I'm delighted to join you all and particularly pleased to be able to offer those of you from out of town a belated welcome to Christchurch.
My mother served on the Rochester Board so I am always happy to speak on these occasions. And of course I completed my studies here at the University of Canterbury many years ago.
Lonely Planet and the New York Times picked up the vibe of the transition and the sense of the creativity and innovation that is evident among a lot of the younger people here.
Christchurch has become a place where anything is possible - a place that is open to new ideas, to new people and new ways of doing things.
So you've come to Christchurch at a very interesting moment in our city's history.
Right now, we are at an important stage in the transition from central government to local leadership - which is perhaps not so fascinating for you - but it is of central importance to me as Mayor of Christchurch.
This transition means we can refocus our view of the city.
No longer does Christchurch need to be viewed through a lens of disaster and demolition - now the lens is one of regeneration and the opportunity that brings.
I heard a person speak recently quoting the saying
When written in Chinese, the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
Just because John F. Kennedy said and it's been repeated many times, it doesn't mean it's true. But what is true about the Chinese characters for crisis, danger and opportunity is even better.
Weiji is the word for crisis - wei is danger and ji is that incipient moment, which is the crisis point - on the precipice of danger.
Jihui is the word for opportunity. And there is that character ji again - that incipient moment, which in this case brims with opportunity.
So a crisis can produce danger or it can produce opportunity and it is that magic moment of time that you choose to be here in Christchurch.
People ask me if I enjoy being Mayor. I say no, but what I also say is there is nothing I would rather do with my life right now. It is the best time to be leading my hometown into that world of opportunity that regeneration offers.
Regeneration means two things - restoration and new growth.
We see restoration at the former site of the University of Canterbury - now the Arts Centre - one of the largest single heritage restoration project happening anywhere right now.
The restoration project there is like a mini-United Nations - expert stonemasons and other crafts men and women have come from around the world to work on this unique project.
And this is symbolic of what is happening in our city right now.
There are unique opportunities here that you couldn't easily access anywhere else.
Your University is involved in a number of these.
A few weeks ago I attended the opening of the new Structural Engineering Laboratory here at UC (an incredible facility) and also the launch of QuakeCoRE that will improve resilience in future earthquakes, reducing injury and loss of life, and enabling rapid recovery of New Zealand communities.
Another example is the Smart Cities Project which is essentially looking at how we can use the latest IT technology to inform decision-making and make cities operate more efficiently by enhancing urban services, reducing costs and resource consumption, and improving contact between citizens and the government.
It is projects like these which are making Christchurch a bit of a magnet for creators and innovators, and that's why I feel that all of you here tonight have made such a great decision in deciding to pursue your university studies here.
We have Singularity University coming to Christchurch in November - there will be a youth fee so we get young people mixing it up with those of us who still can't quite believe that we have as much power in our hands that guided the safe landing of the first man on the moon. I feel a bit awestruck when I hear people from Singularity University talk about the pace of change.
We have a TEDx event every year with inspiring people from around the country and the world, each with ideas worth spreading.
And next year Christchurch will host the Social Enterprise World Forum.
We're putting our city on the map for all the right reasons.
And here you are. First year students and the world at your feet or fingertips as the case may be.
Rochester and Rutherford Hall I am sure will serve as a real platform for your future.
I never lived in halls of residence but I still have friends who refer to dear friends of theirs, whom they've known since their first year "in the halls".
It's a bond you never break.
And it gives you access to the collective strength and knowledge of that community you belong to - access to a diversity of knowledge and opinion, access to a diverse range of skills, access to a diverse range of connections.
Being part of a strong community gives you resilience - and this is another one of my key themes when I give presentations, and it’s a key part of my messages for you tonight.
Resilience is not simply strength in the face of adversity - that's stoicism, which of course we Kiwis have in spades.
Resilience in the city sense means maintaining critical functions after a challenging event, and bouncing back afterwards.
But resilience also implies the capacity to recover in the long-term better than ever before, including if necessary adapting to a new environment and new conditions. And even more so the capacity to co-create a new normal when there is no going back to the way we were.
Resilience is something many people and many communities in this city have demonstrated over the past 6 years.
And it's something that is important simply for facing up to the normal challenges life throws at you - even if you don't, hopefully, have to face a major natural event as we have.
My message to you is that you are not simply here to learn all about the law, the world of commerce, engineering, science, the arts or whatever is your formal field of study.
You are also here to learn a bit more about how to lead your life, how to face your challenges, how to carve out your path and to build lives of purpose.
And this is where I want to mention the significance of the Student Volunteer Army and what that organisation has done for the standing young people have in Christchurch; this is something that would never have happened without the leadership of a few and the willingness of so many to engage and keep engaging.
Being a part of this community here will stand you in excellent stead for these most important lessons - and being part of this city of possibility, at a critical point in its history, will also offer you knowledge and opportunities you will not get anywhere else.
I wish you the very best of luck for your studies - enjoy your time at Rochester and Rutherford - and remember about those life lessons that underpin everything.