New Zealanders are being invited to submit a badge design for the Royal New Zealand Navy’s newest and largest-ever ship, HMNZS Aotearoa.
“This is a unique opportunity for all New Zealanders to play a part in how their ship will be presented to the world, ” Minister of Defence Mark Mitchell says.
“It’s a chance for Kiwis to create an enduring piece of Navy history.”
The competition to design a badge for HMNZS Aotearoa, which is scheduled to be added to the RNZN fleet in January 2020, begins today.
Aotearoa will be the Navy’s new maritime sustainment vessel and fleet tanker, replacing HMNZS Endeavour, and will also enhance combat operational capability, provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief and support monitoring operations in the Southern Ocean.
A Navy ship’s badge reflects the name of a ship and the role it performs. It needs to be simple yet striking. The competition is open from today and closes on 1 December.
The winning design will be selected by the Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral John Martin, and announced on Waitangi Day next year.
The winner will be presented with the finished and mounted badge of Aotearoa and will also get a tour of the Devonport Naval Base and have a sea ride around the harbour on a Navy ship.
Once the Navy takes delivery of Aotearoa, the winner will also spend a night on the ship on a leg of her New Zealand sea trials.
Details on how to enter the competition are at aotearoa.mil.nz
The Government is taking steps to ensure that small grocery businesses can continue to hold liquor licences, Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell announced today.
The moves are designed to ensure the continued responsible sale and supply of alcohol. Under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, grocery stores can hold an off-licence if the store’s principal business is the sale of food products, which is based on sales revenue.
“The Government is aware that, as a result of tobacco excise tax increases, some grocery stores may be unable to renew off-licences to sell alcohol,” Mr Mitchell says.
“Allowing grocery stores to sell alcohol supports the message of drinking responsibly by eating food when having a drink. The law is clear on that, for good reason.”
As a result of tobacco excise tax increases, the main source of revenue for some grocery stores has changed to tobacco products. These stores therefore no longer qualify as grocery stores and cannot be issued an off-licence.
“It is not the purpose of tobacco excise tax increases to restrict small grocery stores from being able to sell alcohol,” Mr Mitchell says.
“To address the unintended impacts of these increases on grocery stores, the Government is making minor changes to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Regulations 2013 to exclude the tobacco excise tax when determining a store’s principal business.”
The changes will be introduced in the coming months.
Earthquake damage will not be reflected in any changes to the rating valuations of Kaikoura properties this year, says Land Information Minister Mark Mitchell.
“The Government has given approval for the Kaikoura District Council to exclude the impact of earthquake damage on the values of affected properties while the extent of the damage is still being assessed,” says Mr Mitchell.
“It’s important to wait until this work is completed so that any updating is done accurately and consistently.”
Mr Mitchell says the decision came about from a proposal lodged under emergency legislation passed in December 2016 to support the Kaikoura District Council and the community with the earthquake recovery.
"Difficulties gaining access to some properties, and the need for the Council to prioritise rebuild and recovery work, were also factors that led to this proposal.
"The Council will still be able to provide rates relief for owners of severely damaged properties.”
The Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha is to extend its current deployment in Asian waters to support the United States Seventh Fleet.
This is in response to the recent collision between a Philippines’ container ship and the destroyer USS Fitzgerald, Defence Minister Mark Mitchell says. Seven US sailors were killed and the Fitzgerald sustained significant damage in the 17 June collision.
Announcing the deployment, Mr Mitchell extended the Government’s condolences on the tragedy.
“Our thoughts are very much with the bereaved families and the crew of the USS Fitzgerald after this terrible event,” he says.
“Last November, the United States was very quick to help here in New Zealand when the earthquake struck in the South Island. The USS Sampson, a sister ship of the Fitzgerald, was in Auckland for our International Naval Review and was quickly dispatched down to Kaikoura to aid in the recovery efforts. This was deeply appreciated.”
Te Kaha is near Japan as part of the current RNZN Naval Task Group deployment throughout Asia. Her assistance to the Seventh Fleet has been offered, and the United States has accepted the offer.
“Given Te Kaha is currently nearby, we are in a position to offer support,” Mr Mitchell says.
Te Kaha’s role will be to contribute to the security and protection of the Nimitz carrier group.
The Naval Task Group sailed from New Zealand in February for an extensive deployment to Australia and then Asia to participate in exercises, conduct port visits and attend the Republic of Singapore’s International Naval Review.
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell has visited New Zealand Defence Force personnel training the Iraqi Security Forces at Camp Taji near Baghdad.
Mr Mitchell, on his first visit to Taji as Minister, was accompanied by fellow MPs Todd Muller and Labour List MP David Parker.
“I am incredibly proud of the work our servicemen and women are doing, and the contribution they are making towards the defeat of ISIS," Mr Mitchell says.
“They are delivering a broad range of high-quality training and have developed the ability to quickly adapt the training to meet changing enemy tactics on the battlefield.
“Since this deployment began in 2015 we've trained over 23,000 Iraqi soldiers, arming them with new skills and capabilities that have assisted them to complete complex joint force tasks.
"Our people are simply outstanding at what they do. It is making a difference as the military fight against ISIS progresses towards its final stages, and it is greatly appreciated not only by the Iraqi Government but our other coalition partners.
"This isn't just a New Zealand mission though - it is a close partnership with the Australian Defence Force with both sides acknowledging they couldn't deliver the mission without the other. I know the entire delegation was pleased to see our two nations working together and supporting one another in the spirit of our Anzac ties.
"Good progress continues to be made in the final liberation of Mosul and the military defeat of ISIS, while not underestimating the longer term challenges the Iraqi Government and Iraqi people face as they stabilise and rebuild territory regained from ISIS. They are looking to the international community for continuing support."
New Zealand has 106 trainers, force protection elements and other Regular Force soldiers at Taji.
While in Iraq Mr Mitchell also met the Iraqi Acting Minister of Defence, General Othman al-Ghanimi and the US commander of the Combined Joint Task Force, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend.
In the United Arab Emirates Mr Mitchell met and discussed regional issues with Ministry of Defence Under-Secretary His Excellency Matar Salem Al Dhaheri.
Minister addresses Taji contingent
Minister chats to NZDF soldier
Minister with ISF soldiers
The Government will shortly introduce legislation aimed at putting the Public Trust on an equal footing with private sector institutions.
The new legislation will remove the Crown guarantee of the Public Trust, in line with government policy for several decades that Crown-owned commercial businesses should not have a competitive advantage through being Crown-owned, Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.
“Public Trust recently received an AA credit rating from independent credit rating agency Fitch. This rating is a sign of very low credit risk, and a high level of ability to meet financial commitments. The rating places the Public Trust just one notch below the Government's own rating.”
Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell says the rating gives the Public Trust’s customers certainty that it is a strong, stable, sustainable business.
“Gaining the AA rating is a considerable achievement. It shows customers that they can have confidence in the organisation, and that they will not be disadvantaged by the removal of the guarantee.
“No other business in New Zealand that provides the same services as the Public Trust is underpinned by a Crown guarantee,” he says.
The Crown guarantee will remain in place until the legislation is passed by Parliament. This is likely to be in the second half of 2018.
Disability advocate and former paralympian Paula Tesoriero has been appointed as the Human Rights Commission’s next Disability Rights Commissioner, Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell announced today.
The position of Disabilities Rights Commissioner was created by an amendment to the Human Rights Act 1993 passed last year. Ms Tesoriero replaces Paul Gibson, who was the first Human Rights Commissioner with a formal responsibility for disability issues.
“Ms Tesoriero has a significant record of working to increase awareness of disability issues. She is well informed on New Zealand’s international human rights standing and her legal background and understanding of the machinery of government will be advantageous in the context of the Commission’s work,” Mr Mitchell says.
“I also want to acknowledge and thank Paul Gibson for his service and advocacy in this role.”
Since February 2016 Ms Tesoriero has been General Manager, Systems and Partnerships with Statistics New Zealand. From 2010 to 2016 she was General Manager Higher Courts with the Ministry of Justice.
Ms Tesoriero created history with her world record-breaking time in the women’s 500m cycling time trial at the Beijing Summer Paralympics in 2008, securing New Zealand’s first gold medal of the Games. Her services to cycling were recognised when she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2009 New Year’s Honours.
Ms Tesoriero also has a high profile in the disability sector, where she served as Deputy Chair of the NZ Artificial Limb Service and a Board member of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation. She holds an LLB, BA, and Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management qualifications.
Ms Tesoriero will take up her three-year appointment on 31 July.
The Human Rights Commission is an independent Crown entity that works with Government and civil society to promote respect for human rights, encourage harmonious race relations and equal employment opportunities, and to resolve complaints about discrimination and related issues.
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell has congratulated New Zealand Defence Force engineers who arrived home from the Sinai today on “a job well done”.
The detachment carried out key infrastructure projects for the Multinational Force and Observers peacekeeping contingent in the Sinai.
“This team has done a great job in challenging conditions to complete these two vital projects for the MFO,” Mr Mitchell says.
The engineers built a new entry control point and helped construct a 3.3-kilometer perimeter fence for the MFO’s South Camp.
Mr Mitchell says the projects would improve security at South Camp, where the mission’s headquarters and a number of troops from the 12 nations that make up the MFO’s force moved in mid-2016 because of the deteriorating security situation in North Sinai.
The engineers, from the New Zealand Army’s 2nd Engineer Regiment, left in January to work on the two projects for the MFO.
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell has held discussions today with General Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, who is currently visiting New Zealand.
General Pavel is NATO’s senior military officer and the principal military advisor to NATO’s Secretary-General.
“New Zealand is one of NATO’s strategic partners and General Pavel’s visit reflects the importance of this partnership,” says Mr Mitchell.
“Our relationship with NATO is an important part of New Zealand’s contribution to the rules-based order and international peace and security.
“I had a very useful meeting with General Pavel. I was able to follow up on recent discussions in Copenhagen and Singapore, and it was a good opportunity to share perspectives on security challenges facing NATO and New Zealand, including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.”
New Zealand contributes 10 personnel to the Afghan National Army Officer Academy which is part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. The Government is considering a request from the United States to send a small number of additional personnel to Afghanistan.
General Pavel was conducting a counterpart visit with Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating. His itinerary included meetings with officials and academics and visits to Defence bases.
A new building to house the Aviation Medicine Unit at RNZAF Base Auckland was opened by Defence Minister Mark Mitchell this afternoon.
The $6.5 million building is the first of a large number of capital projects to be delivered under the Defence Estate Regeneration Plan, the biggest ever capital investment in the regeneration of Defence Force camps and bases.
It will house all the facilities required to provide a modern, safe and efficient aviation medicine service for the Air Force.
“The Defence Estate Regeneration Plan, released last year, provides for the essential infrastructure we need to support modern Defence capabilities,” Mr Mitchell says.
“This new building is the first deliverable of the Plan to be completed – a facility designed to support vital future needs.
“Likewise, the $100 million investment announced in the Budget in May will be targeted at creating the healthy, safe and more modern facilities that are critically important to the health and wellbeing of our Defence Force personnel across New Zealand,” he says.