Celebrate successes, Sir Ray tells Kiwis
With knowledge comes power, and the power of many can be transforming, Sir Ray Avery says.
The Auckland-based scientist, inventor and social entrepreneur spoke to about 350 people at the St Mark's charity dinner and auction at the Marlborough Convention Centre on Friday night.
The annual event was organised by volunteers through Blenheim South Rotary and more than $41,000 was raised for the St Mark's Alcohol and Drug Treatment Centre in Blenheim.
Sir Ray is the 2012 New Zealander of the Year and is known for establishing Medicine Mondiale, an independent development agency and charity that creates low-cost solutions to combat poverty and health problems in Third World countries.
His story of resilience and success through adversity started as a young lad growing up in London orphanages, and sleeping rough.
Most of his associates wound up dead or in jail, but Sir Ray took the opportunity when someone reached out to him, and wound up a successful scientist and businessman in his chosen home, New Zealand.
Sir Ray believes New Zealand is one of the most egalitarian country's in the world and Kiwis have the freedom to dream big and achieve their goals if they back themselves.
"Like old Fred Dagg used to say: ‘we don't know how lucky we are'. The road rules changed in a weekend, you couldn't do that in Italy or Australia, they'd be up in arms, but here everyone is so open-minded, anything is possible."
However, since first arriving in the country in 1973, Sir Ray was not sure if Kiwis still had the drive to achieve great things.
He commissioned a book called The power of us, New Zealanders who dared to dream about 53 inspirational New Zealanders who exemplify the Kiwi spirit of generosity, innovation and success.
"There are so many successful, brilliant, generous New Zealanders but the problem is they are so humble, no-one has ever heard of them.
"I want people to celebrate our successes and be proud to be from New Zealand, because we are not good at celebrating cleverness."
The book will go on sale next month and is part of Sir Ray's dream of giving people something to remember him by.
"People gave me the knowledge which has given me this power . . . the great thing is New Zealand is such an open society we are willing to share all our knowledge.
"There always a guy in another shed who doesn't just have the tools, but will take the job on as well."
The Marlborough Express