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Dalziel Address to SeniorNet Wairarapa

Dalziel Address to SeniorNet Wairarapa

Good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to join in your celebrations today. I bring apologies and best wishes from your local MP, Georgina Beyer, who is very sorry that other commitments prevent her from joining us. I also wish to acknowledge the mayor, Bob Francis, and thank him and his council for their support for SeniorNet Wairarapa. UCOL must also be acknowledged for being so accommodating.

There are two other particular groups that I want to acknowledge today. First the Wairarapa SeniorNet executive and the rest of the volunteers, who gift their time to others to enable them to explore the internet and to make use of a communication tool which really does keep families and friends in touch in a way that was not even dreamed of when SeniorNet learners were born. The fact that SeniorNet tutors are volunteers must be emphasised today, because without that voluntary effort, thousands of older New Zealanders would be missing out on this wonderful opportunity. It was great to hear John talk about the history of the technology, and of Seniornet itself.

Secondly, I want to acknowledge Telecom, without whose support today’s celebration would not be possible. Telecom has proved itself to be a good corporate citizen in playing such a vital role in terms of access to modern technology, and I congratulate and thank them most sincerely.

The language of the Digital Divide is very real to those who feel unable to access such technology, sometimes because we feel we cannot learn something new. The SeniorNet – Telecom partnership is about bridging the digital divide and the generation gap.

This is why SeniorNet has such an important function. Confidence on the internet can also increase confidence with services like telephone banking, which again increases opportunities for participation in all spheres of life.

As I said before, the internet also helps bring the generations together through technology. I had more communication with my Dad in Sydney in the first few months after he went on-line than the two years before. And earlier this year I had my first e-mail message from Mum – although she lives in Christchurch, so the telephone still works pretty well. But it has given her the opportunity to really stay in touch with my youngest sister who is doing the big OE in London.

Many people have spoken of the pleasure they have gained in keeping in touch with children and grandchildren, who live in other parts of New Zealand or across the globe, and there has been a real sense of excitement in utilising a technology they thought was not for them. I spoke to Ruth Dyson about coming here today, and she said she had bought a computer for her Dad for his 80th birthday, and SeniorNet Wellington has enabled him to make full use of this new world of technology.

I launched the NZ Positive Ageing Strategy last year, and SeniorNet fits in well with one of its key goals, and that is to promote intergenerational programmes which link the ages, drawing different generations together so that we each learn from the other. While the government is doing its part in ensuring that government agencies commit to policies that promote positive ageing, the hardest work is already being done by organisations like SeniorNet. After all, government can't legislate to change people's attitudes.

So I want to acknowledge all of you who devote time and energy to SeniorNet, and I certainly encourage you to spread the Positive Ageing message as you explore the information highway.

On that note, can I again congratulate SeniorNet Wairarapa for standing the test of time.

I thought that I would end with a joke that someone sent me by e-mail recently:

Apparently Jesus and Satan were constantly bickering over who had best mastered the electronic age. God had had enough of it, so he said he was arranging a competition between them to decide it once and for all. They had 2 hours to do everything – and off they went, creating word documents, excel spreadsheets, they downloaded, e-mailed, made power point presentations, when with 5 minutes to go, there was a flash of lightening and an enormous power surge before power failure. Everything came back on and there was only two minutes remaining. Satan was screaming ‘I’ve lost everything; it’s gone; what am I to do? ‘ At the same time Jesus was quietly printing out all of his work. Satan couldn’t believe it, and screamed at God – how could this be; it must be a trick. And God just smiled at Satan and said – looks like Jesus saves.

On that note, I wish SeniorNet Wairarapa all the success you deserve, and I congratulate you on your new facilities, and thank UCOL for the partnership they have bought to this community.

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