Nopera Dennis-McCarthy – Freemasons University Scholarship recipient and student representative – Freemasons New Zealand
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Today, thirty-two students from around New Zealand received Freemasons University Scholarships at the Grand Hall of Parliament here in Wellington.

Student speaker, Nopera Dennis-McCarthy represented the 2019 scholars and spoke with spirit and humility. He expressed his thanks to the Grand Master Mark Winger and Freemasons New Zealand. Read Nopera’s speech below.

“Tuhia ki te rangi, Tuhia ki te whenua, Tuhia ki te ngakau o nga tangata. Ko te mea nui, ko te aroha. Tihei Mauriora!

E nga mana, e nga reo, e nga rau rangatira ma, tena koutou katoa

To the authorities, to the speakers, to the leader, greetings to you all

Tena koutou e nga rangatira o te Freemasons, i karangahia i a matou ki huihui nei i konei ki te tautoko te kaupapa whakahirahira i tenei ra.

I acknowledge the Masonic Lodge leaders, you who have called us to gather here to support todays important kaupapa

He honore mo ahau kia tu ki konei i tenei ra hei korero mo nga kaiwhiwhi karahipi.

It’s an honour for me to stand here today and speak on behalf of the scholarship recipients.

Kahore he roa taku korero, ko te mea nui he mihi atu he mihi mai

My mihi is not long the important thing is we exchange greetings

No reira,

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa

Grand Master Mark Winger, Freemasons from throughout New Zealand, Distinguished Guests, Fellow Scholars and your whanau and friends – greetings to you all.

I feel immensely humbled to have been given the opportunity to stand here before you all today and deliver this speech. In particular, I feel very blessed to be in the company of such outstanding members of the communities throughout Aotearoa. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some of my fellow scholarship winners and it is heart-warming to hear of your passion for your communities, for your academic subjects, and for achieving and fighting for your goals. Similarly, I have also been fortunate to meet with some of the Freemasons here today. I want to acknowledge and sincerely thank you, both for providing these wonderful opportunities in the form of scholarships for us, and for your unswerving commitment to ensuring charitable support to a varied range of organisations and people across Aotearoa.

At occasions such as this it is common to use a quote to set out the themes of the speech; similarly in Te Ao Maori we use whakatauki (proverbs), to guide the kaupapa of our korero. One whakatauki which is often used, and seems to me to relate particularly well to today’s proceedings, is a well-known one. Some of you may have heard it before:
“Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takitini”

This has been translated in a number of ways, but is often interpreted as meaning: “Success is not the work of one, but the work of many” or in another way: “my success comes from the gifts, talents and strengths of my whanau (my family), my iwi (my tribe) and my tūpuna (my ancestors)”. To me this whakatauki espouses three things which my fellow scholars have reflected in their mahi which is being celebrated today: community, diversity and humility.

Firstly, community. We as scholars are a reflection of the communities within which we have been raised. Whether these communities consist of our wider whanau, hapu, iwi, masonic lodges, faith groups, clubs or even simply our hometowns, I think we can all look back and be grateful for both the fellowship from these communities which gives us the strength to move forward in life, and the support from people inside these communities who dare us to dream brighter and aim higher. I know that many of you here today, both masons and scholars, will have put in long hours giving back to your community and for that I acknowledge and thank you.

Secondly, to me this whakatauki also reflects the diversity we have in the room today. As a nation, our diversity is our strength. The fact that us, our family and our ancestors have all travelled different journeys to be here today is something worth recognising. It means that there is an increasingly varied and more diverse range of worldviews, of beliefs, and of experiences which we have in our lives, and which we can call on to both solve problems and promote tolerance.

Finally, this whakatauki represents the notion of humility. We can all recognise that our success not only comes from our own hard mahi, but from those who came before us today – to reiterate the whakatauki: “my success comes from the gifts, talents and strengths of my whanau (my family), my iwi (my tribe) and my tūpuna (my ancestors)”. So our success as scholars is not just our own, but that of our families, just as through this scholarship we are not only upholding and celebrating our own mana, but the mana of our families who have helped us to achieve. To these families, and my own, I thank you.

I’d like to thank the Freemasons once again for your generous support, and wish my fellow scholars all the very best in their future endeavours. Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui. No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena ra tatou katoa.”