7 June, 2012
Launch of Te Punanga Haumaru
I want to thank Principal Andrew Shortcliffe, teachers and staff of Hastings Intermediate, Jeannette Mackenzie, the Chair of the Board of Trustees and board members; parents and members from the community, and of course the wonderful children of this school, for the privilege of being once more in your company.
There is a reason I keep returning to your midst and it has a lot to do with what you call the Virtues Project, or the four Cs.
Those fours Cs are :
• Courtesy Commitment Courage Co-operation
I see these qualities in rich abundance whenever I am with you.
I hear the teachers thanking students for asking a good question.
I listen to children talking positively with each other, encouraging courage – the motivation to give things a go.
I love the way every child is greeted when they enter the school – that basic respect and love for one another.
When anyone comes to you with an issue the question is not “what’s the matter?”. The question is “what matters to you?”.
Today I want to talk about a fifth C – and that is confidence.
The confidence to believe in oneself; to know that anything is possible; knowing that if we did everything that we are capable of we would literally astound ourselves!
You might have heard of Henry Ford – the founder of the Ford Motor Car Company. He once said, ‘whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are probably right’.
The great painter, Vincent van Gogh, said something pretty similar - If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
Here in Hastings Intermediate, you have your own heroes and champions, entrepreneurs and superstars, who surround you with love and encourage you to believe in yourself.
I heard a story about one young man who grew up in Havelock North’s Lipscombe Crescent, living a life which was scarred with sadness and hardship. This young man was taken into foster care at a young age – about nine or ten.
One day, his foster dad – who had the most beautiful voice – sang a song with words that cleared a pathway right to his heart. The last verse kept playing over and over in his mind:
And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star
The song sung that day by our very own local hero Henare O’Keefe was called the Impossible Dream.
And the young boy – is international opera singer Phillip Rhodes.
Nowadays Phillip travels the circuit of the great opera houses of Europe but his heart is never far from home – the legacy of Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Awa are with him wherever he goes.
In a recent article he talked about that song – “I thought, that’s the man I want to be”.
Reading that comment, I thought how fabulous, that one moment in his childhood, one song that was sung, had the power to set him on his pathway to the future.
Today then, is all about setting our sights on the seemingly unreachable stars; making a new use for the sticks and stones that others may throw at us by building a foundation for our future.
It is about facing the challenges and going forward with confidence.
All it takes is the faith to believe.
Today we are announcing a fund and an approach we are calling Te Punanga Haumaru.
Te Punanga Haumaru means, literally, a haven to rest and restore – a place of safety, where we can be warm and secure.
As uri of Whanganui, I often return to the awa, to be cleansed by the waters, purified by the winds of Tawhirimatea – and to feel safe and at home.
We might look at our meeting houses, our community halls, our churches as a place of safety.
And my greatest hope is that every home would be this place of respite; a place to heal; to build confidence; to strengthen ourselves.
Te Punanga Haumaru is a whanau-centred fund that provides three million dollars each year for families and communities to come together and work out ways that they can support their children.
I don’t want to use today to relitigate the stories of bullying, of abuse, of violence that far too often find their way onto our news-wires.
Today is about doing something to address negative behaviours and support those children that are impacted by bullying.
It is about making sure our mokopuna and tamariki are safe and emotionally resilient - to invest in them to develop to their full potential.
We need all our children to have places where they can be safe, thrive and grow. It is about helping them grow to be happy and capable adults that can contribute great things to our world.
I know this funding will not only give parents and families and communities the tools and information they need to deal with problems but will empower them to come up with what works best for them and their children. It is about allowing all of our tamariki to sparkle and shine not only when the sun is out, but when clouds come over and obscure our view.
I thank you all for the inspiration you provide to me. May every child know the wonder of achieving the impossible dream.