Last week the Prime Minister announced that the Government was boosting funding to expand Fonterra and Sanitarium’s KickStart Breakfast programme, and also provide a grant to KidsCan to help with their work.
The Government is contributing $9.5 million over five years to the KickStart programme, which will be matched dollar for dollar by Fonterra and Sanitarium.
Sanitarium will provide the Weetbix, Fonterra will provide the Anchor milk, and it’s up to the local community to deliver the programme.
This will put breakfast in decile one to four schools, five mornings a week. Other schools can opt in during 2014, if they want to. I know some schools locally already run successful programmes and interested schools will be able to learn from these.
The Government is also committing $1.5 million over three years to KidsCan. This will help provides children with basic necessities such as raincoats and shoes.
This week’s announcements compliment the Government’s commitment to the fruit-in-schools programme which delivers about 11 million pieces of fruit a year, with a focus on decile 1 and 2 schools. Many schools I have visited in the Horowhenua and Ōtaki areas rate this programme highly.
In general, the amount of fruit and vegetables eaten by many kids is low. There are very positive health benefits in children eating even at least 1 piece of fruit a day.
Ultimately, parents have the responsibility for ensuring that kids get to school with enough food in their lunchboxes, and by and large they do a great job.
However, for a variety of reasons, some kids are arriving school with nothing at all.
Too often these kids are the ones who underperform in the classroom, and this Government is serious about lifting student achievement. Having a full tummy will help those who otherwise struggle to learn.
This is about striking the right balance by protecting vulnerable children and not creating dependency. Ultimately, the best solutions to these issues are not the sole responsibility of the Government but the combined efforts of parents, communities, and businesses.
Some other announcements in this year’s Budget include: $100 million to extend the home insulation programme; $24 million for rheumatic fever prevention; and $41 million for early childhood education with a focus on vulnerable.
This Government has a strong record of targeting assistance to those who need it most. Parents and communities will play a crucial role in ensuring the next generation of New Zealand’s leaders grow up healthy, strong, and happy.
It’s now 18 months since regular Air New Zealand flights began between Kapiti Airport and Auckland. I’ve travelled this route many times and it’s a great service.
Having a direct connection to our biggest city has proved very convenient for both business and leisure travellers. For locals it’s far easier than having to drive all the way to Wellington and provides an alternative to Palmerston North airport.
The Kapiti Airport Business Park is now open and looking to expand, and once Transmission Gully and the Kapiti expressway are complete, our region will be better connected than ever before.
I believe the next step forward should be direct flights to and from Christchurch. This is our second biggest city and as the rebuild gathers steam it will become a busy destination.
I’ll be talking to Air New Zealand about the potential benefits this extra connection could bring.
Tourism is one of New Zealand’s most important industries so it’s important that Kapiti and Horowhenua are well connected.
Recently Prime Minister John Key announced the Government will be investing $158 million into tourism over the next four years to attract international visitors.
More visitors means more spending in shops, hotels, cafes, restaurants and businesses right throughout the country
A major priority is to focus on new markets and visitors who spend more.
Traditionally we’ve relied on tourists from places such as Australia, the UK and USA. These are still very important, and $24.5 million will be spent on boosting these markets.
But we also need to expand our focus, so we are investing another $44.5 million to attract visitors from places such as Latin America, Indonesia and India.
These places have growing wealth, increasing numbers of people who want to travel, and are geographically closer to us than many other countries
Along with China, which is already our second-biggest tourist market, we can expect to see high growth in the number of tourists coming from these countries. The Prime Minister’s recent visits to China and Latin America have shown the huge potential for tourism and trade from these places.
Of course our region offers a lot for domestic travellers and we need to continually promote what we have to offer.
This week, the Minister for Communications and Information Technology Amy Adams is in electorate to mark the beginning of the Ultra-Fast Broadband rollout for the Kapiti and Levin areas.
Chorus will be deploying new fibre optic cables and building the underlying broadband infrastructure to connect urban homes, businesses and schools.
Some local schools have already begun enjoying the benefits of this technology, and are now able to use video-conferencing, and interactive learning which greatly enhances the way kids are taught.
Nearly 1500 schools around the country are now able to access the Ultra-Fast Broadband network.
This technology will also have a major impact on businesses by reducing compliance costs and allowing them to be more productive.
This is an exciting development that will help connect our region with the world, and local businesses will be better connected to their customers.
Broadband is a significant $1.5 Billion investment by the Government and will help local residents and businesses to stay on top of developments in New Zealand and around the world.
For areas not included in the Ultra-Fast Broadband rollout, the Rural Broadband Initiative offers a positive solution.
This Government is also making significant capital investments in local infrastructure like the Kapiti Expressway and roading improvements in Horowhenua.
This week we recognise Anzac Day and remember those who have sacrificed so much on our behalf. I’m looking forward to speaking at the mid-morning service at Paraparaumu on Thursday.
This time last time year I was in Gallipoli, giving three speeches on behalf of New Zealand as the Minister of Veterans Affairs.
As the resting place for so many of our war dead, Gallipoli has become a sacred place for all New Zealanders.
It was an extremely moving experience to see where so many young New Zealanders lost their lives, and something I will never forget.
I remember watching a woman in the New Zealand band waiting to play. As the roll call played out I saw tears rolling down her cheeks, and she wasn’t the only one that morning.
I was shown around the various battle sites on the Canakkale Peninsula and saw first-hand the incredibly difficult conditions our soldiers faced, with towering cliffs and steep gullies.
It was evident just how close some of the trenches actually were. If you imagine a tennis court from baseline to baseline, that was often just how close our opponents were.
Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli for Anzac Day and the 2015 celebrations will be especially poignant as it marks the 100 year anniversary of the original landings. Demand is expected to be so high that a ballot system will be run to allocate places.
There will also be major events happening throughout New Zealand with the opening of the National War Memorial Park in Wellington.
The First World War had an enormous toll on our young country. Our population at the time was less than one million, yet an expeditionary force of 100,000 was provided. Of those, 58,000 were killed or injured.
Anzac Day is also a time to remember our service men and women who have served in wars and conflicts since then, and who continue to serve around the world today.
Lest we forget.
Last Friday I was proud to be at the opening of fantastic new facilities at the Horowhenua Masonic Village.
The new wing is a $1.2 million investment which has six state-of-the-art villas, all built by local builders.
Residents living in the village who receive great care from the 120 local staff, making them one of the bigger local employers.
The Masonic Village has come a long way since it started in 1973 as a 10 acre paddock. As our population continues to age we will need more services like this.
Last week’s Budget 2013 also confirmed more investment for health with an extra $1.6 billion coming over the next four years for new initiatives.
We’re almost doubling funding to tackle rheumatic fever, and $100 million is going towards insulating 46,000 more homes for low-income households. As we’ve seen in Foxton with the recent ‘Warm Up’ programme, home insulation makes a huge difference to the health and wellbeing of families.
The big news from the Budget is that the economy is growing again, there are more jobs, rising wages and we will be back in surplus next year.
This is a huge achievement given the challenges we’ve faced as a nation over the last five years. The global financial crisis has rocked the world economy and Christchurch has suffered devastating earthquakes.
While New Zealand will be back in surplus next year, across the ditch in Australia they are now facing a budget deficit of $19 billion this year.
This is thanks to good policies and sensible management of Government spending. Our economy grew by 3% last year which most other countries can only dream of.
You can find out more on the Budget at http://www.beehive.govt.nz/feature/budget-2013.
On the 9th of April this year all senior citizens will have received an increase of 2.44% to their Super rates.
In fact, since April 2008, all rates of NZ Super have increased by 25%. This is a major increase in what has been challenging economic times for the Government.
This is great news for Kapiti and Horowhenua because we have the highest proportion of residents aged over 65 years in New Zealand.
The married rate of super has gone up by $220 a fortnight and the single living alone payment increased by $143 a fortnight since 2008.
As you may know, NZ Super is tied to the after-tax wage. This means that a growing economy and tax cuts will always flow into higher payments for superannuitants.
This is why the Government is focussed on balancing the books and growing the economy.
New figures show that the economy grew by 3% last year. This is a remarkable achievement given the tough economic conditions around the world with so many countries struggling.
Last week the Finance Minister Bill English reconfirmed the Government’s plan to get back into surplus next year. So many other countries around the world are now heavily in debt and can only dream about being in our strong position.
It’s no wonder that IMF, the world’s economic watchdog, praised New Zealand last week. IMF Director Christine Lagarde said that our position is “…very stable and it is also very promising….It’s certainly a lot better than what we see in other parts of the world.”
Getting the economy back on track has real benefits for everyone in the community, and not just for superannuitants. Our interest rates are the lowest they’ve been in decades which makes a real difference to homeowners paying off a mortgage.
Local Column - Real results for our local area
Last Thursday I was proud to host the Prime Minister in the Otaki electorate for a busy day of visits.
It was great to meet him off his plane from Auckland at the Kapiti Airport. This is such a strong link between 1.4m people and the Kapiti Coast.
Early work has begun on the Kapiti Expressway and we viewed archaeological digging in preparation for the road's construction.
I’ve campaigned on this issue and worked hard to ensure its progression, so it’s great to see this project now beginning to take real strides.
Construction on the expressway will create around 1000 jobs for the local area over the next four years. All the contractors, surveyors, and archaeologists will provide a major boost for local shops and services, with many likely to need local accommodation.
The positive impact of this project on the local economy will be huge with new jobs and the inflow of economic growth the completed project will provide.
We also visited Ōtaki College where we were greeted by a whakatau at Te Whare Hui, supported by the junior school Kapa Haka group.
We had a good look around the college and engaged with many students. The cooking prepared in the recently upgraded technology block was yummy. The cupcakes and burgers were my favourite - thank you to the students.
We also visited Motorsport Apparel in Levin which is a textile business producing clothing for the NZ Defence Force and other suppliers. This company made the blue UN Vest worn by the Prime Minister when he visited Afghanistan.
In other news, latest figures show that the official unemployment rate has fallen to 6.2% which is the lowest for three years.
There’s been some encouraging results for our country and region, but there’s still of plenty of work to do.
This week’s budget will show that the Government remains on track to getting back to surplus in 2014/15, and I’m committed to ensuring that this progress flows through to our region.
Parliament was in recess last week but it was still a busy time for me with visits around the electorate, and the rest of New Zealand.
Last Friday I announced Michael Fryer as my Youth MP for 2013. Michael is from Levin and well known in the community as the former Chair of the Horowhenua Youth Council.
Michael will take my seat in Parliament and represent the young people of Kapiti and Horowhenua on 16 and 17 July of this year. I’m sure he will do a great job.
On Friday I also spoke to a group of about 30 young farming leaders from across New Zealand at the Tender Tips asparagus company, just north of Levin.
The main message I had for this group was to push themselves, to get out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to express yourself.
Before getting into politics I entered many young farmer competitions because I wanted to keep learning and improving. Now that I’m a bit older I’m always keen to support young leaders in their development – like these young farmers and Michael Fryer.
Our region is a great place for young people to grow up. Both Kapiti and Horowhenua District Councils run successful Youth Councils, which are a great place for our future leaders to express themselves and shape the future of our region and country.
The future looks bright with these talented young local leaders coming through.
It’s very pleasing to see good progress on new roads happening, with real momentum gathering.
Earlier this month the Kapiti expressway was given draft approval by the Board of Inquiry.
The Board ran an open and transparent process, listening to evidence from all sides and carefully considering the costs and benefits of this project. They came out with 94 pages of conditions that NZTA must adhere to in building the expressway.
Our region badly needs this road and it has now passed one of the biggest hurdles.
Kapiti residents gave the expressway a resounding vote of support in the 2011 general election, and now I’m looking forward to construction beginning this year.
An Alliance was formed several years ago between NZTA, engineers, road builders, designers and the Kapiti Coast District Council to sit around the table together. This collaboration means they can now hit the ground running.
A new four-lane expressway will mean quicker and safer journeys, and will be a real boost to the regional economy.
It will have good local connections with interchanges on Kapiti Road near the Airport and Te Moana Road. It also means State Highway One can become a local road for local use.
NZTA have also now lodged an application for resource consent to build the Peka Peka to Otaki expressway.
This is likely to go to a Board of Inquiry, just as we saw with Transmission Gully and the Kapiti expressway. It’s a model that works well and lets everyone have their say.
More discussion is soon to begin on upgrading the section from Otaki to Levin, a project worth up to $100 million which will improve overall safety and efficiency.
These new roads represent the biggest Government investment into our region ever. The route from Wellington airport to Levin will be an investment of over $2 billion and will reshape the way business is done in our region.
Ultimately it brings our capital city closer to us and opens up opportunities for regional economic growth.
Overall it’s great to see that things are moving at a fast pace. As local MP I’ll continue to push for speedy progress on developing our roads all the way to Levin.
An exciting new industry harvesting surf clams has the potential to create hundreds of local jobs in our region.
As Minister for Primary Industries I recently announced increases to catch limits for shellfish, including scallops, crayfish and surf clams. This is based on robust science to make sure our limits are sustainable and after wide consultation with affected parties.
Surf clams are found within the surf zone of many beaches in waters three to eight meters deep, and are considered to have real potential for commercial development. These clams are fished overseas but have only recently begun to be developed in New Zealand.
It’s estimated that up to $20 million of export returns could be realised from this fishery. They are usually exported live, still within their shells to maximise freshness.
This is potentially good news for the local economy, as one of the survey sites used to measure these catch changes was 23km either side of the Manawatu River.
I’ve been in touch with a business owner who harvests these clams and he is excited by the potential. He estimates it could create hundreds of local jobs over the next few years which would be great for the region.
It’s also good to know that dredging for these clams has little impact on the environment, because the areas they are found in are subject to lots of natural turbulence from waves and shifting sands.
It’s great to be home in the Otaki electorate again after a very successful trip to Latin America with the Prime Minister.
As I mentioned last week, the trip has opened doors to some exciting new markets. New Zealand has a great reputation in this part of the world and there is a real desire to build closer links and increase trade.
Flying down from Auckland on the way home I spent most of the trip looking out the window and seeing just how dry the landscape is. This is why last week I declared an official drought throughout the North Island.
This is recognition that farmers and growers are really doing it tough. We are now well beyond what is a dry summer and into an extreme climatic event.
It’s great that rain has fallen this week which will lift spirits and get the grass growing again. A decent follow-up rain will make all the difference before we enter the cooler winter months.
Many rural people can be reluctant to ask for help, but it is important for them to know that support is available. This is a difficult time for rural families and they need to know that the Government and all New Zealanders are behind them.
Extra funding is now available to organisations like the Rural Support Trusts to provide guidance and support, and in extreme cases there will also be Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) available to those in severe hardship.
We’ve seen the effects in our own region with pressure on water supply. Kapiti Coast District Council is now using bore water to supplement normal supply, and there is a total fire ban in Horowhenua. There are also water restrictions in place in the Wellington region.
When you read this I will probably be heading home from the Prime Minister’s delegation to Latin America.
Before I update you on my trip, I realise the prolonged drought is starting to have a serious effect. Like you I'm hopeful that we will get some rain soon.
It has been a hectic schedule but very rewarding. In just three days alone I’ve met the respective Presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Chile.
We are working hard to promote New Zealand, and particularly our skills in agricultural innovation. The nations we are visiting are similar to us in that they are big producers of the food the rest of the world wants, especially beef and dairy products.
Latin America offers New Zealand a wealth of opportunities. The countries I visited are growing fast, welcoming foreign investment, and want to increase their agricultural productivity.
New Zealand is in a strong position to work with these countries to help lift their agricultural performance. It is in our interest to work with these countries, establish close links, and develop business opportunities for New Zealand companies.
A topic discussed in every country on this trip is the growing global population and the challenge of feeding this population. I believe that New Zealand should see this challenge as an opportunity. And I believe that as a nation of 4.4 million that feeds 40 million people, we are well placed to take advantage of this opportunity.
The scope for development in Latin America is huge. In New Zealand we can increase our productivity but we struggle to find more land. Columbia, Chile and Brazil respectively have millions of hectares that are undeveloped and suitable for agricultural production. Latin America has the land, we have the expertise.
New Zealand has a great reputation in Latin America for our high quality produce. We also have a great reputation for being innovative for leading the world in the way we do business, and for the way our Government provides an environment for business to get ahead.
We have made great progress on this trip in terms of developing relationships and I will continue to do what I can to help our companies succeed overseas. This is a key part of this Government's goal of increasing our exports and growing a more productive and competitive New Zealand economy.
It’s certainly been a busy few weeks for me, both locally and as the Minister for Primary Industries. I’ve been visiting many different places around the country as well as my usual duties as local MP.
On Wednesday last week I announced an official drought in Northland. Other parts of the country are likely to ask for assistance this week. This means that the Government can now offer help to farmers by coordinating support through local organisations like the Rural Support Trusts. In extreme cases there will also be Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) available to farmers in severe hardship.
Currently I am in Latin America with Prime Minister John Key who is leading a trade delegation of 22 business representatives to one of the fastest growing regions in the world.
We are visiting Mexico, Columbia, Chile, and Brazil – four countries with big populations and fast growing economies, who will be increasingly important trading partners for New Zealand.
Many Kiwi businesses already operate in these markets and I’m sure the Prime Minister will open up even more opportunities as well.
On Friday last week I was invited along to see Levana Textiles’ expansion plans. They have acquired some new spinning machines from Canterbury that will see more value added to NZ-grown Merino wool in Levin. Eight trainees begin this week from Horowhenua Learning Centre and there is potential for forty new jobs over time and many flow-on benefits.
The National Party BlueGreens forum will be held this weekend at Tatum Park near Levin. This environmental conference will discuss important issues such as freshwater management and creating a pest-free New Zealand. I’m delighted to have secured the forum in Horowhenua as our region has a lot to be proud of.
This week the House is in recess.
You can follow my trip progress on Twitter (@honnathanguy) or on Facebook www.facebook.com/nathanguy4otaki
Some of you that read this will be busy in your day-to-day work, paying off the mortgage, putting food on the table for your family, and paying taxes.
However, a small number of beneficiaries continue to abuse the system at the expense of the taxpayer.
Last week the Government created a new offence targeting partners or spouses of beneficiaries who are convicted of fraud. Relationship offending cost taxpayers over $20 million last year, comprising around one-third of welfare fraud prosecutions.
In 2011/12, fraud worth $23.4 million was established following 714 convictions. A further $18.4 million was established from 1425 investigations which did not end in a prosecution – welfare fraud is a crime that is costing New Zealanders a lot of money.
Some more initiatives include giving the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) a package of tools to target beneficiaries who have been dishonest in the past. This includes formalising information-sharing links between Government departments.
Honest people who genuinely need the Government’s assistance while they go through hardship in life or who are making a transition back into the workforce should be supported.
But the Government is taking a tough line on those that abuse the system at the expense of hard working taxpayers in Kapiti and Horowhenua.
Our local police do a great job in keeping us safe, working together with the community. A new policy announced by the Prime Minister last week means they’ll be spending even more time on the beat.
Starting in April, frontline police will be able to start using smart phones and tablets more often.
A total of 6,086 officers across New Zealand will receive the devices. On average these save 30 minutes per officer per shift, meaning that half a million more frontline police hours every year are now freed up.
Essentially, this means less time at the station and more time out in the community.
Last year I wrote about the Government’s action plan for crime. This included setting crime and reoffending as major priorities, with the aim of reducing the crime rate by 15% and violent crime by 20%. This new policy will be a real help in achieving these targets.
Last year the local community went through tragedy with the senseless loss of two young men in the Kapiti Lights area.
It was heartening to see the police and local community come together in response to these events and really work on improving safety in the area.
Last September, I attended the CACTUS graduation dinner run by the Levin Police. This was a successful 8-week itinerary mixing ‘boot-camp’ and vocational and social mentoring-style elements with around 26 youths from our community.
This is a great example of the police working with the community to achieve better outcomes for young people in our area.
On that note, I want to welcome Detective Inspector Paul Basham to the role of area commander for the Kapi-Mana police district. He brings a lot of experience to an important local job.