I write this message with only a few days left as District Governor.  On 1 July I will join an illustrious group of Past District Governors who have contributed so much to Rotary and the community in our district and beyond.
The year as District Governor has been amazing and eventful.  My wife Jan and I have many warm memories as Rotarians have welcomed us into club meetings and we have been privileged to see Rotarians supporting projects and having fun.  While all the time living our motto of “Service Above Self” and doing good in the community and around the world.
It’s great to see clubs collaborating and supporting our Pacific Island clubs.  The measles epidemic claimed over eighty young lives in Samoa and tropical cyclone Harold caused significant devastation in Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga.  The emergency response kits (ERKs) were prepositioned and immediately available to help those in need.  The ERKs programme is well supported by clubs in our district and other districts and we will soon be volunteering to replace the stock of ERKs used during the recent disaster.
The 2019-2020 year has been a year of change.  In many ways it has been pivotal with the advent of COVID-19 and with the forced lockdowns we have all needed to adapt.  Rotarians and clubs learnt to use Zoom and other methods to communicate and engage their members.  It was pleasing to see so many helping those isolated or needing help during lockdown.  Now that we are in Level 1 we are returning to meetings.  Many clubs have adopted Zoom or other technologies, either as part of their meeting or have replaced some meetings with a Zoom meeting.  Many of the district committees and board meetings, the Leaders-elect Development, District AGM and the Rotary International Convention have been held virtually.  This is part of the new normal and one of the benefits is that the Pacific Islands, eClub and travelling Rotarians can participate.
Like many of you, I attended the Rotary International virtual convention with the general sessions starting at 1.00 am and finishing at 2.30 am NZST.  Many others have been able to watch the sessions on demand.
It was great to see the announcement from the RI Board this week that the environment will be the seventh area of focus.  This is a popular move as so many Rotarians are actively engaged in environmental projects.
The District AGM was held on Saturday morning by Zoom and it was great to see so many of our Pacific Island clubs attending.  The AGM was for PDG Ingrid’s year and needed to be held separately as it would normally have been included in the District Conference or District Assembly, both of which were cancelled this year.  The good news is that District Governor Craig’s budget was approved with a reduction in member dues.  Clubs will however, be required to insure their public events and other risks as this will be separate to the new district policy.  A notice will be circulated to clubs explaining the new arrangements and offering clubs an insurance option.
Jan and I joined the farewell for our Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) students held at the Pakuranga Sailing Club on Saturday, 27 June.  This was a well-attended event with host clubs, host parents, councillors and the RYE committee joining in the farewell.  We have had an excellent group of inbound students and everyone will be sad to see them leave.  The RYE programme has been impacted by COVID-19 and there will be no inbound and outbound students next year until it is safe to resume international travel.  I was delighted to present Graham Rea with a District Distinguished Service award and both Graham and Tracey Faber with Paul Harris Fellow awards.  Graham and wife Sue have hosted twelve RYE students over nineteen years of service to the RYE committee.  Tracey as chair of the RYE Committee has had to deal with extraordinary disruption of the programme caused by COVID-19.
District 9920 presented the inaugural Young Totara Award on 18 June to Molly Hillman, a student at Baradene College.  Molly established the Second Step charity that collects preloved school shoes, cleans and repairs them before distributing to the local community.  The award recognises young people and shows appreciation for their contribution to the community and introduces them to Rotary youth programmes.
On Sunday 28 June, the District Walk in the Park was held in Cornwall Park.  This was an enjoyable event with time to chat while enjoying the walk and a well-deserved coffee afterwards.  Thanks to all who turned out for one of the almost dry spells of a very wet weekend.  On the walk I met Sharon and Peter Crean of the Beyond Water charity www.beyondwater.global.  They are seeking donations to help feed needy families in the Kibera slum of Nairobi hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.  For as little as a $100 donation, food parcels can be provided that include maize flour, oil, beans, rice, lentils, sugar and tea - basics to make a meal each day for a couple of weeks.  These families live on $2.00 a day but because of the virus they are getting less and less of the casual work that they rely on.  Several clubs have already donated enough to feed thirty-three families.
Paul Cressey, ONZM, died tragically after an accident on Waiheke Island.  Paul was a former president of the Rotary Clubs of Howick and Half Moon Bay.  Paul and wife Sheryn have made significant contributions to Rotary and the community with both being awarded Paul Harris Fellowships.  After they lost their son to cancer, Paul was instrumental in establishing the Child Cancer Foundation and Ronald McDonald House.  Paul was deputy chair of the Counties-Manukau Health Board, on the Board of South East Auckland Life Education Trust and the Royal NZ Plunket Society.  At the time of his death he was chairman of the Howick Community MenzShed.  Our condolences go to Sheryn and family.  Paul will be sadly missed by his family, friends and colleagues.
I would like to thank the many people who have supported Jan and I during our District Governor year.  The support I have received from my wife Jan has encouraged and enabled me to undertake the role.  She has been at my side at nearly all club visits and hosted many meetings at our home.  I also thank the club presidents, district executives and officers, district committee chairs, assistant governors, district newsletter editor.  Also District Secretary Mark and wife Ruth, for all of the work they have undertaken to fulfil another memorable year in Rotary.  Thank you.
The District Changeover is to be held at the Remuera Golf Club on Saturday, 25 July, 5.00 pm for a 5.30 pm start with the formalities to be concluded by 7.30 pm.  The event will also be available on Zoom.  Come and help us celebrate the year, thank the outgoing team and welcome in the new.  Registration details will be available shortly.
Finally, I wish District Governor 2020-21 Craig and Nickola Horrocks and their team a successful and enjoyable year.
Gary Langford
District Governor 2019-20
Rotary District 9920