The Opening Ceremony took place Tuesday 3 May 2016 at 9.00-10.30 at Plenary Hall, Horncastle Arena


Be greeted in the correct Maori way.


The opening ceremony will provide a spectacular introduction to the FIG Working Week, its theme, and its unique location – a festive start of the week.

Welcome Addresses

  • Mark Allan, NZIS President
  • Chryssy Potsiou, FIG President [Opening Address]
  • Simon Ironside, Co-Conference Director

The Powhiri – A Maori Welcome
The Powhiri or welcoming ceremony is the most ancient of all Maori customs and is still delivered in the same manner in which it has been by Maori for centuries.
Wero – A Maori warrior provides a challenge to visitors to find out if their purpose is peaceful or hostile.
Karanga – Once peaceful terms are established a Maori maiden will sing a karanga or song of welcome.
Haka Powhiri – The group will sing a haka-chant of welcome.
Whai Korero – Our chief will officially welcome all visitors with a formal speech.
Waiata Kinaki – A song is then sung by the group in an acknowledgement of the occasion.
Hongi – The hongi brings both visitor and local people together as one and concludes formalities.

Keynote speakers

Sir Tipene O’Regan
Sir Tipene O’Regan is a New Zealand academic and company director. The son of Dr Rolland O’Regan and Rena Ruiha (Bradshaw), he is a director of a wide range of South Island Māori enterprises. He is best known for his role as chairman of the Ngāi Tahu Māori Trust Board which he guided to successful land and sea fisheries claims before the Waitangi Tribunal, culminating in the Tribunal’s reports of 1991 and 1992. He later led claim settlement negotiations leading to the 1998 settlement which made extensive provision for customary rights in fisheries and other natural resources.

Sir Tipene is currently Associate Lecturer and Assistant Vice Chancellor (Māori) at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, associated with both the history and Māori departments. He was awarded an Honorary D.Litt by the University of Canterbury in 1992. In March 2009, Sir Tipene was commemorated as one of the Twelve Local Heroes of Christchurch, and a bronze bust of him was unveiled outside the Christchurch Arts Centre.

Ms. Margareta Wahlström
Ms. Margareta Wahlström was made the first SRSG (Special Representative of the Secretary General) for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2008. Until her term was completed at the end of 2015, she was leading UNISDR (The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction) to forge partnerships with governments to ensure a safer world for everyone.

Ms. Wahlström has over 30 years of extensive national and international experience in humanitarian relief operations in disaster and conflict areas, and in institution-building to strengthen national capacity for disaster preparedness, response and for risk reduction.

UNISDR’s most recent achievement has been facilitating the creation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which was achieved in March 2015. It is this new framework that will guide the world globally and locally for the next 15 years.

Ms. Wahlström has an academic background in economic history, political science, social anthropology, archaeology and philosophy of science.



At the Opening Ceremony all participants were greeted festively in the traditional Maori way, followed by an address by Sir Tipene O’Regan, who has been commemorated as one of the Twelve Local Heroes of Christchurch. He spoke over the importance of “Identity, names and places” and explained why it is important for Maoris to identify where a person is from.

The key note speaker of the Working Week was Margareta Wahlstrom who has been the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction until the end of 2015. Margareta Wahlstrom underlined that disaster is a social issue as well as of economic – what are the immediate costs, but also what are the costs in 5-10 years. There is a special focus right after a disaster, but a focus on the longer run is also important. She furthermore challenged the surveyors stating that “we need people to reach out to decisions makers on the work on disasters” and “disasters are a political issue”. Hereto she encouraged surveyors to be more visible, and to promote themselves and the work that surveyors do much more than is the case today. She followed up on the welcome address of FIG President Chryssy Potsiou, and encouraged surveyors to be visible within the areas land use planning and urban planning. “No other than surveyors know about this. We must be more precise – globally, but especially locally and nationally”. Collecting data and systemising it takes a long time but is important. She finally said that today, risk assessment is not counted into many strategies of companies in the private sector, nor is risk perception. The Sendai framework has managed to define disasters in a modern and updated version, and is focusing on not only what is good for us but what we should do at a national, regional and global level. “Build back better – from the start” is a key word – and surveyors play a great role in this.

Mark Allen, President of New Zealand Institute of Surveyors, NZIS, the local host and FIG President Chryssy Potsiou welcomed all participants to this Working Week in New Zealand. In her opening address, President Potsiou stated that “FIG will move toward more holistic, multi-sector partnerships to more systematically address the global challenges, including dealing with disasters and achieving secure land rights for all by 2030. FIG has developed a close relationship with United Nations Agencies, the World Bank, the European Union and other important international institutions. It is important that FIG build on these relationships. It is important for FIG to lend its collective expertise to all aspects of disaster management for the betterment of societies everywhere. It is also important that FIG be directly involved in these activities for the growth and vitality of its members and their activities in this era of Globalization. FIG strongly believes in the power of joint research with the UN and the World Bank, in advising people and partners on making smart, evidence-based solutions that shape the development agenda.  FIG, its member associations, academic members, affiliate members, corporate members, its commissions, task forces and networks, will coordinate more of what we do so that we are more strategic in our collective actions and ensure that priority goes to activities with the highest returns. We will also do more to build on new technologies; create new opportunities for surveyors; and capitalize on more affordable high-resolution spatial data”.