Kia ora team and welcome to the first week of February. It's been a busy one - from commemorating Waitangi to responding to a wildfire emergency in the Nelson/Tasman districts.
This week we celebrated Waitangi, travelling to Northland to take part in the commemorations.
In the lead-up to 6th of February, the Coalition Government announced a number of significant investments in our regions through the Provincial Growth Fund. These included helping Māori landowners unlock the economic potential of their land, boosting jobs, upgrading transport links, and connecting maraes to the internet with better access to digital services. You can read more about these announcements here.
We were welcomed to Waitangi by the official pōwhiri, followed by a speech from the Prime Minister. You can watch the speech and read the full transcript here.
On the morning of Waitangi (and following a stirring dawn service), our PM, Ministers and MPs hosted a BBQ for everyone. It was a tradition we started last year, and one we hope continues for a long time yet.
New Zealanders spend Waitangi Day in a variety of different ways. For some, it is a moment to reflect on the past, and how we came to be as a nation. For others, it is a chance to look at how far we have to go.
Kelvin Davis, Deputy Labour Leader and Minister for Crown-Māori Relations: Te Arawhiti, shares his thoughts on Waitangi Day here.
While at Waitangi, we learned of a large-scale bush fire near Nelson.
The fire broke out on Tuesday, and has led to the evacuation of hundreds of residents.
The Prime Minister visited the area on Thursday, pledging an initial $20,000 for the stricken Tasman community as fire crews continue to battle the blaze which started in Pigeon Valley. This funding is going to the Mayoral Relief Fund, set up by the Tasman District Council, to help communities to get back on their feet after an emergency.
At the time of writing there are encouraging signs that the fire is being contained, but it remains a potentially dynamic situation. Fire crew on the ground are doing everything possible and keeping a close eye on conditions.
PM Jacinda Ardern speaking to Tasman District residents in Nelson. Photo: Branden Fastier, Stuff
Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford officially opened eleven new state homes in Whangarei this week. These homes are designed to cater to the elderly and those with limited mobility.
The one-bedroom homes on Maunu Road, in the suburb of Woodhill, are less than 500 metres from Whangarei Hospital, and have been designed for those with current or future mobility needs.
We want to build homes not just for today, but for future generations. That means building for different family sizes, stages of life and needs.
Five of the houses are fully accessible with ramps, wide hallways and wet-room showers, among other specifications. The other six homes have been designed to be able to be modified, if needed, in future.
Around a third of the demand for public housing comes from areas outside the main centres. The homes are part of Housing NZ’s Regional Housing Programme; the biggest state house building programme outside the main centres in more than a decade.
While the speech was her first economic speech of 2019 in New Zealand, she has made similar speeches internationally, most recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In the speech, she lays out our economic plan, which includes:
- Doubling down on trade and broadening our trading base to protect our exporters and economy
- Reforming skills and trade training to address long-term labour shortages and productivity gaps in the New Zealand economy, and to make sure we are prepared for ongoing automation and the future of work
- Making changes to tax to make the system fairer
- Addressing our long-term infrastructure challenges
- Transitioning to a sustainable carbon-neutral economy
- Investing in wellbeing.