E&OE…

Thank you very, very much Kim.

Can I start by adding my acknowledgement of Country.

Can I particularly acknowledge the presence of Your Excellencies here this evening.

We had a lovely time when I came to visit you at your beautiful home and so as I watch these photographs it evokes the memory of that wonderful time.

I really appreciated the opportunity that you afforded me to visit you and to have a chat with you on a whole range of very interesting topics that morning!

To the High Commissioner, always a pleasure to see you; to the members of the Ta-isi Nelson family; again to you Kim, thank you, is always a pleasure to visit and to see you and your team here at the Museum.

Dr O'Brien, thank you very, very much for this outstanding piece of research and writing about a controversial chapter in Samoan history.

I've had the opportunity to visit Samoa on a number of occasions and, of course today our relationship is a very, very strong relationship.

Samoa has been a very, very good friend to Australia.

Indeed, on my last visit to Samoa for the Pacific Island Forum, I also had the opportunity, Your Excellency, to visit the museum in Samoa and to see a part of that history and it certainly has been wonderful.

It remains one of my very favourite parts of the Pacific.

Of course, this book is an important tone, Kim as you have said, and I am sure will add not just to the history of this controversial period, but coming as it will from a personal perspective and having shared the memories of the family and the family members, I think that there'll be some very interesting things that will just add that very personal dimension to this story.

You have shown us, Dr O'Brien, that Ta'isi was a Tautai, a navigator, who helped to steer Samoa's non-violent independence movement.

He is a significant figure not just in Samoan history, but in the history of the South Pacific.

I think Dr O'Brien, you are right to claim that he is also a figure of world-historical interest.

There is a lot to love about this man and a lot that makes him a worthy subject of study for all who are part of the wider Pacific family.

He was a devoted father and a matai, who managed to live a life in Samoawhile also- a traditional life in Samoa while also building a multinational business.

As you have said Dr O'Brien, he had an Australian store just a kilometre or two from here on Palings Lane off George Street, near where Wynyard Station now stands.

Ta'isi enjoyed friendships with prominent Australians including people like Sir Joseph Carruthers, a former Premier of New South Wales and Doc Evatt, a judge and foreign minister.

He was a brilliant and hard-working businessman, who loved the fine things in life, and yet was prepared to sacrifice his wealth in order to continue his leading role in the Mau movement, Samoa for the Samoans.

He funded his own passage to Geneva to put his case for Samoan independence to the League of Nations – where he suffered yet more discouragement.

Despite all the setbacks he faced, he remained committed to peaceful political change.

He was a great proponent of the Pacific way: in the face of difficulty and disagreement, meet, talk and find a peaceful way forward.

Today, and recently I have attended the Pre-COP23 Meeting and, of course, Prime Minister Bainimarama is proposing that the design of the framework for COP23 will be the 'talanoa', so that the spirit of the talking and the walking and finding a peaceful way forward is certainly alive and well.

Dr O'Brien, you have done a service to the people of Samoa in completing such a thorough, well researched work of history – scholarly and passionate at the same time.

On behalf of the Australian Government, I am pleased that we were able to support through an Australian Research Council Grant which you received in 2013.

I encourage further historical research and writing on the Pacific, and on Australia's relations with the Pacific Islanders, so that might give you more things to focus on Dr O'Brien!

Ta'isi's family connections, his friendships and his business interests in Australia are just one example of the many historical links between our peoples.

His courage and persistence and sacrifice remind us not to take for granted the partnerships and opportunities that we enjoy today right across the Pacific.

I think Ta'isi would have been well pleased if he could have seen the Pacific Island Forum meeting that was held in Apia in September this year.

The leaders of the Pacific countries, including Australia and New Zealand, sat down and discussed their "deep commitment", as Prime Minister Turnbull put it:

"to strengthen our practical partnerships, embrace opportunities and manage the shared challenges we face in a changing world".

I also think Ta'isi would have very much enjoyed seeing the new Pacific Spirit exhibition here at the Australian Museum, which features a number of Samoan artefacts.

Can I congratulate the Australian Museum for putting on this exhibition.

Of course, as one of the largest Pacific cultural collections in the world, it is a testament to the importance of the culture that continues to resonate in Pacific communities today, including here in Australia.

Of course, the collection here which I've had the privilege to see in this wonderful museum is indeed extraordinary.

Dr O'Brien has shown us that, although Ta'isi did not live to see it, we live in the world that I hope he wanted.

I congratulate you and all who have been involved in the publication of this book and it is my great pleasure to officially launch it.

Thank you.

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