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Clark: Official Opening of The First Tee of NZ

Friday 5 May 2006

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Address at Official Opening of The First Tee of New Zealand

Firmont Golf Park
Ormiston Road, East Tamaki

2.15 pm

Friday 5 May 2006

Thank you for inviting me to be part of the official opening of the First Tee programme in New Zealand.

First Tee is an admirable initiative which seeks to give young people the opportunity to learn to play golf and to learn life skills at the same time.

The beauty of sport is its ability to get people active and to teach values, such as integrity, fair play, commitment, and perseverance.

Through sport we learn to work together, to cope with winning and losing, and to strive to be the very best we can be. These are attributes which are important in many other aspects of our lives.

I commend the World Golf Foundation for their vision and dedication in developing a programme to encourage young people into the game of golf, and for supporting the notion that sport is about more than just the game. I thank Craig Heatley and those who have worked with him to bring First Tee to New Zealand.

New Zealand children have many wonderful sporting role models, including in golf. Michael Campbell’s outstanding achievements come immediately to mind. Currently he is on his way to Europe for the British Masters, as he prepares for the defence of his US Open golf title in June. He and the Silver Ferns are among the few people who can hold up a meeting of the New Zealand Cabinet as we all hang on those last shots being played thousands of miles away.

Michael Campbell and another of our great golf professionals, Phil Tataurangi, the patron of First Tee New Zealand, were members of the New Zealand team that won the 1992 Eisenhower Trophy. First Tee is also supported by other New Zealand golfing greats, such as Sir Bob Charles, and Greg Turner, and by Tiger Woods’ caddy Steve Williams.

I also commend the Kiwi Kids Life Skills Trust for making The First Tee in New Zealand possible.

Our government has a strong commitment to building a more active and healthy society through encouraging active participation in sport and recreation.

All over New Zealand, the problems flowing from inactive lifestyles and poor nutrition are growing, and we have major concerns about obesity and lack of fitness among young people.

Many young New Zealanders either choose not to be active or do not have the opportunity or the basic skills to be active.

Golf is believed to be the highest participation sport in New Zealand, with around 500,000 people playing, as either members of clubs, or on a purely recreational basis. The strong base the sport has established suggests the opportunities offered by the First Tee initiative are likely to be well received.

Congratulations to the Board of First Tee NZ, the founding patrons and staff who bought this initiative to New Zealand, and thank you for your commitment to young New Zealanders.


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