Our Week That Was series gives you a round-up of all the achievements, announcements, and other political goings-on around Parliament and across the country over the past week. We're proud of all we're doing to make New Zealand a great place to live - and we want to share it with you!
This week we celebrated the one year anniversary of Jacinda Ardern as Leader of the Labour Party!
Coincidentally, it also marked the last week of the PM's maternity leave, as she officially stepped back into the role midnight Thursday.
It's been a busy week, with a nurses accord, a Future of Work tripartite, an employment announcement, a review of the family justice system, and a new visa agreement with the United States, to name just a few.
Our Health Minister Dr David Clark announced a joint accord between District Health Boards, the Nurses Organisation and the Ministry of Health to ensure safe staffing levels in public hospitals. This comes as a great step forward for nurses who have been feeling the strain after years of underfunding. The Government has heard the message from DHB nurses and midwives loud and clear – we agree safe staffing must be a priority.
The Government has already committed to funding an extra 500 DHB nurses as part of the current collective employment negotiations. That commitment stands, but there needs to be ongoing work to ensure that DHBs deliver now and into the future. You can watch the livestream of the announcement here.
We hosted representatives from government, business, and unions for the first Future of Work tripartite. Together we discussed practical ways New Zealand can respond to the changing nature of work. There is sure to be more to come in this area - watch this space!
We invested a further $3 million to tackle Eastern Bay of Plenty youth unemployment, as announced at the annual Bay of Connections forum.
The He Poutama Rangatahi initiative was launched this year to target those regions with a high number of rangatahi not earning or learning, and providing support to both rangatahi and employers within those areas.
Earlier this year we announced $1.7 million to support work readiness programmes in Opōtiki. This further funding will go into the Eastern Bay communities of Opōtiki, Whakatāne, Kawerau and Te Teko. For more information on the four He Poutama Rangatahi announcements, have a look here.
We started the government process of a review of our family justice system. Justice Minister Andrew Little has named three experts to head an independent panel - former Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan, and family law experts, La Verne King and Chris Dellabarca.
The panel will look at what changes should be made to ensure that the welfare and wellbeing of our children comes first in any dispute about their care. As it stands now, families and children could be losing out, and not receiving adequate advice and support during what is an incredibly tough time - that is just not good enough. We are committed to developing a system that works for families and makes sure our children are given the best care possible.
Kiwis will now have better visa access to the United States, after this week's signing of the KIWI Act by the President of the United States Donald Trump. The Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors Act (KIWI Act) has been a long-term goal for New Zealand for many years. The law gives New Zealanders access to E1 and E2 visas. These allow certain business people to enter the US multiple times over two years without having to apply for a new visa each time, with an option to renew their visa on a rolling basis.
"The KIWI Act will increase trade and investment between the United States and New Zealand and will benefit both our countries," Jacinda Ardern said."Lack of E1 and E2 visas has been a major issue for New Zealand business people wanting to access the US market. This Act will be a big boost to New Zealand businesses."
‘Epetoma o te reo Māori Kūki ’Āirani: Cook Islands Language Week is being held from Sunday 29 July – Saturday 4 August 2018. Have a look here to see events and activities happening in your area!
Lastly, our game-development industry has grown to record-breaking numbers.
According to an independent survey, New Zealand’s game development industry earned a record $143 million in the last financial year. This annual revenue represents a 43 per cent rise on the previous year.
The survey of 41 New Zealand Game Developers Association studios found 93 per cent of this revenue came from exports of digital creative software, and the number of artists and developers employed in the industry rose 10 per cent. We look forward to seeing more and more creative work in the gaming space from Kiwi artists and designers in the years to come!
That’s it for this week – tune in next week for more updates and newsflashes on the buzz around the Beehive and across the country!