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Speech:Vodafone NZ Foundation Annual World of Difference

Vodafone New Zealand Foundation Annual World of Difference
Orakei Marae, Auckland
Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Māori Party
Wednesday 14 November 2012; 6.15pm

It is so wonderful to be with you today.

There is nothing more uplifting to the soul, than to be surrounded by people who inspire you and today we are spoilt for choice – with the stunning array of 58 champions of the human spirit.

So what does it mean to be inspired?

Sometimes we use these words – as code – much as young people might sign off their texts LOL or those boys on the TV show, QC, will have an entirely new meaning for familiar words like ‘aunties’ or ‘talent’.

Just to be perfectly clear then- when I think about being inspired – I mean a myriad of things.

I am thinking about people who move me. They motivate me to take up an action; they stimulate my mind or my emotions in a way which challenges me.

They might provoke me to think differently; they will influence me; they generate enthusiasm through their example.

At this event tonight, we are gathered to celebrate and congratulate the 58 individuals who have done this – who have inspired their communities through the magic they have woven in the World of Difference initiatives.

Tonight we are also thrilled to be in the company of eleven new champions, from as far south as Christchurch to marae in Manurewa or potentially with a global influence through the new technologies and online world.

What always excites me about these fellowships is the diversity of talents and new directions our young people are advancing.

The 2013 recipients have a focus on engaging young people in creative arts; promoting community resilience through gardening and food production; and initiatives to support young people who might otherwise be excluded from educational opportunities.

I’m particularly pleased to see an emphasis on inclusion and accessibility for our rangatahi – and in this way I think the World of Difference is in its own way, setting a powerful example about the world we want our mokopuna to inherit.

I have been thinking about a saying I have said over the years to my mokopuna “To the world you may just be someone, but to someone you may be the whole world”.

It is a saying which reminds us, that no matter what difficulties come our way, no matter how challenging the barriers we may face, if one person believes in us, we can indeed do anything.

It is time to remind ourselves that every life is precious and we must unite to achieve a powerful difference for every child, every young person in our lives.

Perhaps our greatest focus should be on the three Rs – Resilience; Relationships; and Respect.

Resilience – to cope with loss or rejection; to be sad; but also to know that tomorrow is a new day, with a new chance to set our destiny.

Relationships – to understand the dynamics that are always associated with any relationship are but part and parcel of the journeys we take when we embark on trusting one another.

And respect – to value what we have in our lives; to remember the time-honoured gift of being thankful.

In many ways, I see the World of Difference and Fellowship in Youth Health Leadership as a powerful opportunity to emphasize these values as the means by which we can guarantee positive and healthy outcomes for all our young people.

Most important of all; the annual World of Difference allows us to look around in awe, at the remarkable achievements that are occurring every day in so many ways – at least 58 over the last decade that’s for sure!

Finally, I want to just refer to the gift that the Foundation is providing our champions with tonight – the gift of life represented in a small boxed native tree.

It is an entirely appropriate symbol for the growth; the beauty and the strength that our champions have inspired in their communities, their whānau, and their organisations.

And I would encourage us to remember that the principal outcome of a tree is not just the fruit that it bears – but it is also in the seeds that are laid for another generation.

Every tree that is grown is unique.

The difference to its growth comes from many sources.

It comes from the richness and vitality of its foundations – the fertility of soil that becomes a platform from which to grow. It grows towards the winds, or in a way which comes out of the protection from the elements.

And the lifeforce thrives through exposure to the sun, the rain, the light, the shade.

We must do all we can to ensure the foundations for our children are firm and that we open their eyes to the world around them.

I have every confidence that this is the ultimate outcome for the work that each of you has championed in your respective communities.

I applaud you; I pay tribute to your commitment and your dedication; and I so heartedly thank you for the World of Difference you have made – and will continue to make.

Tena tatou katoa

ENDS

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