Manuka honey labelling guide a positive step for NZ

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The Interim Labelling Guide for Manuka Honey released today by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is a positive step for the New Zealand industry, Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says.

“The Guide provides clarification on what constitutes manuka-type honey, and aims to ensure that New Zealand is producing quality manuka honey that is labelled correctly and meets the expectations of overseas regulators, along with consumers here and overseas,” Ms Kaye says.

“This MPI-led initiative has seen the Ministry working with scientists, industry and overseas regulators – and looking at 11,000 samples of honey – to ensure truth in labelling in New Zealand.

“Though I have been briefed on the outcome, the work is operational and decisions have been made by MPI.

“I am pleased with the collaboration that has occurred and while I expect it will be difficult to achieve full consensus, I understand that there is significant support for taking these measures.

“Over the last decade, there have been a number of issues raised and statements made regarding the definition of manuka honey,” Ms Kaye says. “There are a range of complex issues due to different statements on labels and the evolving science in this area.

“It is important that New Zealand takes this step to protect our brand and the integrity of our labelling systems.”

MPI will be working with honey companies to help them comply with the new Guide. More detail, including a range of papers that relate to this work,  can be found at:http://www.mpi.govt.nz/food/food-safety/manuka-honey

$15.6m redevelopment of Tarawera High School begins

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Today is significant for the Kawerau community with a ceremony to mark the start of construction of new facilities at Tarawera High School,  Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye says.

“The $15.6 million redevelopment of the school reflects the importance the Government  places on raising student achievement in Kawerau and onproviding a fresh start for the school and local community.

“The state-of-the-art facilities will replace approximately 60 percent of the school’s existing buildings, and will preserve the educational future of Kawerau’s young people,” Ms Kaye says.

“The redevelopment will produce a modern learning environment that allows for greater collaboration and interaction. Vibrant, well-connected learning spaces are a key part of the design, and will provide flexible spaces that allow for a variety of teaching and learning methods.”

The new facilities will include modern teaching spaces for 525 students, a library, technology and performance spaces, a wharenui, an administration block, and a wireless fibre network.

The redevelopment will also feature a number of environmentally sustainable initiatives. Specific heating and ventilation initiatives have been implemented to help combat Kawerau’s extreme temperatures. Passive solar heating will be generated via glazing systems that take advantage of the sun.

Tarawera High School opened in January 2013 following extensive community consultation on the closure of Kawerau College and Kawerau Intermediate School.

“The redeveloped school will be one that encourages strong ties with the community and promotes the fulfilment of potential in the community’s rangatahi,” Ms Kaye says.

“It has been designed to engage with the area’s unique landscape and history. The buildings are located on a lay line running from Putuaki to Maketu on the Bay of Plenty coast, and are oriented to maximise the school’s connection with Kawerau’s town centre.”

Work is expected to begin in September and to be completed by the end of 2015.

Trainee teachers to benefit from education portal

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Teacher-training institutions can now access a digital resource that enables schools to share learning resources and best practices, Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye says.

Pond, the online learning hub built by Crown-owned company Network for Learning, aims to become a central environment in digital discovery and participation for schools.

It is currently available to 700 primary and secondary teachers and will be available to all teachers by the end of the year. From today, it can also be accessed by Initial Teacher Educators (ITEs), and will be available to teacher trainees from next year.“

This timely move will enable ITEs to include the Pond resource in their course planning for 2015 and in doing so, help prepare future teachers for a 21st-century learning environment,” Ms Kaye says.

“Lecturers offering teacher training across New Zealand’s 18 tertiary institutions will be able to see how school teachers are using digital technologies to collaborate with their peers and find valuable resources for teaching and learning.”

Pond allows users to search the internet and a number of education and New Zealand-specific information repositories at the same time, along with resources and classroom practices created by other educators. ITEs will be expected to contribute their own educational resources to help practising classroom teachers.

“ITEs are key in the shift toward learning with digital technologies and the acceleration of uptake in the education sector,” Ms Kaye says.

“Many of the teachers inside Pond are confident users of digital technologies in the classroom, and opening access will help ITEs keep pace with the innovative approaches being used in today’s modern classrooms.

“In addition, bringing tertiary lecturers and future teachers into Pond will allow groups in the education sector to be more connected as one community.”

Pond is being introduced to users progressively and can be accessed with any internet connection.

 

New Aotea Conservation Park an Auckland treasure

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The new conservation park on Great Barrier Island will ensure greater protection for the island’s unique flora, fauna, birds and wildlife, while also increasing tourism opportunities for the local community and Auckland, says Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.

“I am absolutely delighted that Minister of Conservation Nick Smith has accepted a proposal I put forward last year to establish a conservation park on Barrier – this means that more than 12,000 hectares will receive higher status and better protection,” says Ms Kaye.

“Since it was first proposed in September last year, I have talked with many locals and Aucklanders who are very supportive of having another park, along with the benefits of greater protection for Barrier’s precious wildlife and plants.

“The area included in this new park is home to some of New Zealand’s most special native plant and wildlife. The park is the largest park of conservation status in Auckland, comparable in size to the Auckland Council’s Hunua and Waitakere Ranges parks.

“In particular I hope that young Aucklanders will visit the new park in the years to come. I have met many who have never visited the islands in the Hauraki Gulf. The park will be a major draw card and great for enhancing conservation education.”

The Aotea Conservation Park also presents the community with increased recreation and tourism opportunities, which can only benefit the island, Ms Kaye says. 

“I welcome Minister Smith’s decision and look forward to working with residents on the next steps, which include ensuring strong island and iwi representation on the park’s advisory committee. I want to specifically acknowledge Ngati Rehua and the importance of ensuring it is an integral part of this committee.

“The estimated more than 50,000 visitors to the island each year are the main source of income for the island and local businesses.

“The Government has already invested around $1 million to ensure the island has better cellphone and broadband coverage. The $2.5 million announced today to help repair recent storm damage to island infrastructure, and ensure the Aotea track is in good shape, is crucial for the economic development of the island.

“The next project that I would love to see happen for the island is the designation of Aotea track as one of the ‘New Zealand Great Walks’. To have it recognised alongside the Milford, Tongariro, Heaphy and Routeburntracks would be an additional  boost for tourism for the island and Auckland.

“Finally, I would like to thank the Minister of Conservation for his work in considering the proposal and submissions.  This is a great day for Great Barrier Island and Auckland.”

$200,000 fund for youth projects and organisations

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Youth Affairs Minister Nikki Kaye has today opened Youth Fund 2015 with $200,000 available for community projects.

“The Ministry of Youth Development’s Youth Fund is unique in that it supports projects designed and led by young people aged 12 to 24, or projects by youth organisations in partnership with young people that develop community participation,” Ms Kaye says.

“Panels of young people will assess applications to determine successful projects and where the funding will go, resulting in a completely youth-led initiative.

“The more opportunities we can give young people to participate in decision-making and get involved in service in their communities, the better.”

Youth Fund 2014 funded 47 projects last year, from the Pheonix Performing Arts – a programme of workshops and mentoring for young people involved in the performing arts – to the INSPIRE youth mentoring conference.  A Westland Rural Education Activities programme, the conference taught Grey and Westland districts youth a range of skills in events management, communication, and financial management.

More than 7000 young people participated in the Youth Fund 2014 projects.

“We cannot underestimate the value to our country of investing in young leaders,” Ms Kaye says, “particularly through projects where young Kiwis lead the way in solving problems in their communities.

“This funding, along with other Government initiatives such as the $2.5 million Youth Enterprise Initiative that was announced in Budget 2014, is giving young people opportunities to upskill and make a positive contribution to their communities.”

The funding available for each project in the 2015 Youth Fund ranges from $2000 to $7000. Projects must begin from 1 January 2015 and be completed by 30 June 2015.

Applications close on 11 September 2014.

For information:www.myd.govt.nz/funding/youth-fund.html

Queen to recognise exceptional young leaders

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Youth Affairs Minister Nikki Kaye today welcomed the opening of nominations for Her Majesty The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, which aims to discover, celebrate and support young people from Commonwealth countries.

Buckingham Palace is searching for exceptional young leaders from every country in the Commonwealth, and the programme was officially launched in London on July 9 by their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry on behalf of The Queen.

It has been developed in recognition of the 60 years that The Queen has served as Head of the Commonwealth.

“In my role as Youth Affairs Minister, I have had the privilege of meeting many young people who are making positive contributions in their communities,” Ms Kaye says.

“The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme will recognise and celebrate the achievements of a diverse global group of exceptional young people, support them to reach their potential, and create real change in their lives and in the lives of those around them.

“It is an opportunity to recognise our outstanding young New Zealanders, transform their lives, and inspire others around them.”

The programme will identify and celebrate the achievements of inspirational young leaders aged 18-29 who are already working hard to overcome adversity and contributing to their community.

Each year, 60 young people will be selected over the four-year span of the programme to receive a Queen’s Young Leaders Award, with the chosen 240 promoted as role models to inspire the next generation of young leaders.

Winners will be provided with a tailored package of training, mentoring and networking and will travel to London to attend a one-week residential programme, where they will receive their award from the Queen.

The aim of that visit is to strengthen their skills to enable them to inspire the next generation of young leaders, and to build a network that will keep them engaged as a group beyond the life of the programme.

The programme will also invest in existing projects that support young people who are aiming to create positive change in their communities.

“I hope that many young New Zealanders are nominated for this programme,” Ms Kaye says. “It provides a superb opportunity for some of New Zealand’s young leaders to be recognised on a global stage and to have access to a network of the next generation of young leaders.”

To nominate a young New Zealander for the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, visit www.queensyoungleaders.com/

Government Northland recovery assistance progressing well

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The Government expects to contribute millions of dollars in funding towards the Northland recovery and response costs, Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye says.

“Yesterday, local MP Mike Sabin and I visited a number of Northland communities and saw first hand the impact of the storms and flooding. I was pleased to hear of the superb efforts by council staff, the emergency services, communities and volunteers to assist people during the storm.

“Though the thresholds were not met for a formal declaration of a state of local emergency, in such situations the Government assists the local councils and their civil defence teams in a range of areas.

“Measures are now in place to help people, and I encourage communities to contact either central or local government agencies to access this support.”

The following Government assistance has been offered:

  • Hardship grants through MSD have been made available to affected residents;
  • MSD staff have been assisting local council  teams in building and needs assessments for affected residents in isolated communities such as Aranga, Moerewa, Kaihu and Karaka;
  • In the primary sector, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has approved the situation as a medium-scale adverse event, which triggers a range of Government assistance including funding to the Rural Support Trust;
  • Flood-affected farmers have also been offered assistance by Revenue Minister Todd McClay through Inland Revenue’s income equalisation discretion scheme;
  • Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has confirmed that NZTA will provide emergency works funding through the National Land Transport Fund to enable it and local authorities to respond to the immediate effects of the flooding, including managing temporary road closures and establishing detours, and to allow for damaged roads to be repaired.

“I have also announced that the Government is contributing $100,000 to mayoral funds in the Far North and Whangarei, which will include council contributions,” Ms Kaye says. “These funds are focused on meeting urgent needs including help with cleanup and household items costs.

“Additionally, in all natural disaster emergencies, central Government supports local authorities with direct financial assistance as needed. The Government will fully reimburse councils for the immediate response costs incurred in accommodating, transporting, feeding and clothing displaced residents, and the repair of essential infrastructure.”

Some reimbursement may be made for recovery costs following damage assessment and repairs of essential infrastructure assets, river management systems, and other community assets.

“This support means that ratepayers do not have to meet the full costs of such an event,” Ms Kaye says.

“The recovery period may take some time. It is important for the people of Northland to know that Government is here to support them in the recovery.

“The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management will continue working with representatives from the councils to ensure that assistance is available for those who need it, and I will be contacting local authority leaders and representatives in the next few days to determine any further requirements.I will also be providing my Cabinet colleagues with an update next week.

“I have been hugely impressed by the local Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management operation and the collaboration with central Government.”

Those requiring assistance should contact the Far North District Council on 0800 920 029 or the Whangarei District Council on 0800 932 463.

Government assistance for Northland

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The Government is considering a range of options to further support those affected by the Northland storms, Civil Defence Minister Kaye says.

“I can confirm that the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) has liaised with the Far North District Council, Kaipara District Council, Whangarei District Council and Northland Regional Council to establish a mayoral relief fund,” Ms Kaye says.

“This will be set up by the Far North and Whangarei councils with the majority of the fund going to the most affected areas in Northland.

“I am pleased to confirm that the Government will be contributing $100,000 in the short term, with further assistance considered if needed.”

MCDEM will continue working with representatives from the councils to ensure that assistance is available for those who are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the severe weather event, Ms Kaye says.  Other measures being considered include counselling and support services.

Though better weather since Sunday and dropping water levels in rivers across the region have enabled the region to begin to recover, damage in Northland has been widespread.

“Floodwaters have affected many homes and families,” Ms Kaye says.  “Some communities have been isolated and without power for a number of days. The roading network has suffered damage from slips and flooding.

“I will be travelling to the Far North and visiting Kaitaia and affected areas tomorrow with local MP Mike Sabin. There is currently welfare provision available for families that have been affected, however the mayoral relief fund will enable other assistance for families who may need support at this time.”

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy will be travelling to the Hikurangi area tomorrow, where farms and orchards have been severely affected by flooding.

“While attention is now turning to measures that will help the community recover, I would like to thank the emergency services, council staff, staff of the utility companies, and the many volunteers who have worked together to support the Northland communities,” Ms Kaye says.

Those requiring assistance should contact the Far North District Council on 0800 920 029 or the Whangarei District Council on 0800 932 463.

Northland moves into recovery phase

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The Northland region is moving into the recovery stage following a week of severe weather that has resulted in the evacuation of homes and the closure of state highways, Minister of Civil Defence Nikki Kaye says.

Floodwaters are now dropping after heavy rainfall overnight on Friday resulted in further flooding and slips. Access has been restored to all affected communities.

Though no state of emergency has been declared, the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management has been working alongside the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) Group to manage the response.  Communities have been affected throughout Northland including Whangarei, Kaipara and the Far North. Ministry staff have been deployed to assist the Northland CDEM Group, and regular teleconferences have been held to ensure that local authorities have been receiving central government support as needed.

“I am reassured by the collaboration between the ministry and the Northland CDEM Group in working together to support the local communities,” Ms Kaye says. “They have been working closely together to help families, farmers and businesses affected.

“The response continues to be well managed by Northland. Welfare centres have been set up to meet the needs of families, and the Rural Support Trust has been actively engaged in working with farmers to begin cleaning up affected areas. I am particularly impressed at how well community plans have been activated.”

Ms Kaye is today visiting Northland, and will be accompanied in Moerewa and Hikurangi by local MP Mike Sabin.

“I understand there are communities in the region such as Moerewa and Hikurangi that are likely to be affected for several days. Eleven houses have been evacuated in Moerewa and a civil defence welfare centre had been up and running, which has now been stood down. Farmers and a number of horticulturists in the Hikurangi region and across Northland have sustained significant damage to pastures and farms, and we will look closely at what assistance can be provided.

“I am meeting local government representatives and residents across Northland to determine if there is any need for further central government assistance, including the possibility for the establishment of mayoral relief funds.  I intend to talk to my Cabinet colleagues to determine whether any further central government assistance is appropriate.”

Northland will be moving into the recovery stage from tomorrow with a focus on roading and power restoration, provision of welfare, and the reassurance of affected communities through media and community response plans.

Those requiring assistance should contact the Far North District Council on 0800 920 029 or the Whangarei District Council on 0800 932 463.

Reappointments to FSANZ board

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Minister for Food Safety Nikki Kaye today announced the reappointment of Andrew McKenzie and Neil Walker to the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) Board.

Dr McKenzie has a background in veterinary public health, food safety, food regulation, international and financial management.  He has extensive knowledge of the New Zealand food regulation system having led the New Zealand Food Safety Authority from its inception in 2002 until 2010.

Mr Walker is a food scientist and has spent 35 years working in senior roles in New Zealand’s dairy industry.  He has strong governance experience and has been a chair, director, trustee and committee member of public councils and authorities.

The reappointments were proposed by New Zealand in a formal process that required acceptance by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation.

“Both Dr McKenzie and Mr Walker have made a considerable contribution to the Board,” Ms Kaye says. “I am delighted to have retained their expertise and experience, and that the Board will continue to have this high calibre of representation from New Zealand.

“The work that FSANZ does in developing trans-Tasman standards for food composition and labelling for packaged and unpackaged food is incredibly important. Having a food standards system that is used in both New Zealand and Australia means that there is generally one set of rules for both countries, which enables greater efficiencies for businesses.

“It also means that we are able to co-operate closely in areas like food science and in the development of programmes such as the new Health Star Rating system that New Zealand is adopting.”

FSANZ is an agency established to administer trans-Tasman food standards and is governed by a statutory Board of 12: www.foodstandards.gov.au/about/board/Pages/default.aspx