Widening Access to Contraceptives Welcomed

Source: New Zealand Government

Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter welcomes PHARMAC’s move to improve access to long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs).

PHARMAC has today announced it will fund the full cost of Mirena and Jaydess for anyone seeking long term contraception, lifting previous restrictions on access to Mirena.

“I welcome women having greater choices over their bodies and contraceptives,” says Julie Anne Genter.

“I know, from talking to women and organisations like Family Planning, that price is a significant barrier to accessing contraception.

“Budget19 allocated $6million per year for LARCs and includes funding for insertion and removal of other contraceptive options such as Mirena and Jaydess.

“The Government has already moved to ensure women who have a Community Service Card, those living in low income areas, or in high need, will have better access to free or very low cost contraception, including LARCs.

“LARCs are both reliable and becoming increasingly popular as more people discover the benefits they offer.

“Mirena can also be used for the management of some conditions including endometriosis. Improving access to effective long-acting implants makes it much easier for women to manage their fertility and reduce unintended pregnancies,” says Julie Anne Genter.

Major upgrade for Taranaki Base Hospital

Source: New Zealand Government

The Government has approved the next stage of a major redevelopment of Taranaki Base Hospital, which will deliver new and improved facilities for patients.

Health Minister Dr David Clark has announced details of a $300 million dollar project to build a new East Wing at the New Plymouth hospital. It will be funded out of the $1.7 billion set aside in Budget 2019 for upgrading our hospitals and health facilities.

The project will create new critical and acute care facilities, including:
•    A new Emergency Department (twice as large as the current ED) and Intensive Care Unit
•    A rooftop helipad which will mean faster, safer patient transfers
•    Purpose built maternity facilities and delivery suite, a new postnatal ward and neonatal unit
•    Upgraded laboratory and radiology services
•    A dedicated tupapaku facility (morgue)

“Taranaki Base Hospital serves a population of 120,000 and last year its Emergency Department treated 33,600 – with tens-of-thousands more receiving inpatient, outpatient and other services. They deserve modern, fit for purposes facilities that support high quality services,” David Clark said.

“This Government is serious about the long-term challenge of rebuilding our neglected hospitals. In our first two Budgets we have invested twice as much into upgrading hospitals and health facilities as the previous Government managed in nine years.

“This much needed work at Taranaki Base Hospital will address the poor condition and seismic issues with the buildings that currently house the remainder of acute clinical services. 

“It will improve the resilience of the hospital so it can provide emergency clinical care after a major disaster. 

“The building will also target a 5-star Greenstar certification, reducing the energy, water and carbon footprint of the hospital.

“Most importantly, these upgraded facilities will improve how acute clinical services are delivered, ensuring high quality care and better health outcomes for the community. 

“I’m particular pleased that the new maternity ward will house a primary birthing unit, delivery suite, antenatal clinic and assessment unit – and that a postnatal ward will be collocated with the neonatal unit. That will be great news for new mothers and their babies. 

“The new, much larger Emergency Department will also mean there’s more capacity to manage acute demand. A new acute assessment unit will also help ensure people get the appropriate treatment and reduce hospital admissions.

“Final approval of this project is subject to the detailed business case. Work towards this next stage is already well advanced. Clinicians, user groups and local iwi will continue to be consulted to ensure we get the best outcomes for staff and patients.

“Today’s announcement means the people of Taranaki can be confident their hospital will continue to deliver the care they need into the future. 

“But there is much more to be done to improve hospital facilities around the country and I expect to make further investment announcements in coming days and weeks,” David Clark said.

Construction of the new East Wing at Taranaki Base Hospital is expected to begin by the end of 2020 (or early 2021) and it is expected to open in late 2023. Stage One of the hospital’s redevelopment, the $80 million Acute Services Building, was opened in July 2014.

NOTE: Today’s announcement is the latest in a growing list of investments this Government has made in our hospitals and other health facilities. Since Budget 2018 funding has been confirmed for projects up and down New Zealand including:
•    $275m for Auckland DHB to address significant infrastructure challenges at Auckland City Hospital and Greenlane Clinical Centre 
•    $200m (plus $42.1m from the DHB) for a new elective surgery unit at North Shore Hospital 
•    $80m for four projects at Counties Manukau DHB including recladding of the Kidz First Building and establishing a radiology hub at the Manukau SuperClinic
•    $79m for new specialist mental health facilities at Canterbury DHB’s Hillmorton campus
•    $45.6m for the new Wellington Children’s Hospital
•    $30m for a new integrated stroke unit at Auckland DHB
•    $24m for new endoscopy and cardiac care capacity at Northland DHB’s Whangarei Hospital 
•    $20m for new Buller Hospital Integrated Family Unit
•    $8.4m for Individualised Service Units at Capital and Coast DHB for our most high needs intellectual disability and mental health patients 
•    $7.1m for the Phase 2 redevelopment at Bay of Islands Hospital
•    $15-20m for new in-patient mental health and addiction unit at Hauora Tairāwhiti Gisborne Hospital

In addition, good progress is being made on the Dunedin Hospital rebuild project and Budget 2019 included a ring-fenced contingency to fund the work. 

Extra support for rural families

Source: New Zealand Government

Extra funding will allow Rural Support Trusts to help farming families, says Minister for Rural Communities and Agriculture Damien O’Connor.

“I know that rural families are worried about some of the challenges facing them, including the ongoing uncertainty created by the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

“Those concerns sit alongside ongoing worries about bank debt and how best to meet the challenges of improving our waterways and meet New Zealand’s climate change commitments. 

“To that end, I’ve spoken to the Rural Support Trusts and, alongside our Mycoplasma bovis Programme partners, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ, we’ve set aside an extra $250,000 to help with their work talking to farmers on the ground.

“The trust will develop a plan for using the money, in addition to the other farmer support mechanisms provided by the M.bovis programme, and the DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand Compensation Assistance Teams (DBCAT).

“The Rural Support Trusts do a fantastic job and are well placed to deliver additional help. They’re experienced and practical people who can coach farmers through difficult times.’’

Mr O’Connor says the new funding is on top of previous increases by the Government.

“The Government has already boosted funding for the Rural Support Trusts from $386,500 a year to $626,000 for their daily work. Outside of that, the trust is budgeted to receive more than $1m in the next year for M.bovis related work.

“I met this week with all the major banks and Rural Support Trusts. I asked that financial institutions make sure they are working alongside Rural Support Trusts and others to help farmers where required.

“I’m extremely proud of the ongoing high performance of our primary sector. We’re getting record prices for our food and fibre. 

“In the Budget we set aside $229 million to spend on things like boosting advisory and extension services.

“A Farm Debt Mediation scheme will be a safety net for farmers and improvements to NAIT will help prevent some of the tracing issues we’ve experienced with M.bovis. Soon we will release an industry-backed plan to ensure the sector gets the skilled workers it needs.

“The Budget had $1.9 billion for mental health to improve frontline services, rural communities included.”

Finance Minister to attend APEC meetings

Source: New Zealand Government

Finance Minister Grant Robertson leaves this weekend to attend the APEC Finance Ministers meeting in Santiago, Chile.

Discussions between APEC Finance Ministers at the meeting will include the effects of the current global economic uncertainty, risks for APEC economies and sustainable development of the region.

While at APEC Grant Robertson will also hold bilateral meetings with the OECD Secretary General, the Chilean Finance Minister and other APEC Finance Ministers and officials.

“These meetings provide a useful forum for discussions at a crucial time in the global economic cycle. 

“They are also an opportunity to assess and discuss how our trading partners are working towards sustainable, productive and inclusive growth,” Grant Robertson says.

Howard Leaque Beekeeper programme graduation

Source: New Zealand Government

Thank you for the opportunity to be here to present certificates to the 16 graduates who have completed a beekeeping course delivered by the Howard League.

 Let us start by acknowledging Auckland Prison’s Deputy Prison Director Tom Sherlock, and Acting Assistant Regional Commissioner of Corrections Northern Region Scott Walker – thank you for supporting this programme and for your commitment to helping people turn their lives around.

 We must also acknowledge Howard League President Tony Gibbs, CEO Mike Williams, and volunteers John Sinclair, Adrian Tullock, Elizabeth Street, Andrew Barclay, and Peter Sidgley – thank you for the important work you do to educate and rehabilitate offenders.

Thank you in particular to volunteer Brian Alexander, who cannot be here today.

 Brian has retired from a 40 year career as a commercial beekeeper, and now shares his knowledge through delivering the beekeeping programme both here at Auckland Prison and at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility.

And of course, congratulations to the graduates receiving certificates for completing their beekeeping courses today.

As the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of New Zealand First let me commend the intent by programmes such as this.

All forms of education and rehabilitation are steps in the right direction. Programmes like this are a catalyst for change, and change for the better.

We know that gaining a qualification or having work experience gives people a much better chance of finding a job, and staying on the right track once they leave prison.

This education and training is key to reducing reoffending and keeping our communities safe.

By gaining these qualifications, you have given yourselves a significant opportunity to not only start a career but also support yourselves and those you care about in the long-run.  

Not everyone is willing to put their hand up to learn, but you did.

You persevered with practical classes and written assignments, and have mastered new skills like opening hives, monitoring bee activity, and checking hive health.

These skills are substantial achievements and you should be extremely proud of yourselves.

 My challenge to you now is to keep learning, and to put what you learn to good use both now and when you get out.

 Once again, thank you to everyone here today.

 As well as acknowledging the effort of those of you who have graduated, it is important to acknowledge the efforts of the Howard League.

 It is one of the reasons why you see me here today because it is important to respect those who are dedicated to help you. 

 Not only do you have a chance to live better lives, but the benefits to all citizens and taxpayers are tangible.

 So on that final note, let me congratulate you all for taking the practical steps towards making a difference. Well done.


Pacific languages are a source of strength, they ground us and build confidence

Source: New Zealand Government

The Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says for Pacific people, language can be a source of strength. It can help ground us and give us confidence. When we speak them, our languages provide us with an immediate and intimate access to our identity and our story – and from this comes a clear sense of belonging. That’s what the theme for Niue Language Week says to me.

The theme for this year’s Niue Language Week is Tokiofa, Ofania, Mokoina e Vagahau Niue, or, in English, Treasure, Love and Cherish the Niue Language.

Niue Language Week starts on Sunday, and will provide us all with an opportunity to connect with the history community, and culture of this beautiful island nation.

“Most of the people who can trace all, or part, of their ancestry back to Niue now live here in Aotearoa New Zealand. We should remember that when they, or their ancestors, left Niue to come to Aotearoa, they brought their language and the stories it holds with them,” says Aupito William Sio.

“From Sunday we have a chance to pay tribute to these people and those who have continued to ensure this beautiful language has a home here Aotearoa.

Niue Language Week is the sixth of seven Pacific language weeks that will take place in 2019 and will run from Sunday 13 October to Saturday 19 October. 

“We use the word Pacific to identify ourselves, as one peoples of the vast Blue Pacific Continent from many different nations that span thousands and thousands of miles.

When we do this, we can often forget the huge diversity in language, culture and custom that exists across the Pacific. We are lucky that in Aotearoa New Zealand we can find much of this diversity in our communities, our homes and our workplaces.

“Learning more about the many languages spoken here is something we can all do. It would enable us to talk about our shared history in ways that have greater meaning and significance, connecting us all and our various identities to places and peoples and events.

“Aotearoa is a Pacific nation, not just geographically, but culturally and historically too. And with a rapidly growing young Pacific population, our future is going to be shaped more and more by the Pacific. Like any small language, Niue has always sought new ways to be heard. This week we have a chance to open these opportunities so a broader audience can hear this wonderful language and see the huge contribution Niue can play in shaping the future of Aotearoa,” says Aupito William Sio.


Further Information:

Niue Language Week will be officially launched by Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio on Saturday 12 October at 6pm, held at the Fale Pasifika, University of Auckland.    

Further information about Niue Language Week including resources can be found here.

Major boost to support disabled people in sport and recreation

Source: New Zealand Government

The Coalition Government has announced an action plan to improve the wellbeing of disabled New Zealanders by addressing inequalities in play, active recreation and sport.

The initiative includes training to develop a workforce that understands the needs of children and young people with a range of impairments, advocacy for fit for purpose and accessible playgrounds and parks, and a more inclusive approach to strategy, policy and communication within Sport NZ and partner organisations, and a new role at Sport NZ to lead delivery of the plan.

“More needs to be done to improve the range and quality of physical activity on offer for disabled people and that’s why as part of this plan, the Government will invest a further $7 million over four years through Sport NZ,” Grant Robertson says.

“These funds will go a long way towards establishing equity and ensuring disabled people across Aotearoa New Zealand can be just as active as non-disabled people.”

1.1 million people in New Zealand identify as being disabled with just over half of these having more than one type of impairment. Sport NZ’s Active NZ data shows that disabled young people are less likely to participate in a range of sports and activities, particularly play related activities such as using playgrounds and scootering.

Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni says having an inclusive society not only benefits those who live with a disability, but also Aotearoa New Zealand as a whole.

“The Government is committed to building a truly inclusive society and supporting disabled people to live their lives to their fullest potential. The plan led by Sport NZ and associated investments are further steps in making this a reality for disabled people in the important space of sport, active recreation and play.”

This initiative forms part of a wider cross-government agency plan to be launched later in 2019. 

More prefab homes to be built as red tape cut

Source: New Zealand Government

The construction sector is being freed up to allow more homes to be built more quickly as the Government cuts through some of the red tape of the Building Act. 

“Every New Zealander deserves a warm, dry, safe home and old inefficiencies in the Building Act make building slow and expensive – as builders well know,” Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa said. 

“We are making progress in tackling the long-term challenge of housing including making high-quality, large-scale manufacturing of prefab houses a reality.

 For manufacturers who prove their systems and processes are compliant, there will be a new streamlined nationwide consenting process for prefab buildings that will:

  • enable the mass factory production of high quality buildings
  • slash the likely number of building inspections for factory produced buildings in half
  • ensure only the location where a prefab house is installed requires a building consent, removing the possible need for two separate consents

 “Prefabrication and off-site manufacturing are the future of construction as they help produce high-quality buildings more quickly than traditional building approaches.

 “In some countries, nearly 80 per cent of newly built homes are prefabricated offsite, in New Zealand it’s about 10 per cent.

 “I will be introducing a Bill to the House early next year to ensure this process is in place as soon as possible.

 As part of changes to the Building Act 2004, the Government has also decided to introduce minimum requirements for information about building products. Roles and responsibilities for manufacturers, suppliers and builders will also be made clearer, so the right person can be held to account if things go wrong.

 “Councils have told us this will help them better assess compliance with the Building Code. Delays in consenting cost a building owner around $1,000 for each week of delays.”

 “A suite of other changes have also been agreed to that will ensure the Building Act is fit for the 21st century, and are part of a wider package of reform that aims to accelerate building including reform of the Resource Management Act.”

 “The Government is also working to improve occupational regulation within the sector and to address issues of risk, insurance and liability. Announcements are expected in 2020.

 “There is plenty of work still to be done to improve our building and construction sector after a decade of neglect but the changes announced today are a step forward in ensuring we have a high quality and highly efficient building regulatory system.

 Further details about the first phase of changes to the Building Act are here:


Notes for editors 

Prefab, or prefabrication, refers to any part of a building that is made away from the final building site, whether a single component or a complete building. It is also referred to as offsite manufacturing and falls within an area of construction known as modern methods of construction.

Further details of Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visit to New Zealand

Source: New Zealand Government

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has welcomed further details on the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s visit to New Zealand next month.

Their Royal Highnesses will visit New Zealand from 17-23 November – their third joint visit to New Zealand and first in four years.

They arrive in Auckland on Sunday 17 November and will travel to the Bay of Islands including the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Christchurch and Kaikōura.

“This will be the first time in 25 years that a member of the Royal Family will visit Waitangi,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“They will also see the regeneration of Christchurch since the 2011 earthquake and how the community has rallied to support those affected by the March 15 terrorist attacks.

“The effects on the community of the 2016 earthquake will also be seen first hand at Kaikōura.

“I look forward to welcoming Their Royal Highnesses back to New Zealand and hope they see as much of our beautiful country and people as possible,” Jacinda Ardern said.

O’Connor in Thailand to push for RCEP deal

Source: New Zealand Government

Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth and Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor, heads to Thailand today to attend the final Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial meeting, as negotiations enter their final stages.

“The RCEP Agreement would anchor New Zealand in a regional agreement that covers 16 countries, almost half the world’s population and markets that take more than half our total exports. It could also provide us a free trade relationship with India, a fast-growing economy with a GDP of more than $2.6 trillion in 2018,’’ Mr O’Connor said. 

With just one month to go before leaders aim to announce conclusion of the negotiations, the meeting in Bangkok this weekend will be focused on resolving outstanding political issues.

“We consider conclusion in 2019 is achievable but only if urgency and momentum build between now and the end of the year.

“An accommodation between the big economies will be key. There is building confidence that all sixteen participants are committed to realising the value of RCEP this year.  

‘’In addition to the direct commercial benefits, a successful RCEP would have significant strategic value. At a time of considerable turbulence in international trade policy – the sharpest rise in protectionism since 1995, erosion of support for the multilateral trading system, increasing unilateralism – regional integration initiatives such as RCEP become increasingly valuable,” he said.

Minister O’Connor is travelling from 11 – 13 October.