Rock art delights Sir Jerry

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2013
Governor General
NATASHA MARTIN/Fairfax NZ
GETTING CREATIVE: Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae sketches a rock art drawing at Te Ana Ngai Tahu Rock Art Visitor Centre.

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"Absolutely fantastic" is how Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae described Te Ana Ngai Tahu Rock Art Visitor Centre during his visit to Timaru yesterday.

The four-day tour of South Canterbury and North Otago with his wife, Janine, Lady Mateparae, followed on from his time at the New Zealand Rowing Championships at Lake Ruataniwha. The $2.7 million rock art centre presents an interactive journey of Maori rock art and history.

Sir Jerry said he had been quite astounded by the displays.

"It records part of our collective history, not just Maori rock art. It's depicting our heritage in a special way."

Centre curator Amanda Symon said she was honoured by the Governor-General's interest and it reinforced the importance of rock art sites.

Sir Jerry's schedule in Timaru also included a welcome at Arowhenua Marae, looking around the South Pacific Sera bioscience facility and a Chamber of Commerce reception at Aoraki Polytechnic.

At South Pacific Sera Sir Jerry launched the company's newly established Woodhouse Scholar programme, which will be awarded for the first time in 2014. It will provide scholarship grants of $1000 each for up to five secondary school students and one annual Woodhouse Scholar will receive a grant of $5000 a year for up to three years.

Between appointments Sir Jerry answered questions.

He thought the three most important issues confronting New Zealanders were: recognising their nationhood and celebrating it, establishing themselves in the world and in the Pacific by reinforcing what they do, and making the first two items relevant to new [immigrant] and young New Zealanders.

As the Queen's representative in New Zealand and representative of New Zealanders to the Queen Sir Jerry said he talks to her occasionally and writes to her about current issues.

She seemed very interested in what is happening in New Zealand, he said.

Sir Jerry does not expect to be the last governor-general, but "it is for others to decide, not me."

He has a Facebook page with 1300 followers and 1600 follow him on Twitter, which he updates daily.

Today Sir Jerry will start the Central South Island Charity Bike Ride and visit NZ Light Leathers, while Lady Mateparae hosts a morning tea to celebrate local women in the community.

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- The Timaru Herald

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