Samaritans of Wellington 50 year celebration

Delivered at a dinner at Government House in honour of Wellington Samaritans.
16 Jun 2015

E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou.  Nau mai haere mai rā ki te Whare Kawana ki Te Whanganui-a-Tara.  Kia ora tātou katoa.

I specifically acknowledge: Hon Jo Goodhew, Minister for the Community and Volunteer Sector; Her Worship Celia Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington; and Ken Daniels, Chair of the Board of Governance of Wellington Samaritans - tēnā koutou katoa.

It is a great pleasure for Janine and me to welcome you all to Government House this evening.  I must say I feel privileged to be addressing a group of such expert listeners, people who really understand the difference between listening and hearing.  As G K Chesterton once observed: “There's a lot of difference between listening and hearing.”  So I will watch what I say!

You may be wondering why I am hosting Samaritans’ 50th anniversary dinner here.

It’s quite simple: people are important.  There are vulnerable people in our communities who need help, and there are wonderful people who help them.  People like Wellington’s Samaritans, past and present, have been there to help others in times of personal crisis.

This dinner is an opportunity for me as your Patron, and on behalf of New Zealanders, to thank you for the work you do.

I accepted the role of patron of Samaritans for two main reasons.  First, because it is a Wellington-based group, and being resident here we are keen to support local charities and organisations.  And second, because Samaritans reflect an acronym that guides the programme of work for Government House during our term in office.  That acronym is SERVE – Service, Excellence, Rangitahi (or Youth), Volunteering and Enterprise.

Service, because our communities depend on organisations that are prepared to provide services to the vulnerable especially; excellence, because it sets a standard for others to aspire to and deserves recognition; rangatahi, because young people are our future, and we’re responsible for their wellbeing; volunteering, because individuals who give freely of their time and expertise are our unsung heroes; and enterprise, because it promotes prosperity, progress and well-being.

I like to think that those themes resonate with New Zealanders.  We can certainly see them reflected in the Samaritans’ story, starting with the service and enterprise of your founder, Dr Chad Varah, who visited Wellington in 1965, and Dean of Wellington, Walter Hurst, who first got things going here.

In parallel with those themes, the focus for our work at Government House this year is Nationhood.  It’s a year to think about where we’ve come from, what we stand for, where we’re going and the obligations and responsibilities we have as citizens.  Over the last 50 years Samaritans have epitomised what it means to be a good citizen. 

I say this because a good citizen not only thinks about the welfare of others, but also does something about it.

I was interested to read in Sue Brown’s book – which we are launching tonight – reference to a variety of services Samaritans have provided.  Some seem to have clandestine-thriller qualities.  For example, the care given to teens in the 1960s included encouraging them to visit a coffee bar in Victoria Street where they would be met by someone wearing a white triangle.   And the “flying squad” of Samaritans who would leap into their cars at short notice and go to people’s rescue.

Similarly, it was a surprise to learn that Samaritans replied to letters.  I was heartened by this quote from a grateful recipient in the 1970s, “I cannot believe that a total stranger, and two pieces of paper, could so dramatically change my life”.

What is clear is that Samaritans’ work has reflected the social and economic upheavals of the last 50 years.  As Sue writes, Samaritans have been like canaries in the mine, providing early warning of social problems as they arise in our communities.

Like the Good Samaritan, your volunteers demonstrate the power of kindness, generosity and compassion to bring about positive change.  When your clients’ lives have been buffeted by events beyond their control, or by the unfortunate choices that they have made, it is your work that has helped them get through another day.

The hundreds of Samaritan volunteers, their diversity in terms of background, ethnicity and age, the length of service some of them have given – all are testament to the high regard for Samaritans’ services and the opportunities it provides to develop personal skills and make a positive difference to the lives of others.

The English essayist Joseph Addison said that the great essentials for happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.

I think it’s fair to say that Samaritans sets out a path to all three, for its volunteers – and for its clients.

Thank you for your dedication and commitment to serve the people of Wellington and beyond – and all the very best for the future.

Kia ora huihui tātou katoa and please enjoy the hospitality of the house.

Back to Speeches

Tours of Government House Wellington for the public, schools and community groups are offered by our Visitor Centre.

Find out more.

Features

  • Global Women International Women's Day Event
  • HM The Queen's Message to Christchurch
  • The Bledisloe Address - Waitangi Day 2017
  • Dame Patsy's New Year Message
    Dame Patsy Reddy - New Year Message
  • New Year Honours List 2017
  • Message from HRH The Prince of Wales
  • Message from HM The Queen regarding the North Canterbury earthquake
  • Messages from the Governor-General and Dutch King and Queen
  • Swearing-In Ceremony
  • Armorial Bearings - Sir Jerry Mateparae
  • Bledisloe Ballot 2017
  • Beer Braised Beef Cheeks
  • Queen approves honours for the Governor-General Designate
  • Boots the Cat - The Biography
  • The Governor-General's Anzac of the Year Award 2016
  • New Year Message
  • A Ceremony of Welcome in New Zealand
  • Charlotte Royale cake recipe
  • Charlotte Royale recipe - in honour of Princess Charlotte
  • Prince Harry - Visit Itinerary
  • Amazing Easter Wreath
  • The Governor-General's Anzac of the Year Award
  • Bledisloe Garden Reception 2015
  • New Year Message
  • Christmas Eccles Cakes
  • State Banquet for the President of China
  • Grilled Turbot Fillet and Cwmglyn Rarebit
  • The Governor-General and Government Formation After the Election
  • Government House Recipes - Orange and Olive Oil Syrup Cake
  • New Year message - 2014
    Governor-General's 2014 New Year message
  • New Year Honours 2014
    Queen honours New Zealand's best
  • Nelson Mandela
    Governor-General pays tribute to South African leader
  • Niue and the Cook Islands
    Visits reaffirm special relationships within the Realm of New Zealand
  • Badge of the General Fono of Tokelau
    Governor-General hosts ceremony at Government House
  • Leadership Week
    Governor-General leads the Sir Peter Blake Trust Dream Team
  • Matariki 2013
    Governor-General recognises the contribution of women
  • Coronation Diamond Jubilee
    The Governor-General looks back at the Queen's 1953 Coronation
  • AIDS Candlelight Memorial
    Message from the Governor-General
  • South Canterbury and North Otago Regional Visit
    20-23 February: An overview
  • Waitangi Day - 2013
    Governor-General and Lady Janine visit Waitangi and Auckland
  • New Year Message 2013
    Governor-General issues his 2013 New Year message
  • New Year Honours 2013
    New Zealanders recognised by The Queen of New Zealand
  • Birthday cake
    Secrets of Government House birthday cake revealed
  • Diamond Jubilee visit
    Royal couple to visit Auckland, Wellington, Manawatu and Christchurch
  • Royal reception
    Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall prepare for trip to downunder
  • New Zealand's Governor-General
    Government House publishes new booklet
  • 2012 London Olympic Games
    The Governor-General supports the NZ Olympic Team in London
  • Diamond Jubilee message
    The Governor-General's Diamond Jubilee message
  • Western Bay of Plenty regional visit
    The Governor-General makes his first official visit.
  • Open Days 2014
    Government House Open Days 2014
  • Christchurch and Canterbury Earthquake Anniversary
    The Governor-General's Programme
  • Waitangi Celebrations 2012
    The Governor-General's first Waitangi Day Programme
  • Governor-General's New Year Message
    Sir Jerry Mateparae issues his 1st New Year message - watch the video
  • State Opening of Parliament
    Governor-General announces the Government's plans
  • Speaker-elect confirmation ceremony
    Dr Smith confirmed as Speaker of the House
  • Appointment of the new Government
    The Governor-General appoints the new Government
  • Queen's Diamond Jubilee Emblem
    New emblem to mark the Diamond Jubilee
  • Rugby World Cup
    Message from the Queen of New Zealand on the All Blacks' victory
  • State Swearing-in of Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae
    A Government House short film
  • Royal NZ Navy 70th Anniversary
    The Governor-General hosted and attended associated events
  • New Zealand Gallantry Awards
    Government House has today issued a special honours list
  • One year on from the 4 September 2010 Canterbury earthquake
    Governor-General issues a message
  • Swearing in ceremony
    Sir Jerry Mateparae to become NZ's 20th Governor-General
  • Sir Paul Reeves
    New Zealand's first Governor-General of Maori descent dies
  • Visit by King George Tupou V of Tonga
    The Governor-General hosted a State Welcome for the King of Tonga
  • Māori King visits Government House
    The King plants a tree to mark the visit
  • Matariki
    The Governor-General's 2011 Matariki Message
  • The Royal Wedding
    Sir Anand and Lady Susan attended the Royal Wedding on 29 April
  • ANZAC Day message
    The Governor-General's message for ANZAC Day commemorations
  • The National Christchurch Memorial Service
    Details and photos are available here.
  • Christchurch Earthquake
    Governor-General offers the support of all New Zealanders
  • Canterbury earthquake
    World leaders send messages of support to New Zealand
  • Waitangi Day 2011
    Sir Anand Satyanand's last Waitangi Day as Governor-General
  • New Year Message
    Governor-General issues his message for 2011
  • Pike River Mine Tragedy
    World leaders send messages of support to New Zealand
  • Governor-General visits Canterbury
    A visit to support and encourage those affected by the earthquake
  • New Year Message
    Governor-General issues his message for 2010
  • Governor-General's 2009 New Year Message
    New Zealanders urged to volunteer