Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei,
tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou.
Nau mai, haere mai ra ki Te Whare Kawana o Tamaki Makaurau.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all, and welcome to Government House Auckland.
One of the great privileges of my role is the opportunity it gives me to support and celebrate the work of individuals and organisations that are making a positive difference in our communities – and to learn more about the work that they do.
There are various ways I can lend my support – but when it comes to Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand, I had to draw the line at ‘shave for a cure’ or the Sky Tower stair challenge. Dinner at Government House to celebrate your 40th year was a much more attractive option!
Hosting you all here tonight is one way that David and I can express appreciation, on behalf of communities around New Zealand, for the vital work of Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand, and for the support you provide to the estimated 21,000 people currently living with blood cancer or a related condition in this country.
When six children and adults in New Zealand are diagnosed every day with a blood cancer like leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma or a related blood condition, there is clearly a need for such an organisation.
With this level of prevalence, it’s almost inevitable that the impact of these blood diseases touches all our lives, either personally or through the experience of whanau or friends.
I can imagine how people’s lives must be turned upside down when they learn that they have blood cancer, and how grateful they must be for the information, support and advocacy that you provide through what might be months or years of treatment.
It must be wonderful to know that there is a dedicated group of people lobbying on your behalf, especially when there are wins like the successful lobbying for PHARMAC to fund the breakthrough drug Glivec.
We owe our thanks to Pru Etcheverry for her tireless enthusiasm and drive in building up your organisation to the position where it can provide all these services.
The establishment of the Leukaemia and Blood Cancer Research Unit at The University of Auckland in 2014 was an exciting step-change. The work of the scientists who have been drawn to work there, from across the globe, will undoubtedly increase understanding of the causes of blood cancer, and thereby assist in the quest to find better treatment and cures.
We all hope for the day when the services of your organisation are no longer required, but in the meantime, New Zealanders are very grateful for your efforts on their behalf.
Pru, I was delighted to present you with the insignia of an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit here at Government House last April. Your recognition was richly deserved, and I wish you all the best with your future plans when you leave your position next month.
You leave a strong organisation, informed by scientific research, with a high public profile, and providing comprehensive services to people in need of support, care and compassion. It is wonderful to know that you intend to continue to use your energy and skills to advise non-profit organisations to build their capacity.
I wish everyone associated with Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand all the very best with your work in the years ahead. For now, I hope you all enjoy your evening.
No reira, Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.
I now invite the Chair of Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ, Tony Wilding, to speak.