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Opening of the Palmerston North Community House Facility

Hon Tariana Turia
Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector

Opening of the Palmerston North Community House Facility
Tuesday 9 August 2011; 3.30pm Speech

Rangitane o Manawatu, tena koutou.
E nga mana o tenei whenua, mihi mai, mihi mai.
Ko te awa o Whanganui tenei e mihi atu
No reira, e nga iwi, e nga reo, tena koutou katoa

I want to acknowledge and pay tribute to
• Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor;
• Manawatu District Mayor Ian McKelvie,
• present and past city councillors and former Mayor Jill White

All of you have played a significant role in supporting this very distinctive development - this wonderful building in front of us.

There is a common saying heard when a house is opened, Ko Tane pupuke. In its purest form it means Tane is rising up. It can be interpreted in two ways.

Today with the opening of this magnificent building we can truly see Tane rising up, taking the world by storm. The earthy warmth of the tones; the curve and flow of the design amidst the solid strength of this structure speak volumes about this house for the people.

They say a picture equates to a thousand words. Today we have a picture of community development which is multiplied a thousand fold. I have the greatest pride in being able to name for us all to hear – the community organisations that are now tenanted in this Community House:
o Palmerston North Citizens Advice Bureau
o Brain Injury Central Districts
o Manawatu Samaritans
o Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society - Manawatu
o Parentline Manawatu
o Manawatu Multicultural Council
o Youthline – Manawatu
o Manawatu Home Budgeting Service
o Manline
o Housing Advice Centre
o Disabled Persons Assembly
o Palmerston North Community Services Council
o Volunteer Resource Centre
o Manawatu Tenants Union
o Central Region Advocacy Service

If ever there is a picture of collaboration, of co-operation, of community endeavour – that list surely provides us with one.

The opportunity to be inclusive is one that all of must embrace as we move forward, remembering that the face of Aotearoa is changing. As any statistician will tell us Asian, Pacific and Māori populations are growing faster and will increase their share of the New Zealand total – we all have a responsibility in reflecting this reality in a way which truly welcomes diversity.

The opening of this house represents the culmination of hard work, intensive consultation with the community and financial investment from funding partners including Lottery funding, the Eastern and Central Community Trust and the Endeavour Community Trust. For this, I congratulate you all.

When I was invited to this event today, I was invited to a celebration. And it is indeed a celebration on many levels.

In the context of global financial uncertainty, we have to celebrate the commitment to make every dollar go further, the decision to share backroom services, the initiative to do things more efficiently and effectively.

This such an inspiring example of community organisations; some of their government partners and other funders walking the talk; finding a way to connect and collaborate better and more frequently; and providing ease of access to services for those people and whānau who need them.

One of your own probably said it best Tony Clear, manager of Manline, recently told the Tribune, “community agencies are no longer disparate groups housed in any old space they could afford”.

The immaculate look of this building design must be matched by an eye for excellence; a commitment to detail in the relationships you develop between yourselves.

I love the partnership approach that comes with the concept of a community house – the commitment to work together for the benefit of communities. It just makes absolute sense – it is pragmatic, while innovative.

The model is also working successfully in other parts of the country such as Napier, New Plymouth, Porirua, Christchurch and my home town of Whanganui. In a couple of days time in fact, I will be attending the fifth birthday celebrations of the Napier Community House.

The facility presents a firm foundation for community organisations and will be a resource for years to come benefiting not only those in Palmerston North, but also a wider regional basis encompassing Manawatu, Horowhenua and Tararua.

It is very much about the way of the future – making connections, building relationships, coming together driven by the needs and priorities of your people. I understand that this is a purpose-built facility – you have placed yourself at the centre of the architecture. It is a fantastic concept – very much like what I consider to be the hallmark of the Whanau Ora approach – placing the people at the centre – and being driven by their aspirations.

There is so much to be said for occupying the same space, philosophically and physically.

In much the same way, being housed in the same space, will enable you all to share conversations and ideas far more readily than if you were in your own separate space – and that has to augur well for your future.

I want to commend you on your vision in basing the building of your new home on green design and principles. In your decision to create a healthier, safer and more efficient environment, you are not just saving the dollars – you’re saving on staff morale and productivity as well.

Lower energy overheads and annual maintenance costs will help to keep your running costs down, and all that means is that you have more resource available to do the mahi.

The major benefit to this state of the art facility however, is really that it models what we understand as Common Unity.

It helps to minimise any sense of isolation you might otherwise feel by bringing a co-ordinated approach to social issues. And of course your greatest resource in achieving Common Unity is the people.

Volunteers will play a key role in the delivery of services and the efficient running of the community house. There has also been strong support from the community, including businesses who contributed advice and expertise.

Finally I want to extend my congratulations because there is an obvious diversity of groups and peoples gathered in this space, including disabled persons organisations, ethnic community groups, housing advocates, amongst the many different needs under one roof.

I know that this facility will quickly become an asset – and I want to mihi to the Council for your ongoing commitment to helping to reduce costs and thereby support the groups located here.

What has occurred here is a true example of the Kia Tutahi Standing Together Relationship Accord in action. On 1 August, the Prime Minister, some community members and I were the first to sign the Kia Tūtahi Relationship Accord at Parliament.

It was a celebration of the importance of communities and government working together. The Relationship Accord principles form a platform on which government and communities can build stronger relationships to work better together.

If I could leave one theme with you, it would be to look carefully at the Kia Tutahi principle about reaching out and responding to diversity in our community, including mana whenua and mana Pasifika.

The implementation of the Accord is also an opportunity for communities to get involved and put ideas for building engagement into practice. I invite you to take this opportunity to champion the Accord and use it to benefit all.

As a first step – and in recognition of this auspicious occasion - I invite you all – including the Mayoralty - to sign the Accord today. The Department of Internal Affairs staff members here today can show you what to do and can provide information on how to get involved.

I return to the message inherent in Ko Tane pupuke. Let today be a wonderful celebration of the rising up of the communities of this region – may your ideas and aspirations spring forth and multiply – and let us all look forward to the possibilities they signal for a prosperous future ahead.


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