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Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Nau mai, haere mai rā ki te Whare Kawana o Tāmaki Makaurau. Kia ora tātou katoa. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings and welcome to Government House Auckland.
I want to specifically acknowledge: Hon Chester Borrows, Minister of the Crown; Hon Dame Catherine Tizard; Graeme Dingle and Jo-anne Wilkinson, co-founders of the Foundation for Youth Development; Dean Ellwood and Marion Short, Chair and chief executive respectively of FYD; and Sarah Hillary, daughter of founding trustee Sir Edmund Hillary; - tēnā koutou katoa.
It’s a great pleasure for Janine and me to welcome you all to Government House Auckland for the 2013 Foundation for Youth Development Excellence Awards. As Foundation Patron, and having hosted last year’s ceremony, Janine and I support wholeheartedly this annual celebration of young people excelling and look forward to meeting some of you later.
These awards celebrate the pinnacle of achievement. They celebrate young people who have faced serious challenges and overcome them with a determination to take ownership of their lives in order to succeed. In doing so, the rangatahi we celebrate today have invested heavily in their own future; a future that has opportunity, potential and purpose.
The Foundation for Youth Development has been an essential part of these young people’s journeys. Its vision to build a strong New Zealand by helping to grow great Kiwi kids ensures that its programmes harness the collective power of people in our communities. Its work is encapsulated in the Māori proverb: “Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou, ka ora ai te iwi” which literally translates as “with your food basket and my food basket, the people will thrive.” It’s this collaborative approach in partnering with communities to develop, co-ordinate, manage and deliver programmes that makes FYD hugely successful in bringing positive changes to the lives of young New Zealanders, their families and communities.
The five values guiding the work of the Foundation, and central to its strength and success, whakaute, pono, whakapumautanga, hiranga and kupapa – respect, integrity, sustainability, excellence, and collaboration – speak of a community-centric approach. Its focus on building self-esteem, and promoting good values that teach life, education and health skills, enables young people to make their way in our increasingly complex world.
Depending on where you draw the line, young people make up about one in five of New Zealand’s population. While the challenges they face are not necessarily new, the impact of monumental technological change has affected societal norms and social interactions the way we all live. The timing of key life transitions, such as leaving home, entering the workforce and becoming a parent have also, it seems, accelerated in recent decades .
What has not changed, however, is the need to ensure our young people are supported, motivated and encouraged to contribute to their families, their communities, and ultimately to our country. Having a sense of belonging, of knowing who you are, where you come from, what you stand for, and where you headed are vital components during the most formative years of a person’s life.
I very much look forward to hearing the stories of the young people here today. Having listened to other stories, their stories will undoubtedly serve as testimony to the wonderful work of the Foundation, and the awardees’ dedication and commitment to excellence. Last year Janine and I were hugely impressed with each of the award recipients, and their respective achievements, and I have no doubt that today will be the same.
I expect that the stories of perseverance, through often difficult and exacting experiences, that we will hear today, will reinforce our confidence and belief in the young people of New Zealand. These young people and their counterparts will one day be in a position to lead this country and to shape its future; and that is an awesome opportunity.
Finally, I would like to conclude with the words of Sir James Allen, New Zealand’s Minister of Defence during World War 1, the centenary of which we mark next year. He was instrumental in the development of New Zealand’s navy and expeditionary military force , and championed volunteering. Sir James spoke on the power of having goals for the future and of knowing where you’re headed. He said: “Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so you shall become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.”
So with that thought I will close, in offering my thanks to all of those who make the work of the Foundation possible, and my appreciation to the family and supporters of the young people being recognised today.
Welcome again to Government House. Kia ora, kia kaha, kia manawanui, huihui tātou katoa – be healthy, be strong, be courageous.