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By Newsroom America Feeds at 18 Feb 2018


/////////////////////////////////////////// More flexible unreinforced masonry fund announced

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 08:23 PM PST

Further changes have been made to the $4.5 million Unreinforced Masonry Buildings Securing Fund (URM Fund) for large and complex buildings that require securing work. “These changes to the URM fund support building owners to complete important securing work in order to reduce risks to public safety in the event of another significant earthquake in the region,” says Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa. “The more flexible nature of the URM fund will provide certainty for building owners with large and complex buildings.” Buildings that are defined as large and complex can now apply to receive up to $65,000 for securing work. This is an increase from the previous funding cap of $25,000. The newly created definition of large and complex buildings is, buildings that are three storeys or more. These types of buildings require more remedial work to be secured than buildings two storeys and under. “Changes to the URM Fund are in direct response to feedback from councils and building owners in affected areas. We recognise the fact that owners of large and complex buildings have greater costs, and are responding to this need. “The new funding cap will help building owners to find the best and fastest solutions to securing their buildings,” says Ms Salesa.

Size of URM buildings to be secured

New cap

Buildings three storeys or taller


Building two storeys or under


Building owners who were issued a notice under section 124 of the Building Act 2004 (in relation to unreinforced masonry buildings with street-facing parapets and facades) from their local council and who wish to access funding for the work can find more information at

Contact: Kieran Meredith, 027 879 2336

/////////////////////////////////////////// Minister Robertson to visit South Korea and Singapore

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 08:06 PM PST

Minister of Finance, and Sport and Recreation, Grant Robertson, today departs for the Republic of Korea and then Singapore to meet with political and business leaders and to attend the Winter Olympic Games. In the Republic of Korea, Minister Robertson will meet with Korean Vice Minister of Strategy and Finance, Ko Hyoung-Kwon, and Kim Hyun-Chul, Economic Adviser to President Moon Jae-In. Other engagements include meetings with Korean business leaders and with New Zealand business members of the Kiwi Chamber. “This will be the first visit by a Minister in the new Government to Korea. I’ll be using the occasion to promote New Zealand’s trade, investment, education and tourism interests in the country. It’s also a chance to set out New Zealand’s economic policies and explore areas of commonality, particularly around regional economic architecture, inclusive economic growth, social investment and other areas of mutual interest,” Grant Robertson says. “As Sport and Recreation Minister I’ll also be attending the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang. New Zealand has some great medal opportunities, and it would be amazing to see the team bring a couple home.” Minister Robertson will also be meeting with some of his international counterparts and officials from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). In Singapore, Minister Robertson will hold discussions with Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, as well as a number of other key Ministers, officials and business leaders. “Singapore has long been an important strategic and trading partner for New Zealand. Our economic ties will soon be even stronger with the upcoming signing of the CPTPP,” Grant Robertson says. “The country is also leading the way on thinking about the future of work and building economic resilience in the face of constant change. These are significant issues for New Zealand as well, and I look forward to talking about them with Singaporean Ministers and officials.”

/////////////////////////////////////////// PM to lead Pacific Mission

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 05:11 PM PST

PM to Tonga, Samoa, Niue, and the Cook Islands Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says the New Zealand government’s Pacific Mission will take place from 4-9 March and travel to Tonga, Samoa, Niue, and the Cook Islands. “It will be an honour to have the Pacific Mission led by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and is a further sign of the importance New Zealand attaches to our Pacific neighbours,” says Mr Peters. “The government carefully considered whether the Pacific Mission would impose a burden on Tonga and Samoa in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Gita.” “However the government decided to proceed to allow the delegation to see first-hand the ongoing response. We will also discuss with the governments of Tonga and Samoa, as much as able to be learned at this point, what support is required for long-term recovery,” he says. The Pacific Mission delegation is made up of MPs, Pasifika community leaders, and NGO representatives. The delegation size is smaller this year with the mission changing focus because of Tropical Cyclone Gita. “New Zealand’s close ties with Samoa and Tonga are built on a deep bilateral partnership, and a shared commitment to Pacific regionalism. Niue and Cook Islands are constitutional partners for New Zealand and we share citizenship as well as a set of mutual obligations and responsibilities,” says Mr Peters.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Transport Minister celebrates opening of Te Onewa Pā

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 03:05 PM PST

Minister of Transport, Phil Twyford, has this morning opened the recently upgraded Te Onewa Pā, located under the northern end of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, with a dawn blessing. “Te Onewa Pā holds a special place in Māori and Auckland history. This work acknowledges the cultural and historical importance of the area,” says Phil Twyford. The upgrade work includes a new walkway, replacement of a pedestrian bridge, fencing, planting and landscaping and is the final part of a wider upgrade programme which started in 2010. The pouwhenua, carved from heart Totara by Reuben Kirkwood of Ngā Tai ki Tāmaki, was revealed during the dawn blessing and recognises the whakapapa of mana whenua. Sensitive and respectful construction and landscaping methods were developed in partnership and included using ponga logs and native eco-sourced plants to stabilise areas, re-using existing post holes wherever possible and specialist supervision and monitoring. “Close collaboration with Iwi, Auckland Council, Heritage NZ and the NZ Transport Agency has created an opportunity to share, respect, protect and celebrate the cultural history and identity of this site, while clever design minimising ground disturbance, has helped to preserve it for future generations,” Phil Twyford says.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Million Dollar Mouse monitoring phase begins

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 12:00 PM PST

The result of one of the most complex island mouse eradication projects ever undertaken will be known in a few short weeks. Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage is accompanying a Department of Conservation-led Million Dollar Mouse monitoring team heading to Antipodes Island group in the New Zealand subantarctic. The monitoring team will begin the month-long assessment to determine whether the project was a success. Ms Sage said it was an exciting, albeit nerve-wrecking time, for everyone involved. “The Million Dollar Mouse eradication programme was delivered in winter 2016. Now, 18 months and almost two mice breeding seasons later, DOC will be able to determine if it was a success. “As with any island eradication, success is never guaranteed. The Antipodes operation was delivered to international best practice, however, the sheer challenge of eradicating 200,000 mice from such a remote and wild part of New Zealand should never be underestimated.” The Antipodes Island group is located about 760 km south east of New Zealand. The 2,100 hectare islands are protected as a Nature Reserve and are recognised internationally as a World Heritage site for their outstanding natural values. “These islands have incredible bird and plant life – they’re home to 21 species of breeding seabirds and four unique ground bird species, as well as many native and endemic species of insects and plants. Mice can be voracious predators, so they needed to go in order to preserve the islands as a key site for biodiversity.” Mice were first reported on Antipodes Island in 1907, either arriving by shipwreck or with early sealers. Since then, they have had major impacts on a once pristine ecosystem that had not evolved to cope with mammalian predators. DOC, in partnership with the Morgan Foundation, WWF-New Zealand, Island Conservation and with support from donors to the ‘Million Dollar Mouse’ campaign, set out to remove the invasive predators. Now, it is time to review the results. “If any mice had survived the operation, the population would have rebounded by now to a level where they should be detectable,” Ms Sage said. Even so, the 10-person team will take a full three weeks to search the island before the final results will be known. Two rodent-detection dogs from the Kiwibank Conservation Dogs’ Programme will help with the task. If successful, this will be the largest eradication where mice are the sole mammalian pest species. This would leave Auckland Island as the only place, out of New Zealand’s five subantarctic island groups, with a population of introduced mammalian predators – mice, cats and pigs. “It’s an exciting time for island conservation and pest eradication. The international community will be watching closely.” The Million Dollar Mouse monitoring team left yesterday evening aboard the HMNZS Wellington, courtesy of the New Zealand Defence Force.

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