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Speech: Hastings Intermediate Leadership Academy Dinner

Thursday 5th December 2013

Hastings Intermediate Leadership Academy Sponsors Dinner
Hawkes Bay Opera House, Hastings

Yesterday morning, at dawn-break, an email arrived in my inbox which announced to the world the breaking news that Andrew Shortcliffe, Principal of Hastings Intermediate School, had been awarded the Local Hero of the Year award for Hawkes Bay.

I have to admit I thought what took them so long? Because Andrew has been one of my greatest heroes for many years – and I suspect that there will be many others in this hall who feel the same way.

Tonight is a fabulous opportunity to celebrate our heroes – to recognise excellence – and to acknowledge the spirit of enterprise that has distinguished the Leadership Academy.

This Academy is a constant source of inspiration to me.

The students of this Academy show me in so many ways that mediocrity is an outdated concept, that we have every reason to be confident of the future you will shape.
Every panui I read, every opportunity I have had the privilege of being in your company, you have shown me of your uniqueness, you have set expectations for yourself which go beyond what even you may have thought possible.

And so I jumped at the chance to come here tonight, to be excited by your energy, to applaud achievement and innovation. What I love most about Hastings Intermediate is that you know that culture counts.

At this school, you live by a culture of excellence – expecting nothing less than the best for each and every one of you.

When I looked at your latest newsletter the sense of enthusiasm literally jumped off every page – the Sports Academy visiting the high ropes in Taupo; the Prep Mini Market; a visit to the Zero Tolerance Gym; learning to surf at Waimarama Beach.

And of course the fabulous Hastings Intermediate Has Talent! Best of all what I saw in every photo was students smiling, happy, engrossed in their performance, even when they were jumping off an 8 metre pole onto a trapeze.

The culture of excellence spans right across every member of the staff, the students and the whanau. In your attitudes and your actions you are creating a wonderful legacy for your community and I congratulate you all on making the difference.

From what I have seen of the Leadership Academy you know the formula to success is based on belief. In essence, this is to live by a philosophy which says if you believe you can well you’re halfway there.

I have a wish for all my mokopuna that they will know the meaning of one simple truth ‘That to the world they may be one person – but to one person they may be the world’.

I have seen enough of Hastings Intermediate – and in particular the Leadership Academy to know that rings true for every student in this school. From the moment you walk in the school gates, every student is known by name and by character – that alone is a wonderful sign of the commitment of your staff and school community.

Every student here knows that they are the world to their whanau, to their teachers, to Sir, to every member of this school. A couple of weeks ago I read another email – this one from one of the past members of the Leadership Academy, Rochelle Mercer, and I want to share some of her words.

‘If there’s one thing you fail to realise, Sir, it’s how much you change lives. …..Thinking back on today and the 2011 Academy, you changed our lives majorly and it shows how close you brought us as a family by the way it shows when we’re brought back together a couple of years later.’

And so, my final words are to the graduates of the 2013 Leadership Academy whom we have all come to celebrate.

I believe that the foundation that has been laid in the Leadership Academy will provide you with a platform for life. You have developed pride in yourself, understanding the value of being you. You have gained confidence and I hope along the way you have laughed often and had time to reflect about all of the opportunities that have come your way.

The Academy has ignited a light of learning in your life that can never be extinguished.

I congratulate every graduate of the Leadership Academy for all that you are, all you have been and all that you are yet to be.

Tena tatou katoa


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