The World is Your OysterYouth Affairs
Principal Melba Scott, Gwynneth Talbot your Board of Trustees Chairperson, your Head Girl Jane Kelway, your Worship Maureen Anderson, the Hon Katherine O'Regan, parents, friends and pupils of Tauranga Girls College.
Thank you for the opportunity to be here today on such a special occasion. It's always lovely coming to Tauranga and it's an honour to have been invited here to open your building.
Certainly it is not hard to see why people want to come to this school. And now with a fabulous new Sciences Faculty Block, new computer labs and 21 new classrooms, you may never leave!! I can see some of your teachers are looking horrified at that prospect!!
I'm told that this project has been completed on time and within budget. That's certainly something that Treasurer Winston Peters will be very pleased to hear! So congratulations also to all those involved in the design and construction side.
Of course as this is the Treasurer's electorate, he takes a particular interest in education issues here in Tauranga. The number of students at this school is growing all the time and other high schools in this area are experiencing similar high growth.
One area where New Zealand First has made a huge impact in Tauranga is education, with millions more for new schools and classrooms.
As Treasurer, Winston Peters announced an extra $34.5 million for Operations Grant funding in the May Budget. Tauranga schools are in line for almost $217,000 more in the 1999 school year, which is on top of successive increases in the Operations Grant funding.
The funding covers various components including Maori language programmes, special education, careers information and property maintenance.
It is important to provide the best education possible for our children and young people. That's why we are spending more than $1 billion extra on helping students at risk, paying teachers more and lifting overall quality and standards.
That's the Coalition Government's investment in education, but what I want to turn to now, is your investment in your own education.
And I cannot stress how important education is in shaping your future.
My main message to you is this: the key to success is in your hands already. It is up to you to make it happen - and you can.
When I was at school I remember choosing my subjects carefully in anticipation of what lay ahead. And I'm glad I did.
But I've since realised that learning doesn't stop just because you leave school. It goes on forever; education is a life long process. And it is important to keep on learning throughout our lives in order to evaluate our options as we go, or change direction if need be.
For all of you, your individuality is developed within a particular context, defined by issues of gender, ethnicity, childhood experiences and socio-economic status. No two people are the same.
So whether you move on from here, or you're returning to school next year, you have to follow your own path and begin taking responsibility for your own choices.
I'm sure those of you who are leaving school at the end of the year are all excited about the prospect, but some of you may also feel daunted by what the future holds.
It may be that your goals will change. Certainly that happened for me, it's not that my hopes today are any better than the ones I had when I was at school, its just that they're different.
The most important thing you can do, is be true to yourself. Follow your path, not the path that you think others want you to follow. If you're doing something you really enjoy, then it is much more likely that you will stick with it and achieve your goal whether that be in computing and maths or fine arts and sport.
There are so many choices and we all have different values, so success can mean something different to each of us. As you get older it is likely that your view of success will change.
Life in New Zealand has changed dramatically in recent times, and this country is now quite different from the one that our parents grew up in.
For women in particular, success used to be measured solely in terms of getting married and having children. Entering a profession like science was rare, and delaying children until your thirties, or not having any at all was considered quite strange!! But not any more thank goodness.
Today's youth have more freedom and choice socially, culturally, educationally and career-wise than ever before. However, that choice also brings with it more uncertainty about the future.
Some would say that today's young people face insecure employment conditions, costly education, prolonged dependence on their families and a variety of deteriorating social issues.
Whether that's your view or not, to change it requires each of us to get out there and have our say.
Do you know that twenty five years ago New Zealand was a country where:
only the Government could broadcast television programmes;
workers were obliged to join a trade union
movies took up to 18 months to arrive
there were just two types of refrigerators; and
to buy margarine you needed a doctor's prescription.
It's hard to imagine! Just the other night I was talking to my parents about how boring it must have been. They assured me that they had plenty of fun (probably doing all the things they told me not to do when I was young)! But it still seems strange to contemplate how it must have been then.
As we move towards the year 2000, I believe we should embrace the future with open arms. We are living in a nation of opportunity.
The only catch is, that you have to find that opportunity and take advantage of it.
It's not delivered on a plate and it's not always easy. The world is a complicated place and so are the problems we face. But if you have the tenacity or stick-ability, and the right attitude you can achieve anything you set your mind to. I can vouch for these attributes. Add to them the opportunity that education presents us with, and the world is your oyster.
Conclusion I'd like to congratulate all those involved in seeing this project through to completion. In any community, it's all about working with each other to make things happen. And this building is a perfect example of that.
I know when you launch a ship, you say that you wish all who sail in her well. Well I wish all who study in this building and at this school every success too. Thank you.