Prime Minister’s Surprise Appearance at the Most Star-Studded Disability Ball of the Year

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Geneva Ball

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, Hon Jenny Salesa, Kerre McIvor, Niva Retimanu and Government VIPs all helped light up the night at the annual Geneva Healthcare Ball for people with disabilities. This year’s ‘Dance of Nations’ themed Ball was one of the biggest yet with over 250 people from all over New Zealand celebrating diversity, culture and inclusion at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland City.

Ms Ardern astounded everyone at the Ball by arriving unexpectedly – talking to as many people as she could, she posed for photos and addressed the crowd with an impromptu speech to kick-start the event after the Karakia. Thanking Geneva’s Clients who put together a personalised video invite, Ms Ardern recalled how it brought her to tears and that she just needed to be a part of the event, even if it was only a fleeting appearance. 

This night is for all of you to celebrate your vibrant culture, all your amazing achievements, and the things that make us all unique, 

says Veronica Manion, Geneva Healthcare Chief Executive. The cultures that make our country great were honoured in various ways – from a dance medley by Geneva staff featuring Pasifika, Indian, European and to Maori Poi; a Haka; Client videos demonstrating how they celebrate their culture in Aotearoa, to a buffet banquet of dishes inspired by India, Aotearoa, Asia, Pacific Islands, France, Italy and the list goes on.  Hon Jenny Salesa, Associate Minister of Health and Minister of Ethnic Communities, was wowed by the dancing prowess of Geneva’s own staff in the dance medley. 

I was told that they are all [Geneva] staff. I thought you had hired people in to come and dance tonight! My gosh, you are so talented, and you all look so fabulous, she adds.

The festivities continued with special guests from Newstalk ZB, Niva Retimanu and Kerre McIvor 

Thank you so much for inviting us to your special party. One of the best things about coming out tonight is that everyone puts their best face on, their best dress on, and their best attitude on, because we are here to party!

Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social Development and Disability Issues, sent an inspiring video in her absence to Geneva Clients 

I hope you take this great opportunity to celebrate each other, your achievements and your community. Dance the night away, be proud of the challenges you have overcome and most of all, enjoy your night!

Nicky Stevenson, Geneva Group Quality, Risk & Residential Manager, presented the winners of Ball King and Ball Queen, and Best Dressed Support Worker.

Josephine Gagan, New Zealand Health Group Chief Executive, and Hon Jenny Salesa took to the stage to present the Geneva Pillar Industry Award in recognition of organisations who have gone above and beyond to remove barriers to services, and allowing for inclusion. The Cookie Project took out this year’s award, with other nominees Will&Able and Recreate NZ. 

The dance floor was packed for hours; there was a lot of fun, laughter, and good times at this year’s Geneva Ball. Everyone left with smiles beaming on their faces and warm hearts as they look forward to next year’s event.

The annual Ball is a fantastic partnership between Geneva and other organisations who have come together to make the event possible. Thank you to Pullman Hotels & Resorts, Cerebral Palsy Society of New Zealand, Cactuslab, Securecom, Buddle Findlay, and Vodafone New Zealand for helping make this event happen.

Check out the photo highlights HERE

Check out our highlight video for the night here!