E kui mā, e koro mā e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
I specifically acknowledge: His Worship Bill Dalton, Mayor of Napier, and His Worship Lawrence Yule, Mayor of Hastings - tēnā korua.
Thank you for this opportunity for Janine and me to join you this evening for this reception. We’re pleased that in the lead up to Volunteer Awareness Week – later this month (21–27 June) - we can take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of volunteers from the Hawke’s Bay region. We are looking forward to mixing and mingling shortly and finding out more about what you are doing.
Today is the second day of our four-day regional visit to the Hawkes Bay. Already we have been enthused, impressed, and delighted by what we have seen.
A regional visit is an opportunity for us to find out what is happening outside the main centres. The information and impressions we gain informs our work, including the conversations we have when we represent New Zealand overseas.
Yesterday we were welcomed on to Kohupatiki Marae, planted a tree and then I presented certificates to young men who have just completed a learn to read programme in the regional prison. Today, I visited the two wildlife sanctuaries on Cape Kidnappers and Smedley Station while Janine visited Swinburn Centre, Cranford Hospice and Silky Oak Chocolates. Before coming here, Janine and I went to see kids doing the “All Ears” reading programme at the Library. And we are looking forward seeing more!
This year the theme of our work at Government House has been nationhood. That theme was prompted by the many significant anniversaries of events that contributed to the development of our country – such as the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, 150th anniversary of Wellington becoming our capital city, the centenary of the Gallipoli landings and the 50th anniversary of the independence of the Cook Islands.
It’s a year to reflect on our heritage, to think about what it means to be a citizen, and what is important for New Zealanders.
It seems to me that volunteering is deeply embedded in our DNA in New Zealand. It’s central to how and what we do when we band together to get things done in our communities.
More than one million New Zealanders donate some 270 million unpaid hours to the community each year. That equates to almost seven 40 –hour working weeks for each volunteer!
You are all testament to the thousands of hours of voluntary work that is being done in the Hawkes Bay. You enable the organisations you represent to do their good work in the community.
Whatever your motivations, you all have it in your gift to leave the world a better place.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu spoke along these lines when he said, and I quote: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good, put together, that overwhelm the world.”
His compatriot and fellow Nobel Peace Prize Winner the late Nelson Mandela echoed those sentiments when he said “the time is always ripe to do good”.
Volunteers do good – and in an age when everything has a price and they say that there’s no such thing as a free lunch – your willingness to give freely of your time, your expertise, your effort and your goodwill is an outstanding example of good.
There will be many, many people in Hawke’s Bay whose lives have been made better because of the efforts of the people and organisations represented here this evening.
Looking at the guest list, I saw a broad range of volunteers: people who mentor our young people; others who advocate for the elderly; people who help those afflicted with physical disabilities or ill health; people who provide shelter or emergency healthcare; and people who put their lives on the line to save others.
In this year when we have been honouring the spirit of service and sacrifice of a generation that went to war a hundred years’ ago, it’s good to know that the concept of service continues to be respected.
Thank you for your commitment to serve as volunteers in your communities – and know that your work is very much appreciated and valued. All the very best for the year ahead.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.