E ngaa rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei I tēnei pō, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Nau mai, haere mai ra ki Te Whare Kawana o Whanganui-a-Tara.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all, and welcome to Government House Wellington.
I specifically acknowledge Mr Ross Davis, Director of BGI, tēnā koe.
It’s my pleasure to welcome the 18 rangatahi and your mentors here today, for your graduation from Boys’ and Girls’ Institute Challenge for Change.
I am sure the past 12 months have presented a few more obstacles than you might have anticipated when you started the programme.
But we are all becoming quite adept at working through challenges and finding new ways of doing things.
Your graduation today is testament to your own resilience and ingenuity.
BGI has a long and successful history of helping the young people of Wellington. Today, 18 more rangatahi join the many before them who have found their strength and potential through this programme.
I’ve dedicated a large part of my career to improving the wellbeing and outcomes for our tamariki, because I see clearly that these things are the foundation for a better world.
The research is there, and it’s something we all know to be true: love is the key to growing up well. The more people who love you and whom you love the better, but the literature tells us that even one loving relationship can make the difference for a child. This loving relationship will chart the course of their lives, so a programme to have a supportive mentor can make a difference at critical stages of a child or young person’s life.
This love and support provides the bedrock we all need to lead full and happy lives. It nurtures whānau and creates thriving and inclusive communities.
It is the great gift of Challenge for Change: that these young people have an extra person in their lives to offer love and guidance.
To that end, I wish to acknowledge the mentors here today. Volunteers like yourselves give up your time and expertise to better the lives of others – a truly selfless thing.
There’s a whakatauki that says Ko te mokopuna, ko ia te rangatira o āpōpō, the child is tomorrow’s leader.
Today’s mentees are here because someone in their life knew they had it in them to become a leader, and that they just needed a gentle nudge to see it for themselves.
When young people are allowed to fulfil their leadership potential, the impact is profound: across whānau, communities, and society as a whole.
To the rangatahi graduating today: my very warmest congratulations. I hope you look back on your time with BGI fondly and with gratitude for all that it taught you.
I know during this past year you will have stepped outside your comfort zone, learned more about yourselves, and no doubt formed long-lasting friendships along the way.
Take the skills, experiences, and leadership you have gained in this programme, and carry them with you throughout your lives.
One day you might notice someone else who could benefit from the same guidance and nudge you received. I have every faith you’ll rise to that challenge.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.