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 specifically acknowledge: Philip Bagshaw, Chair of the Canterbury Charity Hospital Trust and the other trustees present today; and Carl Shaw, Hospital Manager - tēnā koutou katoa.
Thank you for inviting me here today to open the Canterbury Charity Hospital’s east wing. The last time I visited was for the opening of the hospital’s west wing so my return provides a nice balance.
Today marks another milestone for the Canterbury Charity Hospital Trust. In the eleven years since your formation you’ve made much progress. It’s one thing to have a vision, and quite something else to turn a vision into a reality. Those of you who have been part of this venture – or should that be adventure - since the beginning must be very proud of what’s been achieved. You’re possibly a little exhausted too, given how fast this hospital complex has grown.
The hospital’s continued success owes much to the incredible group of volunteers who provide services, treatments and generally do all the things that make a hospital run smoothly.
Most people will be familiar with the maxim “Charity begins at home”, first voiced by Thomas Fuller, a British clergyman and author. What many people do not know is Fuller’s complete statement - that ‘Charity begins at home, but should not end there.’
It’s natural to want to care for and nurture our families and our closest acquaintances. However, the mark of a good human being is someone who widens their focus and works for the well-being of others outside that circle.
The volunteers here are some of those special people. They have given their time, energy and skills freely, to help others. I doubt one could put an accurate financial figure on the value of that volunteerism, and the very nature of volunteering suggests that it’s more than just money.
Each volunteer, whether they’re involved in treating patients, manning reception, looking after the gardens or any other role, renders the offer of compassionate care and committed engagement to other members of their community is important. These things should be celebrated by all New Zealanders.
Of course, it’s not a one way street. Emma Sappala, the scientific director of Stanford University’s Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education said in a recent interview that connecting with others in a meaningful way helps us enjoy better mental and physical health and speeds up recovery from disease. It can even lengthen lives. Which I guess gives all of you even more time to devote to volunteering!
The Canterbury Charity Hospital meets a need in this community. There will be many people whose lives have been improved dramatically by the treatment and care provided here. To know there’s something that could be done for you, but be unable to access the treatment you need must be a stressful and upsetting thing. I think it’s fantastic that in the Canterbury region, people can turn to you to help solve those problems.
Congratulations once again to the Canterbury Charity Hospital Trust on the opening of this new wing. I’m reminded of the words of anthropologist Margaret Meade who said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
The work done so far is an excellent foundation as you continue to expand to meet a charitable need. Thank you to the trustees, staff and all the volunteers for the great service to the people of Canterbury. Thank you also for your compassion, thoughtfulness and commitment
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa