locally they plan work through WFUNA, the World Federation of United Nations Associations, to promote world peace and justice, and to eradicate poverty and hunger.  We have continued that work for 70 years.

A significant number of eminent New Zealanders have associated themselves with us. While I do not have time to mention them all there are some I would like to highlight on this anniversary.

These include James Thorne, High Commissioner to Canada and New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United Nations from 1947.  On his return to New Zealand Thorne became President of our Association. 

Subsequent early Presidents have included Sir John Walsh, Sir James Belich and Professor John Adcock. More recently many Presidents have been retired diplomats and academics such as our previous two Presidents … the distinguished Michael Powles and Dr Graham Hassall.   

Gwen Ryan was the first women President of the Association in 1975 – 78.  Other notable women who shaped the direction include Joan Morrell, Dame Grace Hollander, Dame Laurie Salas, Rhyl Lady Jansen, and …Robin Halliday and Dr Kate Smith.  

We have Branches throughout NZ and I congratulate all these wonderful members who do so much to promote peace and prosperity.  

What are our views? What are we pushing for in 2016?  
I’m going to speak only for a few minutes and so please forgive me rushing over so many important initiatives.   

We continue our public education in the area of peace and disarmament. Nuclear danger through war or by accident is as close now as at any time. Fortunately, so far, instead of aggression, diplomacy has worked.

Throughout the 70 years of our organisation we have called for an international agreement to work toward the abolition of nuclear weapons.

One example is in 1996 when we endorsed the document, The Convention on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.  Last week, we drafted a letter to the Prime Minister strongly urging the government to do all it can for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Peace and human rights link all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals … the. SDGs. This is the core work of the entire United Nations system and it has received little media coverage in New Zealand.

We promote these SDGs. As you leave today you will each get a SDG to-do list and our new flyer. I really really believe that we can achieve these goals.

Sometimes there are mistakes and I think one of them happened last Friday.  The United Nations announced that Wonder Woman, yes the comic book character, has been selected as an honorary ambassador for, quote, “the empowerment of women and girls.”

I do not joke! … as much as this speech needs a few jokes.

The timing of Ambassador Wonder Women’s appointment is so ironic.  It’s all puzzling because in 71 years there has not been a real woman appointed to lead the United Nations.

Participation of women at the senior and leadership level needs to be increased but not by comic book characters and avatars.

In conclusion … I haven’t had time to talk about our current projects, UN Reform, our interests in International Humanitarian law, Human Rights of Indigenous people of all colonies and non-listed colonies which has recently become a priority for The Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Habitat 111, small island development particularly in the Pacific, financing of humanitarian efforts including the refugee crisis, preventative diplomacy, The Global Compact, global citizenship, the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and the Conference, workshops and seminars we have organised this year.    

The United Nations may not be perfect but it is the best we have to maintain rules-based international governance.

A strong United Nations makes a better world and our Association in its 70th year is helping this to be achieved.

Finally I would like to introduce Bhen Goodsir, the President of UN Youth.  He will be followed by Karim Dickie who will read a message from the United Nations Secretary General.

Thank you.   



Caption from left to right: Gary Russell, UNA NZ Vice- President, Maria Bernal UNA NZ Council Member, Dr Kennedy Graham MP UNA NZ Special Officer UN Renewal, Hon Louise Upston, Joy Dunsheath UNA NZ National President, their Excellencies the new Governor-General, The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy GNZM, QSO and Sir David Gascoigne KNZM, Karim Dickie UNA NZ Secretary, Dr Kate Smith UNA NZ Wanganui Branch President, Izolda Kazemzadeh UNA NZ Wellington Branch President. 

More photos can be viewed here


UN Day celebrations in 2015

On the 22nd October 2015, 270 dignitaries, guests and UNANZ members were hosted at Government House by His Excellency, Lt Gen, The Right Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO Governor-General of New Zealand and Lady Janine Mateparae to mark the important milestone of the UN’s 70th anniversary. 

  His Speech in opening the gathering is detailed below followed by UNANZ National President Graham Hassall's speech.

22 Oct 2015

E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu nau mai haere mai.  Tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou.  Kia ora tātou katoa.

I specifically acknowledge: Dr Graham Hassall, UNANZ National President; Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand and Lady Susan Satyanand; Her Worship Celia Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington; Members of the Diplomatic Corps; and Members of Parliament – tēnā koutou katoa.

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to Government House today for this reception to mark the 70th anniversary of founding of the United Nations and United Nations Association of New Zealand.

In 2015, the theme of our work at Government House has been nationhood.  It has been a year of significant anniversaries in the establishment of our nation –the 175th anniversary of the signing of our founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi; the 150th year of the establishment of Wellington as the nation’s capital, and one hundred years since the Gallipoli landings and battles.  Just last week, we also marked the 40th anniversary of the arrival in Wellington of the Hikoi led by Dame Whina Cooper, which in turn led to the establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal, significant turning points in our history.

Much of the external perception of our nationhood – our reputation, our international relationships, our commitment to be a responsible global citizen - has been played out, for the last 70 years, in, with and through the United Nations.

In 1945, as our servicemen and women were returning in their thousands from six long and weary years of war Peter Fraser, who had been a notable conscientious objector in the First World War – and yet a very effective wartime Prime Minister during the Second World War – helped to shepherd a new organisation with lofty and ambitious goals – the United Nations.  Like 50 other nations, New Zealand would become one of its founding member-nations.

Since then, we have played our part at the United Nations, and in its agencies, to further international peace and cooperation.  Our membership of the United Nations has enabled us to develop multilateral relations with countries that we may not necessarily have had diplomatic ties with.  And like many of the nations represented here today, we’ve contributed our people to all corners of the globe in support of United Nations’ initiatives.

Like many other nations, we have advocated for change and reform at the UN.  We have sought and supported consensus and challenged the UN to do the right things.

Currently, New Zealand is in the fortunate position to be able to bring influence in the UN as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.  Our current two-year role on the Security Council comes in a period of tension and challenges.  We live in an increasingly volatile international environment with complex security threats; a time of heightened concerns over the impact of climate change and environmental degradation, especially for small island states; continuing inequalities in the circumstances of humanity and huge numbers of disenfranchised and displaced people.

These issues affect us all – they truly are international problems.  The former Secretary-General Kofi Annan captured our collectiveness on this planet when he said: “More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny.  We can master it only if we face it together.  And that is why we have the United Nations.”

There is no equivalent international body with the capacity, indeed the mandate, to take on the weight of this enormous responsibility.  So in its eighth decade, I am sure we all share a hope that the member states of the United Nations can find new ways to work together to implement collective solutions – and to bring about workable and sustainable change.

The progress made in the Millennium Development Goals, in areas such as the reduction of extreme poverty, gender parity in primary education, and maternal mortality; and improving access to drinking water show that global initiatives can have an impact.

Unfortunately, the results have not been positive across the board.  Millions of people remain left behind.  Hence there is a new determination by the UN to tackle the root causes of inequities and ensure sustainable practices through 19 new Sustainable Development Goals.

The Sustainable Development Goals are ambitious and costly.  But we cannot afford the cost of not addressing the big global issues around food, water and energy security; sustainable agriculture; access to education and gender equality; employment and sustainable economic growth; the lack of infrastructure; negative climate change and ocean and land degradation; and access to justice.

As a sign of the times the UN turned to social media to get worldwide input into the new Sustainable Development Goals.  Social media will no doubt play a part in mobilising support for their implementation including the financial measures agreed to in the Addis Ababa Action Plan.

Commitment from all nations is required if the new development goals are to be achieved.  No doubt UNANZ will play a role in creating greater awareness of these goals within New Zealand.  Equally, the UNANZ can continue as the people’s movement for the United Nations in New Zealand promoting the engagement of the UN.

Congratulations to everyone associated with UNANZ for reaching this 70th anniversary milestone.  I wish you every success with your contribution to the United Nations commitment to humanitarian action to make a better world for us all.

Kia ora huihui tātou katoa. 

Dr Graham Hassall will now address us.



Governor General of New Zealand, Sir Jerry Mateparai and Lady Janine, Members of the Diplomatic Corp,  Members of Parliament,  Her Worship the Mayor of Wellington and Wellington City Councillors.  Leaders of Faith communities, Representatives of the UN Family: UNICEF, UN Women, UNESCO, and members of our affiliated organizations, Colleagues and students from Victoria University and Massey University And Distinguished guests

 On behalf of the members of the United Nations Association of New Zealand present here today, including those on the National Council, the National Executive, the Wellington, Wanganui, Waikato, and UN Youth branches and groups, 

We thank you, Sir Jerry, for once again welcoming us to Government House to observe and celebrate United Nations Day.  We are fortunate to have you as well as UNDP Administrator Helen Clark as our Patrons.

UNANZ was established in 1946 to provide a vehicle for citizens to support and promote the ideals of the United Nations, to inform the public about them, to offer views to government about interaction and engagement with the UN, and to contribute ideas as to how the UN system can be improved.

Occasions such as this assist us in achieving these fundamental purposes. They allow people from all walks of life to engage with high representatives of governments and organizations on the pressing matters of peace, development, and international cooperation and understanding.

Since celebrating UN day here last year, UNANZ members and branches have convened a national conference “New Zealand and the UN: Fulfilling Nationhood through Global Citizenship”; conducted a highly successful observance of Human Rights Day 2014 on New Zealand’s Universal Periodic Review in collaboration with the Human Rights Commission; convened a Diplomat’s Seminar series at Victoria University; hosted interns from New Zealand and from abroad (I acknowledge our current interns Olivia Levy from France and Brooke Pederson); issued reports on New Zealand’s Refugee policy and on Sustainable Urban Development in New Zealand; observed the International Day of Peace in Wellington in collaboration with Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and the Wanganui Branch; supported Maxi Blaha’s NZ tour of the play Soul of Fire depicting the life of 1st female Nobel peace prize winner Bertha von Suttner; participated in a major peace conference in Auckland; conducted sessions on the UN system in continuing education programmes in a number of cities; held Model UN events around the country under the auspices of UN Youth and the Waikato group; held public seminars on the Sustainable Development Goals, on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and on the third global conference of Small Island Developing States; and participated in MFAT briefings on NZ activities as a member of the Security Council.

Of course, all such activities, no matter how positive and purposeful, have taken place against a backdrop of pressing global crises: conflicts in Syria and other parts of the middle east which the UN security council has proven powerless to resolve, and which have resulted in a flow of humanity across national borders in numbers to rival the worst days of wold war two; delay in securing global agreement on measures to counter global warming, which the forthcoming 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UNFCCC in Paris in December will hopefully remedy; inability to  agree on reduction of nuclear weapons, or to resolve maritime boundary disputes in the South China sea, or to achieve closure of the long-standing conflict on the Korean peninsula, or to bring before the international criminal court such fugitives from justice as Joseph Kony.

Now, more than ever, our globalized world requires a body such as the United Nations to establish global public policy, to coordinate world trade and finance, to arbitrate disputes between nations, to ensure the protection of human rights, to promote social development, and to protect the planet’s environment.

But surely our United Nations Organization should reflect the realities of the 21st century and those of the immediate post-WWII world.  We now speak of global citizenship as well as national citizenship, and we feel the interconnectedness of cultures, economies, wars, and peace.

We in New Zealand are fortunate to have a government concerned about its global responsibilities, capable of engaging with many United Nations organs, agencies, and programmes. The challenge facing New Zealand society is keeping track of global affairs -which are so poorly reported in the mass media - and to identify interactions that will make a genuine positive contribution.

UNANZ seeks to offer such a pathway – to bring together individuals and organizations in activities that educate, inform, and propose change.

·       Next week, on October 29th, we commence the UNANZ Diplomat’s seminar series for 2015;

·       In November we will be represented at the World Federation of United Nations Associations’ triennial conference in Canada.

·       On December 10th - Human Rights Day - we will convene a seminar on the UN’s Global Compact

These events at national level will be accompanied by very many others by our Branches.


Sir Jerry, once again, thank you for making tonight’s observation of UN possible.  Thank you all, ladies and gentlemen, for coming. Please think about how we can best work with you and your organization to promote peace, development, and international understanding.

Commemorating and celebrating UN Day is one of UNANZ’s most important ‘flag bearing days’ in The UNANZ Calendar and the 70th anniversary especially so.






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