Buzz from the Beehive: $55 million for a bashful bunch of builders and a belated patch-up on the Solomon Islands

Another day, another Crown:iwi partnership, this time a deal between the Government and Toitū Tairāwhiti to build homes for families “who need them most”.  In this case ethnicity is the critical factor in determining this need.

On the international front, meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahua has named a new high commissioner to Solomon Islands, presumably (and belatedly) to repair the “relationship failure” she acknowledged when she confirmed that New Zealand, Australia and other Pacific nations were caught out by China’s security deal with Solomon Islands.

Mahuta said of the appointment:

“Alongside our Pacific neighbours, New Zealand remains committed to supporting stability in Solomon Islands and promoting a peaceful and secure Pacific region. We know ensuring strong diplomatic relationships is more important than ever as we continue to address the need for cooperation and cohesion across the region.”

The government isn’t telling us much about its partner in the housing venture in which it is investing $55 million..

Housing Minister Megan Woods gives us its name:

“Our commitment to working with partners like Toitū Tairāwhiti on the critical issue of improving housing for Māori is stronger than ever.”

And

“Through this innovative partnership, $55 million of investment from the Whai Kāinga Whai Oranga fund has been approved to enable Toitū Tairāwhiti to deliver up to 150 new homes.”

She further says Toitū Tairāwhiti were identified through the National Iwi Chairs Forum last year as an iwi ready to partner with the Government to deliver Māori housing in their rohe.

They have already built 51 new homes for whānau in the Eastern Bay of Plenty/Tairāwhiti region. This investment will help them to build 150 more.

But when Point of Order searched for Toitū Tairāwhiti on the internet, we failed to find a website with that name.  We did find a link to the Minister’s press statement, however – it was at the top of the list of Google’s responses.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development gives us a steer,  describing Toitū Tairāwhiti as six Iwi groups that stretch across the East Coast region which

“… has produced a plan to develop immediate housing outcomes where no current supply exists.”

News of the handout for housing and the diplomat headed for Honiara was among a handful of statements posted on the Beehive website since our previous report on what ministers are doing.

Others dealt with new sanctions targeting disinformation and those responsible for cyber attacks on Ukraine and the protection of whistleblowers.

Latest from the Beehive

11 MAY 2022

Government partners with Toitū Tairāwhiti to deliver up to 150 new homes for whānau

Up to 150 new homes will be built for whānau who need them most thanks to a new partnership between the Government and Toitū Tairāwhiti, Minister of Housing Hon Dr Megan Woods and Associate Minister of Housing (Māori Housing) Peeni Henare have announced.

10 MAY 2022

New sanctions target disinformation and malicious cyber actors

As part of the Government’s ongoing response to Ukraine, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has announced new sanctions targeting disinformation and those responsible for cyber attacks on Ukraine.

Government bolsters protection for whistleblowers

Significant improvements are being made in New Zealand workplaces to better protect whistleblowers.

New High Commissioner to Solomon Islands announced

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Jonathan Schwass as New Zealand’s next High Commissioner to Solomon Islands.

Aussies have been on peace duties in Honiara for a week – but NZ (after waiting to be asked) is deploying help, too

Monitoring the Ministers

A week after violence erupted in Honiara, capital of the politically troubled Solomon Islands, the Ardern government responded to a request to help restore peace and stability.

The New Zealand government has announced that it will deploy Defence Force and Police personnel to Honiara to help restore peace and stability.

Better late than never?

The Aussies responded last week.

But according to the Beehive statement, we were asked for help only this week.  The Aussies reportedly were asked for help almost immediately after protesters arrived on the steps of Solomon Islands’ national parliament in Honiara last Wednesday to demand the prime minister’s resignation.

Anyway, our government has had plenty of other things to consider.

Coastal shipping, for example.  The cumbersomely titled Coastal Shipping Investment Approach State-of-Play report has been released, described by Transport Minister Michael Wood as an important step towards a more sustainable coastal shipping sector, which will further diversify New Zealand’s supply chain.

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods has announced legislation in her portfolio patch has been given the Royal assent.

Once in effect The Crown Minerals (Decommissioning and Other Matters) Amendment Bill will mitigate the risk to the Crown and taxpayer of having to fund decommissioning if a permit or licence holder is unable to do so. Continue reading “Aussies have been on peace duties in Honiara for a week – but NZ (after waiting to be asked) is deploying help, too”

US and Chinese interests are at stake in violent Honiara politicking: NZ waits to be asked for help before becoming involved

Latest from the Beehive

Violence in Honiara – three days of looting and destruction, demands for the PM to step down  and the declaration of a nightly curfew – has prompted one of two new posts on the Beehive website since we last updated our monitoring.

Reporting on the unrest, RNZ Pacific correspondent in Honiara, Georgina Kekea, said only six buildings were still standing in Honiara’s Chinatown.

In Wellington, Acting Foreign Affairs Minister David Parker has expressed this country’s deep concern at events unfolding in  the capital of the Solomon Islands.

“New Zealand is a long-standing partner of Solomon Islands, and there are deep and enduring connections between our two countries,” Acting Foreign Affairs Minister David Parker said. Continue reading “US and Chinese interests are at stake in violent Honiara politicking: NZ waits to be asked for help before becoming involved”

Solomon Islands govt terminates “legally defective”deal with Chinese enterprise

The Solomon Islands government has terminated a strategic cooperation agreement signed by the Central Province government and China’s Sam Enterprise Group.  Attorney-General John Muria says it was “unlawful, unenforceable and must be terminated with immediate effect.

The five-year lease deal alarmed residents on Tulagi and officials in the SI government and caused concern in Wellington, Washington and Canberra. China’s Sam has not commented. Company executives met SI  Prime Minister Mannaseh Sogavare when he visited China this month, shortly after diplomatic relations opened between the two countries.

The agreement contained references to trade and minerals, including a possible oil and gas development as part of a “special economic zone”. However, its broad wording could have enabled China Sam to build strategic assets such as deep sea ports.

Muria said the agreement signed had significant legal “defects“, including an illegal clause which would exempt China Sam from having to obtain Foreign Investor status under Solomon Islands laws.

The deal was also not vetted by the attorney-general’s chambers, as required of all provincial and national level agreements, he said.

A reader reminds us Tulagi harbour is the resting place of an RNZN corvette HMNZS Moa which sank in April 1943 after being struck by Japanese dive bombers while refuelling from a US Navy tanker.  Five ratings were killed.

Development deal in the Solomon Islands extends China’s drive into the South Pacific

Barely a month after the Solomon Islands switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China, the country’s Central Province has signed an agreement with the Beijing-based Sam Group to develop Tulagi Island, across Ironbottom Sound from the capital Honiara.

Tulagi was the pre-war base of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. During the war its dep-water harbour was used by the US Navy for ship repairs.

The Central Province agreement, signed September 22, would give Beijing-based Sam Group an exclusive five-year development lease for Tulagi Island and its surrounding islands. Central Province premier, Stanley Manetiva, confirmed he had signed the “strategic cooperation agreement” in Honiara with representatives of Sam Group, but said it was not legally binding and the company would have to comply with local laws and respect landowner rights on Tulagi. Continue reading “Development deal in the Solomon Islands extends China’s drive into the South Pacific”