It's a time to look back on the year we've had – our achievements, our challenges, and our triumphs. This year, the first year of our Coalition Government, has been a truly special one.
At our first Cabinet meeting we began establishing the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction – a major step to real progress for mental health in this country.
We put forward a Child Poverty Reduction Bill – to give us the ability to set targets and measures to reduce child poverty and to reach our goal of making New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child.
Waitangi Day is a special day for our country, and we were lucky to spend a whole five days up north to be part of the Waitangi commemorations.
Later in the month, our Government launched the Provincial Growth Fund, rolling out major investment around the country.
The Pacific Mission was a great opportunity to keep building on our relationship with our Pacific neighbours – and we definitely made the most of our time there – visiting Samoa, Niue, Tonga, and the Cook Islands.
March was a huge month for housing – we launched the first major KiwiBuild project, right in our PM’s Mt Albert electorate.
Jacinda also got to experience her first Premier House Easter Egg Hunt – a long held tradition!
At the start of April we revealed a transport plan that prioritised road safety, public transport, and investing in neglected roads.
We also took a huge step for our environment, ending any new bids on offshore oil and gas exploration.
The Prime Minister headed overseas to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, meeting other world leaders and promoting New Zealand’s stance on important issues such as trade and climate change.
May saw us heading into winter – and we still had too many people living and sleeping rough. We launched an emergency push for temporary housing.
May also meant Budget Day – a big day in politics – so it was very important that our PM and Finance Minister stayed well-fed with some delicious cheese rolls. Our Government's first Budget delivered a major boost for the public services everyone needs - health, education, and housing.
In June, the Deputy Prime Minister did a fantastic job while our Prime Minister was on maternity leave. We kept tracking on KiwiBuild, and started work on Fair Pay Agreements.
From 1 July, we rolled out of our Families Package. We were delighted to see our hard work make a real difference in the lives of 384,000 families.
August meant the launch of the Mana in Mahi – Strength in Work programme, which is all about getting young people into training while supporting their employers.
Another major announcement stemmed from the hundreds and hundreds of letters our Prime Minister received from kids around the country, upset about the amount of plastic in our oceans. We decided to phase out single-use plastic bags – for our environment, for our marine life, and for our future generations.
We also announced much-needed rebuilds to classrooms and school facilities, and long-overdue upgrades to the neglected hospitals.
September was the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage – which saw celebrations up and down the country.
Jacinda attended the United Nations General Assembly, where she had the opportunity to talk about what we’re doing in our small part of the world – with a real focus on climate change.
At the start of October, we announced a Research & Development tax incentive to help boost innovation. We also hosted a Child Wellbeing picnic, and had a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Most exciting of all, however, was the official launch of our first KiwiBuild homes. We welcomed a group of 18 Kiwi families into their new homes at the McLennan development in Papakura.
We held November's annual Labour Party Conference in Dunedin, where Jacinda Ardern gave her first speech as Labour Leader. We also had rousing speeches from Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis, and Grant Robertson, who gave us a hint of what to expect from next year's Wellbeing Budget.
At the conference, we also announced 600 learning support coordinators to help with children with special learning needs. These coordinators will also help ease teachers' workload, and provide parents with a single point of contact at their school.
December saw us ban the unfair practice of letting fees on rental properties. It's all part of our plan to make life better for renters and make sure the relationships between landlords and tenants are fair and balanced.
We also had the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update released by Treasury, which showed that our economy is going strong, with a healthy surplus, low unemployment, and strong GDP growth. Alongside this update, our Finance Minister released the Budget Policy Statement, which outlined our five core priorities for the Wellbeing Budget in 2019.
Wrapping up the year on some good news, the Prime Minister's Child Poverty Bill passed its final reading, in the House's final sitting week.
Finally, we announced we are raising the minimum wage to $17.70 in April next year - a $1.20 increase! It will help thousands of families make ends meet.