Ngā mema o te Poari, e ngā Kaiako, e ngā tauira, me ngā mātua, o tēnei kura o Columba, tēnā koutou katoa.
Members of the Board of Trustees, staff, pupils and parents of Columba College, greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge: Mrs Juliette Hayes, Principal; Judge Michael Crosbie, Board Chair of the school respectively; and Mrs Jennifer Anglin and Mrs Lynda Wright-Sear, Co-Chairs of Columba Centenary Committee - tēnā koutou katoa.
It is a great pleasure for Janine and me to be in Dunedin today and to have this opportunity to meet some of its younger residents – and to apply some of our gardening skills. You might be surprised how often our expertise in gardening is called upon.
Fortunately, Janine and I had excellent teachers in our fathers, and in Janine’s case her father was literally an excellent school teacher and principal! In Janine’s case she learned how to instruct me what to plant and where to dig! And in my case, my father taught me techniques that make all the difference to growing healthy plants. Good tuition makes a positive difference.
The same philosophy applies to Columba students and education. You are fortunate to be attending such a prestigious school. Columba’s traditions of instilling a sense of caring for others in the community and its culture of academic excellence gives you young women a great start for your future lives.
The learning you are experiencing here academically - the arts, sciences, maths and languages – and extra-curricularly – community service, music and sport – will be of great benefit to your future lives and endeavours. You are learning about what it takes to be a good scholar, and an involved, caring citizen who can make a difference in their community.
This year, the theme for our work at Government House has been nationhood. We have had a lot of important anniversaries this year – 175 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi; 150 years since Wellington became the capital; and 100 years since our soldiers landed and fought at Gallipoli.
These anniversaries recall events that have made us what we are as a nation. They are an opportunity to think about what it means to be a New Zealander, what we stand for, and where we want to go in the future.
Columba College’s centenary has been a similar opportunity for you all to think about what makes this school special, the significance of your traditions, the importance of the achievements of “old-girls” and the road that lies ahead.
Those of you in the senior school – as young women you have so many more opportunities than your predecessors. And yet there are still some “glass ceilings to break” – I hasten to add that’s figuratively not literally!
Not so long ago the career advice to young women was become a teacher, nurse or secretary. Those are all wonderful occupations, but today, you have so many more options.
At events like the Duke of Edinburgh Hillary Gold Awards Janine and I often ask recipients what they are doing or what they intend doing. Invariably we get a few good surprises and we think that’s neat.
Sometimes young people say they’re not sure; and that’s okay too. Some jobs some of you may end up doing probably don’t exist at the moment. So, although you have more and better options; your generation will need to be flexible, adaptable, and open to changing careers several times in your lifetimes. A good education, more than most other things prepares you for that future.
Whatever happens, your future is New Zealand’s future. The school motto – Gratia et Disciplina Bona – is about the school having a commitment to your future and encouraging and helping you young women to reach your full potential.
Achieving your full potential also demands a life-long commitment from you. The American suffragist, Susan B. Anthony put it this way: “The older I get the greater the power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball – the further I am rolled the more I gain”. Use your time at Columba wisely, like a snowball soak-in as much learning here so that when you start to roll in your lives you can be the best you can be and you can contribute as informed, responsible and compassionate citizens of Aotearoa and the global community.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak to you all. Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.