The Governor General attempted to come incognito to the Soup Kitchen on Saturday 18th of
June. With all the good intentions in the world this didn’t quite happen. Her personal support
staff arrived before her and parked in the small car park where our regular whānau guests were
gathering for the evening meal. In this group were her personal bodyguard, two policemen in a
New Zealand Police Car, her private secretary, a communications officer and her chargé
d’af·faires. Like clockwork, just 15 minutes later Her Excellency, Dame Cindy Kiro and her
husband Richard Davies arrived in two sleek grey Crown Cars with flags.

In saying this, true to her word, both Dame Cindy and Richard wore casual clothes and
reminded us they had come to serve. In fact, we were all a bit nervous, but her warm smile and
her first words of gratitude put us all at ease.

Tumu Whakarae Deacon Danny Karatea-Goddard welcomed Kahurangi Cindy and her
husband on behalf of the Sisters of Compassion Group. The Soup Kitchen manager, Sam
Johnson, then introduced them both to the wonderful volunteers rostered on for the evening
meal. After a health and safety briefing, Dame Cindy and Richard washed their hands, put on
the protective clothing – masks, apron and gloves and then were on their feet serving meals,
cleaning and talking with our whānau guests for the full 1 1/2 hours.

On Dame Cindy’s Government House Facebook page she reported:

Today marks Suzanne Aubert’s 187th birthday. Mother Aubert devoted her life to looking after
those in need, and founded the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion. Last night, Dame Cindy and
Dr Davies visited the Compassion Soup Kitchen in Wellington, to help with the dinner service for
Mother Aubert’s birthday. The Compassion Soup Kitchen continues Mother Aubert’s remarkable
legacy by supporting people in need in our community, including those struggling with mental
health issues, addiction, homelessness, and poverty.

During the evening our regular whānau guests slowly realized who Dame Cindy was and
enjoyed having some down to earth kōrero with her. Her Excellencys’ one regret is that we
didn’t have a guitar on site as she wanted to share a waiata with everyone present. We are
told she has a wonderful voice. I sheepishly said, ‘Next time whaea …… next time’.

We’re grateful for her visit and for her staff who pitched in drying dishes and helping with the
tidy up. Like many others the experience in the Soup Kitchen had touched their hearts and a
number of Governor General’s staff showed an interest in signing up as volunteers.

We were left with the Dame Cindy’s warm heart and a treasured memory of her act of
kindness and compassion. In this 187th year of Meri Hohepa’s birthday Suzanne herself would
no doubt be smiling and rejoicing in being a witness to such servant leadership here at the
Soup Kitchen, the oldest doorway to the kaupapa of pūaroha.

E te Kahurangi e Cindy, e te Puhi o te Taitokerau, te kanohi o Kuini Irihāpeti te Tuarua ki
Aotearoa, e kore e mutu ngā mihi ki ā koe, otira koutou.