9 October 2015
Aiyana's Official Opening Speech
For four years Aiyana and her sister had regular stays at Cholmondeley. Aiyana is now 14, but still volunteers as a junior leader at the Centre. At the official opening of the new building, she shared why she thinks Cholmondeley is so important for Canterbury children and families.
Tena koutou katoa
Ko Takitimu te waka
Ko Aoraki te maunga
Ko Waitaki te awa
Ko Ngai Tahu te iwi
Ko Aiyana ahau.
My name is Aiyana. Cholmondeley has been a part of my sister and my life for four years now and is a great highlight to our weekends when we go. For the past 18 months I have been a junior leader here and have been able to experience both sides of Cholmondeley, being here as a child and being here to help out the staff.
Since staying at Cholmondeley we have become more confident in things we do, in particular music for me. I have gained the courage to take part willingly in new activities. Coming to Cholmondeley has given us more opportunities we would not have got to experience at home.
Cholmondeley is the only centre of its kind in New Zealand, and Canterbury children are privileged to have it in their backyard. No family is perfect and all families experience the normal stress on life, and some families experience more challenging and debilitating circumstances. Cholmondeley is there when all of those families are in need of a break from some of the stress or if the family is experiencing a crisis situation. This provides the children with a break from those struggles and a place where they can just be kids. Since 1925 Cholmondeley has had an impact on over 25,000 children even if they only stayed one weekend.
Cholmondeley is a home away from home for many children. For some children we are one big family, we are there for them when they are in need, every child is included, and they are not judged based on their family situations. Cholmondeley provides the children with full care and when they are here they take part in activities that build on their strengths and weaknesses.
While I have attended Cholmondeley I have made many friends and helped others make friends. Making friendships at Cholmondeley is a great experience and is a large part of being here because you hope that the next time you come and stay they are staying too. Cholmondeley is a place for children to come and just have fun.
One thing I won’t miss about Bellbird heights is the big hill from the car park up to the home. While at Bellbird heights we were able to use some of the facilities Living Springs had meaning we were able to experience even more things like using a bouldering wall and the balance bikes, which not many of us would have tried before. Although we will miss using the facilities that Living Springs had to offer us, we are glad to be back home here in Governors Bay. This site has been the home of Cholmondeley for 90 years and we hope it will be the site for another 90 years and more.
Cholmondeley provides children with opportunities and experiences that they may not be able to get at home. Sometimes the children get to experience fishing, kayaking and rock climbing when they stay. With the new children’s kitchen, even more children will get the opportunity to help cook dinner and sometimes make some baking to share with the other children.
The international volunteers that come and help at Cholmondeley are from many countries around the world. They bring with them many languages and traditions that are sometimes used here. The children also get to learn about the culture and traditions of some of the countries the volunteers come from. They sometimes learn phrases in different languages too. This is an opportunity that some children cannot be offered at home or school.
The staff we have are so caring, happy, and supportive and are always sure that we have positive and great experiences with them. Over the time the children spend with us the staff get to learn more about them and the staff may begin to notice changes in the children, they then talk to the children about what may be happening, which may be good for some of the children to have a listening ear there when they need it. The staff are always there if we need a chat or to voice any concerns we may have, which gives us the confidence and knowledge that our best interests are their priority.
Here at Cholmondeley the children are at the centre of everything we do. We are focussed on the children and their wellbeing even when they are not staying with us. This building has been purposely designed and built for the children, meaning that all facilities are easily accessible for the children to use comfortably. The activities planned are based around what children like to do and is something the children will find exciting and interesting.
Cholmondeley has made a great difference to my family and many other families. With the opening of this new building many more families and children will get to have this experience that the families who have come in over the past 90 years have had.
May this building be here for a further 90 years and more. And the legacy of Margaret and Hugh Heber Cholmondeley live on.