2018 - Marion Johnston as District Governor
Marion is the second DG to come from this club, the first being Don Spiers.
Marion opened her address with a short speech in Te Reo, while holding “Tau Piripiri”, the speaker’s staff. Tau Piripiri was carved by a Ngati Porou apprentice as his final “exam” and was given to Don Martin when he worked in Hawkes Bay. On his return to New Plymouth it was given to his club, to be presented to all future District Governors for their period of office. Although the original instructions were that it never be presented to a woman, times have changed and it is no longer about gender or ethnicity but about the mana of the role of DG.
When she first joined Rotary, Marion was incapable of standing and speaking in front of a crowd. Thanks to Rotary and the constant but gentle pressure, she is now District Governor, and regularly speaking to crowds large and small with total confidence. Traditionally, the RI President chooses a theme for their term in office and this year’s theme is “Be The Inspiration”. His feeling is that the oceans connect us all and if we are therefore united and creating lasting change for the better then we will be “The Inspiration”.
This philosophy resonated with Marion to the extent that she chose not to have her own personal DG’s theme for District 9940 but will stick with the international theme. In Rotary we are united because unity gives us the strength to DO, not just talk, and therefore we can inspire change.
What Marion Would Like to Happen
1. Change-be open to change and the idea or concept of change. Ask ourselves-what do people expect of service clubs today? Change needs to be small, incremental and constant to avoid sudden major disruptions.
2. Take Stock-We do lots of small separate projects which while being worthwhile, may prevent the club from working together. Maybe sometimes we should focus on fewer but larger, more inclusive projects
3. Alter our focus on fund raising and concentrate on the concept of service for a time. Do we reflect “the community?” If not, why not? If we cling desperately to tradition, we make ourselves less attractive to new members. At the current rate of loss of members and Club’s Rotary will cease to exist within a couple of decades in the western world. Contrast this with Asia where new clubs and new districts are constantly increasing. Can we reverse the western trend?
4. Public Perception. We need to show the public we are proud to be Rotarians. That we DO GOOD in the community, in the country and in the world in general. We need to remind the public of the good we do in the community by being visible, by wearing our rotary pins, rotary T/shirts & caps in public. We can be the best advertisement for rotary if we so choose.
5. Polio. We are so near yet so far. Polio is now trapped on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border but this is a dangerous place for outsiders and there is a lot of anti-vaccination propaganda from certain quarters. Recently a mother/daughter vaccination team was killed in this region. But we cannot stop now. The job needs to be finished. Rotary needs to raise another $150 million which will be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Charity 2:1 which will give us $450 million with which to finish the job.
6. Volunteer- All DG’s and Assistants are Volunteers. There is no “Head Office” just an annual movement of “stuff” from house to house and garage to garage. Volunteer to attend the workshops for club development-they are well worth it and more importantly, rotary needs you.
7. Conference. This year’s conference is in Whanganui, the first since 1991. It will be a great weekend for “connecting” and the program will be inspirational. Every club member should make maximum effort to attend.
In closing, Marion reiterated that the RI vision is
• “Unite and create lasting change”
• “Use the 4 way test as our daily yardstick”
If we do this then we will truly be “THE INSPIRATION”
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