E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou.
Nau mai, haere mai ra ki Te Whare Kawana o Tāmaki Makaurau.
David and I are delighted to welcome you all here to Government House Auckland and to share this special day with you all.
One of the privileges of being Governor-General is the opportunity to meet New Zealanders who are making a positive difference in their communities and inspiring us all.
Having spoken at this event last year, I know that this will definitely be one of those occasions.
This evening we are celebrating a year of growth and achievement for over 24,000 young New Zealanders, thanks to the dedication and commitment of the mentors, leaders and volunteers of Graeme Dingle Foundation programmes around New Zealand.
I am looking forward to hearing how this year went for our young guests, because I expect that their stories will confirm the research findings about what happens to young people who go through the Graeme Dingle Foundation programmes.
I refer here to the measurable improvements in behaviours, academic outcomes, goal-setting, self-confidence and resilience and reductions in truancy rates and at-risk behaviours.
We are all concerned at our high levels of teen suicides and childhood obesity, to name just two indicators of child health and wellbeing. Programmes such as Kiwi Can, Stars, Project K, Career Navigator and MYND – all part of the Graeme Dingle Foundation – are providing effective tools to enable more of our tamariki to develop their potential and secure the future that they deserve. They, in turn, will become role models and mentors for others.
To the staff, volunteers and mentors who are here this evening – thank you for taking on those challenges, and thank you for making a positive difference to the lives of the young New Zealanders who have been in your care.
The impact of your work goes beyond the individuals you have worked with. It ripples out into the wider community, into their family lives, and into their schools and workplaces.
Years into the future, they will be grateful for their experiences in your programmes. You can take great satisfaction from knowing that you have made a positive difference.
To the young graduates of Graeme Dingle Foundation programmes here this evening, congratulations for your achievements.
Please take inspiration from the example set by Sir Graeme and your mentors – to give back where you can, to help others, and to believe in yourselves and what you can achieve.
Sir Graeme – you will recall that last time you came to Government House to receive your knighthood – when I took to you with a sword – I thanked you, on behalf of all New Zealanders, for turning your considerable energy towards making our country a better place for our children and young people.
You are a wonderful advertisement for the power of big dreams, and I wish you all the best with the Foundation’s expansion plans for the future. If anyone can achieve them, it will be you.