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Dalziel Speech to SeniorNet

Dalziel Speech to SeniorNet – Mt Eden/Roskill – the 100th Club

487 Dominion Road Mt Eden Auckland Thursday, 28th November 2002 2.15pm

Good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to join in your celebrations today.

I want to acknowledge Ray McDonald, the chairperson of the Mt Eden/Mt Roskill SeniorNet Club, and thank him for generously allowing me to speak at an occasion I have been waiting for all year. I began speaking at 10th Anniversary celebrations of SeniorNet in New Zealand earlier this year, and at each of those occasions, and at the launches of new clubs, I have spoken of what a true celebration it would be in this anniversary year to open the 100th Club. And here we are today doing just that.

I want to pay tribute to the SeniorNet network and the key sponsor which has enabled this tremendous milestone to be achieved.

It is important to remember that the SeniorNet network is made up of volunteers, who gift their time to others to enable them to explore the internet and to make use of a communication tool which really does keep families and friends in touch in a way that was not even dreamed of when SeniorNet learners were born. The fact that SeniorNet tutors are volunteers must be emphasised today, because without that voluntary effort, thousands of older New Zealanders would be missing out on this wonderful opportunity.

So thank you to all the volunteer tutors here today.

Secondly, I also want to acknowledge Telecom, without whose support today’s celebration would not be possible. Telecom has proved itself to be a good corporate citizen in playing such a vital role in terms of access to modern technology, and I congratulate and thank them most sincerely.

I need to say a few words about Grant Sidaway, who has been a true ambassador in every sense of the word, for this important partnership. I know that is was his passion that brought SeniorNet to New Zealand, and he has been relentless in his commitment to ensuring older New Zealanders can share the opportunities opened by this technology.

The language of the Digital Divide is very real to those who feel unable to access such technology, sometimes because we feel we cannot learn something new. The Senior Net – Telecom partnership is about bridging the digital divide and the generation gap.

Without a basic knowledge of how to survive in a society that has become so dependent on electronic communications, the world can become a very isolated place. With that basic knowledge, the world actually becomes a smaller place.

This is why SeniorNet has such an important function. Confidence on the internet can also increase confidence with services like telephone banking, which again increases opportunities for participation in all spheres of life.

As I said before, the internet also helps bring the generations together through technology. I had more communication with my Dad in Sydney in the first few months after he went on-line than the two years before. And earlier this year I had my first e-mail message from Mum – although she lives in Christchurch, so the telephone still works pretty well. But it has given her the opportunity to really stay in touch with her youngest daughter who is doing the big OE in London.

Many people have spoken of the pleasure they have gained in keeping in touch with children and grandchildren, who live in other parts of New Zealand or across the globe, and there has been a real sense of excitement in utilising a technology they thought was not for them.

I launched the NZ Positive Ageing Strategy last year, and SeniorNet fits in well with one of its key goals, and that is to promote intergenerational programmes which link the ages, drawing different generations together so that we each learn from the other. While the government is doing its part in ensuring that government agencies commit to policies that promote positive ageing, the hardest work is already being done by organisations like SeniorNet. After all, government can't legislate to change people's attitudes.

So I want to acknowledge all of you who devote time and energy to SeniorNet, and I certainly encourage you to spread the Positive Ageing message as you explore the information highway.

I thought I would end with a joke someone sent me in an e-mail recently:

Jesus & Satan were having an ongoing argument about who was better at using the computer. Finally God said ‘enough; I’m going to set you a test which will take 2 hours & it will judge who does the better job’.

So Jesus & Satan sat down at their keyboards and typed away. They moused. They did spreadsheets. They wrote reports. They sent faxes. They sent e-mails. They sent e-mails with attachments. They downloaded. They did genealogy reports. They made cards. They did every known job.

Ten minutes before time was up, lightening flashed across the sky, the thunder roared, and the electricity went off. Satan stared at the blank screen and screamed. Jesus just sighed. The power flickered back on. Satan started searching frantically screaming “it’s all gone”. Jesus just began printing everything he had done over the previous 2 hours. Satan began ranting and raving – he cheated, how else could he do it, he cheated.

God smiled and said, no it just proves that Jesus saves.

Congratulations on your launch today. Congratulations on being the 100th Club in this the 10th Anniversary year. And good luck as you surf the knowledge wave.

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