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!
In case you missed it, in her speech at the Labour Party Conference, Jacinda Ardern announced 600 fully-funded Learning Support Coordinators for NZ schools. These Coordinators will act as a single-point of contact for parents of children with special needs, and support these children throughout their entire time at school. This will free up teachers to have more time to do what they do best - teach. Those 600 are just the start - we are developing a new workforce of educational professionals to make sure children with diverse learning needs get the support they need to learn, and that teachers get the support they need to teach.
This week marked 100 years since prophet Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana received the vision that began the Rātana movement, now one of the largest Māori religious movements in Aotearoa. To celebrate this significant anniversary, we travelled to Rātana Pa and handed over some gifts to recognise Labour's special relationship with Rātana.
We also announced a $1.9 million investment which will support the development of 26 sections on Māori freehold land for whānau to build on and live in new homes.
The announcement is consistent with the Government’s priority to build strong and healthy communities, not just houses.
This is just the start - phase two of the investment will see $1.7 million invested in the future to develop a further 34 sections.
“At the heart of this investment is partnership. It builds on the knowledge that communities and whānau are best placed to determine how to achieve their aspirations,” said Jacinda Ardern.
Back at the Beehive, we celebrated yet another sign of our economic success with the announcement that the unemployment rate is now at 3.9% - the lowest it’s been in over ten years! This news comes on the back of other encouraging news - including the best GDP growth in 2 years and a strong, healthy surplus.
This week also saw the first official meeting of the Business Advisory Council in Auckland.
The Council, which provides free advice and support to the Government, will focus on growing our regions, addressing skill shortages and unleashing New Zealand's economic potential. The Prime Minister and Council chair Christopher Luxon announced four priority areas on which to advise the Coalition Government, helping to build a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy that improves the wellbeing of New Zealanders.
The four priority areas are:
- Building tomorrow’s skills
- Accelerating our regions
- Attracting high quality investment
- Unleashing our SMEs
Jacinda Ardern said the work of the Council will help to unleash the full potential of the New Zealand economy.
“The Government is running a strong surplus, we’ve had the best quarter of growth in two years and unemployment is at a decade low. But we have persistent problems that hold our economy back. The Business Advisory Council will play a key role in helping to shift the economy up a gear and to unleash New Zealand’s economic potential."
We also had great news in housing, with the Minister of Housing and Urban Development Hon Phil Twyford revealing there are 1,300 more public housing places in New Zealand than last year. Latest figures from the Public Housing Quarterly Report show that the Government is pulling out all the stops to house and support people in the face of the housing crisis - and we're happy that we're making a real difference in the lives of Kiwis up and down the country.
The number of transitional housing places tenanted or available is now 2,585. These are warm, dry and secure housing places and support for people or families while they find a longer-term home.
“While we build New Zealand out of the national housing crisis, including by building 6,400 more public housing places over the next four years, we’ll continue to do whatever it takes to support people and families in need,” Phil Twyford said.
At the end of the week, the PM journeyed to Whakatāne to visit Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae and to launch Te Tai Whakaea - a form of collective memory, providing a safe and enduring repository of knowledge so Te Tiriti o Waitangi settlements stories will never be forgotten.
We launched the first of Te Tai’s iwi Treaty settlement stories, beginning with Bay of Plenty iwi Ngāti Awa. Appropriately, the launch took place in the wharenui Mataatua which was returned to Ngati Awa through the Treaty Settlement process.
Lastly, the PM revealed the children's drawings she has chosen to appear on this year's Christmas cards. The response to the PM's call-out for artwork was astounding - maybe having something to do with the serendipitous timing of school holidays - and we were overjoyed to see such a huge range of art pour in to the Beehive from kids around the country. Take a look below to see the featured artwork and a special message from the PM.
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.