5 November 2021

Kia ora koutou

It is a great privilege to serve Playcentre Aotearoa as Kaiwhakakahaere Matua and I have been humbled by the welcome I have received. My thanks go to everyone who has welcomed me so wonderfully and I am looking forward to working with everyone across this amazing organisation. I have a number of sayings that I use regularly and one of those relates to new recruits. “If a new recruit turns up on the first day that is a great start, if they come back on the second day that is very encouraging and if they come back on the third day, that is habit forming!” As this is now Day 5 for me, my Playcentre habit has well and truly taken hold and I know already will grow day by day.

There is one topic that has been dominating the conversations this week and that is the issue of the Government’s mandating of Covid19 vaccinations for the education sector and the implications for us. I already have an appreciation of the impact of the Government’s decisions on our staff, our volunteers, our centres, and the families that we serve. I share the concerns about the lack of clarity and clear guidance from the Government that so many have expressed this week. I have also seen first-hand the sheer volume of mahi that the Trustee Board and management teams across the country have been doing to try and provide some clarity. I have seen the questions that have come in through our Covid19 feedback forms and those questions are exactly the ones that we have been putting consistently and forthrightly to the Government in the form of the Ministry of Education. One thing I can tell you for certain; Playcentre is not alone in expressing these concerns. From my relationships I have with other organisations, I also know they are struggling to come to terms with the mandate.

I have faced these sorts of situations before and they are never easy. My personal strategy in these circumstances is to use a great tool created by Stephen Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, called the Circles of Concern, Influence and Control. Covey effectively said we live in 3 concentric circles with the biggest outer one being Concern, the next one in being Influence and the smallest central one being Control. He held that we so often live in the outer Circle of Concern and spend our time facing those concerns about which we can do very little or nothing. His advice is that we are better off spending our time in the Influence circle or even better in the smaller, central Circle of Control where we can actually do something about our situation rather than being powerless and worrying about it.

Applying that to our situation this week, it seems to me that whilst the concerns about the Government’s vaccine mandate and the implications for all our people are very real, they exist in the Circle of Concern. Nationally, we are doing all we can currently to try and influence the Government to provide clear guidance and clarity, so we are operating in the Circle of Influence. In the Circle of Control however is where we have the greatest power and each of us can take action in this circle. The fact is that we can remove all the uncertainty that is swirling around each of us by choosing to get at least the first dose of the vaccine by the 15th November. We each individually have the power to do this, to take action in the Circle of Control and relieve the uncertainty that the Government has created for us as individuals, our families and our organisation. It’s a decision that we can make personally that empowers us to grab certainty in at least one area of our lives in what is currently a very uncertain world.

I appreciate all the different views that there are around the vaccine, the Government decision to mandate it and the concerns that has created. In my experience, decisions are made by taking into account a range of factors with different weightings. Taking control and choosing to be vaccinated enables each of us to at least remove the uncertainty of the current circumstances and the pressure that this puts on our own wellbeing. That factor may have sufficient weight to enable us to make the decision. You can be assured that we are doing all we can in the Circle of Influence with the Government. Please consider what you can do in your own Circle of Control.

Noho ora mai,