Rau rangatira mā, tēnei aku mihi nui ki a koutou.
Kua tāwharautia te tangata, i roto i te aroha me te Rangimarie.
He taonga rongonui te aroha ki te tangata.
I welcome you all here to celebrate Wellington City Mission’s exciting new development, Whakamaru.
A few weeks ago I hosted an event for another new Government House neighbour, the Wellington Children’s Hospital, Te Wao Nui, which is due to open early next year.
It’s wonderful to do the same for another prospective neighbour that will also have a profoundly positive impact on the social fabric of our city and our region.
Whakamaru looks to be a space that truly will benefit the whole community. It’s a misconception that places like the City Mission help just a very small section of our society. Reality proves otherwise.
Recent OECD statistics showed 11% of New Zealanders live in relative income poverty. And over half of the population indicated they would be at risk of falling into poverty if they were without income for just three months.
That’s the majority of New Zealanders, who are walking a fine line between surviving and struggling.
As we saw last year, when the entire nation went into lockdown with only a few days’ notice, it can be impossible to plan for all of life’s eventualities.
Some are fortunate to be able to support themselves and their families in turbulent times. Others simply don’t have that luxury.
Last year was difficult for many people. In that period of great uncertainty about our future, we realised how strong community relationships can get us through challenging times.
Things are easier to manage when you have a good support network around you.
As a resident myself, I know the Wellington region is a creative and dynamic place to live. But when the cost of living is spiralling upwards, when home ownership seems like a pipe dream and rental properties become unaffordable for many – even for those in full-time work - there is increasing housing insecurity.
As the needs of our community have changed, the Wellington City Mission has evolved to meet those needs.
The extensive array of facilities that will be available in Whakamaru together with the supported living apartments you will be opening on Tory St will make a safe, supportive community environment for our most vulnerable Wellingtonians. Manuhiri will be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
And the City Mission’s recent initiative, the social supermarket, will have an even bigger home, closer to the heart of the city.
We judge a society by the way it treats its most vulnerable. I thank you all here this evening for accepting the challenge and helping this wonderful project come to fruition.
By working together, we can make a difference.
Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi –
with your food basket and my food basket, the people will thrive.
Whakamaru will provide nourishment of the mind, body and soul.
I wish you every success with the construction and look forward to the day when it will extend its aroha and manaakitanga to all who those enter its doors.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa