Knitting our community together
Kindness — a word that occupied much of what I thought about last week.
It was triggered by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s speech, that framed that simple word, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Putting aside one’s local tribal affiliations to political parties, the humanitarian message-in-aword-bottle was appropriate. She referred to the almost-inevitable wholesale loss of communities in the Pacific Islands caused by global climate change — the result of the unsustainable economic ‘development’ of the rest of the world. It’s worth noting our PM did not lecture the world but chose to only explain the values commonly held by New Zealanders. The fact she was there with her own newborn baby was a powerful symbol of the personal nature of the message to the future of all families across the world.
On Saturday morning, at Paraparaumu Beach, a crowd of us stood at the water’s edge to bid our final farewell to the late Jim Webber. If there was one word to describe him it would be, kindness. His loss was not only felt deeply by his extended family but also the wider community. The former journalist, and tireless advocate of the rights of the elderly and disabled, had the most memorable farewell. The changeable spring weather flitted between shade and sunshine as his wha¯ nau addressed family and friends and Jim’s memory was honoured. During my own difficult time as a journalist his kindness provided me a sheltered oasis. His body was taken via a small boat, by wha¯ nau led by his sons Chris and Karl Webber, over the rough Rauoterangi Channel to Ka¯ piti Island to be buried in the family urupa¯ . It is said that it’s in the days following the funeral of a loved one that we discover the depth of their absence and the grief of the loss.
To the wha¯ nau, may this journey be gentle on you.
It was not kindness, however, that saw global credit agency Standard & Poor issue KCDC its new grade. In challenging times, we would have been happy to maintain the A+ stable rating. It would have signalled that the financial boat was steady in its course. The fact is the Agency gave us an A+ positive. So the Agency effectively put some wind in our sails supporting the steps in financial management taken in this triennium to hold capital expenditures down and paying back debt. It’s also an indication of support for the financial tools actively being used. Kudos to council’s finance department, the direction set by Operations and Finance Committee chair, Cr Michael Scott, and the committed support from elected members to stay the course.
To conclude, on the note of kindness, I had a stint with a team of senior citizens at Winara Rest Home. These tireless knitters work on a Red Cross project making warm clothes and blankets. Items for the homeless go to the Salvation Army, baby clothes for young mothers go to KYS, and items even make their way to refugee services in neighbouring Porirua. There are so many ways to reach out into our communities. These ladies literally knit parts of our communities together. Statistics NZ has calculated that non-profit organisations contribute $6 billion to the economy and, if you add the value of volunteer hours, that sum goes up to $9.3 billion. That’s a lot of kindness but a value completely ignored by how GDP is measured.
Giving Ka¯ piti mayor K Gurunathan a lesson in cross stitching is Red Cross project leader Louella Jensen.