H.E. Ambassador Unni Kløvstad presented her credentials to Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, Governor-General of New Zealand, on the 3rd of June.
The presenting of credentials included the traditional Maori welcoming ceremony, where H.E. Ambassador Kløvstad was welcomed by the haka. The haka dates back to the days when the Maori were divided into warring tribes, needing to prove their strength to strangers. Following the haka, the lead warrior of the Maori hosts presented H.E. Ambassador Kløvstad with a token, a dagger, which he placed on the ground in front of the Ambassadors feet. Tradition states that the token must be picked up by a male representative of the visitors, in this case Consul General Graeme Mitchell completed the picking up of the dagger, not breaking eye contact with the lead Maori warrior. Traditionally, this was ment to show both the courage and good intentions of the visitors. The ceremony was then concluded by the traditional Maori greeting, hongi, where visitors and hosts press their noses and foreheads together.
Upon the traditional ceremony’s conclusion, the Ambassador was escorted to the saluting dais, where the Guard of Honour presented arms. The Ambassador was invited to inspect the guards, before she presented her letter of Credence to the Governor-general, in the adjoined Government House, followed by speeches by both parties.
During their speeches, both H.E. Ambassador Kløvstad and the Governor-General spoke of the closeness and friendship between the people of Norway and New Zealand. They also referred to the close cooperation between the two countries, especially in multilateral organisations such as the UN. It was added that Norway and New Zealand has a proud history of working together on issues such as human rights, international security and disarmament.
The Governor-General said that despite great geographical distance between Norway and New Zealand, the people to people relationships continue to grow, mentioning the Norwegian students and the working holiday scheme between the two countries, which has been in place since 2005.
The Ambassador concluded her remarks, by stating that: “it is my ambition to help further the already close relationship between our countries. While being based in Canberra, I intend to visit New Zealand frequently in order to better understand and get to know your wonderful country and people”.