Defence Minister Mark Mitchell has extended his deepest condolences to the family of the Special Operations Force soldier who died during a maritime counter-terrorism training exercise off the Coromandel Peninsula this morning.
“I offer the Government’s most sincere sympathies and my own to the soldier’s family. Our thoughts are very much with you at this terrible time,” Mr Mitchell says.
“No words can adequately describe this sudden and tragic loss. Your family member was a man who commanded high respect amongst his fellow soldiers and embodied the Army’s core values of courage, commitment, comradeship and integrity.
”This is a tragedy not only for the family, but for every member of the Defence Force. My thoughts are also with them today.
“I especially acknowledge the loss suffered by our Special Operations Force family and the soldier’s mates at Papakura. As Minister I’ve been supported by the SOF and have witnessed their professionalism on operations and in training. They take on difficult and demanding tasks and regularly accept significant risk. They do so to serve and protect their fellow New Zealanders.
"I understand there will be a high level of public interest and outpouring of sympathy for the family, but I ask that everyone give family, friends and colleagues the time and space they need to grieve,” Mr Mitchell says.
The annual Minister of Defence Industry Awards of Excellence were presented at the Defence, Industry, National Security Forum in Wellington last night by Defence Minister Mark Mitchell.
“I congratulate the winners, and all the finalists, in the various categories,” Mr Mitchell says.
“They are an outstanding group of companies who have all the skills and deliver the top-class service that is essential for the New Zealand Defence Force to carry out its day-to-day operations.”
The winners are:
Provision of a service to Defence less than $15 million: Gilbert Sheet Metals (Auckland)
Provision of a product to Defence less than $15 million: PPG Industries
Provision of a product or service to Defence in excess of $15 million: Systematic Software Engineering
Health and Safety Citation: South Pacific Industrial (Northland)
Special Award: Steve Bennett (Airbus New Zealand)
Special Award: Christine Baker (Bidfood)
The award citations are on the Ministry of Defence website:
“These awards recognise industry’s role in supporting Defence throughout the year and the calibre of the winners, and everyone nominated, reflect the high standards of the whole sector,” Mr Mitchell says.
The sector employs around 2,500 people, generates $125 million in wages, and $60 million in revenue, and delivers economic benefits throughout the country with hubs in main centres as well as in Whangarei, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Blenheim and Nelson, Mr Mitchell says.
Nominations for the awards covered some of the wide range of services that support Defence, including information technology, engineering and catering supplies.
Good evening everyone.
Ambassador Yeo, my Parliamentary colleague Melissa Lee, the Dean and members of the Diplomatic Corps, members of the Korean community and guests: It is a great pleasure to join you this evening to celebrate the Foundation Day of the Republic of Korea. Ambassador, this is the first celebration of your Foundation Day as the ambassador to New Zealand – welcome.
Just looking around tonight and chatting with you all has reminded me of the very strong friendship between our two nations, a friendship that is founded on the sacrifices and comradeship shared on the battlefields of Korea over 60 years ago.
There are veterans of the Korean War here and on behalf of us all and our Governments I especially acknowledge you and the hardships you suffered. You put your lives on the line and I thank you for your service. Some of your mates did not come home, and tonight we also remember and honour them.
It is very rewarding to know that veterans who have visited South Korea over the years have said that what they did was well worth it, seeing the great progress the country has made economically and in so many other ways during the past decades.
Like you, New Zealand has been deeply concerned by, and has strongly condemned, the behaviour of North Korea in recent months. New Zealand has repeatedly called on North Korea to stop its nuclear and missile development, and return to a meaningful dialogue to address the concerns of the international community.
As you know, the New Zealand Defence Force has for many years maintained personnel in Korea as a committed member of the United Nations Command overseeing the Armistice, and this has just been extended for two years. Although the numbers are small, it is an important deployment for the Defence Force, and highly sought-after by the young officers who are posted into those roles.
I can assure you that we are totally united with the Korean people and the international community in calling on North Korea to cease reckless actions that place at risk the peace, stability and prosperity of North Asia and beyond. New Zealand has welcomed and co-sponsored, wherever possible, UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea and will continue to support diplomatic efforts to resolve this issue.
2017 has been a busy year for our relationship. Tonight is a good time to enjoy the shared achievements and to look ahead.
The high-quality free trade agreement that now exists between New Zealand and Korea has opened new opportunities to grow the partnership between our two innovative economies.
Two-way goods and services trade is now valued at more than NZ$4 billion and it is encouraging to see businesses continue to make full use of the agreement for increased trade, investment and co-operation.
From agriculture and education to ICT, climate change and Antarctica, we work very well and successfully together.
I also want to highlight the extensive contribution of the Korean community in New Zealand.
So many Korean New Zealanders, “Kowi” as I understand they are often called, are involved in New Zealand society in the fields of business, health, government, science, academia and others. They are highly successful leaders in their chosen professional fields and in other areas of activity.
And of course both countries are very proud of the achievements of golfer Lydia Ko. Not only is she an Olympic medallist, but she serves as an excellent role model for our youth. (And I’d just like to note here that she is from my own electorate of Rodney and Gulf Harbour is her home golf club.)
We also acknowledge the many young New Zealanders who have worked as English teachers in Korea and served as cultural ambassadors.
They make a great contribution while there and then again back in New Zealand through the knowledge and understanding of Korean life and culture they can share with their peers.
New Zealand and Korea have come a long way together. We have built a modern and varied relationship and we can be very optimistic for the future in every way.
Ambassador, we acknowledge your important role, together with our Embassy in Seoul, in promoting and developing the opportunities we have. I share your hopes for the relationship. Thank you for inviting me here tonight.
Ambassador, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in the toast to His Excellency President Moon Jae-in and to the people of the Republic of Korea.
Land Information Minister Mark Mitchell has announced the reappointment of Phillip Curnow and Ken Taylor to the Valuers Registration Board for a further three-year term. The Board is the authority that oversees the performance of New Zealand’s land valuers.
“Both Mr Curnow and Mr Taylor were first appointed to the VRB in 2007,” Mr Mitchell says.
“Based in Hamilton, Mr Curnow brings urban, commercial and industrial property expertise to the VRB, as well as expertise and knowledge of local body, compensation, and ground lease valuations and advice.
“Mr Taylor is a senior valuer who brings rural experience to the VRB. Based in Alexandra, he provides geographic representation as well as expertise in and knowledge of South Island rural valuation.
“Both Mr Curnow and Mr Taylor are highly experienced valuers with a wealth of experience. I am pleased that they will continue to serve on the VRB and help maintain New Zealanders’ confidence in registered valuers,” Mr Mitchell says.
Ambassador Traslosheros, Parliamentary colleagues, the Dean and members of the Diplomatic Corps, distinguished guests, members of Mexico’s community in New Zealand, ladies and gentlemen.
While it’s an honour and a privilege for me to join you in celebrating Mexico’s National Day, can I first say that I and I’m sure all New Zealanders were deeply saddened to hear news of the devastating earthquake that struck Mexico last week.
On behalf of the New Zealand Government, Ambassador, please accept our sincere condolences and please convey that message to the people of Mexico. The thoughts of all New Zealanders are with the injured, the loved ones of those affected, and the emergency services staff at the forefront of the response.
As you will all know, New Zealand is no stranger to dealing with the tragic impact of earthquakes and their aftershocks. We understand the effect that these events can have at a national level and recognise the importance of international solidarity.
So as a nation, we wish you both strength in dealing with the consequences of this event and resilience as you begin to recover and rebuild.
Our two countries enjoy a strong and well-established friendship. With partnerships in trade, agriculture, sport, and the arts, our two countries have an excellent relationship, full of opportunities.
Recently we made good progress on one of those opportunities. In June, my colleague Gerry Brownlee, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, attended the Pacific Alliance summit in Cali, Colombia, where he met with Secretary Videgaray.
Thanks to the support of Mexico, we were able to announce the launch of free trade negotiations with the Alliance at the summit, and we are very grateful to Mexico for that support.
An agreement with the Alliance will provide a host of new opportunities for New Zealand and Mexican businesses, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of greater collaboration between our countries.
Mexico and New Zealand also work closely together in agriculture.
Earlier this year, we hosted a study tour from Mexico organised through the New Zealand-Pacific Alliance Agricultural Cooperation Initiative.
Our Special Agricultural Trade Envoy visited Mexico this year and we are looking forward to signing our Agricultural Cooperation Arrangement in the near future.
In June we welcomed a four-person all-female delegation from the Mexican Senate led by Senator and track and field Olympic silver medallist Ana Gabriela Guevara.
The delegation met with members of the New Zealand-Latin America Parliamentary Friendship Group and the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians.
They also called on the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and met with officials to discuss issues of common interest between New Zealand and Mexico, including a discussion with the Ministry for Women.
2017 has been a good year for our cultural and sporting links with Mexico. In May, the New Zealand Film Festival opened in Mexico City.
With six feature films, including the instant classic Boy, and a selection of shorts, the festival encouraged audiences to immerse themselves in the language, culture, lives and society of New Zealand. It was a great success and was attended by over 1,200 people.
Then in June, our All Whites football team played Mexico in the Confederations Cup. Despite taking a strong first-half lead, the All Whites were not quite up to the challenge: Mexico came back for a deserved win.
Finally, I am proud to note that our growing friendship with Mexico is echoed by our growing embassy in Mexico City. Over the past year, we have added two new permanent positions, and next year we will add a third.
With our new ambassador, Mark Sinclair, starting work soon in Mexico, and the hard work of Ambassador Traslosheros here in Wellington, I know that the friendship between our countries is in safe hands.
Recognising and honouring the valuable friendship and the many threads of a relationship that continues to expand and deepen, on behalf of the Government of New Zealand, I propose the toast: to President Peña Nieto and to the Government, the representatives, and the people of the United Mexican States.
Former High Court Judge Sir Hugh Williams QC has been reappointed as chairperson of the Electoral Commission for a further term of 18 months, Associate Minister of Justice Mark Mitchell announced today.
“Sir Hugh continues to provide the Commission with very able legal and strategic leadership and I’m pleased he has agreed to continue to serve in this important office,” Mr Mitchell says.
Appointment to the role is made by the Governor-General on Parliament’s recommendation. Mr Mitchell says Sir Hugh has been reappointed for 18 months so he can oversee the reporting processes that will follow the General Election.
Sir Hugh was appointed a Judge of the High Court in 1995 and retired from the bench in 2009. He was appointed president of the former Electoral Commission in 2009 and then chairperson of the present Commission in 2011.
The Electoral Commission administers parliamentary elections and referenda, the allocation of time and money for the broadcast of election programmes, conduct of the Māori Electoral Option, and supports the work of the Representation Commission, which sets electoral boundaries, provides advice, reports and public education on electoral matters, and electoral enrolment services for both parliamentary and local body elections.
District Court Judge Colin Doherty has been appointed chairperson of the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA), Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell announced today.
Judge Doherty will succeed Judge Sir David Carruthers, who is standing down after five years in the role. The appointment was made by the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, on Parliament’s recommendation.
“Judge Doherty has 40 years’ experience in New Zealand’s justice system as a lawyer and judge and I’m confident he has the legal acumen, judgment and administrative skills to equip him well for this important and demanding role,” Mr Mitchell says.
Judge Doherty is the National Executive Judge of the District Court. He was appointed to the bench in 1997, following 20 years in legal practice. He is also an Alternate Judge of the Environment Court and Justice of the High Court of the Cook Islands.
Mr Mitchell also paid tribute to Sir David Carruthers, who has been in the role since April 2012.
“Under his leadership, the Authority has been a rigorous and independent watchdog of police conduct and he has made a great contribution through his considerable wisdom and skill,” Mr Mitchell says.
“His distinguished service in this role matches his achievements in a succession of significant legal appointments over many years.”
The IPCA’s role is to investigate complaints alleging any misconduct or neglect of duty by a member of the Police or any practice, policy, or procedure of the Police affecting the complainant. The Authority is also responsible for investigating any incident involving serious bodily harm or death notified to it by the Commissioner of Police.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell have announced that the Government has decided to bring home the group of New Zealand SAS troops in Tonga for a jungle training exercise as soon as possible.
"Rather than continuing on to do their scheduled training exercise we've concluded this is a time for Tonga to have some clear air, uncomplicated by the coincidental presence of NZDF personnel in the country," Mr Brownlee says.
"Tonga is clearly in a process of political transition and it's best we leave them to manage that without the added complication of a military training exercise going on.
"King Tupou VI has exercised his constitutional right to dissolve Parliament and we look forward to learning more in the days ahead about Tonga's plans for governance ahead of November's elections."
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell says that given the dissolution of government, it is prudent to withdraw from Tonga and carry out the joint training with Tonga at another time.
“The relationship between the NZ Defence Force and the Royal Tongan Defence Force remains strong," Mr Mitchell says.
“This is an annual exercise, with the planning for this year’s event done in November last year, and we will reschedule it for a more suitable time in the future."
Can I start by thanking the New Zealand Security Association for inviting me here tonight. It is great to be here to acknowledge and celebrate with you the great work and professionalism of your industry.
I specifically want to acknowledge Gary Morrison, CEO of the New Zealand Security Association.
In my speech tonight, I’m going to talk about the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Act and its modernised regulatory regime, and I will also touch briefly on some of the work the Government is doing in the industry’s area.
Before entering Parliament, I spent quite a few years in the New Zealand Police, and later operated my own security company overseas.
During that time, I have seen the industry become more regulated and professional. The sector provides a wide range of important services, ranging from crowd control and conflict management to technical security installation.
The work of security personnel is highly-valued and they hold a responsible role in our community. Your clients and the public depend on you to protect them and their property. The Act reflects this by setting clear standards for the industry.
Professionalism does not exist in isolation. It is created when the workplace culture that employers create is based on respect, integrity and excellence.
Many in the security industry, including the New Zealand Security Association, were actively engaged in the legislative process and provided valuable input into the development of the current regime.
The Act replaced legislation from the 1970s which was clearly out-of-date and in need of reform. The new Act modernised the regulatory regime for the industry, helping to ensure security services are provided in a safe and professional manner and inspire public confidence.
The Act made many changes. It clarified and extended categories of licences and certificates. It significantly increased the penalties for people operating without those licences or certificates. It also set a five-year renewal period, instead of annual renewals, reducing compliance costs.
One of the key changes the Act made was to set clear training requirements to improve safety for both security staff and the people they come in contact with.
The Minimum Training Regulations came into force in 2013, prescribing training requirements for property guards, personal guards and crowd controllers. The requirements recognise that as front-line security personnel, they are likely to encounter situations involving physical confrontation.
The Act requires that registered personnel must demonstrate knowledge of the industry, including the relevant law, and conflict situation management skills. This ensures they are well equipped to address the risk of harm associated with such situations and keep both the public and themselves safe.
The Act also established the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority, which is supported by the Ministry of Justice, and the Complaints, Investigation and Prosecution Unit with the Department of Internal Affairs. Both have been doing good work to administer and enforce the regime.
The Authority processes on average between 3,500 and 4,500 applications for licences and certificates per year. Also, more than 150 matters have been referred to the Complaints, Investigation and Prosecution Unit since its establishment.
The Government is working on making operational improvements. The Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill, which was introduced to Parliament on 1 August, will make various improvements to the operation of the Authority. The proposed changes will enable greater use of modern technology, such as allowing hearings by digital technology. This will further improve efficiency, effectiveness and timeliness.
The Bill will also enable the Authority to discipline for unsatisfactory conduct, such as bullying, in addition to disciplining for misconduct. This will help provide better consumer protection and further increase public confidence.
The ongoing engagement with sector representatives like the Security Association is valuable and instrumental in keeping the industry and the regulatory regime functioning properly.
Currently, the Government is also working on making minor amendments to the Minimum Training Regulations to address concerns raised by the association. The Minimum Training Regulations were intended to apply to front-line staff because they have the potential to encounter physical conflict in their work. However, they currently also capture office-based staff who do not have any front-line responsibilities but come under the category of “property guard” or “property guard employees”.
The amendments to the regulations are designed to clarify that staff who do not go out to patrol and guard premises are not required to undertake conflict management training. We will keep you informed as this work progresses.
The roles and expectations of the security industry have changed greatly throughout the years and the public recognises the valuable contribution you make in the community.
You play a huge role in keeping businesses and communities safe and it is great to see the outstanding work, professionalism and excellence that we are all here to recognise and celebrate tonight. I congratulate all the finalists for their outstanding work, and their employers for supporting them to achieve.
Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to be here and be part of this special event.
The New Zealand Defence Force’s 10-person contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan is to be increased by three personnel.
“New Zealand has been contributing to Afghanistan’s stability since 2001, and we remain committed to the international community’s objectives there,” says Defence Minister Mark Mitchell.
“A deteriorating security situation has prompted the international community to refocus its efforts. Countries around the globe are making decisions to increase contributions to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorist organisations.
“New Zealand will continue to stand alongside our partners in supporting stability in Afghanistan and countering the threat of international terrorism,” Mr Mitchell says.
The 10 Defence Force personnel currently in Afghanistan are working as mentors and support personnel at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy in Kabul.
Two of the extra personnel will deploy to positions within Mission Headquarters in Kabul, and one will deploy to the Academy as a physical training instructor.
Resolute Support is a non-combat mission. New Zealand’s contribution is mandated until 30 June 2018.