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Celebration Speech

Kia ora. Malo e le lei. Mauri. Talofa and welcome to everyone. Thank you for joining us for our 30th birthday party today. Its lovely to see so many people from the past and present and also some women of the future.

It is really fortunate that we are celebrating our birthday this year, the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage. To be a Women’s centre in New Zealand this year is a special honour.

2018 has been a significant year for women in NZ in other ways too with the growth of the #Metoo movement, increased attention to equality of pay, a female prime minister giving birth while in office and some significant work being undertaken by the backbone collective around family court processes for women. We are so thrilled that along with such significant events we can celebrate 30 years of our contribution to Rodney Women’s lives.

Like any other small social service agency, the Women’s Centre has faced many challenges over the years as we navigate changing funding priorities, moving premises and adapting to our growing population. We have learned to be adaptable and flexible and adjust our programmes and services to meet the needs of women in our community.

However, within all these changes we have maintained our core mission – to inform, empower and support every woman who comes through our door. You will see from the photos displayed around the centre today that we have done this in many different ways – some extremely creatively!

Our centre is a safe place where women can come without fear of judgement and be supported to grow and develop. It is an honour and a privilege to have been part of so many women’s journeys over the years.

However, none of this could have happened without the wonderful women who created the centre and its vision 30 years ago. Some of those women are here today – I would like to acknowledge Terry Healy, Oriel Heseltine, Madhuri Ball, and Glenda who are here today as well as the other women who couldn’t be with us today. Thank you for the gift you have given our community by establishing the centre all those years ago.

I would also like to thank Merlene Gibbs who has made her property available for us to lease and allowed us to continue operating in this wonderful environment.

I would like to thank all those who have been governance members over the years and the current governance board – Lianne Divine, Heidi Downey, Vicki Morrison-Shaw, Katherine McDonald and Ahnya Martin for their guidance and encouragement.

We would like to acknowledge the work this year of our mentor Kate Matheson who has helped the board to develop a new strategic plan that will focus on continued growth, fundraising for our future and securing our location. Kate has also designed our beautiful new website that can be seen on the TV in the lounge or you can visit when you get back to a computer.

There are so many people who have contributed to the centre in so many ways, it is impossible to thank everyone. I guess that is the special part of working with women – so much collective action and shared responsibility along with an incredible amount of talent and capability. Today is just one example of women supporting women.

Thank you to our birthday cake maker Zhanya from Rose cakes for her beautiful creation, the local businesses that have sponsored the event - Charlies and Lothlorien Wines, our Pasifika women for their dancing, the local matters for their article and all the helpers who prepared the food and decorations. I would like to say a big Happy Birthday to the Women’s Centre and we look forward to 30 more years for the Women’s Centre Rodney.

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