Rau rangatira, e kui mā, e koro mā, e hine mā, e tama mā, e huihui nei, nga mihi o te po ki a koutou. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, young women and young men good evening.
I specifically acknowledge Hon Nikki Kaye, Minister of Youth Affairs; Louisa Wall, MP; and Nigel Gould and Terry Shubkin, Chairman and CEO of the Young Enterprise Trust respectively - tēnā koutou katoa.
Thank you for inviting Janine and me to the 2014 Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme – the YES - National Awards. These awards are an activity that I have been keen to support during my time as the Governor-General.
In my role, I give special support to organisations and events that reflect five key themes: service, excellence, rangatahi, volunteerism and enterprise. These form the acronym SERVE, and the Young Enterprise Scheme hits all of those themes.
With the Young Enterprise Scheme, I find I am continually astounded by the creativity and fresh ideas that our young entrepreneurs come up with. In the past I’ve seen companies marketing environmentally sustainable products, employing technology in a socially responsible way and using simple concepts to solve serious problems; and all the while making a profit! YES has also given young people the chance to develop skills - as CEOs, Communications or marketing specialists, financial wizards and production managers.
I am enthusiastic about the Young Enterprise Scheme because it helps to foster confidence and captures the imagination and energy of youth. We need people who are prepared to attempt the impossible and be inspired to keep going, no matter how enormous the task may seem. The British historian, G M Trevelyan, summed up how important it is to foster the promise and enthusiasm of young people when he said, and I quote:
Never tell a young person that anything cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing.
New Zealand needs entrepreneurs who can make the smart connections between science, technology and the arts and business. We need people who are doing that, and also thinking about their communities and their environment. We need people the likes of co-founder of Xero, Rod Drury, Kiwibank co-founder and CEO Paul Brock, and Rachel Taulelei, a YES judge this year, and CEO of Yellow Brick Road, a company which is leading the charge on sustainable fishing in New Zealand. Rod, Paul and Rachel are all YES alumni.
There are impressive examples of this kind of thinking and determination amongst the 610 YES companies in operation this year. Some of them are from schools which are participating in YES for the first time; to mention just a small sample – KTNT from Northland College uses a locally-sourced honey product to promote its region; sole-trader Jacob Barber from Linwood College in Christchurch has taken his passion for free running and parkour to over 3000 people in one year; Henderson High’s El Paleo’s chocolates for people on the Paleo diet or living with food allergies; John Paul College’s Madhouse Music has had success at the 2014 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards; St Cuthbert School’s Luna and Co’s sleepwear has donated one garment for every three sold to Women’s Refuge; and Springbank School’s Evocado uses avocado wax, which is a waste product from the production of avocado oil, to make a natural soap; and 25% of its profits are used to purchase stationery packs for a small school in Nairobi where the avocados are sourced.
As Patron of the Young Enterprise Trust I am pleased to be associated with the Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme because it’s a programme that transforms and empowers our young people – our rangatahi – by giving them the chance to see what they are capable of becoming. This year I expected to see more of the same as I’d seen in previous years, and yet already I’ve seen much more! The companies here this evening confirm Nelson Mandela’s judgment that, “It always seems impossible until it is done”.
I am delighted to congratulate tonight’s winners. I know that the entrepreneurial spirit and all the fantastic skills and knowledge you have acquired will be an asset for you whatever career option you choose in the future. It will also be of great benefit to New Zealand.