Customs has achieved a great deal over the last three years, from streamlining the border process to record drug seizures and new legislation that reflects the modern border environment, Customs Minister Nicky Wagner says.
“From officials to front line officers, everyone at Customs works incredibly hard to keep New Zealand and New Zealanders safe. It’s been an absolute pleasure serving as Customs Minster and I’m incredibly proud of the organisation’s achievements over the last few years,” Ms Wagner says.
“The Customs and Excise Act Review has led to the development of modern, fit-for-purpose legislation that supports economic growth by making it easier for traders to do business.
“The Customs and Excise Bill enables Customs to deal with the considerable growth in trade and travel, and the security challenges such growth brings. This, coupled with the modernisation and transformation of the Customs’ workforce, means more Customs officers are focusing on border risks and law enforcement.
“Customs officers are supported by modern technology and processes that enable them to better identify and prioritise risks. New detection tools, an intelligence-led approach, partnerships, and the expertise of skilled officers have seen record seizures of methamphetamine over the last three years.”
Ms Wagner says collaboration with offshore customs agencies prevented over $205 million of social and economic harm to New Zealand in the 2015/16 financial year.
“New intelligence tools developed by the Joint Border Management System programme (JBMS) will help Customs catch more methamphetamine smugglers, boost existing risk assessment processes, and provide new insights into border risk through the use of analytics software and data sharing,” Ms Wagner says.
“Last month’s completion of Trade Single Window, a component of JBMS, was the culmination of an incredible amount of work by Customs and the Ministry for Primary Industries. This e-commerce platform enables importers and exporters to meet all border requirements in one place.
“International travel is another vital part of New Zealand’s growing economy and in the past year alone Customs risk assessed and processed a record 12.8 million arriving and departing travellers.
“The Government’s $6.6 million eGate upgrade and expansion project is helping manage the increased volume of passengers, with 50 of the new and improved eGates now fully operational nationwide.”
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry and Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner have announced a major upgrade and extension to the trap network in Canterbury to protect the critically endangered orange-fronted parakeet.
“This bird is the rarest of our five parakeet species, with the population between 200 and 400, so we installed 500 self-resetting traps in Lake Sumner Forest Park last week as part of DOC’s Battle for our Birds programme,” Ms Barry says.
“We want rat and stoat numbers down to a level where the vulnerable hole-nesting parakeet can successfully breed and the population grow. Conservation measures like these will help us become Predator Free by 2050 and vastly improve the prospects for endangered species.”
“All up 1450 Goodnature traps, which reset up to 24 times before needing to be reloaded manually, and 1700 DOC-200 trap boxes will be added to the network, extending the trap line by 206 kilometres, at a cost of more than $860,000.”
The orange-fronted parakeet is found in only three valleys on mainland New Zealand — in part of the Lake Sumner Forest Park and the Hawdon and Poulter Valleys in Arthur’s Pass National Park.
Ms Wagner says 200 more traps will go into Hurunui next month and 570 into Poulter Valley around the same time. The DOC-200 traps will be installed in the Hawdon and Poulter Valleys in the next 12 months.
“DOC is using this latest technology to bring the trap network up to best practice standards. The extended network will also bring us closer to our 2025 goal of an additional one million hectares of mainland New Zealand under predator control,” Ms Wagner says.
“Rolleston Prison offenders are building the boxes that hold the DOC-200 traps as part of DOC’s Good to Grow partnership with the Department of Corrections.”
DOC manages the risks to the parakeets by intensively monitoring predator numbers in all three valleys and undertaking pest control using a combination of traps and aerial 1080 when necessary.
The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust has a captive breeding programme for orange-fronted parakeets and in recent years DOC has been releasing captive-reared birds to supplement the wild mainland population.
‘Insurance’ populations of orange-fronted parakeets have been established on four predator-free islands: Chalky Island in Fiordland, Blumine and Maud islands in the Marlborough Sounds and Tūhua in the Western Bay of Plenty.
Tourism spending by both international and domestic visitors continues to grow strongly in 2017, Acting Tourism Minister Nicky Wagner says.
Data from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s latest Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates shows tourism spending is up in all regions in the year to March 2017. The fastest growing regions are the West Coast, increasing 11 per cent to $522 million, followed by Nelson (up 10 per cent to $343 million) and Tasman (up 10 per cent to $303 million).
“One of the really interesting findings in today’s release is that United States visitor spending continues its strong upward trend, with a national average of 22 per cent growth over the year to March 2017. Spending by United States visitors is particularly strong in Auckland (up 26 per cent)," Ms Wagner says.
“New Zealand’s tourism sector saw some exceptional growth in 2016 and it’s great to see strong spending figures stretching out into March this year. Tourism New Zealand is making a big effort to get more international visitors here in off-peak seasons, and this work is starting to gain some traction.
“The buoyant tourism market is showing some real benefits to our regional communities, but we can’t rest on our laurels. We’ve recently made a number of announcements that will support the sector and manage the challenges that come with a booming industry.
“An extra $5.5 million has been allocated to the Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund to help regional communities respond to visitor growth through new tourism infrastructure.
“In March we announced the 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism initiative, which will focus on attracting high-value Chinese visitors who stay longer, spend more and travel independently.
“We have also continued to support businesses affected by last year’s earthquakes, with a new one-million dollar business grant programme for Kaikōura, Hurunui and Marlborough, as well as the establishment of a business recovery trust that will be set up by the Kaikōura District Council.”
Further information from the Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates can be found at: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/tourism/tourism-research-data/monthly-regional-tourism-estimates
Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner is welcoming new research about the care and support needs of older Maori.
In 2013, the Government invested $1.8 million in Life and Living in Advanced Age: a Cohort Study in New Zealand — Te Puāwaitanga O Ngā Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu (LiLACS NZ) by the University of Auckland.
LiLACS NZ, the world’s first longitudinal study of an indigenous population in advanced age, is made up of a series of reports comparing Maori health needs with those of older non-Maori.
The report released today — Intervals of Care Need: Need for Care and Support in Advanced Age — includes five key findings about the care needs of older New Zealanders over the next decade.
“We know our ageing population will have a significant impact on models of care so research like this serves as an important guide for the future,” Ms Wagner says.
“It helps inform the development of local and national aged care policies and provides all New Zealanders with an opportunity to better prepare for their own health and well-being in later life.
“Last December, the Government released its Healthy Ageing Strategy, which recognises the higher care needs of some older Maori and makes commitments to reducing health inequities.
“This Government is committed to improving health and social outcomes for all older New Zealanders.”
The latest LiLACS NZ report is available at: https://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/assets/fmhs/faculty/lilacs/docs/Intervals-of-Care-Need.pdf
For more information on the Healthy Ageing Strategy: : http://www.health.govt.nz/publication/healthy-ageing-strategy
Customs Minister Nicky Wagner today announced 15 new eGates are now fully operational at Auckland Airport arrivals, meaning Customs’ nationwide upgrade and expansion of eGates is almost complete.
“The Government has invested $6.6 million in this technology to more than double eGate capacity from 22 to 50 gates across the country,” Ms Wagner says.
In November 2015, the first phase of the project saw nine new generation eGates installed at Auckland Airport departures. A further 41 of the new and improved gates have since been installed nationwide.
“International travel is a vital part of New Zealand’s growing economy and our eGates make the Customs process faster and more intuitive, delivering a better visitor experience,” Ms Wagner says.
eGate use increased by more than 50,000 in the last quarter, from 1,423,143 to 1,475,420.
Another eGate will be installed in the new Auckland Airport departures area in June, bringing the nationwide total to 51, and completing the expansion.
“Customs and Immigration NZ are working together to expand eGates to more nationalities, further streamlining the Customs process,” Ms Wagner says.
Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner is welcoming a new provider for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) programmes, previously run by IDEA Services.
“People with ASD are often vulnerable to sudden change or loss of routine so IDEA’s decision to cancel its autism services caused a great deal of unnecessary stress for hundreds of disabled people and their families,” Ms Wagner says.
“Within days the Ministry of Health has secured a new provider, meaning there will be no interruption to services.”
Explore Services Ltd will take over the provision of ASD education, communication and behaviour support programmes at the end of the month.
“I’m extremely pleased to have a new provider in place so quickly, giving reassurance and security to this vulnerable cohort and their families,” Ms Wagner says.
The Ministry will be working with Explore and IDEA Services to ensure a smooth transition. Those referred for specialist ASD services will automatically be transferred to Explore.
“Explore already provides specialist behaviour support services across New Zealand and has experience transferring large numbers of clients. Its first move will be to write to anyone affected by this change, including those on the waiting list, and provide more detailed information," Ms Wagner says.
“The Government is committed to ensuring people with ASD and their families have access to the best possible services."
Explore is contracted to provide ASD services for two years, ending 31 March 2019.
Evaluations of the Christchurch and Waikato Enabling Good Lives (EGL) demonstrations will help guide the transformation of the disability support system, Disability Issues and Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner says.
“The Phase Two evaluation reports show disabled people and their families really value having more choice, more control and more flexibility when it comes to the support they receive,” Ms Wagner says.
“We learnt a number of lessons from our experiences in both Christchurch and Waikato, so we now have a much clearer idea of what works and what doesn’t.
“Those lessons will feed into the all-important transformation co-design process, which begins today. This will be different from anything we’ve done before as the goal is to create a new way of working that can be rolled out across New Zealand.
“The transformation is a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide better support and better services for disabled people and their families.”
EGL is an innovative principles-based approach that empowers disabled people with self-directed planning. The transformation will initially focus on those receiving support from Disability Support Services in the Mid-Central region.
“To date, the disability support system has been more about the system than disabled people. The EGL approach makes it about the person, their strengths and the kind of life they want to live,” Ms Wagner says.
The evaluation reports are now available online at: https://www.odi.govt.nz/nz-disability-strategy/other-initiatives/enabling-good-lives/
Customs Minister Nicky Wagner today welcomed the completion of a key trade system.
Trade Single Window, which is a major component of the Joint Border Management System programme by Customs and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), is an e-commerce platform that enables importers and exporters to meet all border requirements in one place.
“Trade Single Window first launched in 2013 and last month hit a major milestone with its five-millionth transaction. The final elements successfully rolled out over the weekend, meaning the system is now complete,” Ms Wagner says.
“This is the culmination of an incredible amount of hard work by both Customs and MPI. The completed system features four new lodgement types that will further streamline the border clearance process for goods and craft.”
The new lodgements will be available gradually over the coming months.
“Trade Single Window also incorporates the World Customs Organization’s latest data model (WCO3), which will allow border agencies to collect better data for risk assessments,” Ms Wagner says.
“Ongoing support from the wider import/export industry has been crucial in developing a system that works well not only for Customs and MPI, but for industry too.”
Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner is welcoming a free online initiative to help New Zealanders learn New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).
Learn NZSL is an e-learning resource developed by the Deaf Studies Research Unit at Victoria University of Wellington. It covers everyday vocabulary, phrases and conversations, supported by interactive tasks and 660 videos.
The Government contributed $230,000 through the NZSL Fund, administered by the NZSL Board.
“Since NZSL became an official language in 2006, we’ve seen an increase in the number of people wanting to learn how to sign,” Ms Wagner says.
“The Government is absolutely committed to maintaining and promoting NZSL. This free online initiative will enable New Zealanders to learn anywhere and at any time.
“Congratulations to the Deaf Studies Research Unit and to Sara Pivac Alexander, the project lead, for driving and developing such an important resource.”
Learn NZSL will be available from 6pm on 6 April 2017 at: http://www.learnnzsl.nz
Disability Issues and Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner today announced the group responsible for designing the new disability support system.
“The co-design process is an exciting opportunity for leaders in the disability sector to work in partnership with government to transform the disability support system,” Ms Wagner says.
The co-design group is made up of five disabled leaders, two family representatives and two service providers. It includes Māori and Pacific perspectives, people based in Palmerston North — the first region to be transformed, and people involved in the Enabling Good Lives (EGL) demonstrations at a national level and in Waikato and Christchurch.
The members of the co-design group are Jade Farrar, Shane McInroe, Gerri Pomeroy, Helena Tuteao, Esther Woodbury, Lawrence Chok, Tina Lincoln, David Matthews and John Taylor.
“The current system doesn’t work well for all disabled people, so there’s a great deal riding on this co-design phase — it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide better support and better services for disabled people and their families. We need to get it right,” Ms Wagner says.
“Our mission is to give disabled people more opportunities, more choice and greater control over the supports they receive.
“I’m incredibly grateful to all members of the group for taking on this challenge and I look forward to working together.”
The co-design process is the beginning of a nationwide transformation of the disability support system, based on the EGL vision and principles. The transformation will initially focus on those receiving support from Disability Support Services in the Mid-Central region.
Cabinet is expected to consider advice on the proposed system design in mid-2017.