With the start of the New Year, The Hon Anand Satyanand, has issued a New Year’s message for all New Zealanders.
The New Year is often a time when we take stock. We look back at what we have achieved and muse on those things we have yet to accomplish. But we also look forward and set goals as we work towards the future.
Since being appointed as Governor-General in August 2006, I have had the opportunity to see New Zealanders and our country at their best. I never cease to be amazed by the positive can-do attitude New Zealanders bring to their lives.
Supported by my wife Susan, it has been an honour to meet and recognise many of those who have excelled. Many of those events have had a high profile—including meeting the New Zealand athletes to the Beijing Olympics and travelling to the United Nations to receive the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award on behalf of all New Zealanders.
But they have also included less public events, such as awarding scholarships to young New Zealanders who have shown great academic promise or presenting life memberships of various charities to people who have worked tirelessly and selflessly to assist others in need.
What these people have shown are leadership, engagement with their communities and an underlying recognition that enjoying the rights and benefits of a democracy also involves obligations and responsibilities.
The spirit of volunteerism is the glue that holds our society and economy together—our health, education and social service sectors would grind to a halt without the countless hours of voluntary work many people provide. Voluntary work does not have to be a lifelong commitment to an organisation, but we all have skills that can assist voluntary organisations, even if only for individual projects. Voluntary work not only has its own intrinsic benefits—making friends and even offers of employment—but it also adds strength to our wider communities.
Engagement also means being engaged inNew Zealand’s democracy. Late last year, New Zealanders engaged in the ultimate form of civic involvement—voting in a General Election. The election was a demonstration of the strength of our democracy and the civil liberties we all hold dear.
WhileNew Zealandis a young country, ours is an old democracy. Democratic rights should never be taken for granted and are rights that continue to be denied to many people throughout the world. It behoves all New Zealanders to remain engaged in all aspects of our democracy, such as serving on juries and participating in local and central government processes.
In six years’ time we will mark the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, a founding document forNew Zealand’s government and for our nation. Our forebears, often isolated and without the trappings of wealth, sought to build a society based on hard work and ‘getting on with it.’ They all gave something of themselves for what we have today. As we relax and enjoy the summer holidays, let us make a resolution to work towards the future with renewed community spirit.
Hon Anand Satyanand, PCNZM, QSO, Governor-General