Notice of draft Comprehensive Environmental Evaluations under the Antarctica (Environmental Protection) Act 1994

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Notice of draft Comprehensive Environmental Evaluations under the Antarctica (Environmental Protection) Act 1994

China and the United Kingdom have each published a draft Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation (CEE) for construction activity in Antarctica. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) is seeking public comment on the CEEs as follows:

China is proposing the construction of a new research station on Inexpressible Island, Terra Nova Bay.  The CEE is available online on the MFAT Environment webpage or the Chinese National Arctic Research Expedition (external link).  

The United Kingdom is proposing reconstruction of Rothera Wharf and Coastal Stabilisation. The CEE is available online on the MFAT Environment webpage or the British Antarctic Survey webpage (external link).

Comments on both CEEs may be sent until 7 May 2018. Please email comments to env@mfat.govt.nz or post to: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Private Bag 18-901, Wellington.


A stronger voice for teachers once step closer

Source: New Zealand Government

Headline: A stronger voice for teachers once step closer

The new Government’s Bill to raise the status of the teaching profession and restore teachers’ trust and confidence in it, passed its first reading in Parliament last night, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.  
 
The Education (Teaching Council of Aotearoa) Amendment Bill will give teachers back the right to elect representatives to their own professional body.
 
The House voted 63 for: 46 Labour, 9 NZ First, 8 Greens; and 56 against: 56 National. Act did not vote.
 
The Bill increases the number of council members from nine to 13 – with seven registered teachers and principals to be directly elected by their peers and six members appointed by the Minister of Education, and includes ‘teaching’ in the name of the organisation.
 
“I am delighted for teachers that Parliament has moved another step closer to giving the profession back the right to determine how they are led, in a similar way to doctors, lawyers, nurses and countless other professions. It is long overdue,” Mr Hipkins said.
 
“While this was a good day for teaching it is sad that National couldn’t bring itself to support the notion that teachers deserve a greater say in how the profession is led and should not be shut out.
 
“It’s no wonder we have inherited low morale among teachers and the profession is struggling to attract new blood. I am determined to change that.”  
 
“I invite teachers, principals and other members of the profession to write to the Education and Workforce select committee over the next few weeks to show their support and to recommend any refinements.”
 
Contact: Richard Trow 021 278 7233 and richard.trow@parliament.govt.nz
 

Bug buster extraordinaire

Source: University of Waikato – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Bug buster extraordinaire

Tracking down a bug lurking in the depths of one of the world’s most popular mobile operating systems has propelled a University of Waikato researcher into Google’s Hall of Fame.

PhD student Joshua Scarsbrook from Cyber Security Researchers of Waikato (CROW) was checking out information a Google employee had released on the open source code, when he found a particular file which contained passwords for accessing internal systems. The keys could in theory allow access to private areas of the Android system – and potentially, access to trade secrets. IF they got into the wrong hands.

Joshua says he is constantly on the lookout for things that might be out of place. “Often I’ve come across information that I suspect should not be public, but this was the first time the information posed enough of a threat to Google that it officially designated what I found as a security risk.”

He is one of only a handful of New Zealanders who have made it to the Hall of Fame, which recognizes individuals who have helped improve security and make internet giant Google’s products safer. The company says there are over 2 billion active Android devices world-wide, so that is no mean feat.

Joshua’s security flaw has now been repaired, and he’s back to hunting bugs, his PhD, and exterminating more threats to communications in the world of cyber security.

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New Zealand and India building stronger horticultural relationships

Source: Plant and Food New Zealand – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: New Zealand and India building stronger horticultural relationships

2 February 2018

A new partnership has been announced between New Zealand and the State of Himachal Pradesh under the Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Development Project which targets smallholder farmers in northern India. 

The Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Development project aims to be the start of a much broader relationship with New Zealand horticulture.

The New Zealand team, working on the project, includes scientists from Plant & Food Research, Agfirst Engineering, Fruition Horticulture and other New Zealand-based specialists with additional support from the New Zealand pipfruit industry body, New Zealand Apples & Pears and New Zealand Government agencies.

The World Bank-funded three-year project will work with the horticulture industry in the Himachal Pradesh province to improve production of the region’s key fruit crops, including apples, summerfruit, and tropical fruits such as mango. 

Located in the north-western Himalayan region of India, about 90% of the HP population lives in rural areas and is dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Apples are the main crop, accounting for 85% of fruit production in the area and about 30% of India’s total apple production.

New Zealand Apples & Pears chief executive Alan Pollard said the industry is pleased to be contributing to these important goals of creating more jobs and better livelihoods for the people of Himachal Pradesh.

“New Zealand’s apple and pear industry has the highest productivity in the world, averaging 65 metric tonnes per hectare per annum which is more than 50% higher than our nearest competitor. 

“World best production and post-harvest systems and practices have earned the industry an international reputation for producing fruit of the highest quality.

“This project will provide growers in the Himachal Pradesh province of India with access to New Zealand expertise to help improve the productivity of their orchards in terms of both yield and quality, and subsequently generate better returns for their growers,” Mr Pollard said.

Plant & Food Research chief executive Peter Landon-Lane said Plant & Food Research is pleased to be involved in the Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Development Project. 

“Our scientists have been working with the apple industry for more than 50 years and our research has contributed to the excellent reputation of New Zealand produce globally. To be able to share this knowledge to support communities in developing regions is very rewarding. 

“It also allows our scientists to extend their understanding of how crops grow in different geographic regions and environments, and supports the relationship between New Zealand and India, and their respective apple industries,” he said. 

New Zealand’s entire horticultural sector is globally renowned for being innovative, sophisticated, and highly productive, backed by sound science and world best practices. 

The New Zealand apple industry, while producing only 0.5% of the world’s apples, has been named the world’s most competitive apple industry for the past three years (Belrose Group, World Apple Review). From annual production of approximately 550,000 tonnes, two thirds of the crop is exported to over 80 countries around the world. 

The new project will use New Zealand expertise to develop orchard management techniques, irrigation and water harvesting that will improve production and quality of fruit crops grown in the Himachal Pradesh province. It will also lower pesticide use through improved pest and disease management, thereby contributing to environmental outcomes as well. 

Photo caption: Members of the New Zealand team who have been working together on the Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Development Project, (from left) G2G Know-How managing director Malcolm Millar, New Zealand Apples & Pears chief executive Alan Pollard and Plant & Food Research Business Development Manager (Commercial Group) Greg Pringle.

Contact:
Emma Timewell
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
EMail: media@plantandfood.co.nz
Telephone: +64-9-925 8692
Mobile: +64-21-2429 365

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New Zealand’s wetlands at risk

Source: New Zealand Government

Headline: New Zealand’s wetlands at risk

A new report shows New Zealand is continuing to lose its precious wetlands and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says it will take years to turn the trend around.
 The Minister released the eighth national report under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance to mark World Wetlands Day today.
 “It will take a concerted and serious effort and years to change this trend. Our wetlands are the land’s kidneys capturing sediments and nutrients and slowly releasing water in drought prone areas. They are home to precious wildlife and plants and are wonderful places for people to experience nature,” Ms Sage said.
 “In New Zealand, we have lost 90% of our natural wetlands.  Large areas of Canterbury, Manawatu, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty historically had extensive freshwater wetlands. In Southland more than 1000 ha of wetland has been lost since 2007.”.
 “We must protect the last 10%.”                       
 Wetlands support a diverse range of ecosystems and species, including Kahikatea swamp forest, mangroves, migratory shorebirds, tuna/eel and whitebait, coastal lagoons, alpine tarns. 
 Rare and threatened species that rely on New Zealand’s remaining wetlands include the Australasian Bittern/matuku, Canterbury mudfish (our most threatened mudfish species) and Corybas carsei (Swamp helmet orchid) – which now has only one population remaining, at the Whangamarino Wetlands near Te Kauwhata in northern Waikato.
 “There are instances of great wetlands management and restoration activities carried out by the Department of Conservation, local authorities, community and non-governmental groups, iwi, Fish & Game, private landowners, and commercial partners. 
 “But we need to do much more. I want to see more Ramsar sites, and DOC is investigating options. There needs to be more replanting of wetlands and better use of the Resource Management Act to ensure they are considered when intensive developments and agricultural expansions are being considered.
 “These unique areas are too important for New Zealand’s native wildlife and plants to lose. The Government will do more and continue to support for communities working hard to achieve long-term wetland conservation,” says Ms Sage.
New Zealand’s eighth national report under the Ramsar Convention: http://www.doc.govt.nz/report-on-the-implementation-of-the-ramsar-convention/
Background
 World Wetlands Day occurs on February 2nd. It celebrates the establishment of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an international environmental agreement to recognise wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites) and encourage the wise management of all wetlands.
The Ramsar Convention which was established in 1971 includes 169 countries. In total there are 2,293 Ramsar sites. www.ramsar.org
The NZ Government became a signatory to the Convention in 1976, and currently has six Ramsar sites, these are:
   Firth of Thames
   Whangamarino wetland
   Kopuatai
   Manawatu estuary
   Farewell Spit
   Awarua-Waituna
DOC has freshwater programmes such as Arawai Kakariki funding wetland management research at its Ramsar sites and is currently investigating the potential for future Ramsar wetlands: http://www.doc.govt.nz/our-work/arawai-kakariki-wetland-restoration/
 
*A report published by Environment Southland (2016) confirmed that over 1200 ha of wetlands were lost between 2007 and 2015 in southland, equivalent to a 10% loss in the Southland study area since 2007.  The National Report also reports several key findings on the condition of fresh water and coastal habitats and ecosystems in New Zealand as set out in the Our fresh water 2017 and Our marine environment 2016 reports (released under the New Zealand Environmental Reporting Act 2015).
 

Government’s sugar tax report bad news for nanny staters

Source: Taxpayers Union – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Government’s sugar tax report bad news for nanny staters

Government’s sugar tax report bad news for nanny staters

2 FEBRUARY 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union says a Government-commissioned NZIER report on sugar taxes debunks popular justification for sugar taxes.
 
The report, which was only released to the NZ Initiative’s Eric Crampton after a prompt from the Ombudsman, slams the effectiveness of sugar taxes and reveals major flaws in the studies promoted by the nanny state lobby.
 
The report’s conclusions:
– The impact of sugar taxes on sugary drink consumption is overstated.
– Existing studies do not properly address the issue of people switching to other sources of sugar or calories.
– No studies of real-life examples can demonstrate improvements to actual health outcomes.
 
Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says, “The report concludes by reminding the Government that taxes inflict real financial harm. If politicians are to wilfully make people poorer, they need bloody good evidence to justify it. In the case of sugar taxes, this expert report makes clear that the evidence does not exist.”
 
“Public health activists would have you believe that opposition to sugar tax is driven by big business and ideology. In truth, it’s the pro-tax lobby that ignores evidence in favour of pursuing a tired, authoritarian agenda.”
 
“The fact the Ombudsman had to prod the Ministry of Health into releasing this report is a real concern. The role of the public service is to provide expert advice, not to hide reports like this when it doesn’t fit a pro-tax agenda.”

ENDS
 
ENQUIRIES:
Louis Houlbrooke
021 950 191
 
NOTES TO EDITORS:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is an independent and membership-driven activist group, dedicated to being the voice for Kiwi taxpayers in the corridors of power.

The Taxpayers’ Union operates a 24 hour media line for comment on taxpayer issues. Representatives are available on (04) 282 0302.

High resolution images and logos are available on request or online at http://www.taxpayers.org.nz/resources

UK supermarket chain ‘vicariously liable’ for data leak

Source: New Zealand Privacy Commissioner – Blog – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: UK supermarket chain ‘vicariously liable’ for data leak

Ever wondered what would happen if your employee goes rogue and leaks confidential information? In a recent landmark decision, the High Court in Britain considered just that.

In 2014, Andrew Skelton, an internal auditor at the supermarket chain, Morrisons, published a file containing the personal information of nearly 100,000 fellow employees in an attempt to embarrass the company he worked for. He was found guilty of fraud, securing unauthorised access to computer material and disclosing personal information. The supermarket chain was awarded £170,000 in compensation as a result of the data breach and Mr Skelton was jailed for eight years.

Subsequently, over 5,000 current and former Morrisons employees brought a claim that the data leak had exposed them to potential identity theft and other financial loss. They sought compensation for the distress and loss caused. Morrisons denied liability, arguing that the company was not liable either directly or indirectly for Mr Skelton’s criminal misuse of the data and that it had already suffered serious damage as it incurred £2 million costs as a result of the data breach.

But in a controversial decision, the British High Court found that while Morrisons was not liable for breaching data protection laws, it was vicariously liable for the actions of its employee.

Rogue employee

Mr Skelton had been upset by disciplinary procedures he had been subject to for using the the company’s mail room to sell items on eBay. He decided to take revenge by publishing Morrisons’ pay roll data. He did this by publishing the information on a file sharing website and sending the link to three newspapers.

In hearing the claim by Morrisons’ employees, the judge cleared the company of primary liability, ruling it had not breached data protection principles. He said: “Morrisons have not been proved to be at fault by breaking any of the data protection principles [of Britain’s Data Protection Act 1998], and neither primary liability for misuse of private information nor breach of confidentiality can be established.”

But the judge said Morrisons was vicariously liable for Mr Skelton’s actions under the extended concept of acting in the course of employment. Vicarious liability means an employer can be liable for the acts or omissions of its employees, provided it can be shown that they took place in the course of their employment.

New Zealand context

This situation might have unfolded differently if it had occurred in New Zealand. Section 126(4) of the Privacy Act protects employers against an employee’s unauthorised release of information, if the employer can prove they have taken reasonable steps to prevent employees from leaking information.

Information privacy principle 5 of the Act might be the new best friend of employers. Principle 5 protects employers who have taken reasonable steps to prevent unauthorised disclosure of personal information.

Possibility of appeal

It is interesting to note that the British privacy legislation has a similar defence to section 126(4) – section 13(3). Morrisons raised section 13(3) as a defence to Mr Skelton’s actions but the Court did not address this argument. Time will tell whether Morrisons will appeal the decision and use this defence again.

The Court concluded its decision by allowing Morrisons to appeal the finding of vicarious liability. We’ll note the outcome of that appeal, as it becomes available.

The implications for British employers for the time being are that they will need to revise their security measures concerning employee and customer information to protect more carefully against the rogue employee.

Image credit: Supermarket via Wikimedia Commons

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Love talking to people? Consider communication

Source: Massey University – Press Release/Statement:

Headline: Love talking to people? Consider communication


Bachelor of Communication student Indyah Tava’e conducts an interview for an assignment.


Second-year Bachelor of Communication student Indyah Tava’e says she loves people and hearing the stories they have to tell. For the Future Leaders Scholarship recipient, a communication degree has been the perfect fit and she can’t wait to put everything she is learning into practice. She explains why.

What advice would you offer those considering a communication degree?

Do it! Communication is basically how this world turns. This degree allows you to understand how much more there is to communication than you ever imagined. Come into it with an open mind and you’ll find yourself understanding more about yourself and the world around you.

What drew you to the Bachelor of Communication?

My love for people – I love hearing people’s life stories! Being able to see different perspectives through conversation is amazing. I really want to further my understanding of communication between people. That was a big part of my decision and why this degree has been a perfect fit.

Why Massey?

I thought Massey offered more opportunities than anywhere else. Within the classes, they definitely give you a taste of what the real world is like through practical excercises.

I applied for, and received, a Massey Business School Future Leaders Scholarship, and being part of the Business Future Leaders Programme has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at university.

What are the key skills you’ve gained so far?

I’ve learnt so much, but a key thing is critical thinking. Allowing others to criticise your work and vice versa can be scary, but it’s a crucial skill to have in any field of work. I’ve found that healthy, constructive criticism really helps you grow as a person.

What’s your dream job at this point?

A Bachelor of Communication opens up so many options and I know I’ll go through a lot of career changes in the future. That’s why I’m not really worried about the actual job I’ll have when I finish this degree – I just want something that makes me happy. I want to learn new things, gain real-life experience and take the opportunities as they come, which I’m sure they will.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Communication

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Our staff working hard

Source: New Zealand Police –

Headline: Our staff working hard

Mike Bush, Police Commissioner

Kia Ora

There’s a large number of staff who are working hard through this horrendous weather we’re experiencing. I’ve seen many photos and videos on social media and on news sites of staff out there in the thick of it helping their communities stay safe.

The public look to us for direction and support during times like this. Our purpose Be Safe Feel Safe applies to natural disasters as much as it does to crime and a photo I saw yesterday of three Police carrying an elderly gentleman through flood waters perfectly illustrates our role working alongside our emergency service partners in civil defence emergencies.

You’re all doing a great job, stay safe and keep it up!

Stopping the harm from drugs

This week Police sent a clear message to those who attempt to introduce drugs into our communities that it will not be tolerated. We released figures showing Police and Customs NZ seized a combined 403.5kg of methamphetamine and 108.1kg of cocaine in 2017

This amount of drugs in our communities would have had a devastating impact had they reached their intended users.

We know drug use and dealing increases crimes and victimisations, especially burglaries, theft and vehicle crime as users attempt to fund their habit. This criminal behaviour will not be tolerated. Police will continue to focus on those who are trying to make profits at the expense of people in our communities.

Waikato-Tainui iwi panel launch

This week I attended the launch of the Waikato-Tainui iwi panel. Iwi Panels are hugely important to Police and to our goals of reducing reoffending by Māori and reducing serious crime victimisations.

Instead of travelling a well-worn path to court then on to more serious offending and ultimately prison; panel participants are instead provided with access to health, social and budgeting services, access to driver licence training and even employment opportunities in an effort to provide skills and support in assisting them to become productive members of society.

The most common offending that comes in front of a Panel is low-level offending which is often a result of a number of underlying problems that are yet to be resolved for that person.

The value of the Panel is the ability for Iwi, Māori and the community to identify real meaningful solutions based within a whänau ora approach.

I’ve heard Panel participants say coming in front of a Panel can be harder than facing a Judge in a court room, because you have to face your own people and connecting through whakapapa increases the responsibility that we have to each other.

I look forward to seeing the progress this Panel makes and I wish them every success.  

Until next time, stay safe and keep up the awesome work.

Mike Bush NZMN

Police Commissioner


Subscribe to the Commissioner’s blog.

Police searching for wanted Auckland man Travis Lavakula

Source: New Zealand Police –

Headline: Police searching for wanted Auckland man Travis Lavakula

Friday, 2 February 2018 – 10:27am

Otahuhu Police are actively looking for 20-year-old Travis Lavakula who has multiple warrants for arrest in relation to kidnapping, sexual and physical assaults.

Lavakula is from Mangere East and may be in the greater South Auckland area.

He is described as being fair skinned, 174 centimetres tall and has the tattoo “SOUTH” on his right forearm.

Lavakula is considered dangerous and should not be approached if spotted by members of the public.

If you see him, please call 111 immediately.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact Manukau Crime Squad on 09 261 1321.

You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

Nick Baker/NZ Police