Speech notes - Winston Churchill

Friday, January 30, 2015 - 10:11
Community and Voluntary Sector

E aku rangatira, tēnā koutou katoa. Ka nui te honore ki te mihi ki a koutou katoa.

[Translation: Distinguished members of the Committee, greetings to you all. It is a great honour to greet you all at this important event today].

Your Excellencies, the Governor-General of New Zealand, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, and Lady Janine Mateparae,  Trust Chair, Rachael Selby and Trustees, Fellows and guests.

This year will be the fiftieth anniversary of Sir Winston’s death, and fifty years since the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was established in New Zealand.

The idea of commemorating the life and name of Sir Winston Churchill was originally proposed by the English Speaking Union in Britain.

This evolved into an early example of government, communities and members of the public working together for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

In 1965 an appeal through the Mayors and the County Chairmen raised 232,515 pounds, including a government contribution of 50,000 pounds.

This community spirit has lived on. For the last fifty years Sir Winston Churchill’s vision to promote travel and greater international understanding has seen nearly 850 New Zealanders awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship.

It is encouraging to see such a good turnout of Fellows here today.

Travel is now far more accessible than it was for the first Fellows in 1965. Young New Zealanders today can more easily quench that thirst to explore, study and understand the world in which we live.

While the Trust still assists this experience financially, increasingly the Fellowship is as much about what these people bring back to the community and their profession as it is about how they grow and develop their leadership skills offshore.

The financial support provided by the Trust allows todays Fellows to learn, reflect, and develop in their chosen fields, to make enduring professional contacts, and to return to New Zealand with new perspectives on best practice and innovative solutions to share with their communities and profession.

The impact of their work has touched on all sectors and industries.

To name a few examples; Fleur Grenfell was inspired by her Fellowship to introduce the first prison-based victim awareness programme at Arohata women’s prison, and increased the proportion of Māori and Pacific Island staff to more closely match the prison population.

My colleague, Hon Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries, is also a Winston Churchill fellowship recipient. A 30-year-old farmer at the time, he studied how New Zealand might increase the value of New Zealand beef exports to the US.

In the Arts, leading New Zealand choreographer and Winston Churchill Fellow Michael Parmenter travelled to Europe and the USA to learn about staging opera and dance theatre with the intention of enhancing the theatre performance and skills in New Zealand.

As exemplars and role models, you have inspired others to achieve, trained them and enabled them to develop.

Sir Winston Churchill encouraged everyone to give back to their community where they could. In his words; “We make a living out of what we get, but we make a life out of what we give."

That sentiment is at the heart of the Trusts work.

Having been an established and important part of the New Zealand community for 50 years, this year is a time to celebrate not just the Trust’s work and achievements since 1965, but also to give thought to its future.

The success of the scheme depends on the active participation of ordinary New Zealanders as Fellows and funding from the community and government.

A key focus for this 50th anniversary year has been to ensure the Trust has the financial capacity to sustain and expand its funding pool to increase the number of Fellowships.

I'd like to congratulate the Trustees on their recent successes with two new Fellowship opportunities.

The Winston Churchill McNeish Fellowship was launched in 2013 – with a generous donation from Sir James and Lady Helen McNeish – for writers to enhance their writing by immersing themselves in another culture.

This grant allowed Johnny Blades to travel to Papua New Guinea and observe how tribal Melanesian cultures are changing in the modern world.

I look forward to seeing the results of this social and political research in his planned non-fiction book in the future.

The second new opportunity is the Hawke’s Bay Design Trust, which is being offered for the first time in 2015. This grant will contribute to the general advancement of product and industrial design in New Zealand.

These two sponsorships show how well the Trust works in partnership for a focused Fellowship. It's a great initiative.

On behalf of the Trustees I encourage you, your employer, or the organization you represent to partner with the Trust or sponsor a Fellowship, just like the McNeishs and the Hawke’s Bay Design Trust.

Partnering with the Trust is an exciting opportunity for businesses and industries to grow their sector, give back to their profession, and perhaps focus research on a particular area.

I would like to thank the Trust Board – Chair Rachael Selby (who you'll hear from next), Deputy Chair Graeme Hall and members Len Cook; Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop, Margy-Jean Malcolm; Dr Helen Nicholson; Bruce Robertson; Mary Schnackenberg; and Fiona Tregonning – for your hard work and dedication.

Your work is valuable, not only for the Fellows, but for all of New Zealand.

Thank you too, to the Fellows. Through your Fellowships you bring to New Zealand innovative ideas to improve the work we do and how we think.

Also, many of you here today are volunteers. Our nation has a long history of volunteering; people freely offering their time, skills and experience to benefit others, is part of our way of life.

This is a great feature of our society, keeping our nation’s clubs, charities and community organisations functioning both at the local and national levels.

Finally, I would like to thank the Patron of the Trust, His Excellency Lt Gen the Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, for hosting this ceremony and supporting its future.

I am a strong believer in the Trust’s continuing role to build leaders who can bring their knowledge, enthusiasm and intelligence to bear on some of the key problems our country faces. Let's all join in making sure that can continue to happen.

Thank you.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.