Much ado about water, a bill to shake up the health system and an investment in pot (strictly for medicinal purposes)

 

The PM was strutting the international stage (virtually), the Minister of Agriculture turned to pot, the Minister for Emergency Management was limbering up for a shake-up, and the Minister for the Environment was appointing people to speak for a river that (under our laws) is deemed to be a living entity.  

The Minister for Local Government – awash with confidence in her infallibility, it seems – declared her intent to force the Three Waters reforms on local authorities that have raised a raft of reasonable objections.   The local authorities had better believe her.  She has demonstrated in the past her flair for flushing aside the niceties of good legislative procedure.

To counter any impression the government won’t listen to its citizens, on the other hand, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark announced public feedback is being sought on the regulatory safeguards required to ensure consumers and communities receive three waters services that meet their needs.

“The future three waters system needs to promote consumer interests and ensure infrastructure is delivered in a way that is efficient, affordable and resilient. To achieve this, the Government is considering whether economic and consumer protection regulation is needed, and how any new laws could be designed,” David Clark said

Yep.  It was a busy day in the Beehive.

Then there was the latest Covid stuff (before anyone knew the virus had reached Christchurch) in the form of rental relief measures  and the easing of restrictions in Northland and the Waikato.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Minister for Health, who was in Parliament for the first reading of legislation that will pave the way for a racially segregated health system.

Health – as it happens – was among considerations discussed while Jacinda Ardern was attending the 16th East Asia Summit hosted virtually by Brunei Darussalam.

The East Asia Summit is a key forum for leaders to discuss pressing issues facing the region and provides a platform to manage strategic risks through cooperation and collaboration.

“Our region continues to manage a range of geo-political challenges including COVID-19, the protection of our environment, and the health of our people,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“It was important that we raised with leaders the range of health, economic and security issues facing the Indo-Pacific region – including the ongoing management of COVID-19, the economic recovery, international rules and human rights, and climate change. 

“These challenges are too big for any nation alone to solve, and it’s clear that only together can we continue to make progress where we need it most.”

At the conclusion of the meeting regional leaders adopted statements on mental health cooperation, economic growth through tourism recovery and sustainable recovery.

The full text of these agreed statements can be found here: www.asean2021.bn

Health was on Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s mind, too.   

He announced the government is backing

“… an innovative research and development programme to help accelerate the establishment of New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis industry and boost export potential…”

He’s perhaps thinking of the need to help our balance of payments when, in the name of climate change mitigation, we have culled the dairy cows that are the backbone of the economy.

The Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) is contributing nearly $760,000 to the $1.9 million, three-year programme led by project partner Greenlab, which aims to establish evidence-based medical cannabis cultivation practices.

“New Zealand’s primary industry is built on excellence in applied science. This investment will see Greenlab’s researchers carrying out rigorous trials and lab testing at its leased facilities at Lincoln University to ensure a consistently high-quality and effective pharmaceutical product,” Damien O’Connor said.

Because medicinal cannabis has been legal in New Zealand only since 2020 there is a lack of scientific information here about how to best cultivate therapeutically active compounds.

Greenlab aims to generate standard cultivation protocols for a range of New Zealand genetics with the optimised pharmaceutical compounds required by doctors and needed by patients to improve their quality of life.

“The aim is to establish sustainable and efficient New Zealand-based medical cultivation practices – with the end goal of sharing the findings with other licensed Kiwi growers.

“This funding will ensure these growers have access to essential industry knowledge and insights much further and faster than would have otherwise been possible.”

Thirty-seven medicinal cannabis cultivation licences have been issued by the Ministry of Health.

Less than 50 hectares is currently planted in medicinal cannabis and the current domestic market is supplied almost completely by imports, at around 1,800 prescriptions per month.

SFF Futures is administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries. Through the fund the Government has to date co-invested more than $142 million into 163 projects worth almost $313 million in total. It’s a key part of the Government’s Fit for a Better World: Accelerating Our Economic Potential Roadmap.

From medicinal cannabis we turn to the health and wellbeing of a river and to the press statement which drew our attention to the appointment of Keria Ponga and Turama Hawira as Te Pou Tupua. 

Can you remember what work is done by Te Pou Tupua?

A reminder was provided in the announcement by Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui chairperson Sheena Maru Minister and Environment David Parker of the appointments of Te Pou Tupua.  They are 

“… the face and voice of Te Awa Tupua.”

Since 2017, you might recall,

“… the Whanganui River has been recognised as a living and indivisible whole comprising of all its physical and metaphysical elements from the mountains to the sea, through the Te Awa Tupua Act.

The appointments are made jointly by the iwi with interests in the Whanganui River and the Crown.

They symbolise both the partnership between Iwi and the Crown and the Crown’s ongoing responsibility to uphold Te Awa Tupua. These appointments support a strong future for the Whanganui River and its communities. 

David Parker acknowledged Kahurangi Dame Tariana Turia for her contribution in the role of Te Pou Tupua since 2017.

Whanganui kaumatua John Niko Maihi said the iwi of Te Awa Tupua remain steadfast that our people are intrinsically connected to the health and wellbeing of the whole Awa, its mouri and its mana.

“Te Pou Tupua will assist in performing this important role and to uphold Tupua te Kawa, the innate values of Te Awa Tupua, on behalf of the Whanganui River.” 

Latest from the Beehive

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended overnight the 16th East Asia Summit hosted virtually by Brunei Darussalam.

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The Government is backing an innovative research and development programme to help accelerate the establishment of New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis industry and boost export potential.

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Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta today confirmed the Government will create four publicly owned water entities to ensure every New Zealander has access to affordable, long-lasting drinking, waste and storm water infrastructure without ballooning costs to households and families.

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