Kia ora koutou
Two weeks ago, we held the annual Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Awards where 27 amazing care experienced young people were recognised. I was one of the judging panel and we had no shortage of young people to select from – indeed judging all the applications was both a great day and a tough day – inspiring and motivating as we read the stories (and I am fortunate to have met many of these young people) but terribly tough to select only 27. Success was not hard to find.
The previous year we had a similar challenge, many applicants, many successes.
As I look back at the year, I remember the care experienced children and young people I have been privileged to meet. Electricians, lawyers, models, policy analysts, environmental activists, scholars, award winners, social workers. Happy children playing safely with toys in a warm dry house, going to school when they had not before, receiving their first bike and having a loving adult teach them to ride it. The care and protection system has and does play a vitally important role.
These amazing people are a result of a system – a system with caregivers, parents, whānau, children, social workers, providers, iwi and Māori organisations, teachers, police officers, neighbours, lawyers, judges, policy makers. A system with pressures – rising inequity, poverty, unstable housing, increasing drug use, family violence, mental health challenges. It is a system where you and kaimahi within and outside Oranga Tamariki dedicate themselves to a helping create a better life for children and whānau. It is a system with caregivers opening their hearts and homes to others nurturing them to recover and grow. It is a system where iwi are bravely partnering to make a difference.
As we come to the end of this year, I want to thank you all – our iwi and Māori partners, our NGO partners, and other government agencies for your continued commitment to support our children, young people and their families and whānau. We can only continue to make positive differences for our children and whānau together. You, our partners, lead how we can best shape a better future for their tamariki and whānau.
I look forward to 2021 and supporting and following you, our partners, to lead and drive the changes needed across society and the care and protection system, so we can continue to have more tough days selecting potential Prime Minister’s Award winners.
Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou