On 6 June 2019 VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai today officially opened a new office in Christchurch, at Unit 5, Amuri Courts, 25 Churchill Street. The event was a double celebration as it marked the organisation’s 2nd Birthday. Several young people with care experience who work with VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai were also in attendance along with philanthropic partners and representatives from government and the NGO sector. The organisation was codesigned by children with care experience for children with care experience. The organisation reflects a strong and unique partnership between young people, government, the philanthropic and non-government sectors.

Interim CE Tracie Shipton covered a brief history of VOYCE, which originated as far back as 2007 through early representations made to the government by young people with care experience. Tracie was effusive in her appreciation of the magnanimity of all the young people with care experience who bravely shared their stories and helped to establish the organisation for the betterment of all children with care experience in 2016.

Outgoing VOYCE National Youth Council board chair Isaac Heron spoke about the impact and positivity that young people with care experience can make upon the system and VOYCE Intern Lakiesha Cummings brought down the house as she related a very personal story about how she had seemingly inspired a young person with care experience to bravely stand up and speak about her own experience in care. Also present was a big supporter of VOYCE and much admired hero of all attendance, famed Christchurch GP Dame Sue Bagshaw, in fact, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai in Christchurch now occupies the offices that Sue’s 198 Youth Health Centre previously occupied.

In addition to offices in Auckland, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai now has a presence in Northland via Whangarei and The South Island via Christchurch with plans in motion to be on the ground very soon in Midlands Napier and Wellington. In line with its mandate the organisation is continuing to build a network of trusted advocates around the country and run local events and experiences to create safe networks and communities that connect care experienced young Kiwis and help to build positive morale.

VOYCE board chair Steve Ferguson officially opened the office acknowledging the accelerated expansion already achieved by the team in 2019 and reminded attendees that the organisation was much more that a physical place, it was a place of spiritual and emotional safety for all children with care experience.