Dame Patsy's visit to Auckland City Mission found the organisation in good heart, after being on the front lines helping Aucklanders in desperate need navigate the Covid-19 crisis.
Demand for food parcels doubled during lockdown and has yet to fall. Mission staff also had to reinvent every single service in order to continue to help those who needed it, with some of the changes set to be permanently incorporated into the Mission's way of working.
Dame Patsy heard from GM Social Services Helen Robinson and GM Corporate Services Roger King about the generosity and bravery that was shown to and by staff and volunteers at the Mission. They reported that while there was anxiety around what they could afford to do, there was enormous support from Aucklanders.
Dame Patsy was able to thank staff and volunteers and also received a briefing on Mission Homeground, the ACM's new home currently being built.
There was plenty of symbolism surrounding Dame Patsy's visit. Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly noted that the organisation was founded in the aftermath of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and as they celebrate their 100th year, they're having to manage another one. It was also the first official vist to Auckland City Mission by a Governor-General since Lord Bledisloe visited in 1931, the earliest days of the Depression.
Dame Patsy and Sir David visited the Auckland Festival Trust this afternoon. Like many events, the Auckland Arts Festival 2020 was affected by the March lock down, with the final few performances of the festival cancelled.
Dame Patsy heard how the Trust has worked to make sure their commitments to staff and performers were met, as well as how they are planning for the future in 2021 and beyond. Watch this space!
Dame Patsy and Sir David met the team behind the team when they visited the offices of the New Zealand Olympic Committee in Auckland today.
The 22 staff members are responsible for every facet of organisation for New Zealand's Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams and while the 2020 Tokyo Olympics may have been postponed until next year; the organisation for that event, as well as the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, continues.
Dame Patsy and Sir David were given an overview of each area of operations, from athelete and team support and logistics, commercial partnerships, marketing, media engagement, legacy initiatives and more.
This year marks a notable milestone for our Olympians. It's the 100th anniversary of New Zealanders first wearing the silver fern at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics.
Dame Patsy and Sir David are in Auckland for most of this week. Their first visit was to Tourism New Zealand for a chat with CEO Stephen England-Hall and GM NZ and Government Relations Billie Hall about how the organisation has turned its focus from promoting New Zealand overseas to encouraging New Zealanders to see more of their own country.
Next Dame Patsy and Sir David headed to Pet Refuge. The brainchild of Kids Can founder Julie Chapman, Pet Refuge will provide temporary shelter for pets affected by domestic violence, keeping them safe while their owners escape abuse. Dame Patsy viewed the building site and also met some of Julie's own rescue animals.
As patron of the Te Papa Foundation, Dame Patsy and Sir David were the first guest through the doors at Te Papa Tongarewa after being closed for the longest time in its 22 year history. They weren’t the only ones eager to have a visit, many patrons were waiting by the doors for their chance to get back inside our national museum.
On arrival, they were met by the CEO of Te Papa’s board, Dame Fran Wilde, and were walked through new hygiene practices that are being implemented to keep the returning guests safe.
A maximum of 500 guests are allowed in the museum at any one time. While this is less than the normal number of daily visitors, it is a gradual return to business as usual for this national institution.
With the sudden alert level 4 announcement, schools had to react quickly to shift learning from the classroom to an online environment. Dame Patsy paid a visit to Government House’s neighbour, Wellington College, to see how the staff and students managed with the drastic changes to their learning environment and how it felt being back in the classroom.
Some of the issues raised were making sure students had access to the devices they would need to learn online from home, making sure students adopted good time management skills and coming to terms with cancelled events they had been working hard towards.
Dame Patsy heard how the teachers and students had embraced online learning through creative techniques like YouTube videos, Zoom catch ups and the kids keeping in contact with each other through the school Instagram account.
During the lockdown, an emphasis was placed on flexible learning, noting that not all kids are in the same situation and their education needed to fit around their home and in some cases work life situations.
While many New Zealanders worked from home where possible during alert level 4 COVID-19 restrictions, some needed to leave their bubble to ensure a small bit of essential normality took place for our households. A large group of essential workers were supermarket staff, who made sure our shelves were well supplied in the weeks that passed while we stayed home. Dame Patsy met with some of these workers on a visit to New World Thorndon on the 27th of May.
Owner and store manager respectively are brothers Reece and Ash Drake, who recently took over the business from their father Brian. Supermarkets have always been a part of their lives, right from when they were small kids running around the family 4 Square. As with many businesses, they had to adapt from their business as usual to the ever-changing alert level restrictions to ensure their staff and shoppers remained safe. While visiting, Dame Patsy met staff from all areas of the supermarket and heard what it was like working in a customer-facing role during the lockdown period, and heard how they were able to hire more staff to help with such a busy time.
Last night's dinner for officials leading New Zealand's response to COVID-19 was an opportunity to test out Government House's hospitality protocols under Level Two. Small dinners and lunches have a limited number of guests, who use hand sanitiser and sign a register. Guests assemble briefly for photographs, drinks are served to guests when they are seated and appropriate spacing is used during the seated dinner service. Last night's dinner for leaders in New Zealand's response to COVID-19 were served this dessert, aptly named Crush the Curve (peanut butter and raspberry jelly with brown bread ice-cream).
This evening Dame Patsy hosted government officials who have been trusted leaders of New Zealand's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were particularly appropriate guests for the first dinner since lockdown began, and included Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director General of Health; Sarah Stuart-Black, who led the Civil Defence response to the pandemic; John Ombler, who led the Government's response; and Dr Caroline McElnay, Director of Public Health for the Ministry of Health.
Dame Patsy thanked them for their service and acknowledged the enormous responsibility that they had shouldered. She noted how they had used their expertise and communication skills to instil confidence in their fellow citizens and encourage a sense of collective responsibility for the nation's wellbeing.
On this AIDS Candlelight Memorial day, the COVID-19 virus is obliging us to gather in a virtual space and reflect on the terrible toll of the HIV virus, which has been responsible for over 30 million deaths worldwide since the 1980s.
This year, many of us will see parallels between the early years of the AIDS pandemic and the COVID-19 pandemic: the race to collect data and understand the science; widespread fear and anxiety about devastating social, health and economic impacts; and the absence of viable vaccines or antiviral medications.
As with COVID-19, New Zealand was fortunate to experience a low rate of viral infection during the AIDS pandemic, and our numbers of HIV positive tests have remained comparatively low by international standards. However, our rainbow community was hit particularly hard, and continues to bear the brunt of AIDs-related conditions.
This evening, people around New Zealand will join people around the world who will be remembering friends, loved ones and family members whose lives were brought short by HIV/AIDS, before the advent of medications that would have enabled them to live out a normal life-span.
Tonight people will remember also the remarkable resilience of the rainbow community in the 1980s, when HIV-positive people experienced terrible social exclusion and stigma. We will remember their courage and their determined advocacy for research into effective treatment options.
The rainbow community has done much to reduce the lingering stigma experienced by people living with HIV/AIDs – and to promote the message that early testing will also enable early and more effective treatment.
I hope that we can all be inspired by that sense of community spirit, compassion and resolve in our efforts to combat COVID-19.
He toi whakairo, he mana tangata: Where there is artistic excellence, there is human dignity.
New Zealanders have turned to music, song and performance to connect with each other in these anxious times. From people joining their neighbours in driveways to sing together in Whakatu, to on-line performances by families, and extraordinary coordinated efforts by musicians across New Zealand, the power of music is giving us inspiration, hope and good cheer.
As Patron of several arts organisations, Dame Patsy invites New Zealanders to follow what these particular patronages are achieving in the virtual realm.
Dame Patsy is patron of a wide range of charities and organisations. She has recently sent them letters of support, acknowledging that they are working in testing times and have had to adapt how they work in our communities.
One such patronage is the Graeme Dingle Foundation, which plays a vital role in helping thousands of New Zealand children develop confidence and achieve their potential. The Foundation has been recently been listed as an essential service by the Ministry of Social Development. This will allow more flexibility for its services that support the education and youth-justice sectors and help alleviate the sense of dislocation and anxiety that many young people will be experiencing.
Here's an example of how the Foundation has continued its fantastic work in an on-line environment.
Like other New Zealanders, Dame Patsy and Sir David were unable to attend public commemorations to mark Anzac Day 2020, due to the restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They joined thousands of fellow citizens across the country who chose to stand at dawn in front of their houses in silent reflection.
In an historic first, a video message was recorded by Dame Patsy and the Governor-General of Australia, General The Hon David Hurley. They encouraged the citizens of both countries to find their own way of paying homage to their forebears, and to draw strength from their example as we face our current adversities.
Dame Patsy's Anzac Address was screened on television at 11 am to coincide with the usual time of the National Commemoration at Pukeahu War Memorial Park.
Radio New Zealand re-broadcasted the 2017 National Commemoration, the first where Dame Patsy spoke as Governor-General of New Zealand.
Media advisory on behalf of Dame Patsy Reddy, Governor-General of New Zealand
The Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, will be donating twenty percent of her salary over the next six months in support of a number of charities.
Dame Patsy says she is making this move to show leadership and support for sectors of the community affected during the pandemic.
“I am very conscious of the impact of the current situation on all New Zealanders and feel it is important to offer support to organisations helping some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”
Dame Patsy will be supporting the work of the Order of St John, Women’s Refuge, KidsCan, the SPCA and the Arts Foundation.
Like other New Zealanders, we are doing everything we can to support measures that will help contain COVID-19.
My constitutional duties will continue, but all community engagements and events in my programme have been postponed.
David and I are sad that we will not be able to help celebrate the service and dedication of outstanding New Zealanders at investiture ceremonies in April and May. These will be rescheduled for later in the year.
We encourage everyone to help our nation get through this challenging time, by following the advice of the Government and its expert advisers, and by looking after yourselves and others in your community.
Kia maia, kia manawanui, kia kaha.
As a consequence of the Alert Level 4 restrictions announced today by the Prime Minister in response to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Dame Patsy’s public engagements have been cancelled. Her programme will be re-evaluated when the lockdown has been lifted. Dame Patsy will continue to fulfil her constitutional duties in the interim.
Best wishes to the volunteers, sponsors and food donors supporting the new Kaibosh branch in Paraparaumu. When Dame Patsy opened the premises this evening, she noted how the organisation is a poster child for practical projects that promote sustainability. By redirecting excess food to people who need it, Kaibosh is helping to eliminate food waste and eradicate food poverty. In addition, because that food does not end up in landfills, Kaibosh is also limiting harmful CO2 emissions. Kaibosh is very dependent on volunteers from the community to collect, sort and distribute the food.
On the 9th of March, Dame Patsy delivered Her Majesty The Queen's Commonwealth Message for Commonwealth Day. The theme for this year's Commonwealth Day was "Sustainable Future", a message reflected by Speaker of the House, the Rt Hon Trevor Mallard when he read out the Prime Minister's message. He spoke how technology is bringing the Commonwealth closer together than ever before, and the need for New Zealand to be kaitiaki (guardians) for our smaller Pacific Commonwealth neighbours in this environmental climate.
"On Commonwealth occasions, it is always inspiring to be reminded of the diversity of the people and countries that make up our worldwide family. We are made aware of the many associations and influences that combine through Commonwealth connection, helping us to imagine and deliver a common future.
This is particularly striking when we see people from nations, large and small, gathering for the Commonwealth Games, for meetings of Commonwealth governments, and on Commonwealth Day. Such a blend of traditions serves to make us stronger, individually and collectively, by providing the ingredients needed for social, political and economic resilience.
Throughout my life, I have had the opportunity to see and hear how membership of the Commonwealth family means so much to those living in all parts of the world, often in places that are quite remote. Advances in technology and modern media have now enabled many more people to witness and enjoy - with remarkable immediacy - this experience of Commonwealth connection, in areas such as education, medicine and conservation.
Looking to the future, this connectivity means we are also aware, perhaps as never before, that wherever we live, our choices and actions affect the well-being of people and communities living far away, and in very different circumstances. For many, this awareness awakens a desire to employ our planet’s natural resources with greater care, and it is encouraging to see how the countries of the Commonwealth continue to devise new ways of working together to achieve prosperity, whilst protecting our planet.
As members of this very special community, on this Commonwealth Day, I hope that the people and countries of the Commonwealth will be inspired by all that we share, and move forward with fresh resolve to enhance the Commonwealth’s influence for good in our world.
Why paint the town red when you can paint it rainbow! The Capital put on a fantastic evening for the Wellington International Pride Parade, bringing together members of the LGBTQI+ community to show their pride and bring their aroha to the thousands lining the streets. Dame Patsy spoke of the recent political battles that have been won by the Rainbow community, such as gay marriage and homosexual law reform, and how we must all work together to continue positive change.
The theme for this year’s parade was “Water: Dive Into your Pride” which saw organisations from Air NZ, the New Zealand Defence Force and everyone in between out in force to wave the rainbow flag and show their support for the LGBTQI+ community.
This morning, Dame Patsy and Sir David were delighted to shine a spotlight on some of the good people who open up their homes as foster carers to children who are neglected or abused. The annual Caring Families Aotearoa Excellence in Foster Care Awards recognise people whose patience, care and love help to provide structure and security to such children and set them on a path to a better future. As always, the citations of the 2020 recipients are inspirational.
Dame Patsy and Sir David hosted a dinner for members of the Order of New Zealand at Government House in Wellington.
The ONZ is New Zealand's most senior honour and recognises "outstanding service to the Crown and people of New Zealand in a civil or military capacity".
Among the guests - Professor Sir Lloyd Geering; Dame Malvina Major, the Rt Hon Helen Clark; Dame Margaret Bazley; Joy Cowley, Sir Ron Carter; Professor Sir Peter Gluckman; Ken Douglas; Jim Bolger; the Rt Hon Sir Kenneth Keith
How can we help society be more cohesive? How can we strengthen personal resilience to deal with rapid change? How can we make good decisions about our adoption of new technologies? How can we counter misinformation and make sure people can access information that they can trust? What kind of trade-offs are required if we are to live sustainably? These issues, identified by a panel of international experts as being critically important, are the research themes at the new Centre for Informed Futures, based at Auckland University, and working with New Zealand and international affiliates. The Director is Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, ONZ and the Deputy Director is Dr Anne Bardsley. Research will be multi-disciplinary and is intended to inform policy development. Dame Patsy and Sir David hosted the launch of Koi Tu at Government House Auckland this evening.
Four of New Zealand's best were inducted into the Massey College of Creative Arts Hall of Fame at a ceremony at Government House this evening.
The Hall of Fame celebrates graduates of the College who have made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand’s economy, reputation and national identity.
Photographer Anne Noble, artist and educator the late Gordon Tovey, film editor Annie Collins and musician Jon Toogood were the 2020 inductees.
The College also announced the establishment of the College of Creative Arts residencies fund, which will be used to support the College's existing arts residencies and new residencies in design, and music and creative media production.
Dame Patsy and Sir David hosted a lunch for some of the key figures behind the New Zealand Festival of the Arts, currently taking place in Wellington. Dame Patsy was delighted to welcome the three guest Festival curators Lemi Ponifasio, Laurie Anderson and Brett McKenzie along with a small group of artists and administrators.
The Aotearoa Circle is attracting increasing numbers of leaders in the public and private sector who recognise the urgent need to address the wellbeing of our natural resources, while finding ways to pursue sustainable prosperity. Dame Patsy is Patron and hosted a meeting of Circle members in Auckland on Wednesday. We were inspired by their commitment to work together for change.We heard from visiting UK environmentalist, Sir Jonathon Porritt (son of a previous Governor-General, Sir Arthur Porritt) and received an update on Aotearoa Circle work-streams focussing on biodiversity, finance for sustainable business initiatives, and the marine environment. https://www.theaotearoacircle.nz/
The sun came out to play when our friends from Newtown Kindergarten visited for a picnic in Coronation Grove at Government House, Wellington. The trees made for an excellent game of hide-and-seek for some, while others went hunting for cicada shells and sampled fruit from the orchard. It's a great opportunity for these inner city kids to explore and learn about nature in an area nearby. The Kindergarten has been visiting every year for nearly 20 years, it’s always a pleasure to have them stop by.