Well, the deed is done!! Six months after setting off from Cape Reinga, I handed over the paper petition with 1053 signatures to Paul Hutchison, who presented it to Parliament today. I will hear back from the Health Select Committee, probably in just over a week, of when the petition will be considered by the Committee and will be invited to make a submission at that time.
Back in early March, when I diverted from the trail to Paeroa and Thames, where friends and supporters were keen for me to hold meetings, a friend of mine, highly talented potter and environmental and social activist, Mike O’Donell gave me one of his beautiful “story stones”: a small glazed pottery disc, and instructed me to carry it with me and place it in the centre of circles, or front of meetings, to carry everyone’s stories down the rest of the island.
Before setting off from the Rose Gardens yesterday morning, the 8 of us present blessed the stone with our own unique words and prayers of intent that the messages in the stone will touch the hearts of those in power to enact the changes that are so needed.
We gathered a handful of extra signatures from people we passed on the way into town, then stood with the banner on a corner of Lambton Quay, and below the cenotaph.
Then on into the parliamentary grounds at midday. Slowly extra people began to gather until there was about twenty of us with the trusty banner, including Monica, the banner-maker.
At 12.30 sharp the politicians arrived: Dr Paul Hutchison (National MP and chair of the Health Select Committee); Annette King (Labour Spokesperson for Health and member of the H.S.C.) Barbara Stewart (NZ First M.P. and member of H.S.C.); Dr Jian Yang (National M.P. and deputy chair of H.S.C.) and Louisa Wall (Labour M.P for Manurewa).
Paul Hutchison talked of the principle to “First, do no harm”, so I can see that phrase making its way into the supporting evidence!!
I was impressed by the humanness of the politicians and enjoyed bringing a little ceremony to the handover, by also handing over the “story stone” and a feather to represent the spirit of the land. I sensed a genuine openness in the politicians present to consider the issues seriously, so I truly feel optimistic that the petition may help bring about the beginnings of real change.