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By Newsroom America Feeds at 27 Feb 2018


/////////////////////////////////////////// $2.4m to extend and upgrade Tasman cycle trail

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 07:40 PM PST

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis today announced up to $2.4 million in funding towards extending and upgrading Tasman’s Great Taste Trail to a multi-day ride. This is the first major investment to be made through the Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail Enhancement and Extension Fund. The trail will be extended by about 40km south between Wakefield and Woodstock; and other sections will be upgraded, including 33km between Woodstock and Brooklyn. “The Great Taste Trail already attracts a significant number of local and international visitors but not necessarily for long stays, so benefits for the region are restricted,” Mr Davis says. “The new extension will make the Great Taste Trail a two to four day ride that links accommodation, food and beverage outlets and attractions such as beaches, vineyards, National Parks, heritage sites and arts and crafts producers. “The trail has fantastic local support and presents ongoing economic development opportunities as a tourism asset. Like many of the 22 Great Rides around the country, Tasman’s Great Taste Trail also has social and health benefits for the community, providing a family friendly recreational and commuter trail between townships. “I know the Great Taste Trail has suffered significant damage following recent weather events and I encourage the Tasman District Council to apply for extreme event funding through the Maintaining the Quality of Great Rides Fund to support the necessary repairs to the trail.” The Tasman District Council will now create an implementation plan that will set out a timeframe for the extension project. The Enhancement and Extension Fund also allows some high priority safety projects to be fast tracked. Two priority projects have been identified for funding. “Currently Otago’s Roxburgh Gorge Trail ends with a steep downhill slope that is prone to water scour and loose gravel. The Government will provide up to $120,000 to replace this section with a switchback trail that will be easier to ride, particularly for inexperienced cyclists,” Mr Davis says. “Up to $99,000 will go to improving the Waikato River Trail between Whakamaru and Atiamuri. This section runs beside State Highway 30 and over time the trail surface has become very rough with exposed roots and rock.” Last week the Government announced a $1 million investment through the Provincial Growth Fund to complete the final section of the West Coast Wilderness Trail and improve facilities around the West Coast’s Old Ghost Road cycle trail. For more information on Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail, visit:

/////////////////////////////////////////// Thirteen top Pacific Students win STEM Scholarships

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 05:09 PM PST

The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Hon Aupito William Sio has awarded thirteen top Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) scholarships to students of Pacific descent from all across New Zealand. “I’m excited that this year we are able to support more Pacific students studying STEM subjects in disciplines and career-pathways Pacific people are under-represented in,” says Mr Sio. The Government’s Fees-free policy introduced for first-year students has meant the Ministry for Pacific Peoples could increase the scope of scholarship support to Pacific students pursuing STEM majors in 2018. “I want to see more Pacific people pursuing STEM majors so that we grow our workforce to become well equipped for the changing working environment with the intellectual and practical skills to power a sustainable economy that benefits all our families, our community and New Zealand. “It’s vital that our students succeed, as Pacific success is important to this Government and critical to Pacific people’s contribution towards growing a sustainable economy that is fair to all New Zealanders. “That’s why the Ministry has put in place agreements with participating universities to provide pastoral care with academic and cultural support essential for student success. The Ministry for Pacific Peoples Toloa programme provides Pacific students with STEM scholarships for their tertiary studies and Minister Sio will present their awards at the Toloa Scholarships ceremony in Auckland this evening. “I congratulate all the winners and their families. As recipients of the Toloa scholarships you each become role models for all our Pacific youth and we are extremely proud of your achievements,” says Mr Sio. The Ministry for Pacific Peoples recipients for the 2018 Toloa Scholarships are: Anna Clark - of Fijian descent, from North Canterbury is starting her two-year Master of Science degree specialising in genetics at the University of Otago.

Bruce Graham – of Samoan and Tokelauan descent, from Wellington is in his second year of study towards his Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) at Canterbury University.

Campbell Talaepa – of Samoan descent, from Auckland is studying towards a conjoint Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) and Bachelor of Science at the University of Auckland.

Finau Tungapeau - of Tongan descent, from Dunedin is completing a two-year Master of Dietetics at the University of Otago.

Hayes Okesene – of Samoan descent, from Auckland is studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) at the University of Auckland specialising in chemicals and materials engineering.

Jacinta Faitotoa - of Samoan descent, from Auckland will be studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) with a focus on mechanical or civil work at the University of Auckland.

Jade Christiansen - of Samoan descent, from Marton is studying towards a Bachelor of Science at the University of Otago.

Jasmine Havea – of Tongan descent, from Palmerston North is completing a conjoint degree in Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) and Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) at the Victoria University.

Karizma Tuilaepa – of Samoan descent, from Auckland is studying her Bachelor of Veterinary Technology at Massey University.

Linda Fatialofa - of Samoan descent, from Wellington is completing her Master of Science in Forensic Psychology at Victoria University.

Lukan Paitai - of Cook Islands and Samoan descent, from Auckland is studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Auckland.

Siaosi Koloamatangi - of Tongan descent, from Auckland. After completing his Bachelor of Science (Hons), Siaosi will start his PHD in Genetics at Massey University.

William Asiata – of Samoan descent, from Auckland is completing his Master of Information Technology over three semesters at the University of Auckland.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Time to get serious about drivers of mental health issues

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 03:41 PM PST

Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Mental Health Commissioner’s latest report is further confirmation of the need to tackle the drivers of mental health issues. Commissioner Kevin Allan says New Zealand needs to broaden its focus from mental illness and addiction to include a greater focus on mental wellbeing and recovery. His report highlights growing demand for mental health services and notes many needs are left unmet. “Mental health and addiction are issues that touch every family in New Zealand. While we absolutely need quality services to help those in need, we also need to get serious about facing up to the major causes of these issues. “As a country we can do more to identify and support people in need at an earlier stage. We need more prevention and early intervention. “The Commissioner is right to talk about the need to address social factors such as housing, income, education and social and cultural connections. He is also right to highlight inequities of treatment and outcomes for Māori, Pacific people and young people. “It is these and other concerns that led to community demand for the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, which the Government announced last month. “I’m confident the Inquiry has the right expertise and breadth of focus to look at the issues raised in today’s report and find meaningful recommendations to improve our community-wide response to mental health and addiction,” says Dr Clark. The Government will consider the Commissioner’s recommendations. The Commissioner’s report will also be available to the Inquiry.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Ultra-Fast Broadband access ahead of plan

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 03:10 PM PST

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran says the work to make fibre broadband available to 87 per cent of New Zealanders by the end of 2022 is moving apace and is ahead of plan. ”In total more than 1.25 million New Zealand households and businesses have access to UFB and 40 per cent of those who have access are actually connected. There was a ten percent uptake in connections between September and December.” Ms Curran says. “The latest Quarterly Broadband Deployment update shows 506,075 users connected to UFB which is delivering close to 1,000 Megabits per second at present. By the end of 2022 87 per cent of Kiwis in 390 towns and cities will be able to connect to fibre broadband. “New Zealand is again building tremendous infrastructure. The people involved in this work are this generation’s equivalent of those who built the bridges, dams and railways of the 20th century. They’re providing the infrastructure for how we will live, work and play in future, and they are doing a great job. “This Government wants to close the digital divides by 2020, and to make ICT the second biggest exporting sector by 2025. We know it’s going to take more than what is already planned to ensure we reach those goals so all New Zealanders have connectivity. We’ll focus on the harder to reach areas and I’ll be looking not just at access but at how quickly connectivity can be delivered to rural and isolated areas. “Connectivity to rural communities is just as important as it is in urban centres. The next goal for rural communities – the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2) – is to deliver new or improved broadband to 70,000 additional rural households and businesses. More than a thousand kilometres of state highways and in excess of a hundred tourism locations will receive new mobile coverage,” Ms Curran says. Crown Infrastructure Partners manages UFB and is managing the contractual arrangements for the RBI2 and Mobile Black Spot Fund programmes, and has entered into contracts with the Rural Connectivity Group (Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees) and with a number of wireless internet service providers to deliver rural programmes. The latest quarterly report can be found here:

/////////////////////////////////////////// Extra $8.5 million pumped into Tai Poutini Polytechnic ahead of wide sector change

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 12:09 PM PST

The Government will pay an additional $8.5 million to troubled Tai Poutini Polytechnic (TPP) so it can continue to operate over the coming year, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. The funding boost is needed to keep the polytechnic on the South Island’s West Coast running and to improve quality, pending wider sector changes, Mr Hipkins said. A business case of options for TPP has been deferred for the same reason. The financial lifeline comes as the Tertiary Education Commission prepares to write-off $24.878 million (GST inclusive) of debt owed by TPP to the Crown resulting from under-delivery between 2010 and 2016, as it simply cannot afford to repay this amount. The TEC will be releasing a report detailing the findings of its investigation into TPP later today. Mr Hipkins said it has been clear to all for some time that TPP is in serious trouble, and that substantial change is needed. However, the challenges faced by TPP are not unique and sector change is critical to a sustainable future for our institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs). “While this change is worked through with the sector, the extra funding is a strong demonstration of the Government’s commitment to tertiary education delivery on the West Coast.” Tai Poutini Polytechnic is one of 16 ITPs providing vocational education and training delivery across New Zealand that for a number of reasons have seen student numbers dropping alarmingly over the last eight years, Mr Hipkins said. “This situation has left us with a group of ITPs some of which, like TPP, are facing immediate and pressing challenges to their financial viability and sustainability, and are unable to modernise teaching and learning to better meet the needs of learners and employers. For others the challenges are less imminent, but getting closer. “It is critical we address these challenges across the whole network, rather than just one organisation at a time. We need a lasting solution to this long-standing challenge. “We are focussed on lifting regional economic development, meeting the educational needs of the community and local employers, and a high quality and sustainable regional network is needed that delivers for students and employers in a rapidly changing world. “While work continues on this process, I have decided to defer a decision on TPP’s business case. This is important to ensure that TPP continues to be supported this year and any changes at TPP are aligned with the wider direction for ITPs. “I would like to thank TPP’s Crown Manager Murray Strong and acting Chief Executive Alex Cabrera for their work on this business case.” The Cab paper setting out these decision can be found at:

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