Staff and families of the Educational Child Care Centre, and a special acknowledgement of Veronica Chatwin who was described in my notes as the old principal who started the process – although I am sure they meant to say former principal.
May I also acknowledge my friend Abby Savage as I expect I wouldn't have been here today – after two weeks of hearings on the city's Long Term Plan – if it were not for her. We go back a long way.
The full story of that particular sequence of events probably can't officially be told, but suffice it to say, it was worth it.
Your website says you are the small centre with the big heart.
I am impressed with the kaupapa of this Centre which was established in 1978 by a group of high school teachers who had a vision of quality childcare and education for their children.
The aim is to promote the children's enquiring minds, as well as high self-esteem, through quality programmes. This is so important yet often forgotten these days. If children are marginalised by the labels others ascribe the status of their parents, then how can they ever see their way to a better future. Every child is talented in some way or another and they need all the encouragement they can get.
Your vision talks about stimulating and encouraging children to learn and develop to their full potential, becoming life-long learners. As we know education is a journey as opposed to a destination – these earthquakes and their aftermath have created for me a personal journey of discovery that has taught me as much about our natural environment as it has about human nature.
This community-based preschool has been an important part of the community for over 35 years, attracting children from as far as Northcote and Linwood, and I am thrilled you are open once more.
I know you all have been on a difficult journey since the Centre was designated in the 'residential red zone' back in 2011.
The 'red zoning', although an important component of the city's future resilience to increased flood risk caused by the earthquakes, was handled in a way that didn't allow communities to be fully engaged in the process. This meant that communities were torn apart without the necessary preparation required to deal with such a major life event especially on a community scale.
Losing important facilities like this one, as well as their homes, added salt to the wounds.
To now see this centre with its window on what has become a recovery zone is magic.
I'd like to thank all those who worked hard to solve the insurance issues, and who never lost hope that the Centre would return.
Thanks especially to architect Sean McCurrie, who I understand donated hours of his time to the project free of charge. And Stonewood Homes who went the extra mile for this community. This is the real story of our recovery – what we have been able to give back to our communities.
Be proud of what you have achieved, and be proud of how far you have come, individually and collectively.
Openings like this one remind of us the progress we are making.
Congratulations again for all you have achieved, and thank you for the important work you do for our community.