Hon Heather Roy
Openning of Burnham Army Camp’s new gymnasium, Burnham Army Camp, Christchurch;
Wednesday, September 30 2009.
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.
Chief of Army Maj General Jones, Commander 3LFG Colonel Bliss, Distinguished guests, fellow servicemen and women, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.
Thank you for inviting me to open this magnificent new gymnasium today. As I have visited Burnham camp several times this year I have watched the building progressively go up with interest and I know from talking to some of the guests here today that it has been eagerly anticipated for quite some time.
Fitness is at the heart of life in the Armed Forces and, having grown up in Otago, I know that sometimes even the staunchest have to admit that training outside in the South Island in the middle of winter is simply not possible. Whether it is for military skills or sports, an indoor training facility like this one is an essential asset. The Defence Force ethos and values of courage, commitment, comradeship and integrity will be seen in action day after day within these walls. Stories, both true and embellished, will be passed on about various people and feats – among them, no doubt, involving PTIs that may have lived here once!
However, this gymnasium represents much more than just a military training facility. For a camp like Burnham, it is part of the community’s heart and spirit. For the families, it will be a place where you can join together in competition, to share in the esprit de corps that is the Army. I have no doubt that this gym will become a focal point for Burnham’s whanau.
A project of this magnitude cannot be completed without the hard work and dedication of many individuals. Today, I wish to acknowledge, in particular, the works staff of NZDF, the architect, engineers and tradesmen who have joined together so that we might be standing here today at the opening.
I would like to acknowledge too the presence of Mrs Lorraine Aitken. Lorraine is the wife of Dean Aitken, known to many of you here as a former PTI who tragically lost his life in an accident soon after leaving the army. Dean fought long and hard to bring rehabilitation into the realm of Physical Training for those soldiers who were injured in times when its value wasn’t largely acknowledged or taken seriously. As part of today’s opening proceedings the Rehabilitation area will also be formally opened and named after Dean.
I can hear the PTIs from my basic training saying, around about now:
“ROY! If you’ve got enough wind to talk then you can do a lap of the gym.”
So, just in case they are present in the crowd, I’ll leave my speech there.
It is with great pleasure that I now declare the Burnham Camp Gymnasium officially open.