New Zealand’s commitment to the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC) in South Korea will be extended for a further two years to 31 August 2019, Defence Minister Mark Mitchell announced today.
The New Zealand Defence Force currently has five officers deployed to UNCMAC.
“New Zealand has deployed military personnel to UNCMAC since 1998. The renewal of this commitment reinforces the importance we place on peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Mr Mitchell says.
UNCMAC is responsible for supervising and monitoring the Armistice Agreement signed at the end of the Korean War and sits under the authority of the US-led United Nations Command.
An additional NZDF officer will also be deployed into United Nations Command Headquarters.
“This additional role underscores our reputation as a credible contributor to regional peace and security efforts. It also reinforces our relationships with regional partners,” Mr Mitchell says.
New Zealand, along with 15 other countries that provided combat and medical support during the Korean War, has been a member of the United Nations Command since it was established by the United Nations Security Council in 1950.
Women’s Minister Paula Bennett and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell are congratulating the Royal New Zealand Air Force for an initiative aimed at attracting more young women into the Air Force.
The School to Skies programme highlights the range of technical and aviation careers available in the Air Force to years 12 and 13 girls with an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths.
The first four-day camp was held last week with 24 students at RNZAF Base Auckland at Whenuapai, and it attracted so much interest that a second camp began today. Mr Mitchell visited the initial camp while at the base last week.
“New Zealand needs more women in the Air Force and the aviation industry in general. These students are able to experience life on an Air Force base, plan a flight mission and get hands-on experience fixing a real aircraft,” Mrs Bennett says.
“The camp fits in with the Defence Force’s vison of attracting more women into the military by helping them to understand the organisation’s values and breaking down any barriers that may prevent women from opting for a Defence Force career,” Mrs Bennett says.
“At least half the camp is dedicated to science, technology, engineering and maths, allowing the students to translate key education subjects into real-life careers,” Mr Mitchell says.
“The Air Force wants to make this an annual initiative, and the format of the course is such that the Navy and Army could use it to run courses tailored to their own specialist needs.
“I congratulate the Air Force on a world-leading initiative that could be of benefit to the whole NZDF.
“Its success has not only been shown by the interest it has attracted but also by providing these young women with a real understanding of the Air Force and the wider Defence Force,” Mr Mitchell says.
For the first time, authorities fighting the spread of wilding conifers will have a complete picture of infestations throughout the country, says Minister for Land Information Mark Mitchell.
“Land Information New Zealand has developed the Wilding Conifer Information System, a web-based mapping and monitoring tool, to ensure control of this invasive species is carried out in the most efficient way possible,” Mr Mitchell says.
The Wilding Conifer Information System (WCIS) will underpin the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme - a partnership between LINZ, the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Department of Conservation, the New Zealand Defence Force, regional and district councils, forestry, farming and community groups.
The WCIS will play an integral part in measuring the success of the programme.
“The tool provides for accurate and nationally consistent standards to record data about infestations and control activities,” Mr Mitchell says.
It comes complete with a mobile app for authorities to download on their devices and capture information from the field in real-time.
“This information will be vital at both regional and national levels when it comes to making decisions about where to prioritise funding for control.
“Wilding conifers are a major threat to our ecosystems, native landscapes and farms. Active management is required to tackle invasive conifers, which now affect more than two million hectares of land and are spreading at an estimated rate of five per cent a year,” Mr Mitchell says.
The mapping application can be viewed on the LINZ website: www.linz.govt.nz/wilding-conifer-information-system
Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for coming to the launch of the Wilding Conifer Information System.
I’d like to acknowledge my colleague, the Minister of Conservation, Maggie Barry, who is here today and will be speaking shortly.
I’m honoured to be announcing the official launch of this new system, but first, thank you to the staff at Land Information New Zealand, Dave Mole and his team, for the hard work that has gone into this project.
And a special thank you to everyone on the ground, behind the scenes and out in the community, who are out there every day making a difference to protect our landscapes.
As you saw in the demonstration, this tool will be vital in the fight against wildings far into the future, because this is not a short-term campaign.
Wildings have been a blight on our landscape for decades. Like many of the weeds and pests that we have to deal with in New Zealand, there is a lot of time, effort, and money spent on control.
Unfortunately, a lot of Kiwis aren’t aware of the dire situation we’re facing in some parts of the country. Many of them don’t know what a wilding is, and no doubt there are many people who like them – look at the magnificent view we have here today.
But people do need to understand the effect that the unintended spread of these trees has on our native landscape.
It’s estimated that wildings affect more than 2 million hectares of New Zealand land. And they are spreading, at a rate of about five per cent a year – infesting tens of thousands of hectares.
When not controlled, this silent pest invades our landscapes, smothers our native flora, evicts our native animals, sucks water out of our catchments, and has a huge impact on our economy.
The spread can cost us hugely. Every year millions of dollars are spent on this problem. But management is also complex – there are a range of communities, landowners, authorities and operators affected.
That’s why it’s important to act now – and we have.
We have a National Strategy. We have a National Programme for wilding conifer management.
We have key parties coming together, collaborating, to combat the negative impacts of these trees before it is too late.
We have continued campaigns to promote awareness and best practice.
We have connections with landowners and communities to ensure high-risk wildings don’t spread to create new infestations.
And now we have a system to map and monitor wilding conifer spread and report on control efforts. It will play an integral part in measuring the success of the National Programme.
What’s more, the Programme has added five more operations, or “management units”, to be allocated funding this financial year.
This will see 371,000 hectares of land prioritised for control.
By tackling these areas sooner we’ll save more money over the lifetime of the Programme, and we can engage more people sooner to build support for our work.
We’ll be able to keep the momentum that the Programme needs.
Collaboration is essential for the success of the Programme.
Government agencies, councils, landowners, trusts and communities all have a contribution to make in the effective management of this pest tree.
A lot of hard work is carried out through landowners and trusts.
So it’s fantastic to have everyone on the same page, working together towards the same overall goal.
We all have strengths we bring to the table.
Land Information New Zealand is a key partner in the National Programme, using its strengths to build an evidence base for this work.
In developing the system, LINZ has leveraged its expertise in mapping, operational control on Crown land and relationships across many different sectors, to lead the information project.
The tool will underpin the National Programme in many ways.
It will tell us how well we are doing over time, and what could be done better.
Authorities will be able to look at control costs and effectiveness, and analyse data to inform decision-making – on both national and regional levels.
The system will have a huge impact on securing future funding to control infestations. And the more we can control infestations, the less money we have to spend on this problem down the line.
The ultimate value of this system is that we’ll have the evidence to make the right decisions to protect our land.
And, as you’ve seen, we’re harnessing the power of technology to help us achieve our work.
The Government is very keen to support hi-tech solutions to resolve some of our biosecurity problems.
By using geospatial tools developed in New Zealand, LINZ - along with its technology partners, Eagle Technology and Esri - has been able to create a powerful and innovative solution.
This is a big step forward: it takes us from paper-based to digital workflows and allows us to be more efficient, make better decisions, and be more accountable.
The smart analytics inside the solution allows agencies to understand how and where money is being spent and how this is making a difference to eradicate wilding conifers nationally.
Open data is important to the Government and the data and insights being captured through the use of this solution will be open to all. Open data is an area where LINZ continues to be a strong champion.
LINZ will continue to develop the Wilding Conifer Information System. It will work very closely with our stakeholders, including many of you in this room today. And LINZ is committed to maintaining this system too, so it will really set the foundation for our national and regional strategies for wilding control.
The purpose of any new system or tool is to provide a benefit to the user. The benefit of this tool is that it provides a benefit to the entire country.
As New Zealanders, we care deeply about our land. It’s our treasure. We want to protect and preserve it in the best way possible – I think that’s something we can all agree on.
Part of that is to make the best decisions about our land. And that’s what this new tool will help us do.
Thank you for inviting me here today.
I’d like to start by acknowledging the important role that licensing trusts have and all that you do for our communities. As we all know, the primary focus for all licensing trusts is the well-being of our communities, with all profits being returned to the community. Putting it simply, you do a lot of good!
Today I would like to talk primarily about my role as the Minister responsible for the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act. I’m also going to discuss what the Government is doing to address alcohol-related harm and to support responsible alcohol consumption.
As you are all well aware, the Act provides the legal framework for licensing trusts. Whilst licensing trusts are varied, all have a long history in New Zealand before the current 2012 Act.
As the responsible Minister I have a key role under the Act in relation to licensing trusts. That role includes making recommendations about matters to assist with the smooth operation of licensing trusts, including constituting, varying and amalgamating them if required.
Licensing trusts have been operating successfully in New Zealand for over 70 years. The Invercargill Licensing Trust was the first to be established, in 1944, and remains the largest in the country. Invercargill, and the others that followed, provided a new way of licensing the sale and supply of alcohol. They promoted an alternative to private licensing, based on liquor licensing systems in the United Kingdom.
Licensing trusts have made, and continue to make, all kinds of positive contributions to our communities – from providing education grants, to promoting tourism, to helping to run important community services.
New Zealand’s modern alcohol law is also about communities. It’s about encouraging responsible drinking, reducing alcohol-related harm and recognising that we all have a part to play in those things.
The Government recognises that for most New Zealanders, alcohol provides positive and safe social experiences. Most New Zealanders don’t drink to excess. But for some, their experiences of alcohol are far from positive. There is clear evidence showing that problem drinking can cause harm in New Zealand’s communities.
We are making some progress. For example, we know that drink-driving charges have halved since 2009. However, there is further progress to be made, particularly in the areas of crime and health.
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act was the largest reform of alcohol legislation, and largest legislative attempt to reduce alcohol-related harm, in a generation. The Act was the outcome of the Law Commission’s comprehensive review of New Zealand’s alcohol law. It came into force in 2013, replacing the Sale of Liquor Act 1989.
The Act provides a strong legislative framework for reducing harm, without unfairly restricting alcohol use by responsible drinkers, and allows for a thriving hospitality sector.
One of the key concerns of communities has been the effects of alcohol on young people. While the reforms did not change the purchase age they made a number of changes to limit the harm of alcohol on young people.
For example, the Act makes adults’ responsibilities clear and provides them with control over their children’s drinking. Anyone who supplies alcohol to minors must have consent from the minor’s parent or guardian.
It also places strong controls on advertising and the promotion of alcohol to limit the harm of advertising. It prohibits advertising or promoting alcohol in a way that appeals to minors.
The Act promotes community involvement and decision-making. It encourages communities to decide what’s best for them by creating their own local alcohol policies. Local alcohol policies give people more say about where and when alcohol can be sold in their area.
Communities are able to restrict or extend trading hours of licensed premises, or impose other conditions on licensed premises, for example one-way door policies. Through local alcohol policies, communities can also limit the location and density of licences.
Communities also have greater control over licensing because applications for licences are decided locally, by District Licensing Committees. There are also broader criteria for objecting to licence applications.
The Act made a number of other important changes. There are tighter restrictions on the types of premises that can sell alcohol and when they can sell it. For example, there are national maximum hours for alcohol sales.
We have a risk-based licence regime where licence fees reflect risk factors. This takes into account things such as venue type, venue capacity, trading hours and the previous conduct of a licence.
Furthermore, licensees have a new set of obligations that require them to demonstrate they’re providing responsible drinking environments and are complying with the law.
The Government is also investing in services to reduce alcohol-related harm. For example, as part of Budget 2016, Government provided $12 million to expand an alcohol and drug support programme for pregnant women. The Minister of Justice, Amy Adams, also announced this year that the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court pilot has been extended for a further three years.
The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts operate in the Waitakere and Auckland District Courts. They aim to help reduce alcohol and drug dependencies by referring them to treatment under the supervision of the Court.
While safe and responsible drinking cannot be achieved by law alone, the law provides many parts of society with the tools to do this. It’s everyone’s responsibility to use these tools to make it happen.
Again, thanks for the invitation to speak to you here today. I’ve enjoyed meeting and chatting with many of you, and I hope the rest of the Conference goes well for everyone.
New legislation just passed in Parliament ensures New Zealand’s land transfer system will continue to be modern and world-leading, says Land Information Minister Mark Mitchell.
“The Land Transfer Bill reflects the fact that the majority of property transactions are now done online,” says Mr Mitchell.
“The land transfer system secures people’s ownership of land and provides certainty and fairness.
“This legislation provides for improvements in redress in the rare situation that a property owner suffers as a result of mistake or fraud.
“There are also extensions to the ability to withhold personal information to protect the personal safety of landowners and their families.
“The Bill introduces improvements to modernise transactions, which will make the system more efficient.
“New Zealand is a great place to buy, own and sell property, and this Bill will make sure our property transaction system continues to be modern and safe,” says Mr Mitchell.
The new legislation is expected to come into force in late 2018.
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.