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There is a famous story during World War 2 that as the sun came up on Christmas Day in 1914 British, French & German soldiers lay down their weapons and put aside their differences to come together in No Man’s Land for one day of peace amongst war.
There are different recollections about this story, but the overwhelming point to which has made this story touch the lives of many people since, is the compassionate human nature that you can never take away despite extreme circumstances. It is this humanity, and the joining together of us all, as we celebrate our differences, our uniqueness and the common threads that hold us all together that we should celebrate this Christmas.
As the world becomes more intrinsically connected and we live in this global village, it is never more pertinent to look at what it means to love thy neighbour.  It is a time to put aside fear and anger, differences and grievances and to look at what holds us together, how we can build a future where we all succeed and celebrate each other and our differences.
2016 has been a big year, and there are many things we can look back on and celebrate. Most recently we were announced by Lonely Planet as the Second Best Region to Visit in 2017, which has put Taranaki on the international tourism map like never before.  It is the highest ranking Lonely Planet award for a NZ region and we should take immense pride in what we have accomplished over many years to build such a fantastic region, which is of course hugely helped by the stunning natural beauty and resources we have!
Our economy is growing at well over 3 per cent, and in the last quarter alone 35,000 more jobs were created and we now have the second highest employment rate in the entire OECD. 
We’re in the middle of our biggest ever building boom and we have an unemployment rate which is the lowest since December 2008.
As we look ahead to 2017, we will continue to build on this great work, creating a strong foundation as a government so that you, your family, your friends, your neighbours and all of us a nation can look forward to a bright year ahead.
This time of year brings festivities and family fun. It is a time for reminiscing and looking forward. Wishing you wonderful memories during this joyous season and a safe and Merry Christmas.

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