I cannot compete with the Bolger family in family statistics. We both have four grandchildren, but we have two more on the way; we of course have had a head start, married forty years.
Like Mrs Bolger, I would like to acknowledge the prayerful support we have from so many in the community. It is a great encouragement to us in our job.
I can do no better than simply endorse all the Mrs Bolger has said. It was so obviously right and sensible. The crying shame of it is that so many do not understand that, and so deny to their children the joys of full family life.
Laurie O'Reilly, the Commissioner for Children, is leaving as his legacy to New Zealand, the project he has called "Fathers who Care: Partners in Parenting." The project is sponsored by the Save the Children Fund. It seeks to raise awareness of the importance of quality fathering and co-parenting of children. Because of course the absence of father from the family is a problem of major proportions in this country, as it is elsewhere. Only the other day, I was told of just one of the consequences: a great worry in a well-known school is the number of boys, with no father in the home, who beat up their mothers.
There are great contrasts in our society, and one of the truly encouraging - no, inspiring - things I see day by day, is the number of people who devote themselves to helping broken or dysfunctional families, to picking up the pieces that are the products of those families, to showing not just in words but in action, those qualities of goodness, truth, honesty and love that are so essential to family life, and to the life of the nation.
I would like to think that in our continuing prayers, we will remember these people, as well as those for whom they labour so wonderfully.
I know from the great many letters I have received in recent weeks, that our words and thoughts today, about family life and family values, are widely shared, and express a widespread concern; a yearning in fact. So thank you all for coming and sharing this time together. Gatherings like this must affect the course the nation takes. As one of the Lessons so succinctly said, it is righteousness that exalts a nation.