'Peerless' Book Launch at Old Government House
Thank you, Dr Katie McConnel for your warm welcome. Mr Christopher Valttila and descendants of the Marquess of Normanby, ladies and gentlemen. What a delight it is for Graeme and I, along with my Official Secretary, Mrs Kate Hastings and her husband Mr Bob Hastings, to join you this afternoon.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
As the 27th Governor of Queensland, it is truly a delight to be here among the descendants of the 2nd Marquess of Normanby, who of course, was the 3rd Governor of Queensland.
Firstly, I must congratulate Mr Christopher Valttila, whose commitment to this research project provides a rich history not only for you, the family – the descendants of Lord Henry and Lady Phipps; but for all of us, as it provides another small but vital piece in the jigsaw that is the history of the State of Queensland.
In reality, the Phipps family history – your history – is entwined not only in the development and growth of Queensland, but also in that of Victoria and New Zealand, among other 19th Century British Colonies.
The first Marquess, when he was Colonial Secretary in London, helped develop the basis upon which the sovereignty of New Zealand was set out and importantly advised Governor Hobson on the Treaty of Waitangi.
Like his father before him, the 2nd Marquess was a professional colonial administrator of rare ability. And as you all know, the link between this place, ‘Old Government House’ and the Phipps family goes deeper, as Lord Henry came to Queensland as his father’s Aide de Camp. This was truly a family home for the Phipps in the early 1870’s.
But I cannot let this moment pass without making mention of two of the Phipps women.
In spite of challenging health issues, the Marchioness was a great support to her husband during their three years here at ‘Old Government House’ and proved popular and well liked throughout the State.
As a mark of the affection and esteem in which she was held, the Laura River in Cape York was named after her, and the Russell River and Russell River National Park were named in honour of her family.
Lady Norma Caroline Phipps was a first-generation Queenslander. She was born in Charlotte Street, in 1857 only a few city blocks from where we are tonight. And while she travelled with her husband and family widely, in Australia, New Zealand and England she was a Queenslander through and through and it was Queensland she returned to.
She was a mother who faced the challenges of colonial life and endured the happy times, the trials and the tragedies, and the strength she displayed is very much a part of you, her descendants.
I am pleased today to acknowledge another ‘through and through Queenslander’ who, like his great grandmother, also returned after years away in Finland, Mr Christopher Valttila.
I would like to thank you, Christopher, for your time, efforts and talents in publishing this richly researched book, which is not only a wonderful keepsake for those here today, but is a valuable literary work that deepens our understanding of our State and those who helped shape it.
It is a great pleasure and privilege as Governor of Queensland to be here this afternoon to officially launch ‘Peerless’ and to wish you all every success.