Prince William: Our digital age brings Britain and New Zealand closer than ever

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The Independent Online

In 2005, I was here to follow the rugby, but I also had the opportunity to explore this country, with its unrivalled beauty and dynamic people. I will never forget the welcome and great kindness that I received everywhere I went, and from everybody I met. I learnt very quickly just how distinctive, refreshing, and confident this great nation is. This visit gives me the chance to learn more about New Zealanders and our closely shared values. The overwhelming impression I have is of a nation that believes passionately in itself, in the value of democracy, in each other and other peoples, and in the rule of law.

We know from our history of the courage and stoicism of New Zealanders – exemplified by the valour of such men as Charles Upham, whose double VC I had the privilege of seeing for myself in 2005, and whose exploits echo down the years in the recent courageous actions of Willie Apiata in Afghanistan. But this is also a young, entrepreneurial, forward-looking nation.

After all, you've even managed to help catapult my family into the digital ether. The Queen started tweeting a few months ago, and now thanks to New Zealand I am being Bebo-d and Facebooked for the first time – rapidly catching up with my grandmother.

New Zealand's values are ones that I greatly admire. They have deep roots in our heritage and constitutional history. In New Zealand today, of course, that shared history is only one part of the story. For the country's rich legacy is also derived from the Maori, New Zealand's first people, from the Treaty of Waitangi and the enduring partnership between the Maori and the Crown. This dimension is unique to New Zealand and its constitution.

Today marks another milestone in New Zealand's unique constitutional journey. In January 2004, the New Zealand Supreme Court came into being, as the country's final Court of Appeal. No longer did New Zealanders have to make the long trip to London to argue cases before the judicial committee of the Privy Council; for six years now, you have had your own Supreme Court Bench and a Supreme Court appeal system. What has been lacking is a building – and that is why today is so significant for all of us gathered here and New Zealanders everywhere.

Taken from a speech at the opening of the Supreme Court in Wellington yesterday