Ladies and Gentlemen - welcome to Parliament today.
It's my pleasure to be your host today as the Minister Responsible for the National Library.
It was just two years ago that many of us were here to announce the outgoing Poet Laureate, Cilla McQueen, whose poetry we've just shared.
That was my first official event as the Minister Responsible, so it's an event I remember well.
I want to thank and congratulate Cilla for the work you have done over the last two years. An important part of the role of Poet Laureate is to raise awareness of poetry, and to encourage the enjoyment and appreciation of this art. You have certainly done that.
I enjoyed hearing you speak and recite at the official opening of the National Library's new Auckland centre last year.
This Award also allows us to record the way in which the Poet Laureate creates their poetry, as well and preserve the works themselves in written, verbal and now digital form.
For a small country, New Zealand has produced some great poets who have become well-known and well-loved both here and overseas. Their work has become a part of our history, our culture and identity.
I can remember when I was at High School in Levin, hearing Sam Hunt perform at our school. He turned up in his V8 with his dog by his side, and he blew us away with his raw energy and the power of words.
As the father of three young children, I know how much they enjoy stories and poems and the fun you can have with words. That sense of adventure and exploration with language is something we should never lose as we grow up.
Of course the position of Poet Laureate is a very prestigious role. Some of our previous laureates include Bill Manhire, Hone Tuwhare, Elizabeth Smither, Brian Turner, Jenny Bornholdt and Michelle Leggott.
For the next two years the new Laureate will have a range of important duties. They will produce a collection of poems, be a voice at cultural events, raise awareness and appreciation of poetry, and archive their work with the National Library.
Our next Poet Laureate is an accomplished and highly regarded poet, and who has made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand poetry.
Today I'm very proud to announce the New Zealand Poet Laureate for 2011 - 2013 is Ian Wedde.
Ian was born in Blenheim and brought up in East Pakistan and England. He graduated MA with first class honours from Auckland University and is a prolific author.
He has published fourteen collections of poetry, six novels, two collections of essays, a monograph on the artist Bill Culbert, several art catalogues, and numerous chapters in edited books.
Other awards he has received include:
•National Book Awards for fiction and poetry
•an Arts Foundation Laureate award
•a Distinguished Alumni Award at the University of Auckland
•an ONZM in the Queen's Birthday Honours
•and the Landfall Essay Prize.
Congratulations Ian for this new and exciting role. We look forward to you taking on the prestigious mantle of Poet Laureate, and continuing the strong tradition of all those that have been before you.
Tena koutou katoa. Thank you.