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Patronages Dinner

Issue date: 
Friday, 30 October 2009
Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, GNZM, QSO

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I begin by greeting everyone in the languages of the realm of New Zealand, in English, Māori, Cook Island Māori, Niuean, Tokelauan and New Zealand Sign Language. 

Greetings, Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Taloha Ni and as it is the evening (Sign).

Thank you for accepting the invitation from my wife Susan and I to join us for this patronages dinner here at Burgess House in the beautiful Burgess Park on the edge of New Plymouth.  I would like to take this opportunity to make a few comments about the work of patronages.

Since being appointed Governor-General in August 2006, more than 150 organisations have received vice-regal patronage, either from me, or from my wife Susan, and in a few cases, jointly from us both.

Those organisations vary in nature and texture, from the Antarctic Heritage Trust, Arts Foundation and Boys Brigade at the beginning of the alphabet to the Kidney Foundation and Laura Fergusson Trust in the middle to Volunteer Service Abroad, the Winston Churchill Trust and YWCA at the other end.  Indeed apart from the letters, Q, X and Z, the entire alphabet is covered!

Last year, to thank the many people who work in those charitable, cultural, sporting and social organisations, we hosted receptions at Government House in Auckland and Government House in Wellington.

Fear not, while we have spent most of our lives in both the aforesaid cities, neither Susan nor I suffer from “Bombay Hill Syndrome”.  I am uncertain if the Capital has a similar outlook—maybe I should talk to people in the Wairarapa about it.

But seriously, Susan and I are very conscious that we are vice-regal patrons for people working in charitable organisations throughout New Zealand.  To that end, wherever we go we make an earnest effort to make contact with people working in patronages and it is to that end that we have invited you here to dinner tonight.

As patrons, we want to register thanks for your hard work and the contribution that you all make to the social and cultural fabric of New Zealand. 

In 2005, Statistics New Zealand published a report that highlighted the significant contribution which the not-for-profit sector makes.  It was found that there were more than 97,000 not-for-profit organisations operating in New Zealand.  The largest proportion were sporting, cultural and recreational but there were significant numbers operating in education, social services and health.

What was most surprising was that 90 percent employed no staff at all. That these organisations achieve so much is due solely to the work of volunteers.  In essence, the spirit of volunteerism is the “glue” that holds our society and economy together. 

I suspect many New Zealanders do not realise that our health, education and social service sectors would grind to a halt without the countless hours of voluntary work many people provide.

While volunteering offers its own intrinsic benefits for anyone who gives up their time to help a worthy organisation, for many people it also provides an opportunity to meet new people and make friends outside their normal social circle and often leads to employment opportunities.

The generosity and dedication of the thousands of New Zealanders who volunteer their time, energy and skills to assist sporting, cultural and charitable organisations, not only helps build strong and sustainable communities, but also makes a significant economic contribution to our country and what can be called its civic strength.

As I am sure you are well aware, that civic strength has been tested by recent turmoil in the global economy.  While there are signs that things may have turned a corner, I think everyone realises it is too soon to start celebrating and that there will continue to be difficult days ahead. 

It is the work of the volunteers in patronages and other charitable organisations—and the small teams of hardworking paid staff that link them together—that continue to play such an important role in holding the fabric of the nation together. 

Working in your own particular sectors and areas, one could easily become despondent about the impact your work has on the wider community. 

But from our perspective, we see clearly how important everyone’s efforts are.  They remind me of the words of South African, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who once said:  “Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

And on that note, I will I close in New Zealand’s first language, Māori, offering greetings and wishing everyone good health and fortitude in your endeavours. 

No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā koutou katoa.

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 3 November 2009

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