Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.
I particularly acknowledge: Hon Dr Saia Ma’u Piukala, Minister of Health for Tonga; Hon Dr David Clark, Hon Jenny Salesa and Hon Aupito William Sio, Minsters of the Crown and Craig Fisher and Andrew Bell, Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand Chair and CEO respectively - tēnā koutou katoa.
It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to Government House. You are here during a rather busy time as we are holding a series of investiture ceremonies in the House.
These ceremonies are about recognising achievement and the contribution people make to their communities. As such, it makes perfect sense to welcome your organisation and supporters here this evening. The story of Fred Hollows is one of concern, compassion and care for others. To be talking about his legacy during a week when the focus is on people making a difference, seems like the perfect fit.
During his lifetime, Fred Hollows made an impact on many people’s lives. He was the best kind of human being who gave his time, skill and talent to improve the lives of others. His vision of a world where no one is needlessly blind did not come to pass in his lifetime but could conceivably happen in ours. The continuing work of the Fred Hollows Foundation is crucial in ensuring this happens.
It’s a sobering thought that in the Foundation’s area of operation, 4 out of 5 people who are blind, don’t need to be. It’s a tragedy that people’s sight is still being stolen away for the want of treatment or medical intervention. The detrimental effects of this on people, families and communities are huge.
During the last 25 years, the Fred Hollows Foundation has worked hard to change the statistics. Fred Hollow’s legacy of an organisation that helps people individually, while also working to strengthen local healthcare services, continues to have an impact around the world.
25 years of service to others is a great achievement. I’m sure there is much more to look forward to.
I hope you all enjoy your evening here at Government House and the discussions and presentations that are going to take place.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa