Opening of the Golden Age Lifestyle ExpoSenior Citizens
“People Planning to Enjoy their Retirement Years”
Address and official opening
1.45pm, New Zealand Expo Centre, Greenlane, Auckland
Good afternoon and thank you for the invitation to join you today.
I’ve been looking forward to today for several months and after what I’ve seen already, I am positive that this exhibition will be a huge success. Today is extremely exciting as every exhibitor, visitor, and organiser here today and over the next few days, shares the view that there is much to be celebrated not only in older people, but in being an older person.
I have certainly been impressed at the range of products and services on exhibition here today. And a measure of the diversity of what’s on display this weekend is the fact that everything from dental services to holiday travel on Australian outback safaris is covered here. I myself am not surprised, as most of us here will already know that just because we retire from work, this doesn’t mean we retire from life!
The expo website (www.gale.co.nz) probably sums up this event best in a quote borrowed from Abraham Lincoln:
"And in the end, it's not the years in your life. It's the life in your years."
The Golden Age Lifestyle Expo is a wonderful example of New Zealanders - people, businesses, and community organisations – celebrating life in all years and all ages. It’s also a wonderful example of the community embracing the concept of Positive Ageing.
One of the comments I often make at public engagements is that I didn’t actually anticipate being the Minister for Senior Citizens, largely because before the last election I was the Opposition Spokesperson on Youth Affairs. However, it didn’t take me long to realise that the issues were the same, and they revolved around two words: participation and belonging.
When I talked to young people they told me that feeling that they belonged was really important to them, and the ability to participate in their communities was critical to how they felt about themselves and how others felt about them.
Older New Zealanders gave me exactly the same message. This was the impetus for what has become NZ’s Positive Ageing Strategy.
The strategy is designed to encourage all ages to think positively about ageing, and about those who are. It outlines a vision for:
“A society where people can age positively, where older people are highly valued and where they are recognised as an integral part of families and communities. New Zealand will be a positive place in which to age when older people can say that they live in a society that values them, acknowledges their contributions and encourages their participation.”
And I’ll put that in the context of the Expo slogan: “For People planning to enjoy their retirement”. This isn’t just about helping older people plan for their retirement years, it’s about encouraging younger people to think positively about older people, and thinking positively about their own retirement years remembering it is only retirement from paid employment – if that! Just as it is important to seek a change in the way governments, and communities, develop policies that support older people, it’s equally important that we change attitudes and language around ageing.
However, we can’t legislate to change people’s attitudes. That has to come from recognising the opportunities that exist when a significant proportion of the population has the time to be our mentors, carers and role models.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the organisers of this expo – the North Port Events team – and all the supporting organisations, including Grey Power, Age Concern, Probus, and the 60s Up Movement. Congratulations to you. To the exhibitors, good luck, and to everyone who visits over the next few days, I am confident you will thoroughly enjoy the experience of the 2001 Golden Age Lifestyle Expo, which I am delighted to declare, officially open.