Kia ora koutou. Greetings to you all. I want to specifically acknowledge: Jem Maber, President of the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths and the other National Council members.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen I’m really delighted to be able to open the New Zealand Council of Homoeopaths’ biennial conference today. When we were planning to attend this conference I had thought I might be able to spend more time with you. Unfortunately a visit to South East Asia that Jerry and I have just completed was extended. Having just returned, I will need to leave early so I can get to see our son this weekend, before he goes back to school.
Some of you may know that I have more than a passing interest in homeopathy. My family and I have used it for over 15 years now. It’s one of the reasons why I offered to be the Patron of the New Zealand Council of Homoeopaths. I’ll say something more about that later.
Since my husband Jerry and I have been at Government House, we’ve been involved in a full range of duties - constitutional, ceremonial and community leadership. As well, we’ve completed some visits overseas. Overall, it has been a time of both happy events and poignant reminders of service and loss.
We have attended ceremonies to recognise the excellence of young New Zealanders and supported our elite athletes at the London Olympics. We’ve also represented our country at a flag-lowering ceremony in Bamyan, Afghanistan, when New Zealand’s peace-keeping commitment ended there. And we’ve attended the memorial services to mark the first anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake. Every event has been a special occasion.
While we have been busy, we do take time to focus on our family and personal interests. Attending and opening this conference is an opportunity to both maintain a personal and family interest, and to support one of my patronages.
The system of vice-regal patronage in New Zealand follows the tradition of royal patronage established in Britain. At the start of each Governor-General’s term, the vice-regal patronages are reviewed. Organisations that have vice-regal patronage need to apply to the new Governor-General if they wish to retain the patronage. Other organisations that might want vice-regal patronage can also apply. No organisation receives patronage simply because of historical precedent.
When Jerry was appointed as Governor-General, with the support of Government House staff, he and I reviewed all of the applications for vice-regal patronage. We wanted to ensure that before we committed to them we shared some interest with the organisation, that we could connect with it, and that our association would be mutually beneficial. We also wanted to ensure that we could add some value.
The organisations we have chosen to support are those that fit with our aims and aspirations for our time in Government House representing Her Majesty the Queen of New Zealand and all New Zealanders.
Those organisations are invariably, but not always, national in focus, and many of them have an emphasis on health and wellbeing. At the last count there are 165 community, service, sporting, cultural or professional organisations that we are patrons of. Each of them demonstrates inclusive and principled service that is of benefit to New Zealanders.
I chose to become Patron of the New Zealand Council of Homoeopaths for two reasons. The first is my personal interest in health and well-being, and homeopathy. I completed a Homoeopathy foundation course at the Bay of Plenty College. My certificate hangs on my office wall at Government House. In a related matter, I am also a registered Bowtech practitioner.
Our family has used and benefited from both traditional medicine and complementary health practices. We are fortunate to have a general practitioner who is aware of, and comfortable with, our use of complementary therapies. Homoeopathy in particular has offered distinct health and well-being benefits. I also think that increasingly, homeopathy’s “body and mind” approach resonates with many New Zealanders.
The second, and more important reason, was to support the work of the Council. As the primary organisation for homeopaths in New Zealand, the Council has responsibility for accrediting and setting the standards for registered practitioners.
Ensuring registered homeopaths meet a set of professional standards, similar to other registered health providers, is an important way of keeping in-step with the standards and accountability required of all health professionals. This includes compliance with the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act.
It is important that homoeopaths meet this challenge because it gives the public, who are demanding higher standards from all professionals, greater confidence in the profession and practitioners. Consistent professional standards ensure that the public knows that the practitioners they are dealing with provide a professional, principled and competent service.
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to host a case-taking workshop for Wellington Homeopaths at Government House. I enjoyed refreshing my own knowledge. The workshop’s focus was on-going personal development, to enhance standards of care both for individual practitioners and the profession. A key part of professional development, for any health practitioner, whether you are a counsellor or a midwife, a massage therapist or a nurse, a general practitioner or a homoeopath, comes from sharing experiences.
This conference, with its workshops, presentations and guest speakers is another superb opportunity for homeopaths to share experiences. It’s also an opportunity to advance your knowledge of your profession, and to network with others in your profession. And all of that can only enhance your ability to deliver better health effects for people. I am reminded of the words of the Roman philosopher, Seneca, who once said: “Health is the soul that animates all the enjoyments of life, which fade and are tasteless without it.”
And on that note, it gives me great pleasure to declare the 2013 New Zealand Council of Homeopaths biennial conference officially open.