Ten warm and dry social houses that are helping house Cantabrians in need have been officially opened by Social Housing and Housing New Zealand Minister Amy Adams.
Four single-story 1950s-style houses on Orontes Street in east Christchurch have been replaced with ten new homes with 32 bedrooms (four two-bedroom and six four-bedroom). The $3.2 million project was completed in April, with tenants moving in late last month.
“This first-class development shows the work this Government is leading to help get more social homes built in Christchurch,” says Ms Adams.
“The transformation of these houses is typical of the work Housing New Zealand is doing throughout New Zealand to make more efficient use of its land and transform older housing stock to provide greater numbers of warm, dry homes in areas of high demand.
“These ten new homes demonstrate the Government’s commitment to ensuring social housing tenants have the high-quality housing they need in their times of need.”
The properties are tenanted by a mix of families from single parents to couples with children.
Our social housing plan
This year, the Government will spend $2.3 billion supporting 310,000 households with their accommodation. Those seeking immediate shelter can access an emergency Special Needs Grant so they have a warm, safe place to stay while they search for more sustainable housing. We have invested $354 million to help 8600 families every year with transitional housing, with 3660 of these to be in Auckland. We are also planning to grow the number of social houses available, from 66,000 today to 72,000 over the next three years.
Apology to men convicted of historical homosexual offences and First Reading of the Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill
I move, that the Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill be now read a first time, I nominate the Justice and Electoral Committee to consider the bill.
I also move that Government notice of motion No 1, that this House apologise to those homosexual New Zealanders who were convicted for consensual adult activity, and recognise the tremendous hurt and suffering those men and their families have gone through, and the continued effects the convictions have had on them, be agreed to.
Today we are putting it on the record that this House deeply regrets the hurt and stigma suffered by the many hundreds of New Zealand men who were turned into criminals by a law that was profoundly wrong. For that, we are sorry.
We are acknowledging that these men should never have been burdened with criminal convictions and we are recognising the continued effects that the convictions have had on their lives and the lives of their families.
New Zealand has a proud reputation for fairness, freedom and diversity. It is unimaginable today that we would criminalise consensual sexual activity between adults.
Almost four years ago this Parliament passed the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013 to allow same-sex couples to legally marry and I was proud to vote in favour of it.
Today is another historic day for the New Zealand gay community and their families, as Parliament formally apologises for the hurt caused by the convictions and takes the first reading of a Bill to expunge those convictions.
It is never too late to apologise. While we cannot ever erase the injustice, this apology is a symbolic but important act that we hope will help address the harm and right this historic wrong.
The Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 decriminalised sexual conduct between consenting males aged 16 years and older. The right to be free from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was later recognised in the Human Rights Act 1993.
However, convictions for those offences remain on record. This means that they can appear in criminal history checks and those New Zealanders continue to be tainted with the stigma that such convictions carry.
The Bill seeks to address the ongoing stigma, prejudice and other negative effects arising from a conviction for a historical homosexual offence by creating a statutory scheme for a convicted person, or a representative on their behalf if that person is deceased, to apply for the conviction to be expunged.
This is the first expungement scheme ever to be created in New Zealand, reflecting the uniqueness of this situation. I cannot think of any other situation where a Government in this country would seek to rewrite criminal histories based on changes in societal views.
It is clear that the laws under which the men affected were convicted have not represented the views of most New Zealanders for many years and it is right that we now formally recognise that.
While it is impossible to know exact numbers, it is estimated that around 1000 people may be eligible to apply under the scheme. This is based on analysis of conviction data published by the (then) Department of Statistics on people convicted of indecency between males, the most common offence prosecuted between 1965 and 1986.
The Bill provides that the Secretary for Justice will be the decision maker in expungement applications. The Secretary will determine, on the balance of probabilities, whether the application meets the test for expungement.
If the application is successful, the conviction would not appear on a criminal history check and the person would not be required to disclose information about the expunged conviction for any purpose. It will be as though they were never convicted.
It will be free to apply for an expungement and the test will be that the conduct constituting the offence would not be an offence under today’s law. This test is necessary to ensure that historical convictions are not expunged if the conduct was non-consensual or the parties were not of legal age. In other words, if the behaviour would still be criminal today.
Five historical homosexual offences are covered by the Bill. These include offences under the Crimes Act 1961 that were repealed by the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 and their predecessors under the Crimes Act 1908. The offences involve those of indecency between males, sodomy, and keeping place of resort for homosexual acts.
The scheme will be open to applications from people with historical convictions for offences relating to sexual conduct between consenting men. If the person is deceased, a representative such as a family member or partner can make an application on their behalf.
The primary obligation to provide information in support of an application will fall on the applicant, and the Secretary will be able to obtain any further information he or she considers necessary to make a proper assessment of the application. The applicant will not be required to make any appearances in person, nor will the fact of the application be made public to protect the privacy of those involved.
The Bill is modelled on a number of schemes in Australian states, England and Wales. The New Zealand scheme is more closely aligned with those in Australian states where people can apply to have their convictions disregarded.
It would not be appropriate to go further and create a blanket pardon for all historical convictions for homosexual offences. It is possible that people convicted under the repealed offences would have been convicted for conduct which is still illegal today – for example, if the activities concerned were not consensual.
A case-by-case assessment of the facts of each case is therefore necessary to clarify whether the conduct would be lawful under the current law.
The Bill relies on an application by the affected person or their representative because not every convicted person will want an investigation into the history of their conviction. There is a need to respect the privacy of those who choose – for whatever reason – not to pursue the option of having a conviction expunged.
In addition, there would be real limitations on the ability to investigate a case without the co-operation of the affected person as they will often be the primary source of information to the decision-maker.
Let me once again acknowledge the enormous pain that the New Zealanders affected by these convictions have lived with. It is my hope that this Bill, and Parliament’s apology, will go some way toward addressing that.
As well as acting to once and for all remove the taint and label of criminality, we want by these actions to formally acknowledge and record both the hurt and damage caused, and the fact that those convictions should not have occurred.
I commend this Bill to the House.
A Bill introducing a scheme to wipe convictions for historical homosexual offences passed its first reading in Parliament today with unanimous support, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.
The passing of the first reading of the Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill followed a formal apology by Parliament to the men who were convicted for homosexual offences.
“Today we put it on the record that Parliament deeply regrets the hurt and stigma suffered by the hundreds of men who were affected and that we recognise the continued effects the convictions have had on their lives,” says Ms Adams.
“The Bill is the next step in righting this wrong. It will allow men convicted of specific homosexual offences decriminalised by the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 to apply to the Secretary for Justice to have their convictions wiped.”
The scheme will be open to applications from people with historical offences relating to sexual conduct between consenting men, or by a family member of partner if the person is deceased. The process will be free and applicants need not appear in person.
“There may be instances where the conduct a person was convicted of is still unlawful today, which is why the scheme requires a case-by-case approach,” says Ms Adams.
“If a person’s conviction is expunged, the conviction will not appear on a criminal history check for any purpose and they will be entitled to declare they had no such conviction when required to under New Zealand law.”
The Bill will now be considered by the Justice and Electoral Select Committee.
Work has begun on 145 new social housing units to be built across Wellington as the Government invests in more social housing for those in need, Social Housing and Housing New Zealand Minister Amy Adams has announced.
“The Government is investing $48.5 million to build 145 one-bedroom units across five sites in Wellington,” says Ms Adams.
“This is a significant building programme that will help drive a transformation of our Wellington social houses, creating modern and fit-for-purpose homes that social housing tenants will enjoy for decades to come.
“All these new homes will be one-bedroom units. These are the exactly the kind of homes needed in Wellington to respond to social housing demand, which is mostly from single people and couples without children.”
The five developments are:28 Hanson Street, Mount Cook, where 20 one-bedroom units are being built in a multi-storey building with two wings 135 Britomart Street in Berhampore, where 34 one-bedroom units are being built across three two- and three-storey buildings 175 Owen Street in Newtown, where 36 one-bedroom units are being built across four two-storey blocks The corner of Phillip Street and Frankmoore Avenue in Johnsonville, where 21 one-bedroom units are being built across 3 two-storey blocks Refurbishment of the McLean Flats on The Terrace in Central Wellington, together with the construction of a number of new units at the site, giving a total of 34 homes.
“Activity will ramp up over coming months, and the first new homes are expected to be ready by June 2018,” says Ms Adams.
“The new homes at Hanson Street have been designed specifically for people with disabilities. Hanson Street is an ideal location for these homes, because it’s close to the hospital, social service agencies, shops and bus routes.
“The development at Britomart Street will help meet social housing demand for smaller apartment-style homes in central Wellington.
“Phillip and Frankmoore is an ideal site to provide social housing mainly for elderly or mature people with no children, because it is within close walking distance to Johnsonville’s amenities and public transport links.
“These new homes demonstrate our commitment to ensure all social housing tenants are provided with high quality housing. All the new homes will be fully insulated, energy efficient, positioned to maximise exposure to sunlight, have modern kitchens and bathrooms, and provide both private and communal spaces for tenants to enjoy.”
Christchurch’s Justice and Emergency Services Precinct has reached a key milestone with the commencement of the fit-out of the Justice Building, says Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams.
“This is a major step forward for Cantabrians. The Precinct demonstrates the Government’s commitment to providing Christchurch with modern and effective justice and emergency services,” says Ms Adams.
“When the Precinct is fully operational in the final quarter of this year, it will be the most significant anchor project completed in the city since the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.”
The $300 million Precinct is the largest multi-agency project in New Zealand’s history. All essential regional justice and emergency services are being brought together under one roof, which will enable them to take a more collaborative approach to providing services and responding to emergencies.
“Christchurch is one of New Zealand’s three busiest courts. The Precinct will not only provide high-quality services for the hundreds of people who visit the court each day, but it is also being built to withstand seismic events."
The Emergency Services Building is due to be complete this month, with the fit-out to commence shortly after.
A blessing of the Precinct will be held on July 27, followed by the official opening and a public open day planned for August.
About the Justice and Emergency Services Precinct:Three buildings: Justice Building, Emergency Services Building and an operational car park building Five levels: 42,000 square metres of floor space 19 Courtrooms: encompassing the High Court, District Courts, Family Courts, Youth Court, Maori Land Court, Environment Court and other special jurisdictions 1000 staff 1000 estimated daily visitors 72+ hours emergency operations resilience
A Bill seeking to strengthen how agencies verify the identity of offenders has passed its second reading in Parliament with overwhelming support, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.
The Enhancing Identity Verification and Border Processes Legislation Bill will improve public safety by enabling agencies to work together to identify offenders and ensure they meet the conditions of their sentence.
The reforms are part of a wider Government response to the inquiry into the escape of Philip Smith/Traynor, which outlined the need for agencies to efficiently share and manage information in the justice sector.
“This Bill will authorise justice, identity and border agencies to share information with each other to identify high-risk offenders and protect New Zealanders from harm,” says Ms Adams.
“For example, Police will be able to get real-time identity information from Corrections about a dangerous offender who is unaccounted for, and Customs will know instantly if an absconder tries to leave New Zealand.
“We want to keep the public safe from some of our worst offenders by ensuring that high-risk individuals cannot hide who they are through the use of multiple aliases, or leave New Zealand without permission.
“The Bill strikes the right balance between ensuring public safety and protecting privacy of individuals by providing clear parameters for the circumstances in which information can be shared.”
Alongside the existing privacy protections outlined in the Privacy Act, these parameters include limiting the information that can be shared to identity information (for example, passport information), limiting the agencies that can share it and the circumstances under which they can do so.
Work is set to begin on a significant project to build and refurbish over 700 homes in the Hutt Valley, Social Housing and Housing New Zealand Minister Amy Adams has announced.
“The Hutt Valley is a dynamic community which has seen enormous growth in the last few years as it becomes a hot spot for young families. We want to support our growing communities, which is why I’m announcing today that the Government will build and refurbish 713 houses in the Hutt Valley,” says Ms Adams.
“While Housing New Zealand has 3800 social houses in the Hutt Valley, many are the wrong size and some are in need of refurbishment, so our plan is build more houses and bring hundreds of others up to modern standards.”
Details of the development include:Building 30 new social houses on four sites in Lower Hutt, with work commencing immediately, at a cost of $9.5 million Commencing master planning for up to 300 further homes across four sites in Epuni, Naenae and Waiwhetu Refurbishing 383 existing homes to make them warm and dry, and bring them up to standard, at a cost of $67.3 million
“Work will begin right away at the four initial sites, with the first new homes to be completed by mid-2018,” says Ms Adams.
“This is a significant development for the Hutt Valley community. These new builds will be a mix of social, affordable and market homes. This will mean more housing for our vulnerable people, more homes for first-home buyers, and more vibrant communities.
“Master planning is underway for four sites in Epuni, Naenae and Waiwhetu to develop three hectares of land into up to 300 new houses. More detail will be made available once the masterplan is finalised, which will be delivered by the end of 2017.
“A development of this scale is about more than just building houses – it’s about creating a community – so it’s important that Housing New Zealand follows robust planning and community engagement before development begins.
“The houses in the Hutt Valley are in good locations, but many are old and cold, and in need of renewal. Housing New Zealand will retrofit 383 homes with new kitchen and bathroom upgrades, insulation, and new heating to help bring them up to modern standards, meaning tenants can enjoy them for years to come.”
This project is on top of the work already completed in the Hutt Valley, with the transformative 109-house urban regeneration development at Pomare completed in 2016 and 179 homes earthquake-strengthened and modernised over the past four years.
“I want to acknowledge the advocacy and commitment local MP Chris Bishop has shown in seeing progress on this issue. It’s important to have a strong voice who is prepared to stand up for and make a real difference to the local community on issues that matter to them.
“This is all part of the Government’s investment into more social housing for vulnerable New Zealanders, and is a significant investment into the Hutt Valley.”
The new Social Investment Agency (SIA) was launched today to transform the way social sector agencies deliver services to New Zealanders in need.
“Social investment puts people at the heart of decision-making. It’s about improving the lives of vulnerable people by investing early in what we know will deliver the best results,” Social Investment Minister Amy Adams says.
“This means systemically using data and analytics to measure whether the social services we’re investing in are delivering the best outcomes for people in need. This will give us a much better view of why different people may experience different outcomes from the social services they receive.
“The SIA will use these insights to help social sector agencies shift away from focusing on their specific areas into taking a ‘whole of system’ approach to helping vulnerable New Zealanders. We’ll have the data to make evidence-based decisions, so we’ll know we’re spending taxpayers’ money in a way that will ultimately change lives for the better.”
This year’s Budget included a $321 million Social Investment Package with 14 initiatives designed to provide targeted, integrated services. From reducing youth offending to addressing chronic homelessness, these initiatives will be backed up by the SIA and a data exchange to share data and insights.
From today the SIA is a standalone departmental agency with its own chief executive. The Agency replaces the Ministry of Social Development’s Social Investment Unit and will be hosted within the State Services Commission. Dorothy Adams is the Interim Chief Executive.
Chief Victims Advisor to Government Dr Kim McGregor, QSO, will have her role extended until November 2018, Justice Minister Amy Adams announced today.
“During her tenure, Dr McGregor has provided important research and advice from the perspectives of victims that have been invaluable to me as Justice Minister and to senior officials across the justice sector,” says Ms Adams.
“Dr McGregor has brought determination, energy, and a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role. She shares my relentless focus on improving the justice system for victims of crime.
“The Government is committed to making positive changes that will ensure the justice system is centred around victims and easier for them to navigate. Dr McGregor has played an important part in making sure victims’ voices are heard, including in relation to our family and sexual violence reforms.
“I am delighted Dr McGregor’s work will continue and congratulate her on the positive contribution she has made since her appointment in 2015. I look forward to continuing our close working relationship.
Dr McGregor was appointed as the inaugural Chief Victims Advisor on 12 November 2015 as part of a wider suite of Government-led changes to keep victims safe and reduce family and sexual violence.
Forty temporary accommodation homes at Rangers Park village will become social and affordable homes to help Christchurch residents in need of housing, Housing New Zealand Minister Amy Adams and Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
Seven of the temporary accommodation homes at Rangers Park village have been sold to Housing New Zealand, with the remaining 33 houses to be sold to first home buyers under the KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme.
“The seven properties to be converted into social houses are high quality, with the right size, layout and design to suit many of our Christchurch families needing a warm, safe place to stay,” Ms Adams says.
“These new homes will help achieve the Government’s aim to reuse temporary accommodation homes as social housing, and will help to increase the social housing supply in Christchurch.”
“The Rangers Park village has played an important part in assisting the Christchurch earthquake recovery by accommodating 240 households during the past four years. We deliberately made a decision to use the site as not just temporary housing but to build it to a quality that it would become available for permanent housing. The demand for temporary housing has been reducing and is now at the point that it is appropriate to sell the homes,” Dr Smith says.
The 40 properties at Rangers Park are a mixture of two, three and four bedroom homes in standalone, townhouse and duplex design styles. Each house has its own lot, title, indoor garage access, double glazing and heat-pump.
“It is Government policy to favour mixed housing developments of social and market homes. This means 33 of the homes will be sold privately. These sales are restricted to owner-occupiers who are first home buyers. The Government is this way able to assist in achieving its broader goal of improving home ownership,” Dr Smith says.
People interested in buying one of properties available to first home buyers are encouraged to register for KiwiSaver HomeStart grant pre-approval with Housing New Zealand, as those with pre-approval will be contacted when the properties are advertised. More information about the KiwiSaver HomeStart grants is available through the Housing New Zealand website.