E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.
It is a great pleasure to welcome you here this evening to celebrate Save the Children’s 70th anniversary year and the inspirational life of its founder – Eglantyne Jebb.
Save the Children has been a familiar organisation in New Zealand for many decades. If asked, most New Zealanders would be able to offer a reasonable summation of the organisation’s work. The name is fairly self-explanatory!
I suspect however, that not many would be aware of the history of the organisation and the remarkable woman behind it.
Englishwoman Eglantyne Jebb was the driving force behind Save the Children. Socially conscious and committed to public service, Eglantyne was not the type to sit back and watch others when help was required.
When she saw a need to provide food-aid for starving children in post-World War One Europe, she didn’t hesitate to become involved.
In some ways, Eglantyne was an unlikely champion for children. According to one biographer, she was not particularly fond of them, or interested in having any herself. However, in her fundraising efforts on their behalf, she found her raison-d’etre.
Save the Children seems to attract strong women. In much the same way that Eglantyne Jebb was moved to action by the privations of war, Minnie Havelaar was determined to support orphaned children in Europe following World War Two.
Described as indomitable by those who knew her, she successfully started a Save the Children group in Christchurch. It was soon joined by others, and the history of Save the Children in this country had begun.
That history includes supporting children in times of crisis like the Kaikoura earthquakes and Edgecumbe floods.
Tonight we are here to celebrate seven decades of humanitarian endeavour by Save the Children in New Zealand, and also to shine a spotlight on the remarkable Eglantyne Jebb.
From small beginnings, Save the Children now works in over 120 countries. Thank you to everyone here this evening who is involved in delivering that service.
I’m delighted that we are able to mark this anniversary with a performance of ‘Eglantyne’ by Anne Chamberlain.
We’ve hosted string quartets, opera singers, jazz bands, and barbershop choruses but this is the first full-length one-woman play staged in the ballroom in recent memory.
Thank you for allowing us to do something a little different.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa, and please enjoy the rest of your evening.