He­len Kelly re­mem­bered

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS - RICHARD MAYS

A spe­cial Work­ers’ Me­mo­rial Day trib­ute in Palmer­ston North to the late He­len Kelly drew a size­able lunchtime gath­er­ing to the Fitzroy St mon­u­ment.

Kelly, a for­mer Coun­cil of Trade Union pres­i­dent who died of lung can­cer in Oc­to­ber 2016 aged 52, was re­mem­bered dur­ing the an­nual in­ter­na­tional day on Fri­day, which is ded­i­cated to work­ers killed, in­jured or made ill at work.

A plaque in her hon­our was un­veiled on the city com­mem­o­ra­tive stone by her hus­band Steve Hur­ring and son Dy­lan Kelly.

Hur­ring de­scribed his wife as a tire­less worker who not only in­spired those she worked with, but who also en­cour­aged and in­spired them to speak out on is­sues - among them work­ers’ rights, and med­i­cal mar­i­juana.

‘‘We’re very hum­bled and hon­oured on He­len’s be­half that Manawatu de­cided to ded­i­cate its Work­ers’ Me­mo­rial Day to [her].

‘‘It’s a tes­ta­ment to how highly re­garded He­len was, along with her work in the cause of work­ers’ health and safety,’’ Hur­ring said.

The sim­ple plaque, in­stalled on the me­mo­rial stone at Me­mo­rial Park with the help of the Palmer­ston North City Coun­cil, was in­scribed with the words: ‘‘We re­mem­ber He­len Kelly, 1964 - 2016, a cham­pion of work­ers’ health and safety’’.

Kelly’s son Dy­lan said his mother would be the first to say that the things she did were not about her.

‘‘Her legacy was about em­pow­er­ing peo­ple and show­ing peo­ple what they were ca­pa­ble of.’’

The per­ma­nence of the me­mo­rial would have been a marker to his mother of how suc­cess­ful she had been in en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to fight for their rights and for what they needed, he said.

Other speak­ers al­luded to the un­ac­cept­ably high death and in­jury rate in New Zealand work­places.

Dur­ing two weeks of April seven Kiwi work­ers had died on the job, bring­ing the year’s to­tal work­place deaths so far to 10.

Three hun­dred and four work­ers had died at work in New Zealand since 2011. Twenty two of those had been from Manawatu - Whanganui.

Lees-Gal­loway said New Zealand’s work­place safety record com­pared poorly with other OECD coun­tries, and that Kelly had made a valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to Labour’s forth­com­ing work­place re­la­tions pol­icy.

WAR­WICK SMITH

The un­veil­ing of He­len Kelly me­mo­rial plaque in Palmer­ston North with Kelly’s hus­band Steve Hur­ring (left) and son Dy­lan Kelly.

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