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.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge the MPs and Councillors present and the representatives of Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP.
I’m delighted to welcome you to Government House this evening. We are here to support the work of Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP and to celebrate the valuable role it plays in our communities.
As a nation, New Zealand has always aspired to be a world leader. In 1893 we set an example for the rest of the world by giving women the vote. Last year’s Suffrage 125 celebrations showed how defining this event was for our national character. We still feel strongly about the notions of fairness and decency that were deeply intertwined with the suffrage campaign.
The anniversary was well worth celebrating. However, it begged the question. Are we still setting standards for the rest of the world?
The statistics relating to sexual and domestic violence in New Zealand would say that we are not. Every year, one in three girls, one in six boys and one in two disabled people experience some form of sexual abuse.
It’s a problem that can affect anyone, with some groups more likely to be affected than others. For Maori girls and women, the likelihood of sexual violence is twice as high as the general population. The LBGTQI+ community is even more at risk.
It’s sad and it’s shocking. That’s why the work of organisations like Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP is so important. Their support for victims of sexual abuse is invaluable and there is also the wider mission – advocating for cultural change.
So often the reality of sexual abuse is hidden away. It’s a dirty secret that no one likes to talk about. By raising awareness, we make it easier for people to ask for help and thanks to organisations like Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP, provide support.
Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP owes much to the people that have supported it since its earliest days. The success of any organisation is heavily dependent on the energy, enthusiasm and determination of its initiators. I acknowledge Dr Carol Shand, Dr Juliet Broadmore and the other founding trustees for their role in making the Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP the organisation it is today.
Thank you for what you do for those affected by sexual abuse. There are many in our communities grateful for the support and care you have provided. I wish you all the best for the future.
And to all our guests, thank you for joining us. I hope you enjoy the evening.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.