Greetings, Kia Ora, Kia Orana, Fakalofa Lahi Atu, Taloha Ni.
Jenny Burrow, National President of Girl Guiding New Zealand; Annette Kirkwood, National Vice-President; Colleen Johnston, Wellington Regional Co-ordinator; Averil Young, Pencarrow Regional Co-ordinator; Girl Guide Leaders; My greetings to you all.
As Patron of GirlGuiding New Zealand and as a mother of two daughters who are now young adults, it is with pleasure that I welcome you to Government House in Wellington today for this Guides Fun Day.
This year marks an important time in the history of Guiding in New Zealand as 2008 is its centenary year. What is more the movement began in New Zealand a few months before it got started in Britain in 1909, when "girl scouts" turned up to a boy scout rally at the Crystal Palace in London and demanded entry.
According to history, I believe that in 1908, one plucky young woman from Kaiapoi, Muriel Cosgrove, began hassling her dad about the need for scouting for girls. Boys scouts had begun in Britain in 1907 and was quickly spreading around the globe.
Muriel was in luck because her father, Colonel Cosgrove, was a friend of Lord Baden Powell and I am advised that Guiding, or the Peace Scouts as it's known, got its first start here in New Zealand in 1908. In 1923, the Peace Scout Movement became the New Zealand Girl Guide Association that we know today
In the years since its inception, many thousands of young New Zealand women have enjoyed Guiding. Many have become leaders in the organisation.
One hundred years is a long time. Many other organisations for young people have come and gone in that time, but that Guides have continued speaks of its innate strength and core values.
Those core values—leadership, honesty, community, respect for others, an appreciation of the outdoors, self-awareness and self-belief—are as important today as they were in Muriel Cosgrove's time.
But the world that Muriel knew has changed forever. The British Empire is gone and New Zealand is now an independent nation with a strong sense of our own destiny in the world. Technology, in communication and transportation, has made our world much, much smaller. The issues facing young women today are vastly different to those they faced a century ago.
Guides has adapted to the changing world so that young women can be prepared for adult life. Our country needs people who are prepared to participate and contribute. While the world has changed, that basic premise that Guiding helps girls and young women to reach their full potential and make a difference in the world remains.
Just how much Guiding has changed was amply illustrated to me when I attended a forum for Ranger Girl Guides at the Jamboree in Christchurch in January this year.
The forum was held because the Girl Guiding New Zealand Board wants to make the key issues of concern to young women more publicly known and recognised that to do so, it needed to consult widely.
The discussion that occurred, and the wide range of issues that were aired, impressed me. While we often hear in the media criticisms of young people, the sensible discussion I heard showed how well Guiding is achieving its core objectives.
We want our young women to enter their adult lives with an optimism born of ability, and a well-rounded, compassionate outlook on life. To me there is no better organisation than Guides to help give young women opportunities to become compassionate, resilient and resourceful adults.
By placing emphasis on doing one's best and having individual responsibility, Girl Guiding New Zealand helps today's young women address these issues. The movement promotes social equality in all you do and is modern and multicultural. This values every participant and also means that young women of merit are recognised.
I trust you enjoy the activities here at Government House today. More than anything, I hope that you all have fun!
No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tena koutou katoa.