Mayoral Fathers' Breakfast
Wednesday 14 March 2007
Good morning. Welcome to all the fathers here today. It is a great pleasure to be in the presence of so many wonderful fathers to celebrate fatherhood.
A special welcome to Ian Grant and Parents Inc. and to my fellow presenters John Balmforth, Robbie Deans and Jason Gunn.
I challenge Air NZ to say that any one of these men would not be a great passenger for a child to sit next to and talk to on one of their flights.
Every one of us who has a child wants to be a good father. It is part of the natural longing of the human heart to care for and cherish our children.
We can all do with a bit of guidance along the way and I congratulate Ian and Mary on their work encouraging and equipping parents and children to be part of a nurturing family unit.
28 years ago my first child was born. A daughter, Anna. A few weeks ago I walked Anna down the aisle, or more accurately down the path at the Botanic Gardens, to her new husband and a new future.
In between birth and marriage we have had the usual ups and downs and we have had our share of young men coming to visit. Some were tongue tied and said nothing, some had a huge amount to say and I didn’t understand a word, but I bit my tongue and nodded sagely. Such is the role of the father. When it came to the point Anna made a great choice.
Birth and marriage, are both wonderful moments in a father’s life. Moments filled with hope and love. Anna’s wedding was an occasion filled with fun and laughter. I have been left with a thousand enduring memories and a very thin wallet, and it was worth every cent.
New Zealand has come a long way in 28 years. Back then there was little or no paid maternity leave for fathers. Today father’s can take maternity leave or paternity leave and enjoy those first few weeks of late night feeds and nappies.
I took some time out and cared for my four children while Pam went out to work. I loved every minute of it. Raising children does take our time and means a bit of sacrifice but it is rich in its rewards as our children grow into confident, caring adults, who, themselves, will make great parents.
The relationship between a father and his children is a powerful one and it should be for the power of good. Our children need a father’s love and support.
As the population of the western world grows older we are competing with the world for the skills and energy of our young people. One of the themes of my Mayoralty has been the need to make sure the city has a strong economic base so that we encourage our young people to do their OE and come home.
I believe that a strong family base is an equally strong attraction.
Sadly, there is an increasing gap between what men would like to do and the reality of the world we live in. Many children are living apart from their biological fathers. Some will see their fathers once a week some might not see them from year to year.
Single mothers do a terrific job in difficult circumstances, and I believe this is where we can put a Pacific perspective on caring for our extended family. If you do have a sibling or friend who is a solo parent I urge you to be a part of their lives and give them a hand every now and then.
There is no substitute for a dad but there is hope if we can provide even one fatherless young man or woman with a role model, somebody that cares for them and loves them. It is possible to make a difference in their lives through a little bit of mentoring and giving them that most important thing of all, our time.
I am pleased to see so many fathers here today, to enjoy and share their experiences.
I’m sure that you all agree with me that being called dad is the best name anybody can give us.