Releases -

By Newsroom America Feeds at 19 Feb 2018


/////////////////////////////////////////// Leading digital nations welcomed to New Zealand

Posted: 19 Feb 2018 08:13 PM PST

Government Digital Services Minister, Clare Curran, is welcoming Ministers and senior officials from other world-leading digital nations to New Zealand this week for the D5 Ministerial Summit. “New Zealand, Estonia, Israel, South Korea and the UK make up the D5 and delegations are here to share ideas, identify challenges and solutions, and discuss important global issues such as digital rights, digital trade and digital identity,” Ms Curran says. “This is the fourth annual gathering of D5 countries and I’m delighted New Zealand is hosting it for the first time. “We’re making the most of the opportunity we have as host to promote New Zealand as a digital leader and showcase the best digital innovations our government agencies have created. “Collaboration is key. None of us has all the answers and we need to work together to come up with the best solutions to ensure we have thriving digital nations. “Here in New Zealand we want to close the digital divides by 2020, and to make ICT the second largest contributor to GDP by 2025,” Ms Curran says. “I believe all New Zealanders should be able to access digital technologies, take advantage of the opportunities they offer and use them to get more involved in the decision-making processes of government. “Digital rights will be a key area of discussion at the Summit as we look at common problems worldwide and how we’re working to address them. “I’ll also beholding a number of bilateral meetings with representatives of the D5 Nations and other overseas delegations.” The Prime Minister will open the Digital Government Showcase tomorrow featuring the best digital products and services created by government agencies and their partners. There’ll be 14 exhibits on display with virtual reality experiences, the world’s first AI politician and online gaming designed to improve mental health. For a copy of the Minister’s speech to the Digital Nations conference yesterday please go to:

/////////////////////////////////////////// Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister receive apology over accommodation allowance

Posted: 19 Feb 2018 07:30 PM PST

The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have both received an apology from officials following an administrative error with their accommodation arrangements. Department of Internal Affairs officials advised the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister late yesterday of the administrative error which has seen them receive Wellington accommodation payments since they moved into official residences. The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister are the only Ministers residing in official residences. “As soon as we were advised of the error, we both immediately took steps to reimburse the money. That has now happened,” said the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. “The error occurred when the DIA’s Ministerial Services continued to pay each of us a Member of Parliament’s Wellington accommodation allowance after they had moved us into official accommodation, at which point payments should have stopped.” DIA has acknowledged the Ministers did not seek to claim the allowances which were incorrectly carried over during the executive transition with the officials only recently realising the error. Both Ministers have reimbursed the overpayments which cover the period from late October to early February. Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern has repaid $12,082.19 and Rt Hon Winston Peters has repaid $9,123.29. The difference is explained by the dates on which they moved into the properties. “While mistakes happen, we have accepted the officials’ apology. Appropriate use of taxpayer money is something we both take extremely seriously, and we have set a high bar for ourselves and others.”

/////////////////////////////////////////// New Zealands future mobility on the right track

Posted: 19 Feb 2018 05:39 PM PST

A report from the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee confirms the Government is on the right track to prepare New Zealand for the future of mobility, Transport Minister Phil Twyford says. The Government’s response to the report was presented to Parliament today and highlights that 12 of 14 recommendations from the Select Committee are already being implemented, and the Government is achieving the intent of the remaining two. The report investigated how changing transport technology, and social and economic trends, can improve our mobility by enhancing productivity, social connectedness and road safety, while reducing costs and the impact on the environment. “In most cases, these recommendations align with initiatives we’re either already doing, planning, or considering as part of our current work streams,” says Phil Twyford. “The Government is determined to ensure New Zealand’s transport system encourages all modes of transport. These recommendations back our commitment to promoting the use of electric vehicles, improving shared mobility, encouraging walking and cycling, and ensuring the transport system is accessible and safe for all users.

“I am very pleased to be able to say the future of New Zealand’s mobility is on the right track and this Government will ensure this positive and meaningful trajectory continues,” Phil Twyford says.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Fund encourages lower-emissions technology

Posted: 19 Feb 2018 05:36 PM PST

Businesses are being encouraged to adopt innovative technology that cuts greenhouse gas emissions in a funding round announced by Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods today. The funding support is offered as part of the Technology Demonstration programme run by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

“This Government has an ambitious goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To help us achieve that, we want to do more to promote new technologies that will help reduce carbon emissions as well as saving energy.

“This funding round introduces new criteria to encourage larger scale projects tackling process heat – the hot water and heating systems used in manufacturing and other processes. Process heat accounts for 38% of New Zealand’s energy use, with 72% of this from non-renewable sources such as coal.

“Along with transport, reducing our use of fossil-fuelled process heat offers one of the most effective ways for New Zealand to reduce its climate change emissions.

“Innovative technology, such as high temperature industrial heat pumps, has often already been commercialised overseas but is underused in New Zealand. The new funding criteria will help early adopters work through the risks and benefits, leading the way for wider uptake,” says Megan Woods.

To qualify for funding, projects must reduce energy intensity or greenhouse gas emissions, have potential to be replicated on a large scale, and be financially viable, with a reasonable payback period.

Businesses can apply for up to 40% of a project’s cost. The maximum available is $250,000 for process heat projects, and $100,000 for other projects.

Applications to the current funding round are open until Thursday 29 March.

For more information about the fund visit

/////////////////////////////////////////// Contestable Fund Reopens for Fresh Applications

Posted: 19 Feb 2018 05:36 PM PST

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods today opened the next round of the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund for applications.

“Round four has funding of up to $4 million available.

“The Fund was established to encourage innovation and investment to accelerate the uptake of low emission vehicles. It offers up to 50 per cent funding for projects, with applicants required to match or exceed the amounts granted.

“Since its launch in 2016, the Fund has invested in a total of 49 projects (from 183 proposals).

“To date $10.1 million has been committed to a wide variety of projects, with applicants committing to additional co-funding of $18.8 million to get their projects off the ground,” Dr Woods said.

“A number of round one and two projects are already operational, while others are expected to be fully completed in 2019, and a small number of more complex projects due for completion in 2020.

“Meanwhile, work is commencing on round three projects as contracts are finalised.

“The Fund has invested in 21 separate infrastructure projects to help create a public network of charging stations throughout the country. Electric vehicles can now travel from Cape Reinga to Bluff using any of the 124 public fast charging stations that are currently operational, with new locations being added all the time.

“Other projects demonstrate how electric vehicles can be effective for a wide range of uses – from public transport and vehicle sharing services to light and heavy vehicle use. The Fund has also assisted organisations from across a broad range of industries to go electric, from waste management to manufacturing, courier and delivery services, vehicle rentals and tourism operators.

“Another successful applicant from round three is MITO who will develop a qualifications framework for the inspection, maintenance and servicing of electric vehicles in New Zealand. “The investment focus for round four will be same as the previous round which encourages projects to fill key gaps in the charging network, and the demonstration of light and heavy electric vehicles. “While I expect to see proposals in round four that will continue our work in these areas, I’m also looking forward to seeing applications from innovative small businesses keen to embrace low emission vehicles.”

Applicants for the fourth funding round have until Wednesday, 11 April 2018 to submit their proposals to EECA.

For more information about the fund, visit

For general information about electric vehicles, see

/////////////////////////////////////////// Telco Relay Services consultation begins

Posted: 19 Feb 2018 02:12 PM PST

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran and Disability Issues Minister Carmel Sepuloni today released a consultation document on the Telecommunications Relay Service. Telecommunications Relay Services provide a range of text and video based telecommunications services free of charge to people who are Deaf, hearing-impaired, deafblind and speech-impaired. New Zealand has been recognised for its leadership on disability issues internationally but there’s still a long way to go before all disabled people enjoy a fully inclusive society that values them and enhances their participation,” Ms Curran says. “We compare favourably internationally in terms of the range of relay services currently offered, and this consultation will help the service evolve so it can continue to meet the needs of its users into the future. “No two people with a disability are the same and the Government believes disabled people should be supported to follow their dreams, make their own choices, and to lead a quality life. “There have been significant advances in communications technologies since the service started in 2004, such as video applications, which have increased the accessibility of traditional communications tools. “We want to hear from people who use the service and other interested stakeholders for their views on the future of relay services,” Ms Curran says. Ms Sepuloni says relay services are critical to ensuring Kiwis who use New Zealand sign language, and people with additional communications needs, are able to connect with voice telephone users and have access to equal work and lifestyle opportunities. “Relay services allow users to access telecommunication services on an equal basis to other New Zealanders, and for NZSL users, the Video Interpreting Service enables them to use sign language, as their preferred language. “This consultation is an opportunity for relay users – from the old to the young – to give their feedback on how the service is meeting their differing needs, and on how it might be improved in the future,” says Ms Sepuloni. The Cabinet paper on the Telecommunications Relay Service has been proactively released and is at . You can view the announcement in NZSL at: The consultation document and a NZSL video summary of the document is available at Submissions, which can be presented either in written form or in NZSL, are being sought by 13 April 2018. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will be holding public consultation events in March, with NZSL interpreters and captioners, to gather feedback on the consultation document. Locations and dates will be posted on the MBIE website once they are confirmed.

/////////////////////////////////////////// World-leading researcher appointed

Posted: 19 Feb 2018 02:10 PM PST

The University of Auckland has welcomed the appointment of a world leader in Augmented Reality (AR), Professor Mark Billinghurst, to its Entrepreneurial Universities programme, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins announced today. The Entrepreneurial Universities programme aims to bring world-leading innovative academics with commercialisation experience and their teams here to improve links between universities and industry and to develop New Zealand’s pipeline of entrepreneurial students. “Professor Billinghurst will lead a research team at the University’s Auckland Bioengineering Institute.” Mr Hipkins said. “Together they will continue their work on Empathic Computing and how AR and Virtual Reality can be used to enhance face to face and remote collaboration, further strengthening and growing New Zealand’s innovation culture. “New Zealand is a very attractive place for research but it’s an extremely competitive environment and this scheme helps our universities to attract global talent. “World-leading academics will bring huge benefits in terms of their knowledge and networks. Our undergraduates can learn from the best, and innovative New Zealand firms can benefit from partnership opportunities with the best of the best in their fields,” Mr Hipkins said. Over the next three years, the initiative is expected to bring 15-20 world-leading researchers and their teams to New Zealand. Biography of Professor Mark Billinghurst Professor Billinghurst has over 20 years’ experience in the field of AR and advanced computer interfaces. This comprises the development of intellectual property, collaborating with industry, licensing and spinning out companies, and venture capital investment. Co-creator of the Augmented Reality tracking library, ARToolkit, Professor Billinghurst’s open source software tools and applications have been downloaded nearly one million times. He is the winner of numerous prestigious global awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He is both a leading AR academic researcher, CEO of an AR company Envisage AR Ltd and actively involved in the AR investment community through SuperVentures, a Silicon Valley based Venture Capital firm that focuses on early stage AR and Virtual Reality (VR) companies. Notes for editors: Auckland Bioengineering Institute is a world leader in applying the principles of engineering and mathematics to human physiology. ARToolkit is the world's most widely used open source tracking library for augmented reality Envisage AR Ltd is one of the first companies in the world to provide collaborative Mixed Reality applications. SuperVentures, a Silicon Valley based Venture Capital firm focuses focus entirely on early stage companies in the AR and VR space, and since opening it has provided millions of dollars of funding into nine start-ups.

/////////////////////////////////////////// OECD small business conference

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 08:00 PM PST

Police and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash departs today for the United States and Mexico to discuss mutual cooperation on law enforcement and economic issues. In Los Angeles and Mexico City he will meet federal and state officials to discuss liaison arrangements for criminal investigations, efforts to combat organised crime, and cooperation in other areas such as border protection and counter-terrorism. In Mexico City he will chair a session at an OECD conference and participate in other discussions on strengthening frameworks for small businesses. He will host a meeting of New Zealand business owners in the city to discuss opportunities and challenges in the Latin American market. He will also hold bilateral meetings with his ministerial counterparts from Argentina and Mexico. Mr Nash says the OECD Conference on Strengthening Small and Medium Enterprises is a chance to discuss international policies to maximise the contribution of SMEs. “Small businesses are the backbone of the New Zealand economy,” says Mr Nash. “This particular conference is a chance to explore new and innovative ideas with my counterparts overseas. “I am interested in discussing how other countries support small businesses in the regions to gain access to overseas markets. The Government has made a commitment to New Zealand’s provinces. We want to help small businesses thrive in order to grow local economies and provide jobs for local people. “The Conference is a valuable way to learn from the successes and failures of our OECD partners, and to ensure we have effective policies for small businesses in New Zealand,” says Mr Nash. Background: The conference is organised by the OECD Working Party on SMEs. It will be part of the OECD Bologna Process on SME and Entrepreneurship Policies and builds on the Bologna SME Ministerial Conference in 2000 and the Istanbul SME Ministerial Conference in 2004. The Bologna Charter provides a frame of reference for the design of SME policies that contribute to economic growth and social development. There are more than 80 economies around the world at various levels of development involved in the Bologna Process. There are 34 OECD member countries who meet in specialised committees to advance ideas and review progress in specific policy areas, such as economics, trade, science, employment, education or financial markets. There are about 250 committees, working groups and expert groups. New Zealand has belonged to the OECD since 1973. New Zealand exported $474 million of goods and services to Mexico in 2017, mostly milk powder and butter. Tourism is also considered a growth area. Mexico is a valued partner for New Zealand in Latin America and a like-minded member of the UN.

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