A $3.4 million investment into the Taranaki Crossing is part of the Government’s plan to boost growth in Taranaki, Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say.
The investment will over time form part of Taranaki’s Economic Action Plan as part of the Government’s Regional Growth Programme.
This week, Minister Bridges welcomed the launch of Make Way for Taranaki. The project, led by the region, will prepare an economic strategy and plan of action for Taranaki for the next 10 years.
“This is the first step in working towards an economic action plan for the Taranaki region,” says Mr Bridges.
“Taranaki performs well in sectors like dairy and energy, but there is significant scope to diversify products and investment, and build long-term resilience in the region.
“Tourism is one sector which has the potential for significant growth, having grown steadily over the last three years,” says Mr Bridges.
Ms Barry says the investment in the Taranaki Crossing forms part of a $76 million DOC tourism infrastructure package announced through Budget 2017.
“The Government’s announcement of $3.4 million towards enhancing the infrastructure on this crossing will support the development of what will be a truly world class experience in Taranaki,” says Ms Barry.
“We are developing a network of Great Short Walks and Great Day Walks because of increasing demand for activities that can be done in a day or less. Great Day Walks and Great Short Walks will give people more choices.”
“The DOC estate is our biggest and best-known tourism asset and the new walks networks will ensure we can maximise the tourism benefits for biodiversity and threatened species protection.”
“Overseas visitor numbers are set to reach 4.5 million in just five years and we need to be ready.
“Since 2013 DOC, with partners including Te Atiawa and Taranaki Tuturu Iwi, New Plymouth District Council, Taranaki Regional Council and Venture Taranaki Trust, has been examining options for improving access on what is now being called the ‘Taranaki Crossing’.
“Although much of the detail is yet to be worked out, including through further consultation with Iwi and hapū, the broad plan involves upgrading existing tracks, adding new bridges, toilets, signage and interpretation at an estimated $1.8 million. A further estimated $1.6 million will be required for on-going operating and maintenance, and other associated costs.”
The work is expected to be completed over a two to three-year period.
“We would also like to acknowledge the work of New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young who has worked tirelessly on this project over the last three years,” Mr Bridges says.
The Outdoor Recreation Consortium, which has been lovingly restoring and maintaining huts and tracks in the remote backcountry, is being given certainty of funding for the next two years.
The Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry has announced that the Consortium, led by Federated Mountain Clubs, New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association and Trail Fund New Zealand, will be granted $350,000 a year for the next two years from the DOC Community Fund.
“This group has done an excellent job of coordinating volunteers to paint and renovate huts that are off the beaten track, but are still hugely valued by hunters and trampers across the country,” Ms Barry says.
“A large portion of the funding goes towards flying materials into remote areas, while volunteers carry out the work on the ground. The work has encouraged volunteers to take ownership of the places they care about and it’s helped increase awareness of conservation issues.”
“Knowing they won’t need to apply for funding for the next two years should give the Outdoor Recreation Consortium space to look at a new self-sustaining funding model. DOC will work with them with this transition.”
The Outdoor Recreation Consortium has received approximately $1.2 million over the past three years to help maintain and enhance remote back country facilities that they value and enjoy.
“As a result the Consortium has maintained or enhanced 60 huts and 500 kilometres of track with 869 volunteers working in total for nearly 21,000 hours,” Ms Barry says.
DOC has more than 950 huts and 14,000 kilometres of track to maintain around the country and the partnership with the Outdoor Recreation Consortium contributes to the programme of developing these facilities so more people take advantage of the outdoors.
Further updates and examples of projects can be found at http://hutsandtracks.org.nz/project-blog
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says DOC is fully able to do its job of protecting precious native species while also managing the increasing number of tourists coming to New Zealand.
In the past week, Minister Barry has announced $76m for DOC to manage the growing number of visitors on public conservation land, $21.3m for Battle For Our Birds, $2.8m for a sea lion threat management plan and has released the first ever Threatened Species Strategy.
“DOC is spending more than ever before on natural heritage and recreation work. Predator Free 2050 is gathering momentum and the War on Weeds is continuing at pace. There’s more conservation work being done in New Zealand now than at any time in our history,” Ms Barry says.
“The department’s operational expenditure has increased by 18% from $316m in 2008/09 to a forecast $370m in 2016/17 and those figures don’t include partnership funding which over the past six years is equivalent to $100m.”
“Any funding spent upgrading tracks and developing more opportunities for visitors adds more money to DOC’s fighting fund for species protection and is re-invested back in to biodiversity. $16m of the $76m announced last week is also an increase to ongoing baseline funding.”
“The draft Threatened Species Strategy gives us a prioritised proposal to focus attention on our most vulnerable species and the number of threatened species managed in more than one place has risen from 159 in 2014 to 407 in 2016.”
“We are also making great progress on many of our most threatened endemic bird species and the most recent bird threat classification has four of our most threatened species - takahē, rowi/Okarito brown kiwi, Campbell Island snipe and Campbell Island teal – moved out of the Nationally Critical category. It’s the first time a kiwi species has been moved out of the highest threat class.”
“Our continuing work to rid New Zealand of possums, stoats and rats through Predator Free 2050 is having a significant impact with successful breeding seasons this year for South Island kākā, rock wren, great spotted kiwi and kea.”
“Our sea lion population has also increased and for the first time in 200 years a colony is on the verge of establishing on the mainland. DOC and MPI had contributed to the $2.8m for the Sea Lion Threat Management plan.”
“DOC and MPI have also worked together on the control programme for wilding pines – Public Enemy No.1 in the War on Weeds. The programme has now covered almost a million hectares using $16m made available by the government last year for this work.”
“We have also completed the first stage of a 3 year programme to upgrade tracks in kauri forest to help prevent the spread of kauri dieback including a new footwear cleaning station on the track to Tane Mahuta.”
“The number of frontline “boots on the ground” rangers employed by DOC has remained static over the past 5 years and remain the backbone of a committed and dedicated DOC workforce. However DOC cannot do all the conservation work on its own and that’s where the army of 250,000 volunteers help immeasurably,” Ms Barry says
“The misinformation campaign being peddled by the Greens about DOC funding cuts has been refuted many times. Last year the Greens applied inflation to our budget ignoring the fact that in 2008 DOC had a one-off appropriation of around $45m to buy St James Station. Adding inflation is a nonsense and doesn’t show the true picture.”
“DOC is fully able to do its job. It has many other success stories and the department remains committed to protecting native species and all its other important work,” Ms Barry says.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the fourth round of a multi-million-dollar fund to support community conservation projects opens for applications today.
“The DOC Community Fund was set up three years ago to distribute $26 million over four years and it continues to make a big difference for many community groups who would have struggled to do their great work without some timely financial help,” Ms Barry says.
“More than $21 million has already been awarded to 300 different projects in the first three rounds and we’re anticipating around $4.15 million will be allocated in Round Four this year.”
“Last year’s funding supported a wide range of conservation initiatives and included $1 million towards War on Weeds projects and a further million to boost community pest control projects which will support Predator Free 2050 and Battle for Our Birds.”
“The DOC Community Fund encourages everyday New Zealanders to take ownership and lend a hand to important projects that matter to their communities,” Ms Barry says.
“Predator control and War on Weeds are high priorities for the Government and projects that focus on these two priorities are preferred for this year’s round, although all eligible applications will be considered.”
Applicants need to submit an expression of interest showing how their project fits with the purpose of the fund by 23 June 2017. Following the assessment of expressions of interest successful applicants will be invited to submit a full application.
More details are available on the DOC website at www.doc.govt.nz/doc-community-fund
Examples of projects awarded funding last year include:$13,000 to Pomona Island Charitable Trust to undertake a pest control project to protect native species on Pomona Island, Te Anau $50,000 to Marlborough Sounds Restoration Trust to control wilding pines in the Marlborough Sounds $8000 to Waikato Rivercare Group for a riparian restoration project $20,000 to Pupu Rangi Nature Sanctuary to support a pest management operation to protect 150 hectares of native forest $70,000 to Mount Hiwi Charitable Trust to protect kiwi habitat through predator control operations in Whanganui district.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says DOC will fight this year’s beech forest mast year increase in rat and stoat numbers with a $21.3 million war chest from Budget 2017 for the Battle for our Birds control campaign.
“I can confirm there will be a widespread forest seeding, or mast, once again this year that will trigger a big increase in vermin,” Ms Barry says. “The mast event will affect much of the North Island, the northern South Island and parts of western Otago.
“The Battle for Our Birds 2017 campaign will use $21.3 million of new operating funding in the 2016/17 financial year to undertake one of the largest predator control programmes in our history, across more than 800,000 hectares of land.
“Heavy beech seeding means more food for rats, and triggers an increase in their numbers which in turn causes a spike in stoat numbers, increasing the threat to our most vulnerable native species. Predators kill around 25 million native birds every year and destroy habitat and ecosystems.”
“Trapping and poisoning will start in July this year and run through to 2018, with most work planned before Christmas.”
“We’ll use a mix of ground-based trapping and poison bait stations, depending on local conditions at each site, and DOC will monitor predator levels to determine where best to drop 1080 in hard to reach landscapes.”
“We must continue to carefully and safely use 1080 if we are to protect our precious native creatures from these introduced killers.”
Ms Barry says the long-term solution for predator control will be the successful implementation of the Government’s conservation flagship Predator Free 2050 programme.
“Introduced pests threaten our bird species, our economy and our primary sector, with their total economic cost estimated at around $3.3 billion a year. That’s why we all need to work together to rid New Zealand of rats, stoats and possums by 2050.”
Significant beech masts previously occurred in 2014 and last year and in clusters of mega masts in the 1970s. It is unusual to have two masts in successive years – 2016 and 2017 - but over the last 30 years there have been other clusters of mast events.
Background:In 2016/17 DOC controlled predators across more than 800,000 hectares of priority conservation areas. A five-year study of South Island kākā nesting at Lake Paringa in South Westland shows 30 times as many kākā chicks were produced and survived in the area after 1080 treatment to control stoats and possums compared to the area where no 1080 was used. Results for the reclusive rock wren also showed very high nesting success following aerial 1080 treatment in Kahurangi National Park. A new study of great spotted kiwi in Kahurangi National shows a higher proportion of young birds than normal suggesting they are already benefitting from 1080 use. Also in Kahurangi National Park as part of BFOB 2016 DOC is monitoring the kea population. So far, all radio tagged kea have survived and 4 out of 6 monitored nests have successfully produced young kea. No kea were lost to 1080 poisoning. Water soluble, biodegradable 1080 remains the safest, most efficient and effective method of pest control in the rugged backcountry of New Zealand. The drops are supervised, monitored and carefully controlled to be as safe as possible.
Budget 2017 will see $303.9 million allocated to support the continuation of the New Zealand screen industry production grants, both globally and domestically, say Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry.
This includes $222 million over four years and $18 million in 2016/17 for the International Screen Production Grant to bring international productions to New Zealand.
Up to $63.9 million over four years remains available to ensure the domestic component of the grant continues.
“Our screen industry has a reputation for being one of the best in the world and this grant helps the industry compete internationally for a wide range of projects which bring jobs and economic opportunities to New Zealand,” Mr Bridges says.
“Since 2014, the grant has supported around 50 international productions. The industry now employs 14,000 people working in over 24,700 jobs or contracts. It has been a major contributor to the screen sector overall, drawing in $3.3 billion in annual revenue.
“Without the grant these international productions would not have located in New Zealand and much of the $3.3 billion would not have been spent here,” Mr Bridges says.
Mr Bridges says there are also flow on effects for other industries like tourism and technology.
“Technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics originally developed for film are being used and adapted in other areas such as health bringing even more economic upsides. It also supports tourism with New Zealand recognised as a leading film tourism destination. 18 per cent of visitors say they chose to come here following the Hobbit Trilogy.
“Overall this additional funding enables an industry that’s world leading, promotes New Zealand internationally, and has many tangible economic benefits,” Mr Bridges says.
Ms Barry says the Government has reiterated its support for the New Zealand screen industry by ensuring the domestic component of the grant continues for the next four years.
“The international and domestic screen grants are working hand in hand. The successful marketing of New Zealand as an international screen production destination is leading to increased production activity and improved business confidence within the domestic industry,” Ms Barry says.
“The domestic screen grant has successfully supported 23 New Zealand productions since 2014, accounting for approximately $100 million spent in the local screen industry.
“The number of eligible films tripled when the NZSPG was introduced in 2014 with money spent locally on films such as Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Pork Pie and Chasing Great,” Ms Barry says.
A full evaluation of the both the International and the New Zealand screen grants will be completed this year.
“We want to make sure we have the right mix of incentives to support the industry while ensuring New Zealand gets maximum economic benefit from productions coming to New Zealand,” Mr Bridges says.
The Government will invest $76 million through Budget 2017 on new and upgraded tourism infrastructure for the Department of Conservation as part of a $178 million tourism infrastructure package, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.
“The new funding will allow DOC to better manage the impact of visitor growth, while also protecting our biodiversity and threatened species,” Ms Barry says.
“The DOC estate is our biggest and best-known tourism asset and this funding increase means DOC can upgrade and develop tourist facilities and expand the great walks network.
“This new investment will enhance the quality of experience at those sites most loved by kiwis and international visitors, while also shifting awareness to the paths less travelled.”
“We know there are plenty of new locations that could easily support more visitors, relieve pressure on hotspots and develop a bigger share of the regional economic benefits of tourism,” Ms Barry says.
The Great Walk network of premier multi-day tracks that allow visitors to safely access and enjoy our spectacular and diverse landscapes will be expanded with two new Great Walks.
“Along with the Paparoa Great Walk these new Great Walks will mark the first expansion of the Network in around 25 years. DOC will run a contestable process to select the best locations and work with partners to co-fund these walks,” Ms Barry says.
“We will also develop a network of Great Short Walks and Great Day Walks.”
“Increasingly people enjoying New Zealand’s parks and conservation areas want activities that can be done in a day or less. Great Day Walks and Great Short Walks will give people more choices.”
“Overseas visitor numbers are set to reach 4.5 million by 2022.
“Our outstanding natural landscapes are the reasons why so many local and overseas visitors holiday in New Zealand. This package will allow many more people to enjoy a high quality visitor experience in New Zealand’s parks and conservation areas Ms Barry says.
The Budget 2017 tourism infrastructure package is part of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda and the Regional Economic Development programme.
The funding is made up of $44.6 million operating funding over four years and $31.3 million capital and includes:$23 million for improving visitor experiences throughout New Zealand. $11.4 million for improvements to DOC’s online services to the public and introduce more customer focused technology and a new booking service. $12.7 million towards the expansion of the Great Walks network. $5.7 million to develop Great Short Walks and Great Day Walks. $19.8 million for upgraded tourist facilities.
The Department of Conservation and Botanic Gardens in New Zealand are joining forces to protect endangered native plant species from diseases such as Myrtle Rust.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding today with Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand Incorporated (BGANZ) at the Threatened Species Summit at Te Papa.
“We’ve been working on a MOU with botanic gardens for the past two years and with the unwelcome arrival of Myrtle Rust in New Zealand we’ve brought it forward because it’s now more important than ever for DOC to join forces with these organisations,” Ms Barry says.
“This may include seed banking susceptible species, identifying resistant plants and researching control measures.”
“This new partnership between my Department and the eight New Zealand members of BGANZ provides a much-needed sharing of plant expertise and important resources, as well as national coordination on native plant conservation issues.”
“The relationship with the 61 Australian members is particularly important because they’ve been dealing with Myrtle Rust for the past seven years. The mutual benefits of our working together will extend the capacity for research, advocacy, training and community engagement in this vital work.”
Major botanic gardens at Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin and other public gardens at Taranaki, Gisborne and Hamilton will work in cooperation with DOC.
“These botanic gardens provide plant expertise and unparalleled resources and can offer nursery facilities, seed banks and land for planting seed orchards. Internationally, botanic gardens are already playing similar roles in countries like North America, China, the Netherlands and Peru.”
“With more than a million visitors each year at both the Wellington and Auckland botanic gardens they have a major role to play in educating people about diseases like Myrtle Rust,” Ms Barry says.
BGANZ executive member and Auckland Botanic Gardens Manager Jack Hobbs says botanic gardens in New Zealand have collaborated on various threatened native plant projects over many years.
“We will now be able to operate more strategically and therefore achieve even better outcomes for species protection and plant biodiversity,” Mr Hobbs says.
“We are keen to be involved in researching how Myrtle Rust affects different species and individual plants within those species with a view to finding resistant strains. We’d make our propagation skills available where required.”
“Botanic gardens attract large numbers of visitors and have a unique opportunity to increase awareness of the plight of all our threatened plants through education programmes, interpretation and display gardens.”
Ms Barry says the MOU also supports the relevant aspirations and role of Iwi as guardians of New Zealand’s natural resources.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has issued a “call to action” for the nation to get behind efforts to protect New Zealand’s threatened native plants and animals.
Minister Barry launched the Department of Conservation’s draft Threatened Species Strategy at the Threatened Species Summit in Wellington this morning.
“Our unique plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth and help to define who we are as New Zealanders, adding immeasurable value to our culture, our identity and our landscapes,” Minister Barry says.
“The draft strategy sets out a course to a safe, secure future for our native species by building on existing programmes and commitments, and focusing on partnerships with iwi, communities, landowners, philanthropists, local and regional councils and botanic gardens.”
“We have built up an impressive armoury in the fight to save our native species, so I feel confident that if we all pull together we can achieve this. Predator Free 2050 has created a wave of enthusiasm around the country to achieve ambitious conservation goals, while the War on Weeds and Battle for our Birds are fundamental to expanding native species protection.”
The success of DOC’s work to date is showing through in a revised Bird Threat Classification publication the Minister has also released today.
”Four of our most threatened bird species: takahē, rowi/Okarito brown kiwi, Campbell Island snipe and Campbell Island teal have moved down from the highest threat class, Nationally Critical, to Nationally Vulnerable. It’s the first time a kiwi species has been moved out of the highest threat class,” Ms Barry says.
“The new assessment shows that in areas where there’s conservation management, we are making good progress in protecting vulnerable bird species. Since the first assessment in 2012, the fortunes of 22 threatened bird species or taxa (29%) have improved,” Ms Barry says.
A revised plant classification will be released in the next few months and
consultation on the draft Threatened Species Strategy is open until 31 July and the final strategy will be released in August.
The draft Threatened Species Strategy aims to safeguard New Zealand’s vulnerable threatened species and set them on the path to recovery. To achieve strategy’s vision and assess our progress, we plan to meet the following goals:Manage 500 species for protection by 2025 – a 40% increase on today – and 600 species for protection by 2030. Enhance the populations of 150 prioritised threatened and at risk species by 2025 Integrate Te Ao Māori (the Māori world view) and mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) into species recovery programmes by 2025 Support research, particularly through the National Science Challenges, that helps us to better understand data deficient species
Ten senior students will get the opportunity to join the 100th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium later this year, as part of a competition for schools and kura, Education Minister Nikki Kaye and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Maggie Barry announced today.
“The national competition, for senior students aged 16 to 19, has been organised by the Ministry of Education with partners and sponsors the Fields of Remembrance Trust and the Passchendaele Society,” says Ms Kaye.
“Entrants are asked to use digital technology to produce a curriculum resource for year 7 to 10 students about the Battle of Passchendaele.
“The winners will attend the National Commemoration Service on 12 October 2017, at the Tyne Cot Cemetery near Zonnebeke in West Flanders.
“This is an amazing opportunity for senior students to learn more about the Battle of Passchendaele, and to share their insights with younger students through the curriculum resources they develop.
“The competition is also a great example of the innovative ways that digital technologies are being used to transform teaching and learning in our classrooms.”
Ms Barry says the Battle of Passchendaele left a deep scar on our country, and is a significant part of our history.
“The battle saw one of our darkest days as a nation, with 846 of our soldiers losing their lives on 12 October 1917.
“It’s important we continue to commemorate all those who fought for our freedom and peace, and we provide opportunities for our young people to reflect on and honour their sacrifice.
“This will be the trip of a lifetime for the 10 winners, who will get the opportunity as I did two years ago to stand on the battlefield, visit the war cemeteries and understand the sacrifices made by their forebears.”
The competition runs from 8 May to 2 July 2017. Winners will be announced on 24 July 2017.
“This is a fantastic educational opportunity, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the innovative and creative resources that are developed as part of the competition,” says Ms Kaye.
More information is available on the Ministry of Education’s website at http://www.education.govt.nz/passchendaele