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!
First up, we follow the PM and the Deputy PM and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters across the Pacific to Nauru, where they attended the Pacific Islands Forum.
We've made it a priority to lift New Zealand’s strategic ambition and investment in the Pacific region, including deepening our relationships with our Pacific family. The Forum was an important opportunity for us to engage with leaders from across the Pacific and talk about the problems we collectively face.
The theme of this year’s Forum – ‘Building a Strong Pacific: Our People, Our Islands, Our Will’ ties in well with what we're doing back home – including in important areas of regional security, sustainable development, and responses to climate change.
While in the Pacific, we made two key announcements:
- $10 million for Pacific broadcasting and journalism, and
- $9 million to make it easier for Pacific students to access education.
Other nations that are members of the Pacific Islands Forum are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Tokelau is an associate member.
Back on home soil, we continued to roll our redevelopment of schools across the country. Originally slated for a partial rebuild, our PM announced that Wainuiomata High School will now be getting a major redevelopment.
The school will now undergo a comprehensive upgrade to fix weather tightness issues, improve tired classrooms and build flexible learning spaces, with funding doubled from the earlier plan.
We're committed to rebuilding our schools - this rebuild is just one of many happening around the country. We also announced $3.5 million of funding for seven roll growth teaching spaces including:
- Three new teaching spaces at Johnsonville School,
- Two new teaching spaces at Manakau School south of Levin, and
- One teaching space at Vogeltown School in New Plymouth.
The classrooms will provide extra space for almost 150 students.
Continuing in our efforts, a later announcement saw additional funding go to a rebuild of Redcliffs School in Christchurch. The building work is expected to start next month, with the school open for 2020.
The Tairāwhiti region is getting a major investment through the Provincial Growth Fund.
This week we announced the $152.7 million investment package will go towards boosting Tairāwhiti's economy, creating jobs, and enhancing tourism opportunities. Projects, announced by the PM and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, include:
- $137 million to unlock Tairāwhiti’s economic potential through stronger, safer and more resilient transport connections
- $13.3 million for tourism projects to attract more visitors to the region
- $1.3 million for forestry projects, including skills training for young people
- over $1 million for projects in the food and beverage sector.
This week we also released our Government's draft standards for the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act that will ensure all rentals are warm and dry.
Healthy homes standards will set minimum requirements for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture and drainage, and draught stopping in residential rental properties.
By setting clear standards in these areas, we will go a long way to improving the quality of rental homes. These measures can also improve the energy efficiency of homes, and reduce the costs to maintain and keep them warm and dry, benefiting both tenants and landlords. Find out more and have your say here.
These standards follow our announcement that we are reviewing the Residential Tenancies Act to make life better for renters, which you can read more about here.
A moment of celebration this week when we announced 2000 core public servants will receive the living wage from 1 September. This means some of New Zealand’s lowest-paid government workers will now find it easier to pay bills, save for their retirement and feed their families. Pictured is the PM meeting two Public Service Association members who will benefit from the change, who spoke at the post-cabinet press conference.
The announcement came ahead of a public consultation process launched later in the week which will see the most significant reform of New Zealand's Public Service in 30 years.
We believe that every Kiwi has a right to work in a safe environment.
The establishment of an annual Scholarship Programme by the Health and Safety Association of New Zealand (HASANZ) will help build New Zealand's health and safety workforce, prevent workplace harm, and improve the wellbeing of all New Zealanders. Starting this year, the HASANZ Scholarship Programme will award up to $5000 per year (for up to two years) to new graduates and people already working in health and safety who want to expand their skills. Applications for scholarships for study in early 2019 are open now and close on 26 October. For application forms and more information, go to www.hasanz.org.nz/page/scholarships
Lastly, we celebrated an historic Auckland Police graduation this week, with twenty new Police officers attending the first graduation ceremony of recruits in Auckland for more than 40 years. It’s the first time new police have been able to complete their training in the city since the 1970s, and means recruits can stay with their families while training. These officers are some of the 1800 new police we’re recruiting over the next three years to make our communities safer.
That's it for this week! Tune in next week to keep up-to-date on all the latest buzz around the Beehive and everything else happening around the country.