The Prime Minister has announced with much fanfare that she is dialling back on her child poverty targets, National’s spokesperson for Children, Alfred Ngaro says.
“Jacinda Ardern has announced that she intends to reduce the number of children living in poverty by 70,000 over three years,” Mr Ngaro says.
“But in an interview she gave during the election campaign in September, Jacinda Ardern said that she was committed to lifting 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020.
“This is an extraordinary back-track from her pre-election promise.
“We don’t believe that a reduction of 70,000 children in poverty is anywhere near as ambitious as it could be given the previously-announced Families Package – which was a rebadge of National’s package – is likely to impact the lives of 64,000 kids.
“So essentially she’s saying her Government is only going to raise another 6,000 in this term of Parliament.
“During the campaign, National committed to lifting 100,000 children out of low income households by 2020 through the introduction of a second income package to build on the 50,000 children our first package would have helped.
“It should also be noted that it was the National Government that raised benefits for the first time in 40 years and the impact of that increase is yet to be seen in the numbers. Jacinda Ardern’s pet policy is wholly reliant on the economic management and evidence-driven initiatives of the National Government.
“We’re continuing to fight hard for any future legislation around reducing child poverty to have some real teeth to it.
“National has lodged three Supplementary Order Papers (SOPs) seeking to force the Government to be more ambitious with its targets, measures, and evidence.
“We supported the Prime Minister’s Bill to select committee but have always said that our ongoing support would depend on the Government agreeing to make changes that will ensure it measurably improves deprivation.
“I look forward to discussing these SOPs as they come in front of the Social Services and Community select committee and I hope the Government agrees to allow an increase in the report-back time and for the public to be able to give feedback on our proposed changes,” Mr Ngaro says.
National has today lodged three Supplementary Order Papers (SOPs) seeking to give some teeth to the proposed law to reduce child poverty, Children’s spokesperson Alfred Ngaro says.
“In its current form the Bill simply codifies the actions National was already taking to reduce child poverty. The SOPs have been designed to take the next step in that journey, and to force the Government to be more ambitious with its targets, measures, and evidence.
“We supported the Bill to select committee but have always said that our ongoing support would depend on the Government agreeing to make changes that will ensure it measurably improves deprivation.
“The first SOP asks the Minister responsible, Jacinda Ardern, to ensure there is regular reporting of outcomes around a selected number of child poverty-related indicators such as household material conditions, educational development, health and safety.
“The second SOP asks the Minister to set a target to reduce the number of children in material hardship by 100,000 in three years – just as she committed to during the election campaign. This was a target National had committed to with support from initiatives such as the Family Incomes Package last year.
“The final SOP requires all Budget initiatives or proposals with an impact on child poverty reduction to take into account the principles of the Social Investment approach. This could include subjecting any proposals to a cost benefit analysis and a Social Investment Analytical Layer (SIAL).
“This will ensure data and evidence is a cornerstone of the decision-making around investing in, and funding, initiatives to reduce child poverty, rather than just encouraging Labour’s habit of throwing money at a problem.
“In the spirit of bipartisanship, National has three times sought to discuss our concerns with the Prime Minister about the Bill, as well as our proposed solutions.
“I look forward to discussing these SOPs as they come in front of the Social Services and Community select committee and I hope the Government makes good on its commitment to remove the politics from child poverty and supports these proposals,” Mr Ngaro says.
The new Minister of Health is displaying an appalling lack of responsibility by walking away from an outbreak of mumps in Auckland during the Rugby League World Cup, and the consequent spread into the Pacific Islands, National’s Dr Shane Reti and Alfred Ngaro say.
Associate Spokesperson for Health, Dr Reti and Pacific Peoples Spokesperson Alfred Ngaro are concerned at the current outbreak that is affecting several hundred Aucklanders – especially young Pasifika people – and the likelihood Pacific Island players and officials that were here during the recent tournament may have been exposed.
When asked whether he will take responsibility for mumps caught by the Pacific Island players in Auckland during the tournament, David Clark said “individual countries are responsible for their own immunisation programmes”.
“The Minister seems to be saying he doesn’t care if visitors from the Pacific take mumps back to vulnerable people when they return home,” Dr Reti says.
“There are currently 1,600 recorded cases in Tonga. Is the Minister saying that the complications of this disease such as deafness, sterility and meningitis don’t matter in Pacific Island people?”
New Zealand will provide $1 billion in aid to the Pacific in the three years ending next June, much of it aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of people in the Pacific Islands.
Mr Ngaro says it’s unclear whether the Minister has even placed a phone call to the Tongan Ministry of Health to offer any assistance.
“I think New Zealanders would expect our Government to help prevent the spread of diseases the Pacific Islands – especially if they are driven by an outbreak in New Zealand.
“The Minister could call his Tongan counterpart, offer passenger arrivals and departures information and maybe even look at how we might help their vaccination programme.
“With a new aid triennium being planned we’re calling on the Government to place the necessary funding to support vaccination programmes for our near neighbours,” Mr Ngaro says.
“New Zealanders enjoyed the vibrancy the Tongan rugby league team brought to our shores - now let’s meet our responsibilities for keeping them safe and well.”
“The Minister stood and acknowledged the visiting Pacific Island delegation in Parliament yesterday, now he needs to stand up and acknowledge some responsibility to them for mumps caught in New Zealand,” Mr Ngaro says.
The Government must mark today’s International Volunteer Day with a strong commitment to supporting this vital sector, National’s Community and Voluntary spokesperson Alfred Ngaro says.
“Over a billion people around the world give up their time and skills to volunteer every year – and that includes 1.2 million New Zealanders.
“There are over 114,000 Not for Profit Organisations in New Zealand and volunteers contribute about $3.5 billion in labour every year. That includes two organisations that we rely on to help us during times of great need - it’s easy to forget that 80 per cent of our fire service and 70 per cent of St John’s ambulance staff are all volunteers.
“National recognises the sector is the backbone of the country and in this year’s Budget our Government allocated record funding in recognition of that contribution.
“Kiwis are extraordinarily generous and that spirit of generosity should be supported by Government.
“My challenge to the new Government is to further streamline the sector and remove the barriers around accessing the funding that many of these organisations need. I’d like to see the new regime encourage and foster greater efficiencies so that every single dollar raised or hour worked is maximised to its greatest potential,” Mr Ngaro says.
To mark the day Mr Ngaro is encouraging Kiwis to get out and offer their time to the organisation of their choice.
Some of New Zealand’s most talented young Pacific scholars can now apply for prestigious scholarships Minister for Pacific Peoples Alfred Ngaro says.
The 2018 Toloa Tertiary Scholarships are now open.
“Eight of New Zealand’s brightest young Pacific students will receive a Government scholarship to pursue their dreams,” Mr Ngaro says.
The scholarships of up to $25,000 each are paid over three years and awarded to Pacific students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects at a tertiary level. Students also receive mentoring while they are studying.
“This is the third year that these scholarships have been available and having seen the standard of academia in the past two years I’m excited to see even more of that potential coming through in this year’s applications.
“We know that there is so much potential amongst our young people and these scholarships represent an opportunity to recognise our best and brightest and inspire even more of our young people to aspire to greatness.
“I’d encourage any Pacific student who wants to pursue a career in STEM to apply.”
The scholarships are part of a broader programme to get more Pacific students involved in STEM subjects. The Toloa Kenese Schools programme and the Toloa Community Fund also encourage Pacific young people to consider a career in STEM.
Applications for the Toloa Scholarships close on Wednesday 15 November 2017.
For more information visit mpp.govt.nz
Minister for Pacific Peoples Alfred Ngaro today welcomed an initiative from the Pacific Business Trust which will help young entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
The innovative new programme, called Hatch, is a partnership with Massey University and in its first year will support up to 20 of the most talented young Pacific people to build sustainable businesses.
“Back in the islands our people run the businesses but in New Zealand Pacific people only make up 4.1% of businesses in New Zealand,” says Mr Ngaro.
“The innovation is there, especially amongst our young people, we just need to tap into and support it.
“The Hatch programme also reflects the ambitions of the Government’s Pacific Economic Strategy for more sustainable Pacific-owned businesses.
“That’s why I’m thrilled that Pacific Business Trust has spotted this gap in the market and partnered with Massey University to create an innovative programme that will grow our young people and help develop the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst our people.”
Further information about the programme is available at hatchbiz.co.nz or through the Pacific Business Trust at pacificbusiness.co.nz.
An official launch of the programme is set for 25 October 2017.
Organisations building leadership and capability in volunteering, social enterprise and the community have been recognised with funding, says Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Alfred Ngaro.
Six organisations have received a share of the $500,000 available under the Community Leadership Fund.
“The Community and Voluntary sector makes a massive contribution to New Zealand every day,” says Mr Ngaro.
“This is only the second year the fund has been available and recognises the support, capacity building and guidance that many of New Zealand’s community leadership groups provide.
“This year we were able to fund six organisations including some of New Zealand’s most innovative and forward thinking not-for-profits.”
The recipients of this year’s Community Leadership Fund were:
o Akina Foundation - $80,000 to support core operations
o Ara Taiohi Incorporated - $100,000 towards stage two of their Youth Sector Leadership Project
o Hui E! Community Aotearoa - $100,000 to support core operations
o Tangata Whenua, Community and Voluntary Sector Research Centre Incorporated - $80,000 to support core operations
o Te Whare Hukahuka – $40,000 to support core operations
o The Inspiring Communities Trust - $100,000 to support core operations
More information can be found at www.communitymatters.govt.nz.
‘Oku pehē ‘e he Minisitá ‘a e Potungāue ma’ae Kakai Pasifikí ko ‘Alfred Ngaro, ‘I he ‘uike ni, ‘e fakamamafa’i ‘a e makehe ‘ange ‘a e Faiva Faka-Tongá, Hiva Faka-Tongá, Lea Faka-Tongá pea mo e Anga Faka-Tongá.
The uniqueness of Tongan dance, song, language and culture are highlighted this week says Minister for Pacific Peoples, Alfred Ngaro.
‘Uike Katoanga’i ‘o e Lea Faka-Tonga (Tongan Language Week) runs this year from Sunday 3 to Saturday 9 September.
“Tongan’s have a great competitive spirit and they’ve shown this again through their language celebrations this year,” says Mr Ngaro.
“Instead of the usual week, this year the community decided to celebrate the language for an entire year with ‘Uike Katoanga’i ‘o e Lea Faka-Tonga a particular highlight.
“I’d like to encourage other kiwis to take on some of that Tongan spirit this week and challenge each other to try speak, cook or even dance like a Tongan.
“Teki is a popular move in Tongan dance and I’d love to see people giving it a go this week and sharing their efforts on social media with the hashtag #teki.
“Whether it’s exchanging your normal hello or kia ora for mālō e lelei, trying some lu sipi or checking out one of the events happening across the country there are lots of ways to get out and celebrate lea faka-Tonga (the Tongan language) and anga faka-Tonga (Tongan culture).”
The theme for the week is “Fakakoloa Aotearoa ‘Aki’ A e Nofo ‘A Kainga” or in English, “Enriching Aotearoa with our Family values”.
The official opening ceremony of Uike Katoanga’i ‘o e Lea Faka-Tonga will be held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum tonight from 5.00pm to 6.30pm.
Further information about Uike Katoanga’i ‘o e Lea Faka-Tonga including a calendar of events and language resources can be found at www.mpp.govt.nz and the Ministry for Pacific People’s facebook page.
Over 190 local Palmerston North families will be helped into a warm, dry place to stay through the Government’s social housing plans for the city.
“We’re building 70 new social houses, which is on top of the 1436 social houses we have in Palmerston North right now. Our plans for 30 short-term transitional housing places will benefit 120 local families every year,” Social Housing Minister Amy Adams says.
“We’ve made a commitment to help New Zealanders with housing when times are tough, and our plans for Palmerston North will help families in need into a warm, dry place to stay.
“We’re on track to have all 30 short-term transitional housing places available by the end of the year, and expect to see the 70 new social houses coming on board over the next three years.
“Housing New Zealand are currently reviewing their stock and vacant land across New Zealand. It’s my expectation that where land is redeveloped, at least 20 per cent is affordable,” Ms Adams says.
“We’ve already secured 29 of the transitional housing places in Palmerston North, meaning that we’re already in a position to help 116 local families this year, with more places scheduled to open in the coming weeks and months,” says Associate Social Housing Minister Alfred Ngaro.
“This is about more than just housing. The investment of $354 million the Government made last year into transitional housing recognises that many of our struggling families are facing some tough challenges. That’s why we’ve partnered with some fantastic community housing providers to make sure they’re getting further help to get back on their feet – from budgeting advice to cooking lessons or parenting support.
“Providers like The Salvation Army and Women's Refuge in Palmerston North go above and beyond to help lift our vulnerable people into a position where they can move on to and sustain long-term housing,” says Mr Ngaro.
Each week, the Government spends over $982,000 to supporting around 20,000 households in the wider Manawatu-Wanganui region with their housing costs.
Across the wider Manawatu-Wanganui region, the Government has plans to bring on 165 additional social houses and 66 short-term transitional housing places – to a total of 2690 social houses across the region. This is in addition to the Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants that are also available to local families in need of somewhere urgent to stay.
About our plan for social housing:
This year, the Government will spend $2.3 billion supporting 310,000 households with their accommodation. Additionally, those seeking immediate shelter can access a Special Needs Grant for accommodation. We have invested $354 million to help 8600 families every year with a warm, safe place to stay. We are also growing the number of social houses available, from 66,000 today to 72,000 by 2020.
What is the difference between social and transitional housing?
Both social and transitional housing may be run by community housing providers.
Transitional housing differs from social housing in that tenants generally only stay for 12 weeks in the property while they are helped to find long-term housing. While there they also receive additional support tailored to their needs. This could include things like budgeting advice, cooking lessons or parenting support. People receive a further 12 weeks of support once they’ve moved into their new property to help them settle in.
What is a ‘housing’ place?
A place may be a freestanding house or a unit in a wider complex. With regard to transitional housing places it refers also to availability over a year. For example a freestanding house used for transitional housing may be classed as four places because four families can be housed there every year.
An innovative scheme targeting our youngest New Zealanders will help secure the future of volunteering in New Zealand says Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Alfred Ngaro.
Student Volunteer Army (SVA) founder Sam Johnson has today launched a new programme targeting primary school student and already has 32,000 young people signed up.
“We know that people are more likely to continue volunteering the earlier they start so this great initiative will go a long way in helping to secure the volunteer sector in New Zealand in the future,” says Mr Ngaro.
“Kiwis already have a reputation of being one of the most generous countries in the world in terms of charitable giving, how fantastic would it be if we also had a reputation for having one of the highest rates of volunteering.
“Already volunteers contribute about $3.5 billion to our economy in labour alone, adding students to the mix can only increase that impact.”
In 2016 the SVA was one of the inaugural recipients of the Government’s Community Leadership fund when it received a $50,000 grant for the development of its primary programme.
“It’s fantastic to see that our youngest New Zealanders were asking for this programme and I can’t wait to see the difference they make in communities right across the country.”