Special Olympics 2013 Global Messenger Graduation

  • Tariana Turia
Disability Issues

I am delighted to welcome here today, to your House - our Special Olympic graduates, your friends, supporters, sponsors and of course your families who make it all possible.

I want to thank Ian McKelvie, MP for Rangitikei; and the Chairperson of Special Olympics for the honour of addressing you at this very important event.

I acknowledge two very important people with us today - Kathy Gibson, your Chief Executive and Grant Quinn, the Founder of Special Olympics New Zealand.

This week we have celebrated two momentous milestone achievements for this beautiful land we call home.

Yesterday we were all so proud that Eleanor Catton was crowned the youngest international Booker Prize award winning author for her masterpiece, the Luminaries.  

This in the same week that sixteen year old Lorde reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for her hit, Royals.

One of the lyrics in Royals sums up our extraordinary success, “We’re better than we’ve ever dreamed”.

That same song could be sung for the nine athletes graduating here today, as Global Messengers for 2013.

And so today, I am speaking particularly to you: Eru Whakatihi; Stephanie Davies; Andrew Oswin; Josie Noble; Hayley Long; Paul Hunter; Naomi Jackson; Jacob Osborne and Jason Ewens.

This group of exceptional leaders have stepped up to the podium and made their mark.

They have been brave enough, and committed enough to sign up to the challenge of being a leader and ambassador – a Global Messenger for Special Olympics.

In their own right they are all exceptional athletes who have clocked up national and international achievements in athletics; basketball, bocce; ten pin bowling; golf; swimming and skiing.   And for those – like me – who may not have known what bocce is, you might want to ask Eru later on to share his story.   Apparently bocce is an Italian game which focuses on rolling a bocce ball closest to the target ball – a bit like bowls or petanque.

Today we celebrate the completion of training for this group of athletes to reach a new high – as Global Messengers.

Launched three years ago in March 2010 by our Prime Minister, John Key, Global Messengers attend training to learn skills and gain confidence to help spread the word and the vision of the Special Olympics movement.

In essence you have become Champions of the Human Spirit – speaking to anyone who will listen – about the impact that Special Olympics has had on your lives.  We are talking about a massive movement – over six thousand athletes with an intellectual disability take part in the Special Olympics in some forty New Zealand towns and cities. 

In addition, the Special Olympics benefits from the support of three thousand volunteers.

It is a mammoth undertaking and I want to congratulate and commend everyone for your energy and your enthusiasm in making Special Olympics such a success.   I know that at this event we were expecting in attendance Guy Ockenden, the Executive Director from Riding for the Disabled; John Holdsworth from Datacom Group; Graeme Marwick from Fundraising Chocolates – as just a few of the important sources of support for this project.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the parents, the siblings, the families who are here today – or with us in spirit.

You are such a key part of this initiative.

What you do every day matters in ensuring each of our Global Messengers knows their value; and appreciates the way in which they make your world so much richer.

It is because of your support and encouragement that our young leaders have the confidence to achieve in sport, make enduring friendships, enjoy good health and become determined to be the best that they can be.

All of you play a vital role in breaking down barriers, raising awareness and visibility; and in doing so becoming an inspirational model of an inclusive society.

Thank you for your generosity; your vision and your voice.