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By Newsroom America Feeds at 21 Feb 2018


/////////////////////////////////////////// Records tumble for NZ at Winter Olympics - congratulations Nico Porteous

Posted: 21 Feb 2018 08:37 PM PST

Records continue to tumble for New Zealand at the Winter Olympic Games, with Nico Porteous’ bronze medal in the men’s ski halfpipe, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson says. This makes Nico our youngest ever Olympic medallist the same afternoon as fellow 16-year old Zoi Sadowski-Synnott achieved the same feat. “After waiting 26 years to add to New Zealand’s only Winter Olympics medal, these two amazing young New Zealanders will each be bringing home a bronze medal from PyeongChang, South Korea. “In doing so, both became the youngest New Zealand Olympic medallists across summer and winter games – Nico being a few months younger than Zoi. “The New Zealand contingent was buzzing as we made the mad dash from Zoi’s awesome performance to watch our skiers in the men’s halfpipe. The day just kept getting better, with Nico landing our first ever men’s Winter Olympic medal. “I’d also like to congratulate Beau-James Wells for finishing fourth in the same event and mention his brother Byron’s efforts to get the final. All this after amazing efforts from our Men’s Speed Skating team and our other athletes – New Zealand’s representatives here are doing us all proud,” Grant Robertson says. Note to editors: New Zealand sent its first Winter Olympic team to the VI Olympic Winter Games in Oslo, Norway in 1952. Annelise Coberger won New Zealand’s first ever Winter Olympic medal in ski slalom at the XVI Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, France in 1992. The XXIII Olympic Winter Games are being held until 25 February in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province. This is the first time the Olympic Winter Games have been held in Korea in 30 years, after the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988. Hon Grant Robertson is visiting the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang in his capacity as Sport and Recreation Minister. He is also meeting with some of his international counterparts and officials from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

/////////////////////////////////////////// Leading digital nations put digital rights at the heart of their agenda

Posted: 21 Feb 2018 08:12 PM PST

World digital government leaders meeting in Wellington for the Digital Ministerial Summit have set up a digital rights working group, with New Zealand to lead the work. Government Digital Services Minister Clare Curran says the group wants to create a digital environment that is consistent with human rights and protections. “Changes and shifts in how we operate in the digital environment are creating opportunities, risks and challenges for people online, with significant impacts on societies and economies across the world,” Ms Curran says. “New Zealand will lead the work and, together with the other members of the digital nations group, work together to create a multi-national framework for digital rights. “I’ll work across my portfolios and with a number of my other colleagues to develop a fully citizen-centric approach.” “At the heart of all the work we do are our people and they must feel protected online. “I want to thank my counterparts for coming all the way to New Zealand to be part of this inspiring week and I look forward to getting into the work we need to do to make sure all our citizens are thriving in a digital world." Clare Curran says she is delighted two new countries have joined the digital nations group, taking it from the D5 to the D7. “Expanding the D5 membership ensures we remain a resilient, relevant and strong forum for practical collaboration and sharing insights and best practice which will help us achieve our ambitions in our own countries and collectively build a stronger digital world. "By signing the D7 charter, Canada and Uruguay join the world’s most digitally-advanced governments in a common mission to harness digital technology to improve the lives of our citizens. " The D5 nations have met every year since 2014 with this year the first time New Zealand has been host. Israel now takes over from New Zealand as the Chair of the new D7 group.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Modified Tertiary Education Bill passes 2nd reading

Posted: 21 Feb 2018 07:28 PM PST

The Education (Tertiary Education and Other Matters) Amendment Bill has been redrafted to better reflect the views of submitters and remove unfair distortions included by the previous government, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says. “The changes represent this Government’s view of what’s needed for a better and fairer tertiary sector, where the differences between public, private and community providers are clearer and more consistent,” Mr Hipkins said. The Bill unanimously passed its second reading this afternoon. It is scheduled to go to the Committee of the Whole next week. “The reworked Bill revokes the previous proposal that private tertiary providers should, by law, receive the same funding rate as public providers. This would have unnecessarily tied the government of the day’s hands,” Mr Hipkins said. “It also sets up a new type of private training establishment (PTE) called a Community Tertiary Education Provider (CTEP). “CTEPs are not-for-profit community groups providing tertiary education for the public good. This change will allow the public to distinguish them from for-profit providers.” “The new CTEP replaces the previous proposal in the Bill to rename PTEs as ‘independent tertiary establishments’, a loaded term that reflected the previous government’s dismissive attitude to public education provision. “The third significant change is to allow for wānanga to apply to use what are called ‘protected terms’, such as university or polytechnic. PTEs can already do it so it is only fair that wānanga can too. This was also the view of the previous government. “It is important to note however that there is a tough test for applicants to use one of these terms. As part of this process, the Minister of Education will have to consult and consider the national interest,” Mr Hipkins said. The Select Committee has also recommended that all other amendments proceed, some with minor changes. These include: higher penalties for falsifying tertiary student records giving agencies more tools to monitor performance in tertiary organisations, to set conditions on funding, and to impose higher penalties for breaches giving domestic students the same rights as international students when seeking refunds for enrolments in PTE short courses.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Congratulations to Zoi Sadowski-Synnott on NZs second ever Winter Olympic medal

Posted: 21 Feb 2018 06:27 PM PST

Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson congratulates snowboarder Zoi Sadowski-Synnott on winning the bronze medal in the Women’s Big Air at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea today. “It was such a thrill to watch Zoi win New Zealand’s second ever Winter Olympic medal – this is history being written, and I couldn’t be prouder to be here representing our Government today,” Grant Robertson says. “What made it even more special is that Zoi is only 16 years old – now our youngest ever Olympic medallist. It was an incredible performance and she handled the pressure amazingly well to win New Zealand’s first Winter Olympic medal in 26 years. “Kiwis achieving excellence on the world stage is a source of our national identity, pride, and inspiration – especially for our young people. I’m sure everyone back home joins me in applauding this stellar effort,” Grant Robertson says. Note to editors: New Zealand sent its first Winter Olympic team to the VI Olympic Winter Games in Oslo, Norway in 1952. Annelise Coberger won New Zealand’s first ever Winter Olympic medal in ski slalom at the XVI Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, France in 1992. The XXIII Olympic Winter Games are being held until 25 February in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province. This is the first time the Olympic Winter Games have been held in Korea in 30 years, after the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988. Hon Grant Robertson is visiting the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang in his capacity as Sport and Recreation Minister. He is also meeting with some of his international counterparts and officials from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

/////////////////////////////////////////// Racing Safety Development Fund open for applications

Posted: 21 Feb 2018 06:25 PM PST

The second round of Racing Safety Development Fund applications is open, Minister for Racing Winston Peters announced today. The Racing Safety Development Fund has been operating for ten years and has two funding rounds per year. The second funding round for 2017/18 has $340,045 available for allocation. “New Zealand has about 150 active racing clubs and 70 racecourses so it’s important we help ensure health and safety standards for the animals, riders, officials and spectators,” Mr Peters says. “Past projects have included improvements for irrigation and drainage, lighting upgrades, safety running rails and grandstand repair.” On-line applications must be submitted by 28 March 2018. Further information is available from: ENDS Contact: Stephen Parker, Chief Press Secretary, 021 195 3528

/////////////////////////////////////////// Ahuwhenua award finalists announced

Posted: 21 Feb 2018 03:52 PM PST

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta has announced that two dairy farming operations from Rotorua and the South Island’s West Coast are the finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award for dairy. They are Rotorua’s Onuku Māori Lands’ Trust and the Proprietors of Mawhera Incorporation (Hokitika). Nanaia Mahuta said looking after the whenua and taiao – the land and the environment – have been a central part of Māori culture for centuries in Aotearoa. “Those are kaupapa close to my heart, as both Minister of Māori Development and Associate Minister for the Environment. “So it’s a real pleasure to announce this year’s finalists for an award that acknowledges and celebrates excellence and innovation in Māori farming, in particular in the dairy sector.” The minister said research conducted in 2011 estimated that around 80 per cent of whenua Māori is under-utilised or under-performing. Ongoing support programmes and pending legislative changes would assist with improving the situation for Māori, Nanaia Mahuta said. “I’m keen to see us doing a lot better.” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, who was also at the announcement, said: “We are seeing great developments in all productive sectors and a trend for Māori to play an increasingly significant role in producing higher value food products. The rise and rise of Māori agribusiness is impressive, especially given its unstinting commitment to all aspects of sustainability, particularly the environment and people.”

/////////////////////////////////////////// NZ increases humanitarian funding for Syrian war victims

Posted: 21 Feb 2018 12:21 PM PST

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced that New Zealand will make a further $1.5 million in humanitarian assistance available to help people affected by the on-going conflict in Syria. “The situation for civilians in Syria remains dire, with more than 13 million people requiring humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs,” Mr Peters says. “The public infrastructure in Syria has been devastated. More than half the medical clinics and one in three schools have been destroyed. Access to safe drinking water is limited for much of the population.” “The funding announced today will be delivered via the International Committee of the Red Cross which will and will help provide food assistance, access to water and sanitation, and medical support to hospitals and health centres in Syria. “New Zealand also calls on all sides to respect international law, protect civilians, and ensure rapid and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel and delivery of aid.” This latest contribution brings New Zealand’s total humanitarian funding for the Syrian crisis to $23.5 million to Syria since 2011.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Continued effort needed against corruption

Posted: 21 Feb 2018 11:58 AM PST

New Zealand has been rated the least corrupt country for the third year in a row but Open Government Minister Clare Curran warns there’s still more work to be done. “The latest Corruption Perceptions Index, released this morning by Transparency International, has New Zealand’s public sector edging out 175 other countries to take the top spot in this year’s results,” Ms Curran says. “With a rating of 89 out of 100, we continue to show the high standards of conduct and integrity we hold ourselves to across the public sector when compared to other countries around the world. “New Zealand has pulled away from Denmark to hold the top position on our own this year, compared to previous years where we have shared the number one ranking.” “While we continue to hold the position of least corrupt country, and already have high standards of conduct and integrity, we must not be complacent. These results show we are not immune to behaviour and actions that can erode the great work done by the majority of people in the public sector. “Our focus must be on building and maintaining the public’s trust in the integrity of the public sector, a key enabler in our ability to do better for New Zealand and New Zealanders. I expect a continued commitment to transparency and the highest levels of integrity,” Ms Curran says. “This government is also committed to reviewing and improving our access to information frameworks and is currently initiating work on human rights in the digital environment. “Our commitment to open government plays an important role in New Zealand’s democratic system, underpinning the public’s respect, trust, and confidence in the integrity of government. “These and previous results show that countries who rank as the least corrupt generally have higher levels of media freedom, greater access to official information (particularly on public expenditure), and higher standards of conduct and integrity for public officials,” Ms Curran says. The full list of countries is available on the Transparency International’s website here:

/////////////////////////////////////////// Government announces review of organisational culture and processes at the Human Rights Commission

Posted: 20 Feb 2018 08:59 PM PST

Justice Minister Andrew Little today announced that he has ordered a review of the procedures and organisational culture at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, following recent concerns about the handling of allegations of sexual harassment. “It is vital that New Zealanders have trust and confidence in the Human Rights Commission as New Zealand’s authority for dealing with complaints about sexual harassment. I am concerned by recent reported events. An independent inquiry is necessary to look at the Commission’s processes and culture. “I have appointed retired Employment Court Judge Coral Shaw to lead the review,” says Andrew Little. The terms of reference are: the systems and processes for investigating and resolving sexual harassment claims used by the Human Rights Commission, having regard to legal and other public sector standards and the fact the Commission is expected to be an exemplar in this respect; and whether the governance and management structures and arrangements of the Human Rights Commission adequately support the prudent handling of sexual harassment claims; and the organisational culture of the Human Rights Commission. The Review will be conducted pursuant to section 132 of the Crown Entities Act 2004, which allows a responsible Minister to review the operations and performance of a Crown entity at any time. “The reviewer will make any recommendations for change that she considers appropriate. I expect the review to be completed by the end of April. I have met with Chief Commissioner, David Rutherford, and expect the Commission will cooperate fully with the inquiry,” says Andrew Little.

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