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Source: New Zealand Governor General

E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga iwi o te motu e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi nui ki a koutou. Nau mai haere mai ra ki te Whare Kawana o Tāmaki Makaurau. Welcome to Government House Auckland.

I specifically acknowledge: The Honorable Pryianca Radhakrishnan, Minister for Community and Voluntary Sector; and Michelle Kitney, Chief Executive of Volunteering New Zealand. Tēnā kōrua.

It is truly a pleasure for Richard and I to host you to mark National Volunteer Week

One of the great privileges of being Governor-General is the opportunity to recognise many New Zealanders who illustrate the term “pillar of the community”.

Today, we welcome volunteers in the health sector, sports clubs, emergency response, community patrols and many other vital organisations. Without your support, many of these services would not be available.

This year’s Volunteer Week theme is “Time to Shine – He wā Pīataata”, so I am taking this opportunity to put the spotlight on two volunteers of note: Aaria Reedy and Kevin Joblin.

Aaria and Kevin’s stories stood out to me because they highlight one of the greatest things about volunteering – no matter your age, your occupation, or where you are in your life’s journey –everybody can make a difference.

I was heartened to hear how at just 18 years old, Aaria responded to her community’s needs during COVID and devastating climate-related events, including Cyclone Gabrielle.

Aaria was supposed to be here today, but couldn’t leave the East Coast due to the recent severe weather. I’m told she’s currently volunteering at her local Marae helping those affected by flooding, which further illustrates what an amazing young person she is.

I would also like to acknowledge Aaria’s participation with Māori Wātene. They have also been a source of pride and inspiration to me. My grandmother was a Māori Warden in South Auckland, and she was one of my main influences behind my decision to also volunteer.

Her work in the community, and that of my grandfather and mother, inspired me to join my fellow school leaders and our teacher Mrs M, or Dame June Mariu as she later became known, to create the Junior Māori Women’s Welfare League in Te Atatu.

I strongly encourage Aaria to continue as she has started. Volunteering was what set me on my career path, and to countless other opportunities to give back, both in Aotearoa New Zealand and in other countries. I know she has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of others and wish her well on that journey.

With Kevin’s background in Police and the Courts, he recognised the need to support people affected by crime and trauma. He wasn’t the first to think about this issue, but he sought a solution and brought Victim Support to existence.

Now, almost 40 years later – whether it be family violence, victims of theft, or national tragedies like the March 15th terrorist attack in Christchurch – Victim Support stands beside New Zealanders in their darkest and most vulnerable moments.

This is truly a legacy to be proud of. The profound impact of his life of service to others cannot be overstated.

You work in different fields, but you all have responded to need, and dome something about it.

You have each helped make our communities better places to live in, and in doing so exemplify the sentiments in this whakatauki:

 “He taonga rongonui te aroha ki te tangata”: goodwill to others is a precious treasure.  

I appreciate that volunteering can come at the expense of your personal and work commitments. It also requires juggling family time, and when so many of us are working longer hour than before, I appreciate the commitment you make to the causes you support.

Your contributions are not always seen or acknowledged, so today is your day.

On behalf of your fellow citizens, I sincerely thank you for everything you do, and wish you all the very best for the future.

Kia ora, kia kaha, e huihui mai tātou katoa i tenei ata.