Kia ora ano
The horrific event in Christchurch on 15 March continues to dominate our conversations. As it should. It has shaken us to the core. I like to think that the conversations amongst Rotarians are reflecting on our engagement with sectors of our communities who look, speak and believe differently from the majority. There has been a huge swell of support for our Muslim communities after the event, but before this happened…? Have we as Rotarians consciously been reaching out and including all the cultures, languages, beliefs, orientations that surround us and make up this country we are so proud to call ‘welcoming’ ‘diverse’ ‘inclusive’ ‘kind’?
I believe our country is growing up. Part of the growing up process has been working out, and being proud of, who we are and what we stand for within the global community. We have been slow to embrace and give due recognition to the language and culture of the original people of the country, the tangata whenua who have given us all the opportunity to live and thrive in Aotearoa, but we are beginning to see that that is a huge part of who we are as a nation and what gives us our unique identity. The rest of us non-Maori are migrants, seeking a better life. Some of us have been here 150 years, some only weeks, but we all have a contribution to make to our welcoming, diverse, inclusive and kind community
As Rotarians and Rotary clubs, let’s look for opportunities to become better connected with our communities, to welcome leaders with diverse viewpoints so that we can better identify need and take action
Rotary has a long history of involvement in this area. In New Zealand, we go back to the very beginnings of the Plunket organisation – how many of our clubs continue to support Plunket? Is there more we could do, in times when we have increasing challenges for children and their families?
Immunisation against devastating childhood illnesses is something Rotary has also supported for a very long time. Our signature ‘End Polio’ project is one we are very proud of and which has had a massive global impact. Here in New Zealand we are becoming very complacent about immunisation as we now have generations of parents who have never seen the effects of some of the diseases that used to maim and kill our children and babies. How can we help ensure that these diseases do not gain a foothold here again?
30 YEARS OF WOMEN IN ROTARY is certainly something to celebrate in April. It took an appeal to the Supreme Court in the US to force Rotary to change its rules, but since then women have shown loyalty and determination to make a difference through Rotary service to the community. Skilled, capable and committed woman also serve the Rotary organisation itself at every level and I hope that the International Presidency will be held by a woman in the very near future to show the world that Rotary ‘walks the talk’ about diversity and opportunity
Keep doing the great things you do every single day out there in your Rotary clubs and communities. Tell your stories, Be the Inspiration to others and keep looking for opportunities to connect Rotary with our growingly diverse little nation
Nga mihi nui ki a koutou, warm regards to you all