Korihi te manu, takiri mai i te ata
Ka ao, ka ao, ka awatea
Tihei mauri ora
E ngā manuhiri tēnā koutou
Tēnā koutou ki a koutou kua tae mai nei ki te tautoko te kaupapa o tenei wā. No reira tēnā koutou katoa
It is my privilege to welcome everyone here today for this very significant event in the life of BLENNZ and Homai Campus, the blessing of our new school and residential buildings.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the kaumatua who have led our blessing – Eru Thompson, Rangi McLean and Bob Clarke. They have also given considerable support in the organisation leading up to this event, as have Chrissy Cowan and Mere Courtis from Ngāti Kāpo.
I would also welcome and acknowledge all of the kaumatua and kuia who have come with Eru, Rangi and Bob. It is events such as these that help to strengthen our relationships with our Māori community and in turn our capacity to best support our Māori learners who are blind and low vision.
Thank you to the BLENNZ Board for your leadership of the project, especially to Ross Wilson the Board Chairperson.
I would also like to especially acknowledge Karen Pedersen from the Ministry of Education, John Sofo and Garry Cullen from ASC Architects, Robert Hodgkinson and Robert Kumarich from Hawkins. In their different roles, they have been the leaders of the project and on behalf of BLENNZ I thank them for their ongoing solid support and the way in which they have entered into partnership with BLENNZ in order to achieve the very best outcomes.
Today is the culmination of years of hard work and advocacy for a new school and some of us doubted that we would ever reach this day. I would like to especially honour our former principal Gwen Nagel who worked so hard for her dream of a new school on the Homai Campus and who sadly passed away before she could see it come to fruition. I would like to acknowledge her husband Chris who is here today. I would also like to thank our parents and our blindness education sector partners in working with us to achieve this dream.
I think that the journey that the blessing has taken us on today has been significant. We have been called on to the new site and moved through our new state-of-the-art buildings – a learning environment for children and young people who are blind and low vision which will serve them well into the 21st century and which I believe will be acknowledged internationally as world-leading design. We have finished back in the old campus for the last part of today’s event and there is real a sense of going full circle. In 1965 this old campus was cutting edge design for the model of blindness education that was then current. For many years it has been challenging to provide innovative new services from buildings designed for another era.
In 2011 we are moving to a new school and residential building which has been designed to meet different needs and to provide an environment for the new model of blindness education in New Zealand – a national network of services with the majority of the students being educated in their local communities. The new model for the Homai Campus is to provide services which are available to all of the nearly 1500 students throughout the country, as well as educational services for those attending school at the Campus.
Today’s blessing ceremony paves the way for our move into the new buildings which will happen over the next two weeks. The remaining old campus will then be demolished.
Thank you to everyone who braved the cold and dark to be here this morning. As I started by saying, this has been a very significant day in the life of the BLENNZ Homai Campus, a spiritual day, a day for remembering the past and moving forwards with anticipation and excitement into a new future.
Very many thanks to everyone here who has played a part in this project and again to our kaumatua who have today blessed our new school.