On behalf of the City of Christchurch may I welcome you to the 13th Australasian Conference of Volunteer Guides in Botanic Gardens.
As you may know the council was only sworn into office on Thursday night and this is my 6th official event as Mayor.
It is the 150th Anniversary of our Botanic Gardens and they are an incredible legacy from our City's European forbears but are very much a part of our future.
Your theme "Guiding for the future" could not find a better place than Christchurch.
Can I acknowledge John Clemens – Curator of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Charles Graham – President of the Friends of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and Alan Morgan – Chair of the Christchurch Planning Group.
These events don't happen without an incredible amount of work.
I hope you take back to Australia that Christchurch is up and running and open for business. Hosting conferences is really important to us and we need to get that message out there.
Back to the Botanic Gardens – A friend of mine was visiting Christchurch last year with her young son. They went for a walk through the Gardens. He said why would they spend money on these gardens when there are buildings to be built – she said just wait and see. She said that he "got it" with no prompting from her. He had never seen anything like these gardens and she said he kept referring back to the gardens as the highlight of his trip.
Perhaps this is a reflection of something Thomas Moore said.
"The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of paintings and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden. If you don't want paradise, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don't have a soul".
Our Botanic Gardens are very special to us – as I am sure yours are to you.
There is an incredible narrative that traverses the 150 years since a single oak tree was planted to make the Gardens' foundation. It features one of the finest collections of exotic and native plants in New Zealand.
The Gardens became a base for British National Antarctic Exploration – a majestic observatory was set up in 1901 to calibrate instruments and assist Robert Falcon Scott with his magnetic surveys.
In 2006 a world Peace Bell was installed – cast from coins donated by participating countries, only 18 countries have one of these bells. Planted next to it is a Camphor
Tree propagated from a tree that survived the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb.
This year the Gondwana Garden was launched with the planting of a Wollemi Pine, which dates back 200 years to Gondwanaland and which was thought to be extinct. It is the first Wollemi Pine to take root in New Zealand soil since the Jurassic Period.
As children growing up, a visit to the Botanic Gardens was a treat and even more so on a day like today.
The new visitors' centre will be another great attraction that will ensure that Christchurch Botanic Gardens will take its rightful place as the heart of our recovery.
As a city we have imagined our future to be clean, green, safe, accessible and smart – our Garden City will live up to it's name in more ways than one.
Thank you for choosing Christchurch as your host for your Conference and on that note I declare your conference open.