Northland, Westland and the LGBT set are favoured in latest servings of govt handouts

The government’s zeal for using public money to curry political favour is reflected in the latest generous servings from various Beehive-controlled troughs.

Among them was the PM’s announcement of a $300,000 helping for research to update behavioural information to ensure HIV and STI prevention services are targeted appropriately in New Zealand.

It’s a modest sum – so modest that we wonder how far it will actually go in achieving its objective.

But it looks like the size of the handout was not as important as the opportunity provided for pitching for support from  the lesbian, gay, bisexual,and transgender set.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson made the announcement at the Big Gay Out in Auckland.

“There is much talk about inclusion of the rainbow community but part of that is ensuring there is no disadvantage in terms of healthcare. This will help make that a reality,” Jacinda Ardern said.

But wait, folks.  There’s more.

Ardern also gave further details on the establishment of the Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund that was announced last year.

The fund – to be managed by the Rule Foundation, as recommended by rainbow organisations – will receive $1 million from “the Crown” (which means taxpayers).

The Rule Foundation was established through a trust deed in 2008 to enable the funds left from the estate of Peter Rule to be used to fund projects and activities to advance the health, wellbeing and visibility of the LGBTI community.

You can learn more about Peter Rule and the Rule Foundation in the Beehive press statement. 

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones clearly was looking for political support when he headed north last week for a round of Waitangi Day events.

He was able to point out that Te Tii, the lower marae at Waitangi, is among more than 70 marae now connected to broadband internet thanks to the Provincial Growth Fund’s marae connectivity scheme.

“I’m filled with pride today that Te Tii Marae, an incredibly significant place, is one of more than 70 marae connected to fast-speed internet,” Shane Jones said. 

And:

“In the case of Te Tii, the entire Paihia community is benefiting from the connection as the project has sped up the delivery of UFB fibre optic cable in the area. Te Tii marae also has a range of high-tech equipment including a wi fi booster, video camera, and audio-visual gear, along with digital training support.

“Everyone at the marae can use the equipment for business, education, community engagement and keeping in touch with whānau and friends elsewhere.”

Down on the West Coast, Rural Communities Minister and local MP Damien O’Connor enthused on Waitangi Day about more than $1m of handouts for his region, the biggest of them aimed at helping Maori prosper from pounamu.

The Point of Order Trough Monitor was triggered by these press statements  in the past week –

6 FEBRUARY 2020

PGF supports West Coast connectivity

The West Coast has had a funding injection of over $1.2 million from the Provincial Growth Fund, Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced at Waitangi Day commemorations in Hokitika today.

 The PGF projects announced are:

    •  $800,000 to Development West Coast for a Grey District Regional Digital Hub and an Outreach Hub.
    • $400,000 to EPIC Westport Limited for a Buller District Regional Digital Hub.

PGF support for these hubs will connect Westport, Greymouth and the Westland District to online services to benefit business owners and entrepreneurs, Tabuteau said. Westland’s hub will be mobile, and can be moved to different locations through the year.

“The PGF places a strong importance on regional connectivity, with $100 million allocated from the Fund for getting communities online.  For the West Coast, the PGF announced $32.8 million to improve access to ultra-fast broadband and fix mobile black spots. 

 “Today’s combined $1.2 million investment for these three digital hubs complement that by providing support for businesses, communities and people, to give them the internet access they need. This is essential for the West Coast to grow and thrive.

The PGF is also supporting Ngāti Waewae with $995,500 from the Whenua Māori allocation, announced by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones on 2 February.

This project will enable Ngāti Waewae to source and manage pounamu on their land and grow their carving and tourism ventures.

While Māori own pounamu, it issourced as a by-product from gold and coal mining, and iwi pay a significant fee to recover it. This PGF-funded project will assist in purchasing equipment to secure a direct supply, as these products are in huge demand.

Over the past two years, the Provincial Growth Fund has announced over $150 million in projects directly benefiting the West Coast.

Rural Communities Minister and local MP Damien O’Connor said the latest announcement is another example of the Coalition Government investing in the Coast after years of neglect by the previous Government.

“Today’s announcement is really great news and is a continuation of the hundreds of millions that have been invested in education, tourism and infrastructure projects on the Coast. This government believes in the Coast and we’re backing it to succeed.”

6 FEBRUARY 2020

More than 70 marae online through PGF

Te Tii, the lower marae at Waitangi, is among more than 70 marae now connected to broadband internet thanks to the Provincial Growth Fund’s marae connectivity scheme, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said today.

In February 2019, the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) allocated $21 million to connect rural towns and marae to the internet to give local people and businesses better access to digital services.

“I’m filled with pride today that Te Tii Marae, an incredibly significant place, is one of more than 70 marae connected to fast-speed internet. This PGF initiative is giving people free and fast access to digital services, along with technical support and equipment,” Shane Jones said.

“The PGF has made huge progress on the marae connectivity package in a year. Whānau and communities around the country tell us this work is needed and valued.

More than 200 marae have registered to get connected.

7 FEBRUARY 2020

New grants for seismic strengthening of heritage buildings

Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Grant Robertson announced heritage buildings throughout New Zealand will benefit from $1.1 million in Heritage EQUIP funding grants.

These grants for seismic strengthening projects help private building owners get the advice they need to start building work or to get the work completed, Robertson says.

Timaru’s Grosvenor Hotel has been awarded $300,000 to assist the owner strengthen the masonry parapet and walls. It recognises the importance of the building to the central city landscape.

Dating back to 1918 Tauranga’s Hotel St Amand, now a restaurant and backpackers, receives $150,000 for timber and steel bracing to the exterior and interior walls.

Two other projects funded in this round are Auckland’s East Street Mission Hall and the Hooson’s building complex in Wellington.

Located in the Karangahape Road historic heritage area, Mission Hall gets $150,000 for steel and concrete bracing and an intermediate floor to support the apartment conversion project. The building will stand out in an area where many heritage buildings have gone.

The Courtenay Place Hooson’s building, representing 1920s Stripped Classical style architecture, is noted for its elegant classical proportions and ornamentation.

“This and the adjoining Athenic and former National Bank buildings make a valuable contribution to the Courtenay Place Heritage Area.

“The $250,000 grant will see the five adjoining buildings tied together so they move as one in an earthquake.

A total of nine grants have been allocated in this round – six works grants and three professional advice grants, bringing a total of $9 million awarded since the programme got under way in 2017.

9 FEBRUARY 2020

Government to fund Aids research

The Government is committing $300,000 to fund research to update behavioural information to make sure HIV and STI prevention services are targeted appropriately in New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson made the announcement at today’s Big Gay Out in Auckland.

The Ministry of Health-funded research will study rates of HIV and STI testing, sexual behaviour, condom use, PrEP and inequities in these behaviours. This will help the Ministry guide the purchase, targeting, delivery and evaluation of HIV and STI prevention services in NZ.

The Prime Minister also gave further details on the establishment of the Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund that was announced last year.

She said the Fund would be managed by the Rule Foundation – as recommended by rainbow organisations – which would receive the $1 million endowment from the Crown flagged in 2019.

The inaugural application round will open in June 2020 and will provide up to $100,000 to rainbow organisations working to improve mental health, particularly for young people.

The Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund was proposed to the Minister of Finance by a group of men whose wrongful convictions for pre-1986 consensual homosexual activities were expunged in 2017.  While they did not want compensation, they promoted an idea to establish a fund to support improved mental health outcomes for young people. In a sense, this was to ‘pay forward’ to the next generation by turning these negative experiences into a positive for young people.

In September, the Minister of Finance met with rainbow organisations who proposed the Rule Foundation could establish and administer the fund. Cabinet accepted this in December.

The foundation is updating its trust deed to establish the Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund and to enable the appointment of two more trustees.

The foundation expects to open the 2020 application round on June 1 2020.

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