Kia ora koutou. Nga mihi māhana ki a koutou. Nau mai haere mai, ra ki te Whare Kawana o Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all, and welcome to Government House.
I specifically acknowledge: David Broderick, Chairman of the SPCA Board, and Andrea Midgen, Chief Executive of the SPCA.
I know I’m not who you were expecting this evening. But as you may be aware, Dame Cindy has been in the United Arab Emirates, offering her condolences to Sheikh Khalifa’s family on behalf of New Zealand following his recent death.
I know Dame Cindy was especially looking forward to this event, as an animal lover herself, and devoted mother of our two dogs: Pebbles and Lucy.
Our recent visit to the SPCA Centre in Māngere has been one of the highlights of our time in Government House so far, and, I must say, we very nearly left with a new addition to the family.
St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, is attributed with the words: ‘We have [each] been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.’
The SPCA is an organisation that embodies the spirit and compassion of St Francis, and I am so pleased to host you here this evening, on the very special occasion of your 150th anniversary.
The SPCA is one of the most trusted and highly regarded institutions in Aotearoa – for your tireless and courageous work to protect and promote the wellbeing of animals.
Thanks to the SPCA, I’ve learnt that over 34,000 sick, injured, abused, or abandoned animals are protected in New Zealand each year.
Your advocacy on behalf of animals, your work to preserve their rights and their dignity, and your education programme in schools, have been instrumental in creating systemic change across New Zealand.
And, of course, through your adoption programme, the SPCA has been responsible for bringing New Zealand families across the country immense joy.
I understand that the SPCA is working towards the long-term goal of achieving a significant drop in animal welfare cases by 2030. In this aim, I wish you every success.
Of course, in an ideal world, we wouldn’t need the SPCA. Animals would be universally treated with compassion and care. They would be given adequate food and shelter, and prompt treatment when injured or sick.
I do believe we are becoming a society with those standards. But we’re not there yet, and until we are, I know the SPCA will remain in firm support of those who need it most.
I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the many donors, volunteers, and individuals who leave bequests to the SPCA in their wills. Without their generosity and support, the SPCA would not be able to carry out its important work.
So once again, from both myself and the Governor-General – our sincere congratulations on achieving this significant milestone, our thanks for your wholehearted commitment to your cause, and our very best wishes for the future.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.