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Week That Was: Celebrating our volunteers

This week there was a lot to celebrate - from the hard work of New Zealand's volunteers to extra protection for our dolphins! We also increased mental health and addition support for offenders to help them get their lives back on track, and saw two Provincial Growth Fund investments in Northland take flight. It's all part of our work to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

We celebrated New Zealand's 1.2 million volunteers 

This week was National Volunteer Week - a chance to thank everyone who gives their time, energy and talents to help out in their community and make New Zealand a better place. As part of the week's celebrations, the Prime Minister stopped by the Downtown Community Ministry, an organisation that works with people who are homeless, to say thanks and drop in some home-baked raspberry and coconut cupcakes (complete with petals picked straight from the Premier House garden!)

Labour Deputy-Leader and Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis also stopped by Arohata Prison to visit the volunteers and women at the Arohata Book Club, which has been running every month at the prison since 2015. Currently over 1,700 people contribute their time to volunteering at Corrections. Volunteers carry out a range of activities, including faith-based and spiritual support, mentoring, cultural support, literacy and numeracy skills development, health and wellbeing activities and arts and crafts.


We took action to strengthen protection for our precious Māui and Hector's dolphins

Māui and Hector's dolphins are New Zealand taonga, and we need to act now to ensure their populations increase and both species thrive. 

We recently announced that cameras were being placed on commercial fishing vessels operating in the areas of highest risk to Māui dolphins, and this week, we released our updated Threat Management Plan, which will expand and strengthen protection for our marine mammals. This is part of a wider and ambitious programme of change in fisheries management.

We know people are passionate about these animals, and there are a wide range of views out there about the best way to protect them. You can find out more about the plan, and share your views on we can protect our dolphins, here.


We boosted mental health and addiction services to break the cycle of offending

We're committed to doing things differently to break the cycle of offending and keep communities safe. One way we're doing this is through investing in mental health and addiction services for offenders. This investment will enable more people, both in prisons and in our communities, to access better mental health and alcohol and drug services.

This is an important step in helping offenders on to a better path - which is critical to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all New Zealanders. We can’t expect to reduce reoffending and see fewer victims of crime if we don’t deal with the issues that landed people in prison or on a community sentence in the first place.

If we support people struggling with mental health or addiction issues, we make it easier for them to engage in education, employment and rehabilitation activities, and develop positive relationships with whānau and support networks. This means they can get their lives back on track. Read more about this investment here.


We welcomed a new airport to support economic growth in Northland and celebrated a new cultural centre in Whangārei

Friday marked the official opening of the new Bay of Islands Airport terminal, giving the North a fit-for-purpose gateway for the region. The development of the airport is crucial to supporting economic growth. From 2014 to 2018 annual passenger numbers at the airport have increased by nearly 80 per cent, in both tourism and business traffic. 

Saturday marked the completed on the first stage of the Hihiaua Cultural Centre in Whangārei - just in time for Matāriki celebrations!

Both projects received early investment from the Provincial Growth Fund. The Coalition Government is backing New Zealand’s regions to grow, and the projects we have prioritised are coming to fruition – bolstering regional economies. Read more here.


We announced a new debt mediation scheme to help farmers

Farming is critical to New Zealand's economy - but farmers are especially vulnerable to business downturns outside of their control, such as weather, market prices or diseases like Mycoplasma bovis. 

This week, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor announced a new debt mediation scheme to help farmers in financial distress with their lenders. It will require lenders to offer farmers who default on payments mediation before taking any enforcement action.

Farms are more than a business - they're a family home too, and often have been for generations. This mediation scheme will put more balance, process and fairness back into a situation where a farmer may find themselves in a difficult position with the bank. It will also help our rural communities, as the failure of one farm can have a ripple effect through these communities and the regional economy.


We celebrated a record increase of gender balance and diversity in our leadership 

We're committed to having more women in leadership roles - because more diverse leadership results in better decision-making, better organisational resilience, and better performance. It also opens up more opportunities for women to succeed, and contributes to a more inclusive and fairer society.

This week, the Gender Stocktake of State Sector Board and Committees showed that our Government has increased women on boards by 45.7% over the past year - to a record level of 47.4%. This is significant progress towards our target of 50% of women on state sector boards and committees by 2021.