Customs Minister Nicky Wagner is welcoming a commitment to help strengthen Fiji’s border security.
New Zealand Customs will provide support and training for the transformation of Fiji’s Revenue and Customs Authority through an almost $1 million development plan funded by the New Zealand Aid programme.
“The plan will improve border security by supporting organisational and staff development, regulatory and policy reform as well as stakeholder engagement,” Ms Wagner says.
“Pacific countries can be targets for transnational crime, including drug smuggling, money laundering and being used as a transhipment point, so any effort to improve border controls makes the wider region safer.”
The plan builds on other projects with Fiji in recent years, including the introduction of detector dogs and leadership training.
The New Zealand Aid Programme is also funding border capacity building work in Samoa and the Cook Islands.
An agreement to boost New Zealand-China trade was today signed by Customs Minister Nicky Wagner and China’s Ambassador, His Excellency Mr Wang Lutong.
The Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) ensures border agencies in New Zealand and China recognise one another’s trusted exporter programmes.
“New Zealand and China Customs enjoy a strong working relationship. This arrangement will further strengthen ties by helping streamline the movement of goods,” Ms Wagner says.
“Companies signed up to New Zealand Customs’ Secure Export Scheme will automatically benefit from faster cargo clearance, reduced document checks and less examination.”
The MRA will come into effect on 1 July 2017. More details on the implementation and benefits will be provided to New Zealand exporters and Chinese importers in the coming months.
China and New Zealand Customs also recently launched a Joint Electronic Verification System, which automatically sends New Zealand’s Certificate of Origin data to China for greater assurance over the authenticity of goods.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse and Customs Minister Nicky Wagner have today announced three new initiatives to make it easier for Chinese visitors to come to New Zealand.
“China is New Zealand’s second largest market and has made a valued contribution to the strong growth in New Zealand international visitor arrivals and expenditure over the last few years,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“In 2016, Chinese visitors to New Zealand spent $1.67 billion and by 2022 this number is projected to increase to $5.3 billion.
“It’s important we ensure New Zealand continues to be an attractive place to visit, which is why we’re making a number of changes to streamline the process and make things easier for Chinese visitors.”
The changes for Chinese nationals include:Extending the multiple-entry visa for Chinese visitors from three years to five years from 8 May. Extending the use of SmartGate facilities to Chinese passport holders. Enabling visa applicants to pay for online visa applications using the popular UnionPay debit and credit cards.
“The Government has introduced a number of measures in recent years to facilitate the growing number of Chinese nationals visiting New Zealand, and these new initiatives build on that,” Ms Wagner says.
“SmartGates make the Customs process faster and more intuitive, delivering a better visitor experience.”
Alongside the introduction of UnionPay in February this year, eVisas have already been implemented for Chinese nationals applying for visitor, student and work visas. In addition, Chinese visa applicants can also apply online using a Chinese version of the RealMe logon service.
Customs has done an outstanding job clearing a record number of passengers this summer season while continuing to protect the border with numerous seizures and arrests, Customs Minister Nicky Wagner says.
“Passenger volumes peaked as expected, with more than 3.68 million travellers passing through international airports in December, January and February — an 8.7 per cent increase on last summer. It was a big season for cruise ships too, with a record 139 visiting vessels carrying almost 312,000 passengers and crew,” Ms Wagner says.
Over 9.5 million mail items and 2.1 million airfreight consignments came into the country, and almost 260,000 sea containers were imported and exported.
“Customs has two important jobs — assisting travel and trade by quickly clearing legitimate passengers and cargo, and protecting New Zealand and New Zealanders by identifying criminals,” Ms Wagner says.
“Customs has been doing a superb job protecting our border for 177 years. It uses advanced technology and risk-profiling to screen passengers, vessels and cargo.”
From December 1 to February 28, Customs recorded close to 800 drug-related interceptions, including 44kg of methamphetamine, 121kg of its precursor ephedrine, and 19kg of ecstasy. An estimated 160 litres of t-boc methamphetamine was also recently seized.
Customs officers made 15 arrests over the summer, including six drug couriers and three passengers in possession of offensive material.
Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner today congratulates Robert Martin on becoming the first person with a learning disability to sit on the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“Robert will soon be heading to Geneva, Switzerland to serve a four year term on the Committee. He will be working as an independent expert to monitor countries and their implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” Ms Wagner says.
“Robert, having grown up in an institution and overcome much adversity, will be a unique voice at the table. His personal experiences and passion will go a long way toward promoting positive change for disabled people.
“Even before arriving in Geneva, Robert’s having a positive impact. He’s helped broaden the UN’s thinking about ‘reasonable accommodations’.”
Reasonable accommodations support a disabled person to participate on an equal basis, and can include things like allowing more time to look over material or providing a support person.
“I’m thrilled to hear the UN has agreed to provide Robert the support he needs. Now, he can think about the bigger things, like how to make his role on the Committee really count,” Ms Wagner says.
“Ensuring reasonable accommodations are available at the UN will open the door for other disabled people to represent and be represented within the organisation. This is another move toward achieving a non-disabling society — one where disabled people can have the support they need to live a good life in their workplace, home and community.”
Later this year, the Committee is expected to begin its second review of New Zealand’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The meetings can be viewed online at: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/
First of all, I’d like to thank Mr Lawrey for the introduction and Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand for the opportunity to speak today.
I’m thrilled to be here for my first formal speaking engagement as the Associate Minister of Tourism. What an incredible time it is right now for tourism in New Zealand. I’m excited to get involved and be a champion for the sector.
Tourism in New Zealand
The tourism sector is a critical part of New Zealand’s economy. It’s our largest export earner, contributing $14.5 billion to New Zealand’s total exports and $12.9 billion to our total GDP in the year to March 2016.
Tourism also contributes significantly to employment, with 330,000 people employed in tourism-related jobs. Unlike many other industries, tourism jobs are spread across the regions, not concentrated within the major centres.
The outlook for tourism is extremely positive. Visitor arrivals to New Zealand are expected to grow 5.4 per cent a year, reaching 4.5 million in 2022, up from 3.1 million in 2015.
Total international spend is expected to reach $16 billion in 2022, up 65.5 per cent from 2015. And China is expected to become New Zealand’s largest tourism market by spend come 2018.
The tourism sector in New Zealand is well-positioned to capture the benefits from this increase in growth. These benefits can be shared more widely by promoting tourism in different parts of New Zealand and by growing tourism sector employment.
For example, I was pleased to see in the latest monthly regional spending estimates published by MBIE that Nelson showed the greatest growth of any region, with an increase of 14 per cent to $344 million in the year to January 2017.
In December 2015, the Government agreed to a Tourism Strategy with the overall vision of increasing the net economic contribution made by tourism at a national and regional level.
The Strategy identified three main challenges that need to be addressed.
They are:Attracting the right visitor mix Responding to visitor demand; and Ensuring all regions benefit.
Challenge 1: Attracting the right mix
The Government invests about $115 million a year in Tourism New Zealand to help promote tourism activities.
In order to attract the right mix of visitors that will give us the biggest return on our marketing investment, we need to strike a balance between investing in established markets, new high-growth markets, and emerging markets.
To help address the industry’s seasonal nature, Tourism New Zealand recently shifted its focus to marketing New Zealand as a great place to visit outside the peak summer season. It now invests its entire budget in marketing shoulder season travel.
India and Indonesia are prime markets for shoulder season travel — holidaymakers from India tend to visit during autumn, while the peak season for Indonesian visitors is winter.
These two emerging markets present a really opportunity for growth and could help us achieve our goal of “seasonal dispersal”.
Another way we’re attracting high-value visitors at different times is through the Government’s support of major events.
Since 2013, we’ve invested $46 million in 58 events, including the FIFA under 20 World Cup and Cricket World Cup. And with the upcoming British Lions Tour, the sector is set to benefit further.
Tourism New Zealand is also targeting markets with strong economic growth prospects, especially ones with expanding middle classes.
The Chinese market is positioned to be the biggest spender in the next couple of years — providing significant opportunities for tourism operators.
Last year, in order to help operators cater to the growing Chinese visitor market, the Government commissioned ‘Forward Insight and Strategy’ to develop and deliver practical information about the needs, preferences and interests of Chinese visitors, especially those travelling independently.
I’m pleased to report that at the Tourism Ministers’ Meeting in Darwin two weeks ago, New Zealand shared some of this information with our Australian colleagues.
The overwhelming response was that we’re ahead of Australia in this regard. We’ve kindly offered to share our resources with the Australians, and needless to say, they’ve accepted the offer!
I encourage operators to use the information available on the NZCN Tourism website, and to apply the findings to generate value not only for their customers but for their business as well.
Challenge 2: Responding to visitor demand
The tourism sector needs to continue providing the quality experiences our high-value visitors expect.
While growth in the sector creates economic benefits for the country, it also brings with it a set of challenges. For example, growing tourist numbers are putting pressure on infrastructure in smaller centres. In some cases, peak tourist numbers can be up to 10 times the local population.
Growing tourism also has social impacts and possible environmental risks.
If these issues are not addressed, we may see some impact on the visitor experience.
The Government has initiated a range of measures to address these pressures, including ‘Project Palace’ to accelerate new private sector investment in New Zealand’s hotel infrastructure.
The project shows an additional 26 hotels will be needed over the next 10 years to meet expected tourism demand in our major tourist centres.
In Budget 2016, the Regional Mid-Sized Tourist Facilities Grant Fund was established to help alleviate some of the more immediate pressures on infrastructure.
The first round of funding attracted a great response and the fund was oversubscribed. The Government has committed further funding and a second round is likely to be announced very shortly.
In addition to infrastructure, the tourism sector also requires great people. A skilled and committed workforce is at the heart of a great visitor experience, and with the right staff, businesses can flourish and grow.
Getting more New Zealanders into tourism and hospitality jobs is something I’m very passionate about. A job in the hospitality industry can be a great training ground for young people, with opportunities to progress within the industry or by using those skills in the wider tourism sector.
Jobs in tourism can also be fantastic for older people — we see that already with lots of our tourism operators starting businesses later in life — and loving the experience! It’s really important that we as New Zealanders share our stories with visitors and see tourism as a great career.
Ensuring the availability of skilled people is a priority for the Government.
We’re working in close partnership with Hospitality New Zealand and Tourism Industry Aotearoa to commission more detailed research into the movement of people in and out of the tourism industry, with particular focus on education and training.
We want to understand the types of qualifications people are attaining before they enter the industry, and the usefulness of those qualifications while they’re working.
This research will provide some key insights into these issues and inform future work on where Government and the tourism industry should focus efforts to attract and retain great staff.
Challenge 3: Ensuring all regions benefit
As I mentioned, the third key challenge is how to make sure all regions throughout New Zealand are benefiting from increased visitor numbers.
We want all regions to realise their tourism potential and reap the benefits for local businesses and communities.
The Government recently introduced a new ‘Regional Stream’ to the Tourism Growth Partnership, which prioritises funding for initiatives outside the main centres.
In the Marlborough region, the TGP has supported the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre by providing $1.5 million for the expansion of its facilities and launch of a new exhibition featuring aircrafts and locations from World War Two.
The Kaikoura earthquake caused severe damage, especially for the upper South Island. The closure of State Highway 1 and the damage to infrastructure is undoubtedly having an impact on the tourism sector.
The Government is committed to assisting the people of Kaikoura and the top of the South Island through the difficult recovery process.
Last week, Tourism Minister Paula Bennett announced an $870,000 support package to help promote tourism in Kaikoura and other upper South Island districts impacted by the quake.
Of the $870,000 funding, $150,000 will be dedicated to helping reduce the impact of the State Highway’s closure by promoting the Marlborough region as a destination for domestic visitors.
$70,000 will be made available to promote common Top of the South touring routes — which have changed since the quake — to the international travel trade.
The Government will continue to support this region and keep a close eye on its recovery.
The tourism sector is heading for continued growth and is well positioned to reap the rewards.
While the success of the sector has raised some challenges, the Government will continue working with the tourism industry to address these concerns.
Attracting the visitors we want, making sure the sector has what it needs to deliver a great visitor experience, and enabling all regions to benefit will mean the sector is able to make an even bigger contribution in the future — benefiting all New Zealanders.
Thank you for having me here today and I wish you the best for the rest of the conference.
A new plan to improve outcomes for disabled Pasifika people is being welcomed by Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner.
Faiva Ora, which means Work for Life, is a five-year improvement plan developed by the Ministry of Health.
“Pasifika people are not accessing disability support services as much as expected. Faiva Ora considers why that is and what can be done about it,” Ms Wagner says.
“Since 2010, we’ve made significant progress on issues such as the delivery of advice, providing information in Pasifika languages, and Pasifika responsiveness training and guidelines for disability service providers.
“Faiva Ora 2016-2021 builds on feedback from disabled Pasifika people and their families, research done in 2015, and past experience to help further improve the quality and uptake of services.
“Faiva Ora encourages all interested parties to work together to solve the challenges experienced by Pasifika disabled people and their families.”
Last week, Ms Wagner announced a three month co-design process for the nationwide transformation of the disability support system.
“This change, based on the Enabling Good Lives vision and principles, is about ensuring all disabled people and their families have greater control over their lives as well as the support they receive from government.”
For more information on Faiva Ora, visit: https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/faiva-ora-2016-2021-national-pasifika-disability-plan
Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner says it is encouraging to see such a high level of interest in the proposed Healthy Ageing Strategy.
“It’s incredibly heartening to know so many people have taken the time to engage in the Healthy Ageing Strategy consultation process — it gives us a great chance of delivering what New Zealanders want,” Ms Wagner says.
About 2000 people took part in strategy discussions and workshops and a summary of more than 200 submissions was recently released on the Ministry of Health website.
“The high level of public and sector engagement led to positive changes in the strategy’s direction. For example, the name was changed to better reflect what people were telling us — that this is about maximising health and wellbeing through New Zealanders’ older years,” Ms Wagner says.
“It recognises that we’re ageing at different times and in different ways, and our needs are not the same. Healthy ageing is a life-long process.”
Ms Wagner says there was strong support for the strategy’s goals and plans to achieve them.
“I look forward to seeing how the health and social sectors work to implement the strategy and improve health and social outcomes for our older people.”
The Healthy Ageing Strategy is expected to be finalised later this year.
For more information, visit:http://www.health.govt.nz
Customs Minister Nicky Wagner is today congratulating border agencies on the five-millionth transaction through a key trade system.
The Trade Single Window, developed by Customs and the Ministry for Primary Industries as part of the $104 million Joint Border Management System, was launched in 2013 to streamline the clearance of goods and craft.
“The simplicity of submitting border clearance information in one place has been a real boon for importers and exporters — leading to time savings, elimination of data duplication, a reduction in transaction costs and improved response times,” Ms Wagner says.
“Internationally, we’ve been at the forefront of adopting the single window concept and it’s pleasing to see how well the system is benefiting New Zealand.
“Traders will benefit further once the final piece of the system goes live in a matter of weeks.”
Four new lodgement types will be added to the Trade Single Window, with functionality also enhanced across the system.
Associate Health and Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner today announced a three month co-design process with the disability sector to begin a nationwide transformation of the disability support system.
“The current system does not work well for all disabled people. What we are working toward is a new system, based on the Enabling Good Lives (EGL) vision and principles, including individualised funding,” Ms Wagner says.
The transformation will build on lessons learnt from EGL demonstrations in Waikato and Christchurch, as well as evidence from here and overseas.
“Input from the disability sector will be vital throughout the transformation process, particularly during the design phase. This change is about ensuring disabled people and their families have greater control over their lives as well as the support they receive from government.”
The new system will include:Access to independent facilitation to assist people to be aspirational and feel connected to their community A strengths-based assessment process A personal budget for disability support (made up of funding from multiple government agencies) Flexibility and choice about how to use the personal budget, and a range of options to assist its management Capacity building opportunities for disabled people and their families Referrals to other agencies for additional services including learning and income support.
“The new system will incorporate a social investment approach to improve outcomes for individuals and achieve savings over the long term. Additional funding has been allocated to run the co-design process, establish a change leadership team and collect baseline data,” Ms Wagner says.
The transformation will initially focus on those receiving support from Disability Support Services in the Mid-Central region.
The Waikato demonstration will continue, as will the arrangements put place in Christchurch when that demonstration finished.
“Rolling out this new way of working will require a significant culture change in all parts of the disability support system, including Needs Assessment Coordination Services, providers and government agencies,” Ms Wagner says.
“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.”
Cabinet is expected to consider the system design in mid-2017.