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By Newsroom America Feeds at 6 Mar 2018


/////////////////////////////////////////// Further aid to Papua New Guinea

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 07:40 PM PST

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand will make a further deployment of aid to Papua New Guinea to help with the emergency response following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake last Monday. A second RNZAF C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying emergency relief supplies will depart for Port Moresby on Thursday carrying mother and infant kits, family hygiene kits and tarpaulins. While in Papua New Guinea the C-130 will assist with the delivery of relief items to the affected Highlands region in partnership with Papua New Guinean authorities and other development partners. “Sadly a number of people have lost their lives during this earthquake and New Zealand stands ready to help the people and Government of Papua New Guinea in the best way we can,” says Mr Peters. ENDS Contact: Alex Masters, Press Secretary, 021 809 186

/////////////////////////////////////////// Marine protection off South Island coast

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 06:30 PM PST

Two options to protect areas of ocean off the east coast of the South Island will be considered by Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage. The Ministers today released the final report of the South East Marine Protection Forum. The Forum is an independent body established by the previous government in 2014. It includes representatives of Kāi Tahu as manawhenua, commercial and recreational fishers, tourism, science, the environmental sector, and the broader community. The report provides two alternative networks of marine protected areas off the coast from Timaru in South Canterbury, to Waipapa Point in Southland. In late 2016, the Forum consulted with the public, industry and stakeholders on 20 sites for possible inclusion in a network of marine protected areas. “The Forum has worked hard to produce a thorough and comprehensive report. We would like to thank Forum members for their work over three years, their dedication to a collaborative process and the significant contribution the report makes to advancing marine protection,” Ms Sage said. “There was strong public involvement in the Forum process with more than 2,800 submissions received during public consultation.” Mr Nash acknowledged the work of the former Ministers for Primary Industries and Conservation who began the process in 2014. “This has been a long and demanding process over three and a half years. While it has not always been easy for participants I acknowledge the time and effort that has been invested,” Mr Nash said. “Forum members were given a challenging task and their final report and recommendations reflect the variety of perspectives on marine protection. They spent a great deal of time considering the best ways to protect our marine life and marine environments. I am grateful for their work and for the efforts of those who made submissions during the process. “I understand that some, but not all fishing representatives, subsequently asked for more work to be done after the recommendations had been finalised and agreed. I do not believe that is necessary. We are happy with the quality of the report and the robust and demanding process followed by the Forum. “In the end the report reflects the diverse range of views. We will now carefully consider the Forum’s recommendations,” said Mr Nash. The Forum has proposed two alternative networks to the Ministers: Network 1 - covers 1267 km2 of the Forum region and includes 18 of the 22 coastal habitats in the Forum region, seven of 12 estuarine habitats and two biogenic habitats. Network 2 – covers 366 km2 of the Forum region, includes 10 of the 22 coastal habitats, no estuarine habitats and two biogenic habitats. “Marine protected areas (MPAs) are vital to protect important habitats and feeding areas for marine mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates,” Ms Sage said. “New Zealand’s marine environment is 15 times larger than its land mass and it’s important this is safeguarded for future generations.” The Forum’s report provides detailed recommendations. It also explains the broader cultural and customary contexts of the marine habitats, as well as the economic, social and environmental considerations it took into account. The Ministers will now work through the next steps, which involves consultation with colleagues and agencies. The Ministers said it was not yet clear what steps would be needed if new marine protections are required for the South Island’s south east coast. Before any changes are made to existing protections, they would seek the views of all parties in Parliament and invite public submissions. Further information The Forum report is on the SEMPF website at

/////////////////////////////////////////// Viet Nam Prime Minister to visit

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 06:10 PM PST

Viet Nam’s Prime Minister, Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, will visit New Zealand 12–14 March, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “Viet Nam is an important partner for New Zealand, and I am delighted to have this opportunity to deepen the links between our two countries.” Viet Nam is one of the fastest growing economies in South East Asia. New Zealand’s two-way trade with the country is now worth over $1.7 billion annually and is growing rapidly. Last year almost 30,000 New Zealanders visited Viet Nam and there is significant potential for further cooperation in agriculture, aviation, education, and other trade sectors. Prime Minister Phúc is visiting New Zealand for the first time as Prime Minister, and will be accompanied by his wife, senior Ministers and business leaders. “Viet Nam is an influential member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The visit is a valuable chance to discuss pressing regional issues so I’m looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Phúc again,” said Ms Ardern. Note: New Zealand and Viet Nam celebrated 40 years of diplomatic relations in 2015. Prime Minister Ardern met Prime Minister Phúc when she visited Viet Nam last November to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Da Nang.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Zero Carbon Act for NZ, Environment watchdog's valuable contribution

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 05:46 PM PST

“The new Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s first report dealing with New Zealand’s proposed Zero Carbon Act provides a valuable contribution to the national conversation on this issue,” says the Acting Minister for Climate Change, Julie Anne Genter. “Commissioner Simon Upton’s report, “A Zero Carbon Act for New Zealand”, lays out the sort of things we, as a nation will need to address in setting targets and having a durable way of managing our transition to a low emissions sustainable economy while providing certainty for businesses and investors. “Mr Upton’s report also offers interesting areas for consideration based on his observations of the United Kingdom’s approach to establishing a Climate Commission and setting carbon budgets. “At the same time, Mr Upton acknowledges New Zealand has very different emissions profiles to the UK and very different challenges,” Ms Genter says. “Climate change is affecting us all now, but we have a huge opportunity to build a cleaner economy and ensure security for ourselves and for future generations of New Zealanders. “Like the new Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, we, as the Green Party support partner of the Labour-led coalition Government agree that there needs to be thorough debate to reach a durable structure for New Zealand’s Zero Carbon Act. “The Zero Carbon Act is about setting up the big picture framework that will drive practical, common sense actions to reduce our climate pollution.”

/////////////////////////////////////////// New mobile coverage for Haast

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 04:09 PM PST

Haast Township will have mobile phone coverage by the end of May and sections of State Highway 6 will have cell service by the end of the year. Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran has announced the accelerated, initial solutions to the area’s connectivity crisis during a visit today. “This government has heard the community’s concerns about public safety issues caused by no mobile service and over summer we’ve seen the impact a lack of mobile connectivity can have in an isolated community which has a lot of tourism,” Ms Curran says. “By the end of May a 3G cell tower will be built and operational covering the township and State Highway 6 north and east of Haast for around three kilometres. Residents and visitors will be able to txt and make phone calls on three mobile networks – Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees. “There’ll also be mobile coverage on sections of SH6 between Fox Glacier and Lake Hawea by the end of this year. Between six and eight small roadside mobile sites will be placed on NZTA land, rest areas and on private land where available, along that section of highway. “These sites will provide ‘islands’ of highway coverage for mobile voice calling and txt messaging. These initial solutions for the township and SH6 is aimed at improving safety and co-ordination and don’t include broadband coverage. The permanent solution for Haast and the West Coast will be based on 4G mobile technology with good broadband speeds and be in place before the end of 2022. “Planning and rolling out mobile cellular towers across remote parts of New Zealand is challenging, partly because of how difficult it is to find suitable sites for the towers. The locations need to have coverage, power and connections back to the core telecommunications network. “We have to be flexible and put real emphasis on the views and concerns of local communities and that’s what’s happened in this case. We are focusing on the areas of greatest need first – the West Coast is in this category, and Haast and the surrounding area in particular suffers at the moment from a near-complete dearth of connectivity. This is clearly causing problems not least in terms of safety with so many tourists coming through the area. “If other regions organise themselves and bring part of a community solution to the table, such as land for the cell towers, then I will listen to their cases. But I would note that there are extenuating circumstances in the Haast case. The Haast mobile black spot is one of the longest in the country and includes one of the New Zealand’s most precarious state highways,” Ms Curran says. The likely order in which rural communities around New Zealand will receive greater mobile coverage under the Mobile Black Spot Fund will be released soon. “We won’t be able to give exact dates for the work but I want to clear up any misunderstanding that everyone will have to wait until 2022 for this,” Ms Curran said.

/////////////////////////////////////////// NZ support for Tonga electricity network

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 03:00 PM PST

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced $11 million of funding to complete the first stage of the upgrade to Nukualofa’s electricity network. “New Zealand has been a long-term partner in efforts to improve Nukualofa’s electricity supply, and access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” Mr Peters says. “This funding is for the first stage of a five year project which will improve the reliability, resilience, and safety of electricity supply for more than 2000 households and businesses in Tonga’s capital. “This is additional to the emergency funding for repairs to the electricity network in Tonga announced by the Prime Minister earlier today. “The network upgrade will deliver reduced line losses, reduced emissions from diesel generation, and generate savings of around $1 million per annum,” Mr Peters says. The Foreign Minister is currently in Tonga supporting the Prime Minister’s 2018 Pacific Mission. ENDS Contact: Alex Masters, Press Secretary, 021 809 186

/////////////////////////////////////////// NZ supports Tonga recovery effort post Cyclone

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 02:27 PM PST

Tonga will receive $10 million in assistance to help recover from the major damage done by Cyclone Gita Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “Cyclone Gita destroyed or partially damaged around 2000 homes in Tonga. Many communities are still without power and schools are without essential materials. It is a huge burden on so many families in Tonga and we are helping them recover,” Jacinda Ardern says. “Our package will support the Government of Tonga’s recovery planning and will focus on the restoration of the electricity network and helping children continue their schooling. “In total, 19 primary schools and ten secondary schools suffered major damage during Cyclone Gita and we want to ensure Tongan school children do not suffer further disruption to their education. “New Zealand is already heavily involved in supporting the electricity sector in Tonga so it makes sense for us to focus on helping restore power to homes and communities. The electricity network is also vital to restoring other essential services such as water. “New Zealand is committed to standing with our Pacific neighbours during times on natural disaster and we know first-hand how difficult the recovery effort can be following a significant event,” Jacinda Ardern said. Both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Education will work with the Tongan Government to provide school materials and assistance aimed at getting schools back up and running as soon as possible. The Prime Minister is currently in Tonga leading the 2018 Pacific Mission.

/////////////////////////////////////////// 125 years of New Zealand women leading the way

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 01:52 PM PST

Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter has today launched a programme to celebrate the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage at an event hosted by the Governor-General Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy. “It is 125 years since women organised and fought for their human right to vote, and New Zealand led the world in women’s rights,” says Ms Genter. “While we acknowledge this historic achievement, and how far we have come as the first country in the world where all women could vote, it’s also a time to build a more inclusive and fairer society together. “Many organisations across New Zealand are holding events and activities to celebrate this occasion. The Ministry for Women’s role is to co-ordinate these events and provide a central presence for the anniversary. “I encourage community groups and feminists across New Zealand to organise events to celebrate our past, and look forward to the next challenges. “As a Government, we are focused on improving New Zealand women and girls lives. “In the first 100 days of the new Government, we extended paid parental leave and we committed to enacting law to enable women to achieve pay equity. “We are working hard to further our efforts in domestic and sexual violence, as well as sexual harassment. “I support the groundbreaking #metoo campaign in elevating women’s voices and insisting on change on sexual harassment. “I am proud of our values as a society but there is more we must do. I wish to use the opportunities this anniversary presents to build better lives for New Zealand women and girls,” says Ms Genter.

/////////////////////////////////////////// More time to fix unreinforced masonry

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 01:26 PM PST

Building owners who have taken ‘reasonable steps’ to secure unreinforced masonry on their buildings following the 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake now have a further six months to complete the remedial work. ‘Reasonable steps’ would include Design work being complete, or in progress, and a demonstrable programme of work. The programme of work provides an indication of when the building owner will contract a builder and when the work is expected to be completed. “This amendment is to help building owners who’ve made genuine efforts, but haven’t met the deadline, due to capacity constraints in the sector,” says Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa. “Where building owners have done nothing, I expect councils to exercise their powers to manage public safety risks.” Councils have the power to limit access to the building, and/or take enforcement action. The penalty for non-compliance is a fine of up to $200,000. “It is crucial for building owners to make their buildings safe. Unreinforced parapets and facades pose significant risk to life and safety of the public,” says Ms Salesa. “Thirty-nine people were killed by falling unreinforced masonry in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, and we know the risks can be reduced by securing parapets and facades to the main building structure. “We have struck a balance between the need to protect public safety and the need to recognise the practical constraints that have delayed progress for some building owners,” says Ms Salesa. Note to the editor: On 19 March, the Government increased the funding cap for securing work for buildings that are three storeys or taller from $25,000 to $65,000.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Govt accounts continue to track slightly above forecast

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 01:20 PM PST

Stronger employment growth and residential investment continued to support the Government’s financial accounts in the seven months to the end of January, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) was $677 million above forecast at a surplus of $2.4 billion. This was driven by core Crown tax revenue coming in $937 million (2.1%) above forecast at $44.8 billion. Core Crown expenses were $155 million (0.3%) above forecast as some expenditure was recognised earlier than expected. Net debt at 21.6% of GDP was below the 22.0% forecast. “Treasury says stronger employment growth in the economy than it had expected in last year’s forecasts has led to PAYE coming in higher than forecast due to more people working. Stronger residential investment meant GST receipts were up, while customs and excise duties also contributed,” Grant Robertson says. “While some of the revenue variance might still reverse out over coming months, primarily related to customs and excise duties, much of it is expected to persist and will be built into the 2018 Budget Economic and Fiscal Update.” The better-than-expected financial position of the Government reflects broader economic conditions. “Business confidence has improved this year, with headline perceptions turning around and the more important ‘own activity’ measures continuing to rise in positive territory. Employment and investment intentions are positive, residential construction intentions are up and export intentions have also improved. On top of this, the latest consumer confidence and employee confidence readings are also positive. “These surveys can often fluctuate month-to-month, but the trends indicate a clear direction as Ministers get out there to explain the Coalition Government’s policy programme. While Treasury’s projection of near-term growth near 3% is slightly softer than recent years, this comes as we transition the economy to more sustainable and productive activity and away from property speculation and population growth,” Grant Robertson says.

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