To John Gibbons, President of Age Concern Wellington, to Judy McGregor, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, to members of the Age Concern Executive and Charitable Trust Committee, to Distinguished Guests and Ladies and Gentlemen: Kia ora and good afternoon.
This is the first Annual General Meeting of Age Concern Wellington I have attended as the patron and I am pleased to be here. Established in 1977, Age Concern Wellington has been working to serve the needs of older people here for more than thirty years.
Our population is ageing and as the post-war baby boom generation grows older, more and more of us hope that we are not overlooked, or taken for granted by younger kiwis. Statistics New Zealand’s report of March 2006, states that superannuitant numbers in the New Zealand population are projected to grow from the one in eight of 2005 to over one in four by the late 2030s. The implications of this are complex and need to be planned for.
Age Concern Wellington emphasises the significance of older people with myriad knowledge and skills and I am proud to be Patron. It recognises their vital contribution to society and the economy during their lifetime and their ongoing value. In addition, Age Concern Wellington looks honestly at the problems that older people face and it seeks to assist them and to champion solutions.
Anand and I are now both in our 60s. We enjoy being grandparents and having time for our family – time that will grow at the end of Anand’s term as Governor-General in August next year. In the last two years we have welcomed three grandchildren, most recently just a few weeks ago.
Ageing normally and graciously is, as with any of life's stages, something we all hope to achieve. There are the connections with family and others in the wider community and for some, the continuation of their career. Those who engage at work, through volunteering or by being active locally have networks and others who 'look out' for them. Social engagement brings many rewards and enhances fitness, alertness and the sense of being needed.
Additional leisure encourages reflection, study and learning of all sorts. The passing on of a life’s story is worth a recording in any form, written, or through oral history or discussion. Such a tale will be a treasure for the future and I salute Dame Cath Tizard and Ken Douglas who have recently published their story, as well as looking forward to the delicious trilogy of Dame Christine Cole Catley.
In her book Miles to Go, Sister Pauline O’Regan made a wonderful observation about the desire to impart wisdom to the younger generations. She wrote:
“We old people, with our lives behind us, harbour the fond hope that the generations coming after us will benefit from our experience and profit from our wisdom. In our more honest moments, we hope that they’ll learn from our mistakes. Few things cause us more regret than to see younger people… reinventing the wheel when we have already done it. We sigh in resignation. We can’t help feeling we could have saved them from the trouble.”
I wish you well in your Annual General Meeting. Please, continue to voice your concerns and advise those around you. It is good for a young nation that learns as it grows – as we have observed in our past.
May I now introduce the Guest Speaker - Dr Judy McGregor. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Dr McGregor, is a lawyer and a former head of the Departments of Human Resource Management and Communication and Journalism at Massey University. As the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, one of her main focus areas is ageism in the workplace and extending equal employment opportunities in the public and private sectors.
No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā koutou katoa.