Age Concern Senior Achievers' Awards relaunchedSenior Citizens
Ministerial Dining Room
Parliament Buildings, Wellington
(Acknowledgements to Attorney-General Margaret Wilson, Garth, Dave, Karen, Opposition spokesperson Dr Scott, Natalie Lavery and her team at the Senior Citizens Unit.) Good afternoon and could I start by extending a warm welcome to you. I am delighted that you have asked me to be part of the official launch – or more precisely, re-launch – of the Age Concern Senior Achievers’ Awards.
I was disappointed when the awards did not proceed last year, especially as it was the International Year of the Volunteer. However, nothing can take away from the absolute delight I experienced when I learned that a new sponsor had been found. I want to thank MASS Healthcare – for taking up this crucial role, and restoring to New Zealand the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the enormous contribution that is made by our Senior Achievers to communities everywhere. Events such as these simply do not occur without sponsorship, and I commend MASS Healthcare for their generosity and their commitment to older New Zealanders.
It is an entirely appropriate time to re-launch the Senior Achievers’ Awards, because this week is Volunteer Awareness Week, and these awards specifically recognise the voluntary contributions that older people make to our communities. Many of our community organisations would not exist without the time, energy and dedication of our volunteers, many of whom are older New Zealanders.
The Senior Achievers’ Awards are a real example of the principles behind this government’s Positive Ageing Strategy, given that they are all about:-
·Recognising and celebrating the contribution of older people to our communities;
·Raising awareness of the roles that older people play in society;
·Showing appreciation for voluntary work;
·Promoting older people as role models, encouraging younger people to think positively about their own future; and
·Acknowledging that older people enjoy active and fulfilling lives.
Much of the Positive Ageing Strategy is about attitudes, about ourselves and about others, and the reality of getting older. It also recognises the importance and value of our volunteer sector, and I believe it is important that we take every opportunity to acknowledge volunteers and the work they do. Today, I am delighted, as Minister for Senior Citizens, to be part of an event that celebrates and values the work of the older volunteer.
I take on board Dave’s points about the opportunities that exist when you have such an active population. Older people are a vital resource to our communities. They have an extensive knowledge of people, places and their history, and have a vested interest in seeing their communities prosper. Their work often represents the bridge that crosses cultural and educational divides, and most importantly from my point of view, what we describe as the generation gap.
Thank you again to MASS Healthcare and Age Concern for developing the partnership that sees these awards back on our calendar, giving us all the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of older New Zealanders and I encourage all communities to nominate their most active senior volunteers for these awards.
On that note, I am delighted to declare the Age Concern Senior Achievers’ Awards, officially, re-launched.