E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
I specifically acknowledge: Kaumatua James Makowharemahihi; Mr Duncan Reid and Ross Davis, Board Chair and Director of the Boys’ and Girls’ Institute respectively; and Sir Richard Taylor; tēnā koutou katoa.
Thank you for inviting me to be here for the opening of this new centre for the Wellington Boys’ and Girls’ Institute – the BGI.
I very much respect the purpose of the BGI because our young people are our future and we must support them to reach their potential. In the 1880s – when the BGI was established, it set out to nurture the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of under-privileged children in Wellington, and was funded entirely by voluntary subscription.
I am not the first Governor-General to value the work of the BGI. In 1895, one of my predecessors, Governor Sir David Boyle – Lord Glasgow - visited what was then called the Wellington Boys’ Institute.
He praised the excellent work the Institute was doing, and regretted that similar organisations were not established throughout the country.
And in 1914, when the Boys’ Institute moved to new premises on Tasman Street, the Earl of Liverpool, Governor at the time, laid the foundation stone. Liverpool declared that he and his wife, Lady Liverpool, were proud to associate themselves with the Institute and with “the work that the young citizens of Wellington will be able to do in the future”.
Continuing their example, it is my privilege to be here with you today, more than one hundred years later, to open the Institute’s new home here in the heart of the city.
A lot has changed since Lord Liverpool’s time, but the Institute’s values are still relevant.
I say this because throughout my term I have been keen to promote initiatives that align with the acronym SERVE – which stands for Service, Excellence, Rangatahi, Volunteering and Enterprise. I see these themes reflected in the kaupapa and values of the Wellington Boys’ and Girls’ Institute.
Firstly, ‘service’ is integral to how the BGI operates, with older teenagers mentoring the younger ones, as well as serving the wider community.
Excellence is achieved through hard work and learning from example, which the BGI encourages.
An unswerving commitment to rangatahi and youth is central to all of the BGI’s work.
Since its foundation, volunteering has formed the backbone of the BGI, with many dedicated people giving their time to further the BGI’s goals.
Finally, the BGI’s enterprising, innovative spirit is evident in the recent launch of a graphic novel touching on youth issues called A Change – written by youth, for youth, in collaboration between the BGI, Victoria University of Wellington and illustrator Ant Sang.
Several years ago I had the pleasure of hosting a group of young people from the BGI at Government House, not far from the BGI’s former historic home on Tasman Street.
I recall it was a very lively occasion. There were presentations about the different activities of the BGI - such as youth mentoring, carving, street art, anti-bullying programmes and youth leadership initiatives.
With an important kaupapa – nurturing the leaders of tomorrow – it is great to see the BGI has this amazing new home. It is an appropriate place for the BGI to continue its important mahi, its important work.
Although much has changed since the BGI was originally established all those years ago, the original vision remains the same – to help young New Zealanders realise their full potential.
There is a saying that goes "Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate."
For more than a century the Wellington Boys’ and Girls’ Institute has provided great mentors and role models for the city’s young people. I acknowledge and thank all of the people who have supported and helped to plan, fundraise and fund, build and fit-out this new Boys’ and Girls’ Institute building. I also wish everyone involved with BGI all the best in the years to come.
I am delighted to now declare the Wellington Boys’ and Girls’ Institute officially open.