Happy new year, Aotearoa!
Welcome to 2022! As we look ahead to another year of progress on the big issues facing our country, we’re taking a look back at the year that’s been and everything the team of five million achieved together in 2021.
Our cautious approach to COVID-19 and the commitment of people across the motu mean we’re able to start the year in a stronger position. By going hard and early against Delta, we bought time to lift our vaccination rates. We’re entering 2022 with the lowest cases and deaths per capita in the OECD, and more than 90% of eligible Kiwis fully vaccinated against COVID.
This strong health response has been the best possible economic approach, too. Unemployment is at a record low, our exports are in high demand, and GDP has performed better than expected. We’re better placed than many other countries, with a solid foundation from which to secure our recovery in 2022.
A huge thank you to everyone who made this possible – it allows us to look ahead with optimism, knowing we can pull together to take on any challenge.
We will be measured by what we do in a pandemic, but also what we do in spite of it. On top of 2021’s COVID response, we’ve also made significant progress in tackling some of the long-term challenges facing New Zealand, like inequality, housing affordability, and climate change.
In 2021, we recorded improvements across all nine child poverty measures and took further steps to improve child wellbeing. We reached more than 210,000 students with free lunches in schools, helped whānau put food on the table by lifting the minimum wage and increasing benefits, and lined up improvements to Working for Families that will see more than 300,000 families better off by an average of $20 per week.
To boost our housing supply and get more Kiwis into homes, we removed barriers to construction, worked to level the playing field for first home buyers, and are building more public housing than any government in decades. In 2021, consents for new homes broke record highs for eight months in a row, and we added more than 2,200 public and transitional housing places – bringing us to almost 12,500 additional places delivered since 2017.
On climate, we introduced measures to make cleaner cars accessible to more Kiwis – which have seen more electric vehicles registered in New Zealand in the past six months than for each of the past four years. We kept upgrading schools and hospitals to ensure they run on clean energy, and made investments that will cut 6.6 million tonnes of emissions from industrial process heat. We've quadrupled both the Green Investment Fund and climate aid.
We were elected to take on the biggest challenges facing Aotearoa: that’s what we’ve been doing for the past four years, and what we’ll keep doing in 2022. There’s plenty more work to do, but we’ve made a good start – and you can explore some of that progress here.
The past couple of years have shown us that New Zealanders can rise to the challenge of whatever comes our way. Thank you to everyone who’s done what it takes to put us in the best possible position to keep moving and take on whatever comes next.
In 2022, we’ll stay focused on keeping Kiwis safe from COVID-19 and we’ll also be investing in meaningful climate action and far-reaching health reforms, among other initiatives, to boost the wellbeing of our country and our people, now and into the future.
In the meantime, stay safe for the remainder of the holiday period, and enjoy the time spent with friends and whānau.
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