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Opening of the Parent to Parent Head Office

Hon Tariana Turia

Minister of Disability Issues

Friday 14 March 2014

Opening of the Parent to Parent Head Office

Tena koutou katoa

Ki a Kingi Tuheitia, me te kahui ariki anei nga mihi.

A ki te mana whenua o te rohe nei, nga iwi o te waka o Tainui - tena koutou.

It’s an honour to unveil the plaque to commemorate the official opening of the new head office for Parent to Parent. And I want to sincerely thank Anne Wilkinson, your Chief Executive and her team for the invitation.

It is wonderful to see the level of support here today from Her Worship the Mayor, Julie Hardaker; local members of parliament Claudette Hauiti Tim Macindoe and David Bennett and former MP, Martin Gallagher.

I would also like to acknowledge Parent to Parent’s patron, Rob Hamill, National President Helen Johnson, and national board members who have travelled from around the country to be here.

There is a saying that ‘people who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those who are doing it’.

In many ways, that could be the theme song for Parent to Parent.

For the last thirty years and more, you have been leading the way in bringing the perspectives of whānau and families into national disability policy. You have been representing those views in advisory groups; in national forums, in submissions and at conferences.

You can be proud that through this work, you have been influential in the shaping of policy – policy which reflects the hopes and dreams that parents have for their family members.

As a mother of six, a grandparent of twenty-six, and at last count a great grandmother of twenty-four, one could say I have at least fifty exceptional reasons for supporting this hardy organisation.

To be honest, I believe there is nothing more important in the world, than the role of whānau – and the parenting responsibilities inherent in that.

And I want to be clear, that I operate from a worldview in which a collective view of parenting prevails.
It is that sense of understanding that it takes a village to raise a child.

And so I love the concept of your branding – empowering families and whānau of people with disabilities and health impairments through support and information.

This organisation was founded on the understanding that whānau and families help themselves best when the issues are meaningful and relevant to their own context.

To paraphrase JFK – “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for yourselves”.

The mission of Parent to Parent is at its very essence, about what we might also call whanaungatanga – reciprocal relationships.

It is about making connections within and across your whānau; to seek the source of your strength within your own family.

So often our society places the government, or provider organisations, in the defacto role of a parent.

No matter how well intentioned; no matter how impressive the professionals may be, there is nothing as enduring as the lifelong support of those closest and dearest to you.

And so that is what I see Parent to Parent modelling for us all. You operate in a way which demonstrates that universal truth: tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; but involve me and I’ll understand.

Your influence has been particularly evident in the Enabling Good Lives policy.

I am so very enthusiastic about Enabling Good Lives.

It is driven by a vision that recognises that it is vital to invest in families and whānau.

In fact you are doing what we call Whānau Ora.

Enabling Good Lives provides us with a framework for how we support disabled people and their families in this country. It is about setting out the future direction for the disability support system.

It encourages us to act in a way so that disabled children, adults and their families will have greater choice and control over their supports. It focuses on beginning early – investing in families and whānau to support them to be aspirational for their disabled child. It emphasises that disability supports need to be simple to use and flexible.

And perhaps that’s the every day wisdom of parents at the fore – it’s the minestrone soup solution of life – if you’re short of meal options, throw all the vegetables into a pot, with a sprinkle of flexibility and the seasoning of life, and see what you come up with.

It’s about making the very best of the opportunities that come our way. Parent to Parent has shown that approach through your work with Support Parents who share their hints, their coping strategies, their good ideas with a family facing similar challenges.

It also comes through SibSupport where siblings come together to share their experiences of living with a brother or sister with a disability.

It also reflects your desire to build networks amongst a much wider group of families and whānau.

Work is starting here in the Waikato to build the skills and confidence of disabled people and their families to make the most of the opportunities Enabling Good Lives offers. That work is overseen by a local leadership group which includes family representatives and is informed by a family forum.

We have also been promoting the Enabling Good Lives approach in Christchurch. That demonstration is being guided by a local advisory group which includes disabled people, families/ whānau and providers.

A group of navigators is working with young disabled people and their whānau to imagine their good life and work towards it. Along with the universal supports available in their community, people will be able to access a personal budget that combines funding from government agencies, which they can use flexibly to work towards their goals.

These are all sound and sensible strategies – ideas whose time has come to make the difference we all want to see.

I want to commend and congratulate all of you, for relying on your lived experience as a vital foundation for the changes we need to see in our disability sector, in our communities, in our government, in our homes.

I wish Parent to Parent all the best in continuing to harness the time and energy whānau and families put into supporting one another. And in the context of election year – I’d have to congratulate you also for your pioneering efforts in renewable energy. That is – your energy is renewable because by supporting others, our whānau and families find new strength.

And that’s a power base we can all celebrate.


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