Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm pleased I've had a brief chance to come and see you all in the midst of this enormous exercise.

I can only apologise if I've caused mammoth disruption  but I have a feeling that the exercise is only just beginning to hot-up and I suspect that when I've gone, they might start throwing in some more interesting activities for you to deal with. But if I may say so I'm very proud indeed to have been given the particular rank in the Royal New Zealand Defence Force and at least it now gives me the opportunity to see, perhaps, a little bit more of you occasionally, which I've had a chance to do today. And also to see  many others who are taking part in the exercise, other members of the Commonwealth, the United States and so on.


It's obviously of enormous value to have these joint exercises bringing in all sorts of different departments to practice coordination and coherence in order to try to deal with these threats and disasters, which seem to occur so often now. For what it's worth, one of the reasons I've been trying to go on about climate change for so long is that unfortunately it's a threat multiplying and I'm glad to see at least various military people are taking this seriously because I've always felt that the threat is going to come more from mass migration, conflict over scarce resources, sea-level rise, drought, floods, every kind of other thing. The fact that you're practising all this is obviously going to be of enormous importance. We depend so often on the military who have the capabilities and the planning experience and the professional understanding of how you deal with so many of these things. I've been so impressed with the way in which so many of the military from this part of the world, the United States and the UK have operated in Afghanistan and Iraq, making an exceptionally enormous difference on the civil side, not just in the military aspects. I think people so often forget the role that the military can play in reconnecting the electricity, getting the water supply to work, rebuilding schools, all the engineering and other things that so often people don't realise that you do so effectively. So the fact that all these particular skills are represented here, I think, is enormously encouraging.


I do hope that the rest of the exercise goes well. I hope that the wash-up at the end reveals some interesting points. I remember 40years ago being involved as a small cog in one of these big exercises. Sometimes it's difficult for people buried in corners to know what exactly the whole picture is. Hopefully by the end of it all you might but whatever the case you can always blame me if it goes wrong! I'm bound to have caused some awful hold-up just at the crucial moment.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for the remarkable role that you all play so often, unsung and unseen. I have nothing but the greatest admiration for the way you carry out your duties here and all over the world. As I speak I know the New Zealand Defence Force are involved in 14 separate operations in different parts of the world and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. So thank you ladies and gentlemen and I hope you have great success for the future.