Welcome to the first month of a new Rotary year!  What an important and exciting year we have ahead. We’ll focus hugely on acknowledging and celebrating our Centennial year in New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific.  We’ll also focus on ensuring Rotary in our part of the world has a strong base to enable us to continue our important work into the next century. And we’ll continue to have an impact in our communities – all while having fun together.
I’m very proud to have the opportunity to lead our District for the next year. It’s a privilege and a responsibility. And I’m not alone. On the first of July, the world witnessed the largest change of democratic leadership, across 36000 towns and cities in 200 countries. On that day Rotary Club Presidents and officers, Assistant Governors, District Governors and of course the Rotary International President took office. We are all People of Action on an exciting journey. As Rotarians we all have the opportunity to take leadership roles in our Communities.
Our International President, Holger Knaack has provided us with this year’s theme “Rotary Opens Opportunities”. I love this theme. For me it is the essence of who we are and what we’re about. Everything we do opens another opportunity to someone, somewhere in the world.
In our COVID stricken world, I believe this theme is particularly apt.  When Holgar introduced his theme in January in San Diego little did he know how our world was about to change. Within our Clubs I believe we need to consider both an internal and an external response in order to position ourselves to address this situation.
Internally many Clubs have already responded. Lockdown provided the opportunity for doing things differently and we adapted quickly to a different way of meeting and reaching out to each other – and sometimes non Rotarians or members from other Districts (and countries) joined our meetings. Now that we can meet face to face again, it’s great to see many Clubs now using a hybrid model as they continue to offer Zoom as an option, thus being responsive and accessible.   
We have the opportunity for a change in our external focus too. I hope all Clubs will consult with their communities to identify a centennial project that will leave a lasting legacy. 
The COVID situation has created unforeseen issues in many of our communities.  We can respond to many of these needs: in fact, many Clubs already have. I believe though that there is an opportunity to support our communities in ways beyond that which established agencies currently are. We are fortunate in District 9940 that we have many talented, skilled people who, within in our communities, could contribute to economic and social recovery or support those needing to return to work. Please share your ideas on this. Perhaps there’s an opportunity to work at District level for greater impact.
Enjoy your Rotary year. For me, it’s all about people. I encourage you to focus on a creating a positive and welcoming Club experience where everyone has fun together.  Building on this culture, you’ll naturally work together effectively to do what we do best – make a difference for the people in our communities.
Kevin’s and my year has begun well.  We’ve been welcomed warmly wherever we’ve gone. We’ve had the privilege of attending several Changeovers and we’ve started our Club visits. Our visit to Rotary New Plymouth West was especially memorable as the District’s talking stick -Taupiripiri – was handed from IPDG John Mohi to me by Rev Albie Martin in a moving ceremony. We’re looking forward to meeting many wonderful Rotarians as we visit Clubs around our District over the next few months.  
He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata
What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.
Gillian Jones
District Governor.