Uptake of Health Star Rating welcomed

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Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today welcomed the announcement by Foodstuffs that it will adopt the Health Star Ratings on its Pams and Budget product packaging.

“Having the support of one of the biggest food retailers in the country is a good sign of industry confidence in this new food labelling system,” Ms Kaye says.

“Foodstuffs has more than 650 wholesale and retail stores in the country, and its Pams brand is the single largest grocery brand in New Zealand. The company has said that its aim is for 1400 of its Pams product lines and 315 of its Budget-branded lines to eventually be eligible to display the Health Star Rating. It has indicated that it is likely that 100 of these product lines will carry the new labelling next year.

“This new system is a significant step in empowering New Zealanders to make healthier food choices. Having a voluntary commitment by a retailer of this scale is a very good sign for the future of the Health Star Rating system, and it is my hope that this move by Foodstuffs will encourage other food retailers to follow suit.”

Ms Kaye announced in June that the Government will be adopting the new voluntary food labelling system, which uses a star rating scale of ½ to 5 stars and is able to be used on almost all packaged food products for retail sale.

“Research has shown that the Health Star Rating system will have a positive effect on consumers’ ability to identify healthier food products, and 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.”

Foodstuffs has said that it will begin to incorporate the Health Star Ratings onto its Pams and Budget brand packaging from early 2015 as contracts are renewed and packaging updated.

For more information about the system visit www.mpi.govt.nz

New electronic export certification now live

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An electronic certification system that has been years in development is now operating for animal product exports, Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says.

The new certification system, launched in the last few weeks, replaces an older system that was approaching the end of its life and becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. It currently applies to meat and seafood products, with certification of dairy products scheduled from September 1.

The system offers importing countries additional security and anti-fraud features for dairy exports, which is important in protecting the reputation of New Zealand’s official assurances, Ms Kaye says.

“The export landscape is changing and New Zealand’s systems need to be able to deal with the shifting environment. This new system will help with that.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries is closely monitoring and supporting it to ensure that any issues are dealt with quickly and efficiently. It assures me that the new system is running well so far, and is continuing to work with industry and major trading partners to build on that good start.”

The government engaged extensively with exporters and the wider industry in the development of the new system, including through a long-standing industry steering group to ensure any changes would work in practice, Ms Kaye says. As part of its commitment to better public services, MPI put particular effort into ensuring the new system was easier to use and an improvement for companies trying to manage their export certification.

“Officials notified all markets of the change to the technology behind our export certification and stand ready to support clearance of product if necessary,” Ms Kaye says.

Work is progressing to transition the dairy industry to the new system. MPI held demonstration workshops last month in Christchurch, Palmerston North, Hamilton and Auckland.

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.

Funding for councils to support young people

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Thirty city and district councils will benefit from the 2014 Youth Development Partnership Fund, Youth Affairs Minister Nikki Kaye says.

The allocated $739,000 in funding will provide assistance to local councils for projects that support young people aged 12 to 24.

“This investment will give young people a chance to participate confidently in their communities – to be heard, and to influence local decision-making,” Ms Kaye says.

“The point of this fund is to get young people involved in and leading projects that are meaningful to them and their communities. It also enables them to develop leadership skills, and to volunteer in their communities.”

Since the launch of the Youth Development Partnership Fund in 2005, more than 50 city and district councils have been supported to work with and improve the outcomes for young people in their regions.

“As Minister of Youth Affairs, I see young people throughout New Zealand who are making a valuable contribution to their families and communities.  As a nation, it is important that we continue to provide opportunities for them to be involved in meaningful activities that build their skills and confidence, and make a positive difference to the lives of those around them.”

Funding recipients include:

  • Buller District Council – $17,000 to develop leadership and event management skills through youth-led community events, including an ANZAC Day 2015 commemoration;
  • Christchurch City Council – $13,000 to provide young ethnic leaders with opportunities to intern with and shadow business leaders;
  • Hauraki District Council – $15,000 for a youth leader mentoring programme and project to prevent littering;
  • Napier City Council – $26,000 to establish a youth broadcast group to develop youth-focused episodes for the local television network and deliver a broadcasting mentoring programme; and
  • Thames Coromandel District Council – $20,000 for young people to establish a volunteering system in Thames.

For more information and a full list of recipients:


Food Bill passes its final reading

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Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today welcomed the unanimous support for the Food Bill during its third and final reading in Parliament today.

“The Food Bill has received support from all parties. It has taken a long time to get here and a lot of work has been put in to developing this significant piece of legislation,” Ms Kaye says. 

“The new Food Act will put in place a risk-based approach, where regulatory requirements are based on the extent and nature of the food safety risks associated with particular kinds of businesses. The new system will help to ensure that food safety laws are cost effective.

“The Act will focus on the activities that a food business carries out, rather than the premises from which it operates.  A number of different kinds of businesses will have more flexibility and lower compliance costs than they face under the current ‘one size fits all’ regime. 

There are also some provisions in the Act that concern recall powers and other powers that may be used in a food safety response. These provisions will take immediate effect as soon as the Act receives the Royal Assent.

“It was important to bring these provisions in to force as soon as possible so that government could respond to a major food safety event if one arose tomorrow,” Ms Kaye says. 

The Act will provide New Zealand with a modern, flexible regulatory regime, which will enable food businesses to adapt to future changes in technology, overseas market access requirements, and consumer demands.

“The enactment of the Food Bill will not be the end of the law reform process.  After enactment officials will develop regulations and guidance which will undergo a public consultation process.

“These regulations will determine the final shape of the Bill and can be used to further tailor how the Bill will apply to particular food sectors, or even individual businesses,” says Ms Kaye.  

The period after enactment will also include close engagement with territorial authorities and food businesses, to ensure that everyone is ready for the transition to the new law.

Over $7 million for upgrades to Warkworth School

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The Government is investing $7.6 million in Warkworth School to upgrade its buildings and facilities, Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye says.

“The increased funding is to be used to replace the old buildings that make up the majority of the junior school, and replace some permanent buildings past their useful life. The redevelopment will also address onsite flooding from poor drainage that causes dampness beneath school buildings,” says Ms Kaye.

“Warkworth is one of the priority schools in New Zealand that will receive a major redevelopment over the next six years. The Government is investing approximately $300 million over six years to assist approximately 30 schools with the most complex infrastructure issues.

“Warkworth is a region of intensive future development and roll growth. This $7.6 million redevelopment will see more modern classrooms to address roll growth. The redevelopment will ensure Warkworth School continues to deliver a high standard of education to the community.

“The Warkworth upgrade is part of the Government’s plan to raise student achievement. The rebuild will help create a more modern and inspiring learning environment for all of Warkworth School’s students and their teachers.

“Over the last 5 years we have spent over $2 billion upgrading schools so that students can learn and achieve in the best possible environments,” says Ms Kaye

Construction is expected to commence later this year.

$2 million for new classrooms at Tai Tapu school

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Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye today announced nearly $2 million funding for new classrooms at Tai Tapu School in rural Canterbury.

“Selwyn district is part of a rapidly growing Canterbury region. The nine new buildings for Tai Tapu School are part of a broader classroom building programme which will address the capacity needs for the region,” Ms Kaye says.

“Three of the classrooms will accommodate roll growth and six will replace older classrooms. All of these will meet modern learning environment standards.”

Tai Tapu School, which takes students from Year 1 to Year 8, received most of the neighbouring Greenpark School’s students when it closed earlier this year. Further growth in the region has also been anticipated in plans for a Stage 2 development at the school.

Ms Kaye says 26 new classrooms for the Selwyn District have been funded in the past 12 months, with a total value of $5.3 million.  The classrooms will help to address changing demographics in the region in the next few years.

“These new classrooms meet modern learning environment standards which is important to raise achievement for children and young people,” Ms Kaye says. “Our vision is to have schools with flexible learning areas, access to ultra-fast broadband and energy efficient building that will serve their communities for many years to come.”

Govt to establish Food Safety Science & Research Centre

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Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced that expressions of interest have been released for a Food Safety Science and Research Centre.

Establishing a New Zealand centre of food safety science and research is one of the 29 recommendations from the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident, released in December last year.

“The centre will ensure delivery of excellent food safety science and research while also minimising the risks of foodborne illness and maximising economic growth opportunities,” Mr Joyce says.

“When the Government accepted the recommendations of the WPC Inquiry we undertook to make funding available for food safety science and research with a view to having further funding contributions from industry.

“The centre will be funded by at least $5 million per year made up of contributions from Government and industry.

“The first step in establishing the centre is to seek expressions of interest from existing research organisations.”

“The centre will ensure that New Zealand’s food safety system remains among the best in the world,” Ms Kaye says. “It will focus on cutting-edge, internationally recognised research into key aspects of food safety.

“In addition to being able to contribute funding to the centre, key industry people will be asked to be part of an advisory panel to inform the centre’s work. This ensures the centre’s work is directly relevant to industry.

“The new centre is part of an overall Government package of improvements to ensure New Zealand’s food safety system remains at the forefront internationally. It will sit alongside the new Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council. The council will set the context and provide high-level guidance to the Food Safety Science and Research Centre.

“I believe this investment and the centre will enable an increased level of food safety knowledge and capability across the science sector, industry and government,” Ms Kaye says.

From the expressions of interest, a shortlist of organisations will be invited to attend a workshop to refine the centre’s scope, structure and functions. The outputs of the workshop will be used to design the second step, which is a request for proposal process from organisations which attended the workshop and are interested in hosting the centre.

The centre is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

The Expressions of Interest (EOI) released today can be found at: www.msi.govt.nz/get-funded/research-organisations/new-zealand-food-safety-science-and-research-centre