The Green Party’s complicity on the Government’s decision to defer electronic monitoring on commercial fishing vessels is a failure and an example of very weak advocacy for our critically threatened marine species, National Conservation Spokesperson Maggie Barry says.
“The National Government’s planned introduction of GPS and camera monitoring of fishing vessels next year would be a significant step forward in better protecting treasured marine species like dolphins and sea lions as well as preventing fish dumping,” Ms Barry says.
“Labour’s decision to defer the introduction of the new protective measure will see more marine life killed and is a significant setback for conservation.
“Maui and Hector's Dolphin Defenders NZ Chairwoman, Christine Rose, has described the decision as a “fatally flawed” and a “huge setback for conservation” and showed the new Government “to be no friend of science or conservation.”
“The new Conservation Minister and this Government have has caved into fishing industry lobbying and the influence of New Zealand First. On its first significant conservation decision and the Green Party is complicit and missing in action instead of advocating strongly for our threatened dolphins.
“The irony is that the new Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced in Parliament last week that she would be a strong voice for conservation. Instead, she supports delaying electronic surveillance which will inevitably result in more dolphin and sea lion deaths as a result of her inaction and weak advocacy.
“Ms Sage needs to explain exactly how this decision to defer safeguard will better protect New Zealand’s iconic marine species.”
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry is encouraging New Zealanders to get out and enjoy their own backyards and make a difference locally during Conservation Week which starts today.
“Take a look around you and see how you can help protect and nurture our unique wildlife. Perhaps install a rat, stoat or possum trap or join volunteers who’re already working with DOC and community groups on the War on Weeds or to achieve the goal of Predator Free NZ by 2050,” Ms Barry says.
“If we are to rid our country of these unwanted vermin it needs to start in our own backyards and even small actions make a real difference. It’s great to see momentum gathering as more communities band together to make their own areas predator free to protect our native birds and wildlife.”
More than a hundred Conservation Week events have been organised around the country by DOC, local businesses and community groups.
“From a guided walk to hear the dawn chorus at Ark in the Park in Auckland to attending the release of kaka in Hawke’s Bay, there is an impressive range of organised activities,” Ms Barry says.
“You can help plant natives along a Canterbury spring with endangered mudfish or learn how to make your garden a pollinator’s paradise with help from Auckland botanic gardens on what to plant.”
“There’s also a backyard trapping workshop in Karori Wellington and a clean-up of the Awatapu Lagoon in the Bay of Plenty.”
“Getting out into nature and weeding and trapping not only helps our natural environments, it also has a positive effect on people’s wellbeing. The Mental Health Foundation’s been working with DOC’s ‘Healthy Nature Healthy People’ programme to encourage us all to use our national parks, and the Great, Short and Day Walks to help improve our overall health and wellbeing.”
“Our natural environment already provides inspiration, excitement, refreshment, relaxation and solitude and this Conservation Week it would be good to join forces and give something back to help nature.”
For more details on the various events go to doc.govt.nz for Conservation week events.
Commemorations to mark one of New Zealand’s darkest days will be held in New Zealand and Belgium this month to remember the Battle of Passchendaele.
Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry says the commemorative programme reflects on New Zealand’s involvement in the fighting around Passchendaele between 1 and 18 October 1917.
“Passchendaele on 12 October 1917 is still known as one of the greatest disasters in New Zealand’s history – when 843 men died in a single day. This devastating loss of life remains the highest one-day death toll suffered by New Zealand forces overseas,” Ms Barry says.
“During the Third Battle of Ypres, which included Passchendaele, New Zealand lost nearly 2,000 men. We’ll remember them and all who fought in Belgium.”
In Wellington the commemorations will begin at 3pm on October 12 at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.
“Immediately after the national ceremony, a memorial gifted to New Zealand by the Belgian Government will be unveiled on the eastern terraces at the Park. The Last Post will be held at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at 5pm,” Ms Barry says.
“The ceremony in Belgium will take place at 11am local time at the Tyne Cot Cemetery near Zonnebeke and will be attended by His Royal Highness , the Duke of Cambridge on behalf of the Queen and Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium on behalf of King Philippe.”
New Zealand will be represented by Hon Dr Nick Smith and Rt Hon David Carter.
“This is the largest Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery in the world and contains the graves of 520 New Zealanders. Our ‘Memorial to the Missing’ in the cemetery lists the names of others who died in the Battles of Passchendaele,” Ms Barry says.
The New Zealand Passchendaele Centennial Memorial and Garden in Belgium will also be opened as part of the commemorations at 3pm local time.
“I want to commend Chris Mullane, Mike Pritchard and many others from the Passchendaele Society in New Zealand, who’ve worked so hard over so many years to have this memorial garden built. I planted the first flax there in 2016 and I know it is a fitting memorial telling our poignant New Zealand story’” Ms Barry says.
Ceremonies will conclude at sunset at Buttes New British Cemetery in Polygon Wood where 95 Kiwis are buried and where the New Zealand ‘Memorial to the Missing’ records the names of 388 New Zealanders who died near there but have no known grave.
“A group of senior secondary school students, who won the joint Ministry of Education, Fields of Remembrance Trust and the Passchendaele Society digital competition, will be attending the commemorations in Belgium. They will also attend the New Zealand Memorial and Garden,” Ms Barry says.
More information about both the domestic and overseas Passchendaele commemorations can be found at ww100.govt.nz/passchendaele-centenary.
Seniors Minister Maggie Barry has welcomed the United Nation’s International Day of Older Persons being marked around the world today.
The theme of this year’s International Day is ‘Stepping into the Future’: tapping the talents, contributions and participation of Older Persons.
“International Day of Older Persons gives visibility and recognition to the many seniors who are living meaningful and vital lives, contributing as workers, employers, volunteers, parents and grandparents,” Ms Barry says.
“By 2036 up to 24% of New Zealanders will be over 65 – we’ll have nearly a quarter of the population with a wealth of skills and experience that we can tap in to, who will help to positively shape the future of our country”.
“We’ve already piloted three UN Age Friendly Community initiatives around New Zealand to promote positive aging and social inclusion.”
“We also have a group of SuperSenior Champions – articulate older Kiwis led by Patron Sir Peter Snell – who raise awareness on how important older people are in our lives and talk about issues that affect Seniors, including elder abuse.”
“Over 2000 cases of elder abuse are reported each year but the majority goes unreported. It’s believed up to 10 per cent of seniors experience some form of abuse and three quarters is carried out by family members,” Ms Barry says.
“Earlier this year I launched new re-prioritised Elder Abuse Response Services. EARS is designed for real action on elder abuse, getting older people the help they need, quickly, effectively and safely.”
“Part of this new approach is a free and confidential 24/7 help-line, 0800 32 668 65 (0800 EA NOT OK) and there has been a steady stream of calls to it since July 1. All calls are answered by a registered nurse who refers people to expert help, including for financial abuse.”
“We are also in discussions with the Commission for Financial Capability about running a series of seminars to help Seniors with money matters.”
“Tackling elder abuse and ageism will help create an environment where the rights of older people are recognised and supported so Seniors can age positively in their own communities.”
National’s strong economic plan will deliver an extra $680 a year per couple in New Zealand superannuation payments from 1 April next year, Seniors spokesperson Maggie Barry says.
“Our strong and growing economy is allowing the Government to regularly lift the incomes of superannuitants as well as provide the public services they need” Ms Barry says.
National today released its Seniors policy, setting out its comprehensive set of policies to help seniors and build on its track record of delivering better lives for older New Zealanders.
“New Zealanders are living longer and National is determined to providing the support and security to ensure all of us are able to age positively and lead fulfilling lives in retirement,” Ms Barry says
New Zealand Superannuation for a couple has increased by more than $7000 a year under National - from $24,062 in 2008 to $31,216 in 2017. That is an increase of 29.7 per cent, more than twice the rate of inflation.
National’s Family Incomes Package means 750,000 superannuitants will receive a further increase on 1 April on top of their normal annual increase, with the couple rate going up by a further $680.
“National is also ensuring all older New Zealanders get the health care they need. We have increased our investment in health to a record $17 billion this year, up $5 billion since we came into office,” Ms Barry says.
“We are rolling out cheap GP visits to an extra 600,000 lower income New Zealanders, meaning 300,000 over-65s will have the cost of seeing their doctor capped at $18.
“We are also increasing the number of life-changing elective surgeries for things like joint replacements, cancerous skin lesions and cardiac surgeries, and rolling out a national bowel screening programme.”
National will continue to support and invest in the SuperGold Card, recognising the important service it provides for seniors.
“More than any other party, National has made the SuperGold Card what it is today. We have grown the scheme from less than 300 businesses in 2007 to provide discounts at more than 9,000 businesses for services such as optometrists, dentists, audiologists, lawyers and vets that really make a difference for seniors,” Ms Barry says.
“And we’ve backed the popular SuperGold Card public transport concession with $41 million of additional funding so it can provide more than 10 million trips a year.”
National has taken strong action against elder abuse and social isolation with the launch of the nationwide Elder Abuse Response Service, including a 24/7 helpline – 0800 EA NOT OK – and increased funding for support services, as well as ensuring rest homes are uphold high standards.
National’s Seniors policy also reaffirmed the intention to increase the age of entitlement for New Zealand Superannuation from 65 to 67, beginning in 2037.
“Life expectancy has increased by 12 years over the past 60 years, including by four years since 2001, when the age for NZ Super was increased to 65, so it is fair to increase the age of entitlement in 20 years’ time to ensure Super stays on a firm footing,” Ms Barry says.
Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry has announced the appointment of experienced Wellington businessman Mike (MOD) O’Donnell to the board of Radio New Zealand.
He replaces Sheena Henderson who retired at the end of her second term.
“Mr O’Donnell has had a career in communications, business establishment and development, and has extensive experience in digital transformation of businesses,” Ms Barry says.
“He brings knowledge of the broadcasting and media industry, and experience in developing new business opportunities to the board”.
“He was Head of Commercial and Chief Operating Officer at Trade Me, and has recently resigned as Chief Commercial Officer of Work to concentrate on a governance career.”
Mr O’Donnell writes his own weekly newspaper column and is currently Chair of Timely, a director of Serato Audio, Tourism New Zealand, Raygun, Kiwibank, Gareth Morgan Investments and G2G ventures. He was previously a director of Wellington Tourism and Consumer NZ.
The appointment took effect on 1 September 2017 for a term of one year.
Christchurch’s historic pumphouse complex of buildings has been awarded $200,000 to help with earthquake strengthening work.
Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry says the funding is part of round two of the Heritage EQUIP scheme to support private owners of heritage buildings to get necessary earthquake strengthening work done.
“Heritage buildings are an important part of the character of New Zealand, but the cost of strengthening can be prohibitive and unsustainable for owners,” Ms Barry says.
“The Pumphouse buildings originally housed the first sewage pumping station in Christchurch. They currently house a demolition yard and are part of a privately held collection of architectural antiques.”
“The buildings have been used as background for wedding photography, a fashion shoot and as the base for a local heritage week event. They also have economic value as a business base as they are centrally located and close to main transport routes.”
Ms Barry has also acknowledged the strong advocacy of Christchurch central MP Nicky Wagner for the project.
“The complex of buildings are only at 10 percent of New Building Standard (NBS). The owners have chosen to bring them to 67 percent NBS to ensure the historic buildings can continue to be used well into the future,” Ms Barry says.
“This set of buildings was built in the late 1800s and was still used as a pumping station until 1957. Functional public utility buildings are often overlooked but they are of significant historical and social value.”
“They have gabled roofs in a combination of slate and corrugated iron, restrained classical detailing in Oamaru stone, distinctive arched windows and doors, multi-paned steel windows and round windows in some of the gables.”
Heritage EQUIP (www.heritageequip.govt.nz) was set up last year and as well as funding for seismic work it includes web-based information and resources.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry and Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner have presented traps to two community groups at a Predator Free 2050 event in Christchurch today.
The Little River Trap Library and Lyttleton Primary School were given more than 50 traps and bait worth about $8000 for their work to control rats, possums and stoats on Banks Peninsula and in Lyttelton, funded through the DOC Predator Free Rangers Enabling Fund of $300,000.
“The Little River Trap Library was the first of its kind in New Zealand and lends traps for free to people wanting to protect wildlife on their properties on Banks Peninsula. This community venture has successfully seeded many small-scale predator control projects that will together help achieve the Predator Free Banks Peninsula vision,” Ms Barry says.
“Lyttelton Primary School has plans to start trapping in an area the school has been helping to restore on Lyttelton Port Company land, near Lyttelton township. The easy-to-use traps will enable the school children to take their conservation work to the next level.”
“These two projects are examples of outstanding community leadership, collaboration and tireless dedication to eradicating predators from their own backyards and create pockets of safe habitat for our wildlife to flourish.”
Ms Wagner says there are many great examples of people working together to protect native species through predator control around Christchurch, on Banks Peninsula and in Canterbury.
“Tui are beginning to prosper on the peninsula again and the white-flippered penguin colony in Flea Bay/Pohatu has doubled in size since this work began,” Ms Wagner says.
“Eventually I believe these predator-free areas will expand to cover the whole of Lyttelton, Banks Peninsular, wider Christchurch and beyond. I’m confident that by 2050 we’ll have a rat, stoat and possum-free New Zealand.”
“Forty traps and bait were donated to the Little River Trap Library, while 15 traps were given to Lyttelton Primary School, including five possum traps from Lyttelton Port Company,’ Ms Wagner says.
DOC will allocate a further $22,000 in Canterbury with four other predator control projects being considered.
DOC provides support and advice to advance predator-free initiatives and has nine Predator Free Rangers, including one based in Christchurch, to help coordinate community predator control activities.
The Lawson Field Theatre in Gisborne is receiving a capital grant of more than $400,000 towards seismic strengthening.
Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry says the Gisborne District Council was forced to close the theatre last October due to its earthquake prone status.
“The theatre is a sought-after venue for local productions and smaller touring performances and has been much missed. This $417,513 grant from the Regional Culture Heritage Fund will help the Council complete pressing seismic strengthening work,” Ms Barry says.
“Having the theatre operational again broadens the range of cultural experiences on offer in Gisborne and will be a real boost to the community.”
“The grant is conditional on the Council’s commitment to completing stage two of the project which will see the interior facilities and equipment in the theatre upgraded to a high standard.”
Ms Barry has acknowledged the strong advocacy of local National MP Hon Anne Tolley for the work to be funded.
Established in 2016 with $29.527 million in funding over three years, the RCHF is for capital projects specifically benefitting regional arts, culture and heritage institutions.
“These regional centres attract the economic and social benefits of new visitors, businesses and resident’s to New Zealand’s smaller towns and cities,” Ms Barry says.
Today’s announcement is from Round Three of the RCHF. Further information about the fund can be found at: www.mch.govt.nz/RegionalCultureHeritageFund.
Previously announced grants in Round Two were:$4 million to Hasting’s Hawke’s Bay Opera House Seismic Strengthening Project $3 million to Whangarei’s Hundertwasser Art Centre Project Just over $1 million to Foxton’s Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom Project Just over $1 million to Stewart Island’s Rakiura Heritage Centre $900,000 to Blenheim’s ASB Theatre for its Studio Theatre $22,884 to Masterton’s Woolshed Heritage Centre.
In 2016, Round One recipients were:$10 million to Wanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery – towards the redevelopment and seismic strengthening of its heritage-listed Queen’s Park building $1.5 million towards the restoration of the Nelson School of Music’s auditorium $1.5 million towards Whakatane’s Museum and Research Centre redevelopment, $400,000 to the Whanganui Museum for its redevelopment $368,000 towards Hamilton’s Meteor Theatre redevelopment and $110,000 towards Gore’s Eastern Southland Gallery project to establish a Muka Studio Wing for its arts centre.
National will support the preservation of New Zealand’s historic buildings with a $30 million investment in quake-strengthening work.
“We recognise the importance of heritage buildings to our communities and the real need for funding to help with the financial burden of earthquake strengthening,” Arts, Culture and Heritage spokesperson Maggie Barry has announced.
“A National Government will invest an additional $30 million over the next four years into the Regional Culture & Heritage Fund to support quake strengthening and development of cultural facilities such as museums, art galleries and theatres.”
The criteria for the fund will also be expanded so it can be accessed by heritage-listed places of worship in need of strengthening.
“St Mary’s Cathedral in New Plymouth and the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo are two of the buildings which could benefit from the change and will be identified as priorities under National,” Ms Barry says.
“Whether you’re a religious person or not, historic churches and other places of worship are central parts of a community’s character. They are landmarks, venues and meeting places for many people and among our grandest and most architecturally significant buildings.
“Several high-profile heritage-listed places of worship in New Zealand require earthquake strengthening. Often, the cost of work is higher than for other types of building because heritage elements need to be preserved.
“For example, St Mary’s Cathedral, the oldest stone church in New Zealand, requires millions of dollars in strengthening work. They could be eligible for around a third of the cost of that work through the extended Fund.”
The Regional Culture & Heritage Fund has delivered support for facilities such as Whanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery, the Hawkes Bay Opera House and the ASB Theatre in Blenheim.
The new funding injection will be added to the ongoing appropriation for the Fund, raising it to an average of $13.7 million a year, or $54.8 million in total over the next four years.
“The Regional Culture & Heritage Fund remains a fund of last resort, and applicants will have to show they have already secured funding from local government and philanthropic contributions on the “a third, a third, a third” principle – that won’t be changing,” Ms Barry says.
“Applications go through a rigorous independent assessment process through the Ministry for Culture & Heritage to ensure the taxpayer gets value for money from the investment.”