Associate Primaries Industries Minister Louise Upston has welcomed new forecasts showing forestry export revenue set to rise further over the next two financial years.
The Ministry for Primary Industries’ first quarterly update of its Situation Outlook for Primary Industries shows forestry export revenue is forecast to rise 5.8 per cent to $5.4 billion for the year ending June 2017, and a further 8.8 per cent to $5.9 billion in the year to June 2018.
“Rising log exports are behind this positive forecast, with a strong demand from China due to its expanding housing market. This, combined with low shipping costs, has driven harvesting to record levels,” Ms Upston says.
“Increased building activity in Auckland and Christchurch are also driving domestic consumption of sawn timber, up 7 per cent in the year to September 2016, which is great news for the forestry sector.”
The annual harvest reached a new record in 2016, pushed up by higher log prices, with the supply of harvestable wood set to increase over the next five years.
“Forestry is our third highest export-earner and an important industry for our regions. This Government is encouraging more planting through the Afforestation Grants Scheme which has $19.5 million to establish 15,000ha of new forests between 2015 and 2020.
“Not only is the planting of new forests good for the sector, but it helps with erosion control, carbon sequestration and the better use of marginal land,” Ms Upston says.
Corrections has signed up its 100th employer to offer prisoners jobs in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Waste Management today, says Corrections Minister Louise Upston.
The partnership will see Waste Management work with Corrections and offer prisoners jobs when they are released, including drivers, administration, computer operator, runners, landfill operators, general operators, labourers, diesel mechanics and call centre roles.
“It’s great to have Waste Management on board,” says Ms Upston. “There is huge potential in this partnership and I look forward to seeing it to develop and offer more employment opportunities for prisoners on release.
“Through these partnerships, Corrections is providing employers with motivated and skilled workers for a wide range of meaningful jobs.”
“We know that having stable employment plays a huge role in reducing the likelihood of reoffending once someone leaves prison. That is good for the prisoner, their whanau and the communities they return to.”
Alongside Waste Management, other employers that have signed MoUs with Corrections include Global Bus and Horticulture NZ to provide career training and sustainable employment.
Corrections delivers a wide range of education and employment training programmes in prisons including horticulture, manufacturing, construction, painting and hospitality. In the last financial year, around 9000 offenders were engaged in employment-related activities.
“The training and rehabilitation programmes in prison ensure that these people are well-equipped with quality, employable skills that are widely recognised by employers,” says Ms Upston.
“Many prisoners have limited work experience before going to prison and it’s fantastic to see these programmes making a real difference and helping get them successfully placed into employment.”
Corrections has its own recruitment service to connect offenders with meaningful jobs once they are released from prison. Over the past five months, around 300 people with convictions have been placed into long-term, sustainable jobs.
Corrections has also run an Employment Support Service over the last three years which provides job placement and in-work support for prisoners due for release and for offenders on community sentences. To date the programme has helped 137 offenders find jobs.
To support Corrections’ employment partnerships, Ms Upston will be hosting employer breakfasts in Hamilton, Christchurch and Wellington over the next few months. Employers will be invited to come and learn more about partnering with Corrections to provide jobs for offenders.
Corrections Minister Louise Upston has congratulated 53 new Corrections officers and offender employment instructors on their graduation from training.
“I thank these men and women for stepping up to this very challenging job. We need dedicated and committed people to give offenders the support and encouragement they need to turn their lives around,” Ms Upston says.
The 53 new staff will be based at prisons around the country.
Ivan Ddumba of Northland Regional Corrections Facility was presented with the Minister’s Excellence Award by Chief Custodial Officer Neil Beales.
Before joining Corrections, Mr Ddumba worked in Whangarei as a community support worker, helping people with mental health disorders.
He has carried these skills to his new role, with his Corrections instructors noting his life skills and calm presence in stressful situations would make him an exceptional officer and role model.
The latest graduations brings the total of new Corrections officers and offender employment instructors graduating so far this year to more than 230.
Corrections is on a recruitment drive to ensure prisons are safe for staff and prisoners, and to keep the community safe.
“I have visited 10 prisons and I am always impressed that Corrections staff go to work every day planning to make a difference in the lives of the people in their care. The successful rehabilitation and the reintegration of offenders back into their communities is a challenge we need to face together if we are to achieve a meaningful reduction in reoffending,” Ms Upston says.
Corrections and the Kiingitanga have signed an accord aimed at working together to improve outcomes for Māori offenders, Corrections Minister Louise Upston has announced.
The accord, signed at a ceremony today by Kiingi Tuheitia and Corrections chief executive Ray Smith, commits the Kiingitanga and Corrections to work together to share information and identify and develop initiatives around the cultural, social, physical and economic health and wellbeing of Māori offenders.
“Around half the prison population is Māori and it is important that Corrections keeps building on the initiatives is already has in place to improve outcomes for Māori offenders,” Ms Upston says.
“Reducing reoffending by Māori offenders is a high priority for Corrections. Research has proven that programmes, activities and therapy have the most impact when matched with a person’s cultural background.
“I applaud the Kiingitanga for stepping forward and recognising it has a role to play in working with Corrections to improve the wellbeing of Māori offenders. The accord is the result of dialogue between its leadership and Corrections over the last year about an ongoing relationship and initiatives that could be undertaken together to achieve this.”
The parties have identified the following as areas of mutual interest:The health and wellbeing of Māori offenders in custody The rehabilitation of Māori prisoners and offenders The reintegration of Māori prisoners into the community Reducing reoffending by Māori.
“Corrections already has a number of initiatives in place aimed at reducing reoffending among Māori, from recruitment and staff training, to its programmes and facilities,” Ms Upston says.
Around 300 places in prison are set aside for Te Tirohanga, a Māori tikanga-based therapeutic community environment running out of whare in five prisons.
Corrections has also established a Māori Advisory Board with representatives from seven iwi organisations to provide advice and input on policy development and the design of services aimed at reducing reoffending by Māori.
A project aimed at growing the capability of women in the primary sector has been granted close to $300,000 in the latest Sustainable Farming Fund round, Associate Primary Industries Minister Louise Upston says.
The Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) has received $289,000 from the fund to design and deliver two-year pilot programmes around the country beginning in July.
“Our primary industries are a vital part of our way of life and are responsible for over 78 per cent of our exports. In order to keep these industries internationally competitive, we need investment, innovation, market development and a skilled workforce,” Ms Upston says.
“Projects such as this, which recognise the contribution women have to make in industries that may not be their traditional domain, are key to our future success”.
The programmes will focus on three key groups - Māori women in regional communities; young women entering agri-sector careers; and women with careers outside agriculture whose expertise can be used within the sector.
They will be delivered in key economic development regions including Northland, Bay of Plenty, West Coast, Hawkes Bay and Manawatu/Whanganui.
Corrections Minister Louise Upston today acknowledged eight Corrections staff who have helped with and developed corrections services in the Pacific.
Service pins were presented to the eight staff in a ceremony at Parliament to mark their work in Vanuatu and Samoa.
More than 60 New Zealand Corrections staff have served in the Pacific.
“This indicates the level of respect New Zealand Corrections has in the region. Corrections staff have used their expertise and experience to improve corrections operations in the Pacific,” Ms Upston says.
“Today’s recipients have between eight and 27 years’ experience with Corrections. Their work has helped establish custodial training programmes in Vanuatu and Samoa, including safety and security procedures that have been transitioned slowly to local authorities.”
Each recipient received a pin, known as the Hoe Akau. The Hoe Akau is a steering paddle, giving direction and support to other paddlers.
The idea to develop a pin for Corrections officers followed a long-standing policy to recognise police officers in a similar way for their service overseas.
Corrections personnel have worked in Vanuatu since 2005 helping update the management and operations of the corrections services on the island. A number of reform proposals have been devised including the establishment of a community probation service.
In Samoa, Corrections assisted with the development of training and operational protocols for the Samoan Ministry of Police and Prisons.
On Pitcairn Island, Corrections staff have previously monitored six offenders found guilty of sexually abusing children and have since returned for another deployment.
Corrections’ new recruitment service is finding early success, with 140 offenders placed in permanent employment in just three months.
“Stable employment is a major factor to helping offenders lead better, crime-free lives. It is good for the offenders, their families and the communities they live and work in,” Corrections Minister Louise Upston says.
This Way for Work, established last October, is a two-year pilot programme aimed at supporting former prisoners and community offenders into stable employment and reducing the reoffending rate.
Eight in-house recruitment consultants work one-on-one with offenders around the country to match them with employers.
If needed, offenders are also given Employer Starter Packs which offer some financial assistance to support them into work. This may include transport costs, equipment or uniforms, training, licence fees and drug-testing costs.
“Finding 140 places in three months, which has included the traditionally quiet Christmas period, is a great start. I look forward to even greater outcomes as the programme gathers pace,” says Ms Upston.
“While offenders may have done work and skills training and education programmes, they may have limited practical knowledge and resources to translate this into stable employment. This Way to Work is designed to fill that gap.
“Having a criminal record can mean unemployment and barriers to the workforce. This programme is breaking down those barriers and supporting many offenders off benefits and into employment where they have the best chance of succeeding,” Ms Upston says.
The $2.5 million pilot programme complements a $15.3 million Budget 2016 investment over three years for a trial targeted at increasing the employment prospects of released prisoners.
Work and Income case managers and professionals work with prisoners from 10 weeks before release to up to 12 months after to help them prepare, find and stay in employment to help reduce reoffending.
Two men who got Kiwis behind a campaign to buy an Abel Tasman beach for the nation are among the 2016 Walking Access Champion award winners announced by Associate Primary Industries Minister Louise Upston tonight.
Duane Major and Adam Gard’ner helped raise more than $2 million through a high-profile Givealittle campaign last year to buy 7ha of private beach at Awaroa Inlet, which was then made part of the Abel Tasman National Park.
“Mr Major and Mr Gard’ner embody the spirit of the Walking Access Champion Awards, which recognise those who have made significant and lasting contributions to public access to the great New Zealand outdoors,” Ms Upston says.
Each year, nominations for Walking Access Champions are sought from the public, in particular individuals and organisations who work with the New Zealand Walking Access Commission.
“This includes securing new legal access, championing public rights of access, trail-building or contributing to ensuring the public understand access rights and responsibilities,” Ms Upston says.
Other recipients announced at a ceremony at Parliament tonight include Robert Lange and Russell Hamilton.
“Mr Lange gifted 53,000ha of land in Central Otago, which is under a QEII National Trust covenant to provide public access in perpetuity. Mr Lange and Mr Hamilton are now creating a track network on the land for the public,” Ms Upston says.
Rod Eatwell, the largest private landowner on the Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds, was also recognised as a Walking Access Champion.
“At age 88, Mr Eatwell works continually to maintain his section of the track, including building a track to Eatwell’s Lookout, which provides unparalleled views of the Sounds,” Ms Upston says.
The Nelson Tasman Cycle Trust was recognised for its work over the past seven years to improve public access to the region. The trust developed the 38km Dun Mountain Trail and the 100km Great Taste Trail.
“These trails provide access for cycling, walking and commuting over an extensive area, some of which was not previously accessible to the public.
“Around 208,000 riders experienced the Great Taste Trail in 2015 and the trust is working on lengthening it into a 175km loop track.”
Other Walking Access Champions recognised tonight were:Te Araroa Wellington Trust, which created the popular Paekakariki-Pukerua Bay Escarpment Track on the Kāpiti Coast which opened in April 2016. By the end of its first year, around 60,000 people are expected to have walked the track, which has also had a positive impact on local businesses. Whareroa Guardians Community Trust which works to enhance public access on a significant section of land between Queen Elizabeth Park and the Akatarawa Forest Park on the Kāpiti Coast. Since 2007 more than 50,000 plants have been planted by volunteers. The trust continues to work on projects across the farm, including restoration of native forest and wetland areas.
“Tonight’s award recipients have all made important contributions towards enhancing public access across the country,” Ms Upston says.
“I congratulate them for their achievements and their contributions towards enhancing the experience for everyone who enjoys New Zealand’s outdoors.”
Corrections Minister Louise Upston has congratulated 65 new Corrections officers and offender employment instructors who graduated from their 12-week training course today.
“I thank these men and women for choosing a career with Corrections and joining our efforts to protect public safety and reduce reoffending,” says Ms Upston.
“I am delighted to have such a high calibre of recruits joining the department.”
The new staff will be based at prisons throughout the country.
Darren Drewery of Rimutaka Prison was presented with the Minister’s Excellence Award to acknowledge the leadership, professionalism and all-round excellence he demonstrated throughout training.
Darren served in the British military for six years as an infantry officer before teaching scuba diving and managing a scuba and sports fishing centre in Abu Dhabi in 2015.
Throughout training Darren was seen as a quiet leader, achieved excellent results and was well-liked by his peers.
His decision to join Corrections in New Zealand was for a challenge to himself and the opportunity to help all sorts of people in his community.
“People like Darren are the positive role models people in prison need,” Ms Upston says.
“Their new career path will give them many opportunities to make a real impact on the lives of prisoners, their families and our wider communities.”
Corrections Minister Louise Upston has officially opened a new Hamilton Community Corrections site that is safer for staff and will help better with the rehabilitation of offenders.
The Hamilton site is the second centre to be completed this year, as part of a five-year nationwide programme to make Community Corrections sites more secure for both staff and offenders. A new Community Corrections site was opened last month in Hawera.
“Many offenders in our communities need support to make positive changes in their lives and we need to make this assistance as accessible as possible,” Ms Upston says.
The Hamilton site, which amalgamated six existing sites, gives streamlined services to offenders including education, work and living skills training, mental health care, drug and alcohol treatment, and on-site trade training facilities.
“The site has been set up to meet the rehabilitative needs of offenders and make it easier for them to meet the statutory requirements of their sentences,” Ms Upston says.
The on-site trade training facilities, which are the first of their kind for Corrections, will enable offenders to complete qualifications in areas where there are skill shortages locally.
Ms Upston says staff will benefit from improved security features including an anti-climb counter, better lines of sight and closed-circuit camera surveillance. More than 170 staff are empoyed at the site and help manage around 3000 community-based sentences and orders including home detention and community work.