The Inner Wheel New Zealand conference was held in Christchurch 28th April to 01 May 2016 at Chateau on the Park. The theme for the conference was – Rebuild - Future in the making. This theme was chosen because it related both to Christchurch, the city ravaged by earthquake, and Inner Wheel in New Zealand as it reviews and develops approaches and ideas to ensure a sustainable future.It was with much delight International Inner Wheel President Charlotte De Vos accepted our invitation to attend the conference. IWNZ appreciated the distance she travelled to be with us and add such value to our future focus.
President Charlotte began her New Zealand tour in Auckland and wqs welcomed by Districy Chairman Gaye and joined members of District NZ291 for a morning tea at a Golf Glub before being taken to the Takanini Family Service Centre with the NZ291 executive team, where she spoke to personnel and saw firsthand the work the centre undertakes, along with the benefits from the contributions Inner Wheel in this District makes.
During her time in Auckland, President Charlotte had an opportunity to take part in some family life with Immediate Past NZ President Hazel Hunter and her daughter, IIW Editor/Media Manger, Michelle Atkinson. Amongst time to work in IIW business there were also opportunities to take part in Geocaching, explore the city of Auckland. She had the opportunity to meet with Ruby and Arshi, who are another mother and daughter combination, with Ruby a member of the IW Club of Shimla and daughter Arshi a member of the IW Club Aotea Auckland, who became a member through a conversation on Facebook.
Charlotte also had the opportunity to attend the Dawn Service at the Auckland Cenotaph on April 25th, ANZAC Day before taking some private time to visit Past IIW President Carole Young in Opotiki.
On arrival in Christchurch, a traditional Maori welcome (powhiri) was performed by Wairakei Primary school officially welcoming the International President on Thursday afternoon. The students were most impressed that our special guest came from Belgium and also took much interest in the hands on the logo imprinted on President Charlotte’s scarf. She explained the story behind the handprints as they measured their own hands with those on the scarf.
Thursday evening was a Friendship dinner held at the newly erected Hagley Oval. Members were introduced to President Charlotte on their arrival. President Charlotte sat with IWNZ President Di and IW Australia President Kay for the evening of friendship.
A bus tour on Friday morning to view the rebuild of the city, post-earthquakes, was followed by the conference opening. The ceremony began with the newly composed Inner Wheel song and video. The flags of IIW, NZ and Belgium were paraded into the hall and received by IWNZ President Di, International President Charlotte and IWNZ immediate Past President Hazel Hunter.
Participants were formally welcomed by President Di with a challenge to each to find an idea from a speaker, event or conversation which would challenge them to go back to their clubs and do something differently. President Charlotte shared a greeting then following other formalities officially opened the conference.
The opening included Annah Stretton talking about how her organization - RAW (Reclaim another woman) came about and how it has developed over time. She introduced two young women who told us of their stories. Both had led lives most of the audience could not even begin to imagine which included having children taken away, a life of drug dependency and as a result becoming recidivist criminals. Through Annah’s organization their lives had been changed around to include employment and reconciliation with their children. Everyone was drawn to tears and the two women were given standing ovations.
The Presidents dinner held on Friday was a special tribute to New Zealand’s past International Inner Wheel Presidents and of course President Charlotte. Biographies of the contribution these members had made to Inner Wheel was shared before being presented with a posie of flowers.
Saturday morning was time for the business session. The afternoon was time to be inspired and motivated and included the story of the rebuilding of an iconic theatre, the responsibilities of clubs now Charitable Status has been achieved, a trip through the International Inner Wheel website, Facebook and finally strategies for club review. The Inner Wheel Club of Invercargill finished the afternoon with a display of their outfits made completely from recycled materials from an annual event - Fibre Octave.
Dinner at the Transitional Cathedral was a highlight. This is a cathedral built from shipping containers and cardboard pipes as a replacement for the iconic Christchurch Cathedral while debate continues about its rebuild. Toasts were made to International Inner Wheel, Inner Wheel Australia and Inner Wheel New Zealand. President Charlotte responded to the International Inner Wheel toast. Clubs submitted a table decoration reflecting the theme – Rebuild. President Charlotte was happy to judge these and announce the winners – a very difficult job.
The Sunday morning Service of Faith continued the theme of new dawns, new beginnings, new ways of looking to the future with hope. Cherie Buckner, who led the service, reminded us that there is a “a time to let go.” and giving away the old to embrace the new followed by a Barber Shop Quartet entertaining beginning their repertoire with “Halleluiah”. Changeover followed. President Di was presented a gift of a beautiful quilt emulating President Charlottes logo including the National Governing Body members’ hands sewn to the rug.
It was a privilege to have had President Charlotte visit New Zealand and join with us for our conference.
Inner Wheel New Zealand President/National Representative 2015/2016