Official Opening of BLENNZ Homai Campus
Tena tātou katoa
Te manu e kai ana i te miromiro, nōna te ngahere. Te manu e kai ana i te matauranga, nōna te ao!
No reira e rau rangatira ma, nau mai haere mai whakatau mai ki tenei ra whakahirahira ma tatou.
Ka mihi ki a koe e te minita e Hekia, nau mai nau mai haere mai aa, kia koutou te hunga kaumatua hoki, tena koutou, nau mai haere mai whakatau mai ra, no reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.
It is my great pleasure to repeat Ross’s welcome to you all here today to the official opening of the BLENNZ Homai Campus.
A special welcome to the Minister of Education, the Honorable Hekia Parata. We are delighted that you have come today to mark what is a watershed moment in the history of blindness education in New Zealand.
I would also like to acknowledge our kaumatua, and our partners from Ngāti Kāpo, Tamaki Ngāti Kāpo and Te Whānau o Homai.
We have many important guests – everyone with an involvement in the education of young people who are blind, deafblind or low vision in New Zealand is here or represented here.
I want to acknowledge Chris Nagel, David, Stephen, Nikita and Tim, husband and family of Gwen Nagel, the founding principal of BLENNZ who sadly passed away in 2009. Gwen worked tirelessly for the establishment of a cohesive national provision in New Zealand and would have been so proud of what has now been achieved. We welcome her family and honour her achievements.
A special welcome too to Bruce Gibbs a highly respected former principal.
It has been a long journey to get to this point today, where we have a coordinated national network of services under the BLENNZ umbrella, and stunning new buildings which provide a state-of-the-art learning environment and a purpose-built professional hub for the national network. That journey began many years ago and throughout there was a strong partnership between educators, parents and sector groups, united by a passion that children and young people who are blind, deafblind and low vision should achieve the very best learning outcomes, that they should reach their potential for growth, independence, participation and success within their communities. I acknowledge all those who were involved in that journey – many of you are here today.
I would also like to thank the Ministry of Education and the respective Ministers who had the foresight in 2009 to approve the funding to demolish the former campus buildings and to replace them with a completely new school, designed and built to reflect the current very different and inclusive approaches to blindness education today and the very different structures and services provided from Homai Campus to support students nationally.
These outstanding buildings are the result of a team effort over the last 2½ years. The team has included architects John Sofo and Garry Cullen, whose quite brilliant design work you see all around you. Their design was brought to fruition by Hawkins Construction and we acknowledge Robert Hodgkinson and Robert Kumarich from Hawkins who have so ably managed the project, with great consideration for the needs of the school. I would also like to acknowledge Karen Pedersen from the Ministry of Education for her outstanding support and Jane Moore from the RNZFB for her input. She constantly found creative solutions to ensure that the design met the mobility needs of the students. Also, Reuben and Luke from Woods Creative for their beautiful graphic design work and Wi Kuki Kaa for his carved panels at the door of each of the
Finally I would like to acknowledge Ross and the Board of Trustees for their leadership and support, the senior management team who have toiled tirelessly for the 2 ½ years, committed down to the detail of the last tap and door handle, and the staff and students who have lived and worked on a building site and who have managed the changes with great cheerfulness and resilience. I think we all feel we’ve finally arrived and it’s certainly been worth it.
There is a proud history of 47 years of educating children and young people who are blind, deafblind and low vision on Homai Campus. With the opening of the new campus buildings today we begin a new era. In BLENNZ we have an outstanding model for service provision to learners nationally. Here at Homai Campus we now have an aesthetically beautiful and highly functional teaching and learning environment and a professional hub for the national network which we all in BLENNZ are rightly proud of.
I would like to now introduce the Minister of Education, the Honorable Hekia Parata. The Minister will address us and then, following a karakia from our kaumatua, will unveil a plaque which commemorates the opening.
17 May 2012