In Dame Patsy's absence overseas, Michael Webster, the Cabinet Secretary welcomed the guests to the symposium.
Kia ora koutou katoa.
Ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all. On behalf of the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, I’d like to welcome you to Government House.
I’m Michael Webster, Secretary of the Cabinet. Dame Patsy would have been here to welcome you herself but she was asked to travel to Israel to represent New Zealand at the centennial commemorations of the Battle of Beesheba. She sends her apologies and has asked me to say a few words on her behalf.
One of the things that Dame Patsy has been keen to do during her term in office is to provide practical support. As patron of a number of organisations working in the youth sector, she is aware of the challenges you face and of the potential for greater collaboration to offer better outcomes for our young people.
This event arose from a meeting between Dame Patsy and one of her patronages, Scouts NZ who are today’s co-hosts. Dame Patsy sees offering Government House as a venue as a very practical gesture of support. She is also delighted to play a part in facilitating conversations between organisations with similar goals. It’s an opportunity for you to hear from other people working in the youth development arena, share learnings from past experiences and spark new ideas.
The office of Governor-General has had a long association with a number of organisations focussed on youth development. It has always been important that the significant good provided by our youth centred organisations is acknowledged and supported.
It’s no secret that there is a lot of concern about the challenges facing young people in the 21st century. We all know that for every young achiever there is another who struggles to find their place in society. Our youth suicide rate is one indicator that for some of our young people, the world can be a very dark place.
Your organisations are all part of the network helping our diverse cohort of young people to successfully navigate their way to adulthood. It’s important to work together in helping them on this journey. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and your people can act as mentors and guides to our young citizens people at a highly critical time in their lives. The help and inspiration you provide can make all the difference to their future, and the future wellbeing of our communities.
Dame Patsy’s original intention, when she agreed to host today’s event was that she would be here herself first to welcome you and then to rejoin you to listen to the days findings. Events have conspired against us in that respect, but Dame Patsy is still very interested in hearing about what happens. I’m sure she will read the summary of today’s proceedings with great interest.
On behalf of Dame Patsy, I’d like to wish you well for today’s symposium. It’s a six hour conversation that could mean a lot for our young people. Please enjoy your time in the House.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa