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 saw a major focus on education, with our PM's address to the teachers' strike, an historic pay equity announcement for education support workers, and a further step towards restoring teachers to the Education Council. We also saw our Bill to stop foreign investors buying existing homes pass its final reading, a few other announcements, and an eventful trip to the Wairarapa!
We stand with teachers. After a decade of under-investment our schools and teachers are really feeling the squeeze. PM Jacinda Ardern fronted the crowd gathered to take part in strike action outside Parliament on Wednesday, to let frustrated teachers, students, and parents alike know that their voices are heard.
Our Government has been working since day one to reduce teacher workload and rebuild public education. One of our first actions in Government was to scrap National Standards. Find out what else we're doing for education here.
Continuing in the education space, this week we announced that hundreds of women working in education, who have fought for years to be paid fairly, are to get a pay rise of up to 30 per cent in a historic settlement for pay equity.
The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) and the Ministry of Education signed an agreement to address a pay equity claim for 329 support workers who work with very young children in early childhood and primary schools.
"Almost all education support workers are women, and they do vital work helping young children with severe learning and behavioural challenges to learn. I am delighted to say they will finally be paid fairly for the crucial work they do,” PM Jacinda Ardern said.
Restoring teachers to the Education Council moved one step closer this week, with the Education (Teaching Council of Aotearoa) Amendment Bill passing its second reading. It's so important to emphasise the voice of teachers in the education conversation - a voice that was stifled by the previous Government. The Bill gives the teaching profession the right to directly elect seven of their own to their professional and regulatory body, alongside six members appointed by the Ministry of Education.
The Bill to stop overseas buyers purchasing existing homes passed its third and final reading in the House. It's a great example of us keeping the promises that we made before the election to take housing issues seriously and support more Kiwis into home ownership. This Bill is just one of the ways we are achieving this - including stopping state home sell-off, KiwiBuild, and the Urban Growth Agenda. The National Party opposed this Bill at every turn - but we have continued to fight for the majority of New Zealanders who don't believe wealthy overseas investors should be allowed to outbid aspiring Kiwi homeowners.
PM Jacinda Ardern joined Labour List MP Kieran McAnulty in his home electorate Wairarapa on Thursday for an exciting trip around the region. First up, they visited Kieran's electorate office, and the PM had a ride in Kieran's ute, which apparently is perfectly safe despite missing a back window for the last five years... Kieran's grandma (pictured above) was also pretty happy to meet the PM!
The team then set off for an intergenerational playgroup, where a bunch of elderly Kiwis bonded with a group of adorable babies. Then came a visit to Breadcraft, a large industrial bakery and family-owned Kiwi business that is celebrating their 75th anniversary. Last but not least, they attended a learning programme called Digital Seniors, designed to bridge the digital divide between young and old by helping seniors learn digital skills and tools. It was an eventful day and great to get out and meet so many Kiwis!
This week also saw us take action to combat domestic violence in our communities. Over the next three years, we're supporting the expansion of Gandhi Nivas, an early intervention service that provides emergency accommodation and counselling for perpetrators of family violence.
The funding will support the launch of a second service in Waitemata to provide wrap-around services to help people who commit family violence.
We're also supporting graduate vets get into work in our regions, with the Voluntary Bonding Scheme for Veterinarians. The scheme offers 30 recipients $55,000 each over five years to develop careers in heartland New Zealand. It's a win for vets - and a win for the regions.
Lastly, we're making immediate changes to help combat freedom-camping issues. Kiwis and visitors have a long tradition of camping in New Zealand - we want this to continue, but to be done sustainably, while protecting our natural environment. We've put significant funding aside for a package of initiatives that will support responsible camping, so that campers and locals alike can enjoy their summer.
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.