E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
I specifically acknowledge: Hon Anne Tolley, Minister for Social Development; Ms Linda Surtees, Chief Executive, Fostering Kids; Ms Bernadine Mackenzie, Deputy Chief Executive, Child Youth and Family; and Mr Jon Pilalis, Guest speaker today.
Tēnā koutou katoa.
It is a great pleasure for Janine and me to welcome you all to Government House today. An especially warm welcome to those of you who have come some distance to be here.
This is the third year we have hosted an awards ceremony for exceptional foster parents – and it is particularly apt for 2014, when the theme for our work at Government House is families and peace.
This year we have been able to highlight the work of agencies and organisations that help support our families and young people – and it has been particularly rewarding to hear examples of how children’s lives are being transformed by dedicated people who are prepared to put in the time and effort to make a real difference.
Today, I welcome the opportunity to express my support and admiration for the people who take on the fostering of our vulnerable children – and to recognise Fostering Kids New Zealand and its work for foster parents around the country.
The 19 recipients of today’s Excellence in Fostering Awards have their own stories to tell. Shortly we will hear brief summaries of their extraordinary dedication, service and compassion.
What those accounts will share is a commitment to the welfare of children. Foster parents have big hearts. They know full well that taking a child into their home will be challenging. The parents we are acknowledging today have demonstrated to an exceptional level that they have what it takes to give the care, guidance and attention that a child needs to flourish.
I said this work is vital – because the consequences of not doing anything are unthinkable. A neglected or traumatised child will not reach his or her adult potential. That’s not only a tragedy for the person concerned; it’s equally a loss for our wider society. Those less able to take their place in the social and economic life of the country will be more likely to be counted amongst society’s sad casualties.
Foster parents allow our vulnerable children to dare to dream, to have hope and to develop their self-esteem and confidence. The deep personal connections that are developed between foster parents and “their” children serve to bolster and inspire them throughout their lives.
The words of Nelson Mandela remind us how precious our children are, and of our duty to care for them – and I quote, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”.
We are grateful for our foster parents who work at the frontline to ensure vulnerable children receive a fuller life – one that they deserve.
Congratulations to all the recipients of awards today – and my sincere thanks to you for your tremendous work.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa