The debt isn’t an issue et, so let’s spend more on Auckland schools and forego some income from road user charges

While questions were being raised about a longer-term issue – the sustainability of the government’s debt – the government was busy (a) spending more money on Auckland schools and (b) foregoing some of the income it collects from road user charges.

It was also introducing legislation that will establish new co-governance arrangements, enabling a Maori tribe to sit with local government leaders in deciding on this, that and the other for the community.

The Ngāti Maru (Taranaki) Claims Settlement Bill, the legislation that will settle Ngāti Maru’s historic Treaty of Waitangi claims, provides for Taranaki Regional Council and Te Kāhui Maru Trust: Te Iwi o Maruwharanui (the Ngāti Maru post-settlement governance entity) to enter into a joint management agreement in respect of the Waitara River and its catchment.

This will include a role for the tribe in the environmental monitoring of the Waitara River, emulating a raft of treaty settlements which include co-governance entitlements.

A press statement announcing the first reading of the bill was among the latest statements and speeches posted on The Beehive website since we last reported on the doings of our ministers.

One of the statements advised that $6.5 million is being earmarked to help schools meet unexpected costs arising from the February 2021 regional Alert Level 3 restrictions.

“We know that Auckland schools were financially impacted by the regional lockdowns. This scheme will support schools in Auckland and the surrounding regions where the most impact was felt,” said Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

Income that otherwise would have flowed into the government’s coffers will be foregone as a result of the decision to extend the Road User Charges (RUC) exemption for light electric vehicles.

This is designed to encourage us to replace our petrol-guzzling fumes-emitting cars with electric vehicles.

Two speeches were delivered.

One of these was delivered to the Te Putanga Toi Arts Access awards.

The awards celebrate the significant contribution of individuals, groups, and organisations in enhancing access and inclusion in the arts.

The government in February announced $18 million of funding “for creative spaces”, to be delivered over three years through the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. This initiative is part of the $70 million Te Tahua Whakahaumaru Creative Arts Recovery and Employment (CARE) Fund, which aims to enhance access to, and participation in, the cultural sector; and to create employment and skill development opportunities.

The other speech (posted today) was delivered by Associate Health Minister Aupito William Sio at the launch of Bula Sautu

It wasn’t immediately apparent what, exactly, was being launched, other than something with a Fijian name.

We suppose it is the same Bula Sautu that was the subject of a press statement from the Health Quality and Safety Commission on Monday headed Health Calls For Urgent System Change.

A new report paints a stark picture of the health care challenges faced by Pacific peoples in New Zealand and calls for ambitious changes to the system to be made urgently.

Bula Sautu: A window on quality 2021: Pacific health in the year of COVID-19 was launched today in Parliament by Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio. The report is the latest in a series of ‘window’ publications from the Health Quality & Safety Commission (the Commission). It considers the health of Pacific peoples and provides a snapshot view of how the health system is working (or not working) for them.

 Latest from the Beehive

Health

Speech to Launch Bula Sautu

Associate Health Minister Aupito William Sio delivered the speech at the launch of Bula Sautu.

You’ve heard here tonight about the realities that many of us know and see, in our own lives, in our families and in our communities. For Pasifika and Māori people we live and breathe the inequities Bula Sautu highlights – as if it were normal and acceptable , while the health system looks on.

The arts

Speech at Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2021

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni delivered this speech to the Te Putanga Toi Arts Access awards.

The awards celebrate the significant contribution of individuals, groups, and organisations in enhancing access and inclusion in the arts.  They also celebrate the significant contribution of individuals, groups, and organisations in enhancing access and inclusion in the arts and highlight important developments in accessibility across a number of sectors, including “creative spaces”.

Treaty settlements

Ngāti Maru (Taranaki) Claims Settlement Bill passes first reading

Nga uri o Ngāti Maru (Taranaki) witnessed the first reading of the Ngāti Maru (Taranaki) Claims Settlement Bill at Parliament.

The Bill gives effect to Te Hiringa Taketake – the Ngāti Maru (Taranaki) Deed of Settlement – signed on 27 February 2021 in Tarata, Taranaki.

The tribe’s historical grievances arise from dispossession, displacement, and dislocation following the Crown’s confiscation of half their traditional lands in the 1860s.

Ngāti Maru will receive financial and commercial redress valued at $30 million, including $26.35 million in financial redress, and a Crown forest valued at just over $3.65 million.

Cultural redress includes the vesting of 16 sites of deep cultural significance, including properties located in Tarata, Pūrangi, and two sites along the Tangarakau and Whangamomona Rivers.

Through this settlement the Crown also acknowledges and apologises for its imprisonment and exile of Ngāti Maru people engaged in peaceful protest at Parihaka.

The settlement provides for Taranaki Regional Council and Te Kāhui Maru Trust: Te Iwi o Maruwharanui (the Ngāti Maru post-settlement governance entity) to enter into a joint management agreement in respect of the Waitara River and its catchment.

Schools

Support for schools to meet February 2021 regional lockdown costs

 The government has earmarked $6.5 million to help Auckland schools meet unexpected costs after the February 2021 regional Alert Level 3 restrictions

This scheme will support schools in Auckland and the surrounding regions where the most impact was felt.

Support had been provided to schools for COVID-19 costs to the end of 2020, but there have been ongoing impacts into this year, Chris Hipkins said.

Environment

Clean Car Package revs up with RUC exemption extension

To further encourage a switch to electric vehicles to reduce emissions, the Government has extended the Road User Charges (RUC) exemption for light electric vehicles.  Transport Minister Michael Wood reckons this will save Kiwis around $800 a year

Electric vehicles are exempt from paying road user charges that normally apply to vehicles that don’t pay for petrol at the pump. This exemption has been extended until 31 March 2024 as part of the Government’s Clean Car Package.

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