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Tariana Turia Speech: Gregory Fortuin & Kim Workman Farewell

Hon Tariana Turia, Associate Minister of Social Development and Employment Wednesday 17 August 2011, 3pm

Farewell function for Gregory Fortuin and Kim Workman, Families Commission - speech notes

Whoever it was that coined the phrase, 'A good man is hard to find' clearly had not met Gregory Fortuin and Kim Workman.

Today we are here to celebrate two very good men - men who have lived their lives in a way which is inspirational to us all.

Last night I released a pack of resources around whanau wellbeing including a set on becoming a Dad. The key messages we were promoting are that becoming a father is easy, being a Dad isn't.

A good dad is someone who speaks openly and honestly with compassion.

A truly rich dad is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.

A fantastic dad is one who sets a good example, who talks positively, who actively demonstrates his love.

Tonight we have an opportunity to say thank you to two Dads who have made a difference - and I am proud to call them both friend.

I first met Gregory when he brought his family to support our whanau, hapu and iwi in the reclamation of one of our sites of great significance - Pakaitore.

A sign of Gregory's remarkable abilities to weave people together; to facilitate and mediate a pathway through troubled waters, is demonstrated by the fact that seven years after Pakaitore, Whanganui Mayor Chas Poynter made a point of attending the Citizenship Ceremony for Gregory held in the Grand Ballroom at Parliament Buildings.

Gregory of course came to Aotearoa highly recommended - having been appointed by none other than Nelson Mandela as South African Honorary Consul.

For some people, a role such as this would mean a full time life, mixing with diplomats and dignatories. Gregory has done all that - but he has also been active in his new home community of Porirua; he has played a key role in mentoring young people, and all of the experiences he gained as a Race Relations Conciliator has helped to strengthen the advice and advocacy he delivered as a Commissioner for the Families Commission.

When I consider the contribution he has made - whether it be in the work around youth suicide prevention or in promoting family centred communities, Gregory has played a vital part in their success.

Today is also an opportunity to acknowledge the wisdom and the leadership we associate with Kim Workman.

My relationship with Kim also stretches back over the years. I have the utmost respect for Kim and it goes back to the comments I made earlier about being brave enough to speak honestly; to speak the truth.

I have had a working relationship with Kim over many years, coming into contact with him in Maori Health; in Maori Affairs, in Justice and Corrections.

But it has actually been the last fifteen years - since his supposed retirement - that I have been so impressed with the influence Kim has had in shaping thinking around restorative justice and whanau wellbeing.

He has done some amazing work, as National Director of Prison Fellowship New Zealand. He has encouraged us all to widen our vision - to rethink crime and punishment; and his leadership has been so profound that in 2005 Kim was awarded the International Prize for restorative justice.

What I have valued the most about Kim's work is that he truly walks his talk. Whether it be in support of Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and Rangitaane, or whether it be in supporting our more vulnerable whanau, Kim is always ready to help, to reflect on his own position, and to place priority on relationships as the key for change.

I know that Kim's gentle yet challenging leadership has been an enormous asset to the Families Commission and I want to congratulate him in particular for the special work he has progressed in advancing the Whanau Strategy.

He has brought to the Commission an important edge - combining both sharp academic scholarship along with the lived commitment and experience of a life shaped by kaupapa me ona tikanga.

The Families Commission has been richer for the quality of ideas promoted by Kim and by Gregory.

You have made a significant impact to the quality of work that has come out of the Families Commission throughout your term; and I know the vision you have both helped to shape will continue to be felt for years to come.

As the Associate Minister, I want to thank you both for your outstanding contribution in supporting whanau and families to be the very best that they can be.

There is no better tribute I can play than to say to you both - you served our families well. Aotearoa has been blessed by your efforts.

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