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Opening of the Breakthrough Wellness Centre, Taumarunui

19 July 2014

Tariana Turia: Speech

Opening of the Breakthrough Wellness Centre, Taumarunui

E ngā iwi, e ngā mana, tēnā koutou.

Ka nui te mihi ki a koutou katoa i runga i te kaupapa o te rā, huri atu te pō, nau mai te ao! Nā reira, tēnei au he muka nō te taurawhiri a Hinengakau e mihi atu nei ki a koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātau katoa.

To the Mayor of the Ruapehu District Council, Don Cameron, Pastor Mike Draper, local dignitaries, honoured guests, whānau, hapū and iwi, fitness fanatics and the good people of Taumarunui.

Five months ago to this very day, a family bounded into my office and stole my heart.

Three generations of entrepreneurs in one room.

The quiet wisdom of the grandparents through to the pocket-rocket energy of the mokopuna and a solid grouping of siblings holding them all together.

It soon was evident to all of us in my office that the half hour allocated to the Downes family of Taumarunui would never touch the surface of the good news they had to share.

It was, literally, one of those moments of epiphany when you see Whānau Ora demonstrated in every aspect of its meaning. James and Moana - with the support of their parents – have grown a spirit of enterprise amongst their whānau which is utterly captivating.

Their story is more than a story about self-reliance and business acumen.

They are self-styled and successful business operators – there’s no question about that – whether it be the West End Dairy, the garage, the Rock Café, the fish and chip shop or any of the numerous initiatives they have taken up - it has always been about setting themselves up for a future they have created.

But more than wealth generation or employment opportunity, by far the greatest outcome in their line of sight, was the most noble of goals – to leave a legacy.

Today we see the fruits of that strategy come into life through the arrival of the Breakthrough Wellness Centre.

And I want to mihi to a young man with a mission. A man who has inspired thousands – and has the facebook status to prove it. A devoted uncle, a loving brother, a generous son, a doting mokopuna. I’m talking about Jamie Downes.

Jamie, you are a legend. We, who know your story, are so humbled by your own example of breakthrough.

You had the courage to look your life fully in the face. You identified the risks, the health hazards, the compromises and sacrifices that you were suffering – and you made a decision – a decision to choose life.

As I drove up here this morning, my thoughts were of another legend – a humble man from Tawata who became our knight in shining armour.

My cousin Archie whom I miss so much – and yet also was determined to leave a legacy.

He has been so much on my mind, as we inch closer and closer to the next stage of reaching an agreement around the longest piece of litigation in this country, the Whanganui River Claim. Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au. His ohaaki was always to see settlement through for our next generations to prosper.

I think about him and Tahu and their succession strategy to grow our rangatahi into a position of confidence to take our iwi forward.

When Archie was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit he asked to receive his honour amongst the young people of his former school, Hato Paora. He was always succinct in what he chose to say – but the message he gave the boys that day is one that is worth repeating:

“Enjoy life, enjoy this world, outfit yourselves to be our leaders, prepare yourselves because the world is really yours, it's yours.”

In essence, that is the foundation of this Breakthrough Wellness Centre that we are launching today.

In that meeting in Wellington, James talked to me about his greatest wish to leave a legacy for his family. The family shared with me some of the sadness and challenges they had encountered in their journey, none more profound than the loss of loved ones far too soon.

But through the tears, this family had the deepest of love for one another. They had a rock-solid faith and the most remarkable resilience to embrace each new day.

That is the feature that has stood out for me in all my encounters with Jamie and indeed so many of the whānau here in the heavenly land of Hinengakau. The courage to take on a challenge and see it through, no matter what.

I just want to finish with a few words about the concept of ‘break-through.’

A ‘breakthrough’ represents a moment that breathes life.

It is that shimmer of hope, that “aha” moment, which results in a paradigm shift.

And I want to just share a comment from a person called John Naisbitt, a reputable observer of global trends. This international thinker, made a pointed comment about the context of living in an information-rich society. He said:

“The most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century will not occur because of technology but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.”

In a time when our children are often singularly focused on the smartphone in front of them. When life’s daily chores are now all available on-line, when even a political party is born out of the internet, I sometimes wonder whether all of this tweeting and cyber-stalking is making the difference we need.

Because when I look at all of you here today – and the achievements and experiences you have had, I know it takes far more than technology to get the formula right.

It’s actually all about whānau.

It’s about being in love with one another, even when our habits might be irritating.

It’s about having a belief in our own innate potential to take on the world and achieve whatever we set our mind to.

It’s about Nanny Althea, lifting up a weight and daring her mokopuna to resist the challenge.

It’s about brothers and sisters, making a pact to walk together, from one power pole to the next.

It’s about our young ones, daring to be exceptionally excellent – whether it be in body sculpture, in kick-boxing, in the battle of the bulge.

Whānau Ora is built on the premise that our most enduring solutions are those that we find in our own answers.

Taumarunui – you have demonstrated that truth in abundance.

I congratulate all of our whānau who are here today - and those who are supporting you from afar. The cyberspace community, the facebook family – and that surely has to be the most wonderful application of the technology – to keep generations connected, near and far.

I am so inspired by the mobilisation of momentum that is evident in this community – because of your commitment to whānau and to one another. You are indeed a satellite of hope for all of us who know that we do not need to rely on the state, on the so-called helping agencies, on well-meaning projects and programmes designed to create change.

The greatest change that we see realised in the Breakthrough Wellness Centre is in the shift of attitudes and behaviours that come with the power of belief.

You have created a culture of self-belief, which is grounded on the view that your strength is a collective one, a gathering of families and friends who together, want to carve out a new legacy for all of our babies to inherit.

Thank you for making my own transition back home begin with such a positive kickstart.

I am so excited about the outcomes we will experience for all our families through the influence of the Breakthrough Wellness Centre – and I can think of no better thing to do today, than to declare this centre officially open.


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