To: Tania Duncan, Chair of the Board of the Wellington Boys' and Girls' Institute, to Ross Davis, the Director, to Jacinta Krefft, Challenge for Change Coordinator, to Ian McKinnon, Deputy Mayor of Wellington, to Rod Baxter, MC and Youth Worker for the Boys' and Girls' Institute, to the volunteers and the mentors, to the young people graduating here today and to their parents: Greetings, kia ora, kia orana, fakalofa lahi atu, taloha ni and good afternoon (sign). These are the languages of the Realm of New Zealand
It is a pleasure to be here this afternoon at the Challenge for Change Mentoring Programme graduation. I would like to talk about the Programme and how it helps people.
My husband, Anand, and I were present at a similar graduation in December 2008. It was an afternoon we both remember with warmth and I am anticipating another wonderful afternoon.
The Boys' and Girls' Institute, or the "BGI" as it is better known these days, has been part of the Wellington community since 1883. More than 125 years old, this organisation has contributed significantly to the social fabric of Wellington, and in a wider sense, New Zealand.
The Institute should be commended for running the Challenge for Change Programme. This innovative programme focuses on early intervention for each 9 to 13 year old by a thoughtfully selected and advised adult mentor.
There is a well-planned procedure involved in choosing a mentor for each young person taking part. Great care is taken ensure that the young person is comfortable with their mentor and will benefit and develop from the twenty weeks spent on the programme.
The relationship formed between them is the significant part of the programme. Outdoor activities like bush walks or, when it is warm enough in the summer, having a swim in the sea are examples of good activities for them to bond together and to have a lot of fun.
I would like now to speak to the young people graduating here today. You have gained from the process, for sure. I hope that you value this special new friend who is someone that you can look up to and aspire to be like - a role model, a mentor.
What a great thing it is to be able to have someone to talk to about almost anything. Your life will change as you grow older, learning things and finding new things interest you and a steady, reliable friend you can confide in is a great advantage. Your life can be happier and more content.
In the story ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone', Harry's mentor is Professor Dumbledore! Everyone should have a role model or mentor.
You should be very proud of sticking with the programme over the twenty weeks. It is one thing to start something but it's a satisfying achievement, to finish it.
To parents here, thank you for supporting this opportunity for your son or daughter and for taking part. Your involvement and wisdom will lead on into a better future for your child.
My thanks to the mentors who have volunteered their time to be part of these lucky young peoples' lives. The generosity of your spirit, combined with your life experiences and enthusiasm for the Programme, are vital to its success.
I feel hopeful that these newly formed relationships will carry on - as many others have experienced - and enrich all of your lives. Everyone who takes part in this process is a winner.
Congratulations again to the graduates today. This is all about you and your success. You will treasure the valuable times you have had over the past months, I am sure and you will continue to think about and act on things you have learned.
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā koutou katoa which broadly means I wish you greetings and the courage to achieve your dreams.