10 October 2015
Opening of the new Cholmondeley Children's Centre
As dawn broke over Governors Bay, a small group of people began to make their way through the newly rebuilt Cholmondeley Children’s Centre, blessing the building in preparation for events later that day. Led by Riti Pitama of Ngāti Wheke, and assisted by the Reverend Neil Struthers, the dawn blessing ceremony was a chance to reflect on all those who had gone before: Hugh Heber Cholmondeley himself, who persevered through red tape and difficult site conditions to erect the original building; Cyril Smith, whose legacy enabled the rebuild to be completed debt-free; and Lachie Griffen, The Grand Old Man of Cholmondeley, whose decades of service and commitment to Cholmondeley are unrivalled. It was also a chance to appreciate the bright future ahead, as the sun began to rise on what was to be a glorious spring day.
Official proceedings began at 1:30pm, with over 200 guests seated in Cholmondeley’s central courtyard. Karakia was performed by Riki Pitama, followed by Nuk Kurako who responded to the mihi whakatau for the Prime Minister. Glenn Jones, former Cholmondeley Board Vice President acted as MC, with current President Kerry Dellaca giving the opening address. Shane Murdoch, CEO, also spoke, detailing Cholmondeley’s journey of recovery over the last four years, thanking in particular the Cholmondeley staff for their patience and dedication.
Prime Minister John Key officially opened the building, assisted by Aiyana Manson-King (14) and Javanah Roberts (11), who gave speeches about how their stays at Cholmondeley had impacted on their lives, and their hopes for its future.
“Cholmondeley always encourages others to go further and make your dreams come true. Being chosen to open the new Cholmondeley is a big privilege for me and I feel very excited to be part of the next chapter for the children of the future.” — Javanah
“Cholmondeley is the only centre of its kind in New Zealand, and Canterbury children are privileged to have it in their backyard…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…May this building be here for a further 90 years and more, and the legacy of Margaret and Hugh Heber Cholmondeley live on.” — Aiyana
Dame Phyllis Guthardt closed proceedings with a prayer, and a few touching words of her own.
The team at Cholmondeley would like to thank everyone for being part of such an important moment in Cholmondeley’s history. The day marked an official end to four years of earthquake recovery, and the beginning of a new legacy for the children and families of Canterbury in the form of a purpose-built centre, designed around the rights and needs of today’s children.
Cholmondeley was also honoured to welcome nearly 300 members of the community the following day. Saturday 10 October was the first Open Day of the new centre, and people with an interest in, or connection to Cholmondeley attended to view the new building, and enjoy the free family activities put on by the Cholmondeley team.
Both events were organised internally, representing a huge effort on the part of the Cholmondeley staff, board, and volunteers.
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We encourage you to learn more about our rebuild journey by reading Care Commemorative Issue: New Beginnings 2015.
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Photos credit: Ann Worthy-Stephenson of PhotoWorthy Images