Cabinet approves earthquake relocation plan

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Cabinet has approved the Emergency Relocation of Executive Government and Parliament Plan, Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye announced today.

The plan outlines the temporary relocation of Executive Government and Parliament to Devonport Naval Base in Auckland under a worst-case scenario, where the impact of a major earthquake in Wellington was so severe that Executive Government and Parliament could not function effectively in Wellington.

“A decision to relocate would be made as a last resort,” Ms Kaye says.

The plan covers the first 14 days following a decision by the Prime Minister to relocate. It identifies triggers that may influence the decision to relocate, and designates roles and responsibilities for government agencies, Members of Parliament, and essential staff to support the functioning of Executive Government and Parliament sitting.

“Cabinet endorsed a high-level concept for an emergency relocation plan earlier this year,” Ms Kaye says.

“The concept and draft plan were tested in April and May through a series of workshops involving officials and Ministers.”

The final plan incorporates key recommendations from the exercise: that the last-resort nature of the plan be given greater emphasis; that provision be made for executive government to operate from different locations whereby selected Ministers may remain in Wellington following the relocation of other Ministers; and that Public Information Management personnel be among the essential staff.

The next steps are to embed the relocation plan into business continuity planning across government, Ms Kaye says, along with informing Members of Parliament and essential staff of their roles and responsibilities.

The plan will be maintained by Parliamentary Service and reviewed every five years.

NZ adopts new healthy food labelling system

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Minister for Food Safety Nikki Kaye today announced that the government will be adopting a new Health Star Rating food labelling system.

“Cabinet agreed earlier this week to New Zealand adopting this voluntary system that has been developed as part of the Australian and New Zealand Ministers’ Food Forum,” Ms Kaye says.

“Today at a meeting of Australian and New Zealand ministers in Sydney, I have confirmed that we will be joining Australia in this initiative.”

The Health Star Rating system will help New Zealanders make healthy food choices, Ms Kaye says.

“Over the past 18 months, the Ministry for Primary Industries has supported the New Zealand Front of Pack Labelling advisory group consisting of food safety officials, public health representatives, consumer groups, and representatives from the food industry.

“This diverse group has endorsed the Health Star Rating system and recommended to the government its adoption over other systems. I also note the recent Health Select Committee report on improving children’s health that indicates good political support for it.”

Research has shown the system will have a positive effect on consumers’ ability to identify healthier food products, Ms Kaye says. Uptake will be determined by companies choosing to adopt it and consumer demand.

The new system uses a star rating scale of ½ to 5 stars and, except for some exclusions such as alcohol, is able to be used on all packaged food products for retail sale. Foods with more stars reflect better nutritional value. The number of stars is determined by an algorithm that considers the overall nutritional value of the food.

“The system has many benefits,” Ms Kaye says. “Having nutritional information on the front of the pack will make it easier for busy shoppers to make a healthier choice.”

The overall nutritional rating will also enable shoppers to compare and choose healthier products from within a range. “In addition, this system will encourage companies to change their products to be healthier.”

The New Zealand Front of Pack Labelling advisory group will work with MPI to implement the system and on a public information campaign.

In joining the trans-Tasman system, the forum has agreed that New Zealand will be a member of a committee that has been established to oversee the implementation of the system, Ms Kaye says. “We are also contributing financially to assist with the ongoing operation of the scheme.

“I am delighted to confirm that the forum has agreed the next meeting of forum ministers will be held in New Zealand in late January. I want to acknowledge our close working relationship with the Australian federal government and in particular Senator the Honourable Fiona Nash on this issue.”

Ms Kaye says that she hopes to see the first Health Star labels on products within 6-12 months. “I believe that this is a very positive step towards empowering New Zealanders to make healthier food choices.”

For further information: http://www.mpi.govt.nz/

Digital literacy investment for Christchurch

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Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye today confirmed that a $200,000 project is under way to provide Christchurch students, particularly those in low-decile schools, with better access to digital learning.

 

“The aim of the programme being run by the Greater Christchurch Schools Network (GCSN) is that every student aged nine and over from participating schools will be able to access online learning both at school and at home,” Ms Kaye says.

 

The funding provided by the government means that children aged nine and over can access digital devices that have been either leased or purchased by their parents. It will also provide secure internet access to help support students and parents to access learning programmes at home.

 

“Providing greater access to personal devices along with home connectivity improves student engagement and achievement when combined with quality teaching and leadership in schools,” Ms Kaye says.

 

“GCSN has already surveyed the schools involved. In addition, this initiative will allow parents to become more involved and engaged with their children’s learning.”

 

GCSN has identified Hillmorton High School, Hornby High School, Linwood College, Mairehau High School and Aranui High School as the five Christchurch secondary schools that will take part in the programme, along with 25 associated primary schools.

 

“We have been encouraging schools to collaborate with each other and their communities to develop strategies which will lift student achievement,” Ms Kaye says. “This initiative reflects that, and the communities that are strengthened as part of this process have the potential to develop their co-operative work into other areas.

 

“This funding builds on the government’s investment in learning with digital technologies, which includes creating modern learning environments, school network upgrades, ultrafast broadband, and the establishment of a managed network.”

$100,000 for Canterbury Youth Initiative Fund

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Youth Affairs Minister Nikki Kaye today announced the creation of the Canterbury Youth Initiative Fund, which will provide $100,000 for new initiatives for young Cantabrians.

The Ministry of Youth Development funding will help to kick-start initiatives and events for Christchurch youth, following today’s release of the results of the 2013 Youth Wellbeing Survey, Ms Kaye says.

The funding will help address concerns raised in the survey, led by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), which gathered the views of more than 3000 young people aged 12 to 24 across the greater Christchurch region.

“When we look at some comparative data from CERA, the young people of Christchurch seem to be doing better than other groups in some areas – particularly on measures of quality of life and sense of community,” Ms Kaye says.

However, the survey highlighted the need to do more in several areas, Ms Kaye says, such as the development of spaces and places, emotional wellbeing, and future plans and prospects.

“The Canterbury Youth Initiative Fund will focus on these issues by supporting the delivery of a series of initiatives and events developed by, and targeted at, young people across the greater Christchurch region.

“As a result of the earthquakes, the young people of Christchurch City in particular have lost many of the places they used to gather at, as well as sports and recreation facilities.

“With this in mind, the government is providing funding for youth-led initiatives to act as a catalyst for ideas and events in Canterbury. I hope that this will put young people at the heart of some of the innovative initiatives that are happening in Christchurch, and encourage their participation in city life.”

For more details on the Canterbury Youth Initiative Fund, visit http://www.myd.govt.nz/funding/

Funding for youth organisations

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Youth Affairs Minister Nikki Kaye today announced funding totalling $122,000 for a range of youth organisations with a focus on improving opportunities for young people.

The Ministry of Youth Development funding will support a diverse range of organisations and projects. Recipients are the Far North District Council, the Great Potentials Foundation, the Isolated Communities youth grant fund, the LGBTI youth sector, and the volunteer youth programme for New Zealand Fashion Week.

“I want to see young people across New Zealand have opportunities to develop their confidence and self-management skills, engage in positive activities, connect with their communities, and grow their leadership abilities,” Ms Kaye says.

“The value of such opportunities is that they connect young people with mentors and organisations that will offer guidance, support and encouragement.

“This funding has been allocated across a diverse range of initiatives, from those that help disadvantaged youth to those that provide leadership opportunities for young people in rural communities. Collectively, hundreds of young people from around New Zealand will benefit from it.”

The Ministry of Youth Development provides funding for projects that are initiated and led by young people, those in partnership with territorial authorities, and programmes and services delivered by community-based organisations.

For further information:http://www.myd.govt.nz/funding/

Karen Poutasi joins Network for Learning Board

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Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye today announced the appointment of Dr Karen Poutasi to the board of Network for Learning (N4L).

N4L is the Crown company responsible for the Government’s $211 million investment in a managed network for schools, which will provide quick and reliable internet complete with uncapped data, web filtering and network security services.

The company last week reached a milestone ahead of schedule with its 500th school connection, and is on track to connect all participating schools to the managed network by the end of 2016.

“I am delighted that Dr Poutasi is joining the N4L Board,” says Ms Kaye.  “N4L has a crucial role to play in the delivery of future-focused education.

“As a state sector expert with strong education connections, Dr Poutasi will complement N4L’s mix of directors, who between them have experience in the ICT, telecommunications and education sectors along with commercial, financial and legal expertise.”

Rick Shera, Linda Tame and Humphrey Wikeepa have been reappointed to the board.

Green Star rating for new schools

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The government’s building programme for new schools is breaking fresh ground by ensuring new schools meet exacting environmental building standards, Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye says.

“Children are reaping the benefits of learning in classrooms with plenty of natural light and warmth, and featuring energy efficient lighting and heating.

“Additionally, schools with energy efficient lighting and heating benefit from reduced operating costs and long-term maintenance costs,” Ms Kaye says.

Pegasus Bay School north of Christchurch is the first school to generate as much energy as it uses, the result of the installation of solar panels. It opened last week, bringing to 14 the number of state schools in New Zealand that meet Green Star building standards.

“Green Star schools are designed and constructed to use less energy,  maintain high indoor air quality,  encourage water recycling and efficiency, and improve waste management and recycling,” Ms Kaye says.

The 14 schools are:

  • Pegasus BaySchool and Clearview Primary in Christchurch;
  • Hobsonville Point Secondary School, Hobsonville Point Primary School, Stonefields School, Hingaia Peninsula Primary School, Mission Heights School, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Te Kotuku, and Ormiston Senior College in Auckland;
  • Kimi Ora Naenae Base School , Amesbury School, and Kapi Mana Special Needs School in Wellington;
  • Papamoa College in Tauranga; and
  • Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Whangaroa in Northland.

A further four schools opening over the next year will be Green Star rated:

  • Halswell School in Christchurch;
  • Endeavour Avenue Primary School in Hamilton;
  • Ormiston Road Primary School in Auckland; and
  • Shotover Primary School in Queenstown.

For more information: www.nzgbc.org.nz/

Construction starts for Mangere trades academy

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A new, modern-trades academy at Southern Cross Campus will create better career pathways for local students, Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye announced today.

Ms Kaye will attend a sod-turning ceremony at the Mangere, Auckland campus this morning, marking the start of construction of the $20m redevelopment.

“The ceremony signals to the Mangere community that the campus is moving forward and that the young people of this community will have high-quality facilities to support their learning,” Ms Kaye says.

“The trades academy will provide modern learning facilities that will cater for the needs of teaching and learning in the 21st century.

“About 100 students will be able to pursue their interests and career ambitions in the construction, automotive, hospitality, services and sports sectors.

“Situating the academy in this community will mean it is easy for students to attend every day and learn the valuable skills they need to equip them for future employment.”

The trades academy is the first stage of a master plan that has been developed for the school to address issues with aged buildings. The master plan will also address any future roll growth at the school.

A proposed second stage will include replacement of some teaching spaces, a new gym and administration facilities. This work is expected to start in late 2015.

The school property portfolio, which has a book value of around $10.5 billion, is the government’s second largest property portfolio after housing. About $500 million is spent annually as capital reinvestment directly within schools.

$2.4 million for new classrooms in Arrowtown

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Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye has announced funding for new classrooms at Arrowtown Primary School, in response to a growing population.

The $2.4 million investment to build six classrooms will provide modern learning environments that are enjoyable to teach in and learn in, Ms Kaye says.

“This Government has a vision for a sustainable network of schools that can accommodate the rapidly growing Queenstown area.

“The Queenstown-Lakes District has experienced a population increase of 22.9% since the 2006 Census. Local schools have had steady roll growth over the past decade, and these new classrooms are part of an expansion of school facilities to accommodate that growth.”

The classrooms are due to open in early 2015, Ms Kaye says, and will be built to the latest learning environment standards that support modern teaching styles and provide a comfortable environment for students.

“They will provide safe, contemporary spaces that will help inspire students to learn.”

The new classrooms at Arrowtown Primary School will increase the resilience of the schooling network in Southland, Ms Kaye says.

Three teaching spaces were recently added to Remarkables Primary School, and construction has begun on a new school at Shotover near Queenstown, which will open in time for the 2015 school year.

Planning is also under way for the relocation of Wakatipu High School by 2018, which will feature more learning spaces.

“The Queenstown Lakes District can be assured that the government is investing to future proof Queenstown for the many young families that want to live there,” says Ms Kaye.

Pilot for school property management starts

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Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye today confirmed the start of the school facilities management pilot project, which will offer schools the ability to reduce their role in school property management.

“The facilities management service is a voluntary service for schools and boards of trustees that want to step away from day-to-day property management,” Ms Kaye says.

The Ministry of Education programme will consider the most appropriate mix of services and likely cost that could be provided to maintain and improve school property.

“This initiative is part of wider changes being made to school property management to reduce the time schools spend on day-to-day property issues and support a clear focus on teaching and learning,” Ms Kaye says.

“It is positive that 29 schools in the lower North Island are taking part in the programme. Information gathered will be used to identify opportunities to centrally procure services for all schools, and to inform options for a wider rollout of facilities management services to all schools.

“Throughout the programme, the Ministry will look to identify which services could be delivered in a way that would set consistent high standards in facilities management, free schools from the task of contract management, and achieve greater cost effectiveness over time.

“The Ministry has the bargaining power to acquire high-standard services at the best possible price on behalf of New Zealand schools.”

The pilot schools will have access to a range of facilities management services between July 1 and the end of September. Service calls will be monitored to gain detailed information about the range, frequency and urgency of work required.

“I’m pleased to see the level of response to the pilot. With 29 schools involved, we will receive a diverse range of feedback about the types of services that could be delivered differently,” Ms Kaye says.