Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Nau mai, haere mai ra ki Te Whare Kawana o Tamaki Makaurau.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all, and welcome to Government House.
I specifically acknowledge Gordon Trainer, Chair of the SPCA Board, and Andrea Midgen, CEO of the SPCA.
St Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of animals, is reputed to have said that when we leave this earth, we can take nothing that we have received – but ‘only what we have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage’.
I am delighted to host the SPCA today, because it’s an organisation that lives those words. I also welcome SPCA supporters, because your commitment to support animal welfare makes all the difference in the lives of 40,000 animals a year.
Like other New Zealanders, I have a great regard for the SPCA and the work that you do to promote the wellbeing of animals.
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need an organisation such as yours. There wouldn’t be an annual ‘List of Shame’ detailing the worst animal-welfare cases.
Animals would be well cared for by people who understood their responsibilities and behaved with compassion, caring, and kindness.
Animals would be given adequate food, appropriate shelter, and prompt treatment for injuries and medical conditions.
I understand that in future years, the SPCA hopes to shift its focus to the prevention of cruelty and neglect of animals, with the goal of achieving a drastic reduction in animal welfare cases by 2030.
That’s a wonderful aspirational goal, and I wish you every success in achieving it.
Meanwhile, in the here and now, the distressing images on your website and the number of complaints you receive tell a sobering story.
We clearly still need your advocacy, education programmes, prosecutions and animal rescue work.
I suspect that we also need to see a societal change, so that people will feel emboldened to speak up when they see neglect and violent behaviour towards animals, and such behaviour becomes completely unacceptable.
Clearly there has been vast improvement since the SPCA was formed in the 19th century, but we also have some way to go. It is to be hoped that your education programmes in schools will bring about the sea change in behaviour that we need to see.
The SPCA’s work comes at a significant cost, and is dependent on the generosity of fellow New Zealanders – donors, volunteers and people who leave bequests to the SPCA.
I hope that the Giving Hearts Programme will get traction and strengthen the support you receive through bequests.
And I wish you all the very best with your efforts to educate New Zealanders to do better in the arena of animal welfare.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa
 Page 9 of the Giving Hearts booklet.