To Paul Baines, Barnardos outgoing Board Chairman, to Lynn McClelland, Barnardos incoming Board Chairman, to Murray Edridge, Barnardos Chief Executive, to the Reverend Dr Hone Kaa, Kaumatua of this marae to Robyn Malcolm, Guest Speaker, Distinguished Guests and Ladies and Gentlemen -
Greetings, kia ora, kia orana, fakalofa lahi atu, taloha ni (sign ‘good afternoon’). These are the languages of the Realm of New Zealand.
Thank you for the invitation to speak at the Barnardos 40th Anniversary Annual General Meeting this afternoon. It is a pleasure to be here.
As joint Patron of Barnardos with my husband, Anand, I take a keen interest in the successes you have had over the last year and, indeed, over the 40 years that Barnardos has been present in New Zealand. Anand is unfortunately unable to be here this afternoon but sends his warm wishes.
I would like to express my sorrow for the recent fire at this place and that I am pleased to see that you have here the spirit to carry on undeterred just as Barnardos has cut its Annual Report costs and is carrying on.
You will know that the theme of today's AGM on the 40th Anniversary is Children Come First. Then, now and Always.
The theme acknowledges the importance of understanding and valuing the needs of our children, our future. As the next custodians of this land our children depend on us to cherish them.
You at Barnardos play a pivotal role in protecting our children and young people and influencing changes in New Zealand’s families.
I am the mother of three and our family has grown in this year, with the arrival of a grandson and granddaughter.
The arrival of grandchildren into our lives is a reminder both of the past and present. I remember the joy of raising our children and the challenges we faced as parents. All parents have the hopes and dreams that their children will grow to be good and happy people. Our grandchildren remind us that the world has changed. New challenges exist - not necessarily more difficult, just different, from the worries that we faced as parents.
Doctor Barnardo lived and worked with children in the nineteenth century. He formed an organisation called “The National Association for the Reclamation of Destitute Waif Children” which was more commonly known as “Dr Barnardo’s Homes”. Early on, contributions were sent from New Zealand for his work but it was not until the 1960s that Barnardos started here. As a non-governmental organisation, you care for and speak in the interests of children in the same way that Dr Barnardo did.
Barnardos recognises that there is strength in families. Families of today are different from those of forty years ago but face many new challenges. It is so easy to view the past in an idealisticl way. Laurie O’Reilly once said that ‘every child needs at least one adult who is crazy about them’ and every such child has a family.
We have become culturally, religiously and ethnically diverse and families have become varied. There are more single-parent families and more blended families, more parents’ relationships are not traditional and not all couples choose to marry.
I am very conscious that it is the quality of the relationship, and the love that infuses it, rather than its legal form, that should always be paramount. Relationships are occurring increasingly across ethnic, cultural and religious divides that once kept people apart—my own marriage being a case in point.
I am confident that you are very conscious of the changing face of our families as Barnardos comes its 40th Year. I am also aware of the challenges inherent in the wider cultural and religious diversity of this century. This means that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach for addressing the needs of our children, our families and our whānau. I hope that, like Kirk Aldridge - a passionate professional, we all can remember ‘to be real and not rule’ as he does in his programme which uses restorative processes when working with young people who need to make changes in their lives.
Barnardos New Zealand can look back with satisfaction on the contribution that it has made to this country. Over the last year, more than six thousand children have benefited from the quality early childhood education and out-of-school care provided by Barnardos and more than thirteen thousand children, adolescents, parents and families have also had help and assistance in that time.
I commend the Barnardos Staff, Leadership Team and Board on your work for children. Everyone who has been involved in the achievements of the last forty years can be proud. I wish you well for the year to come and the next forty years and hope that you remain ‘pleased with your progress – but not satisfied’.
Your dedication and advocacy for children, and the work you are doing in supporting families and whānau continues to make a positive difference in many lives. Murray Edridge wrote in his comments in last year’s Annual Report:
“The responsibility for children is the greatest responsibility of all.”
Tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā kouto katoa.