Minister to visit flood-hit West Coast

Source: Green Party

Government Ministers Damien O’Connor and Eugenie Sage are visiting the West Coast to see how flood recovery work is going and hear views of the local community.

Rural Communities Minister and MP for West Coast-Tasman Damien O’Connor said good progress was being made in a number of areas and he and Eugenie Sage wanted to see what else needed to be done.

“I understand services are being returned and work is underway to restore access. This morning I have been informed that:

Power has been restored to the Haast area and contingency arrangements are in place.  Further repair work will be required and this will be managed as part of business as usual.
The Bailey bridge across the Waiho River will be installed before Friday 12 April, ahead of the school Easter Holidays but later than initially stated. The New Zealand Transport Agency is being supported by the New Zealand Defence Force to expedite this work.
MPI and Rural Support Trust along with West Coast Milk Products are working extensively with the rural communities re animal and farmer welfare.
Assessment of road damage continues.  Emergency access has been made for all affected roads except for SH6 at the Waiho River Bridge.

“Land damage is a significant concern and a community meeting was held on Tuesday to discuss damage to farmland and Regional Council stopbanks. About 650m of the 800m stopbank on the south side of the Waiho River has been damaged.”

Damien O’Connor will visit on Friday afternoon to meet with affected farmers and tourism operators to listen and talk with them.

Eugenie Sage said the Department of Conservation has provided helicopter support and rangers to support teams of volunteers to assist with clean-up activities. Other volunteers were helping including the Student Volunteer Army.

As part of her visit to the West Coast from Friday to Sunday Eugenie Sage will visit the old Fox River landfill severely eroded by the river.

“Litter has been observed along approximately 20km of riverbed, as far south as Martins Bay and from the Fox River mouth as far north as Okarito. 

“The old Fox landfill is believed to have been closed in 2001 and has resource consent which is Westland District Council’s responsibility to comply with.

“At this point the Ministry for the Environment has not been asked for funding. An application could be made to the Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund but it would need to meet criteria.

“Westland District Council will have a better idea of assistance it needs once its remediation plan is completed.

“Concern has been expressed about the potential for toxic substances in the landfill and that will be investigated. However because of its location there’s a likelihood it would largely be domestic rather than industrial waste and the river will dilute fluids that get into it.”

Eugenie Sage will also inspect road damage to Fox Glacier and meet with businesses impacted and discuss the impact on conservation land.

“This flood has caused widespread devastation and it won’t be a return to normal overnight.  However, people can still visit the glaciers via scenic flights and helihikes and there are still lots of other activities and places for people to visit. South Westland communities are skilled and resilient and getting on with the restoration job as best they can and with support.”

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Ngāi Tahu Representation Bill would have been a step forward

Source: Green Party

“While tangata whenua have guaranteed political rights on a national level, representation is often lacking or non-existent in local government. This does not always make for robust decision making and in the past has led to significant breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” Marama Davidson said.

“Local governments are willing and ready to take this step forward in giving Māori a guaranteed voice in their rohe. We’ve seen similar models being adopted by councils around the country, and we saw it in Hastings last week.”

“Ngāi Tahu having representation on Canterbury Regional Council is a good step toward embodying the Treaty partnership at a local level. Ngāi Tahu have a right to tino rangatiratanga as indigenous people in Aotearoa.”

“The Green Party is founded on the principals of peace, of environmental and social justice, and a commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We wholeheartedly support this Bill that would have given Ngāi Tahu guaranteed representation on the Canterbury Regional Council.”

“We are very disappointed it did not receive support from the whole House,” Marama Davidson said.

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Thousands of women to benefit from contraceptive changes

Source: Green Party

Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter is pleased thousands of women will have better access to free or very low cost contraception.

“For some women, price is a significant barrier to accessing contraception. From this week, a new initiative offers women who have a Community Service Card, those living in low income areas, and various others who could benefit, better access to free or very low cost contraception, including long acting reversible contraceptives,” says Julie Anne Genter.

“Long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) are the most reliable methods of contraception available and are becoming more popular as people discover the benefits they offer.

“An example of a LARC is the Jadelle implant, where small rods are inserted just beneath the skin on the inside upper arm. This provides effective contraception for five years after insertion and the rods can be removed at any time by a trained medical professional.

“Improving access to effective long-acting implants makes it much easier for women to manage their fertility and reduce unintended pregnancies.

“The roll out has already begun, with expanded services being delivered by New Zealand Family Planning. From this week, other community-based health care providers will also start coming on board. The initiative is being made available nationwide over the next few months.

“Some of the funding will also go towards increasing primary care workers specialist contraceptive care skills, which includes training in how to safely insert and remove implants and for developing new guidelines to ensure high quality contraceptive services are delivered consistently nationwide,” says Julie Anne Genter

Total Ministry of Health funding of $6 million per annum has been allocated to this initiative which will primarily be delivered within primary health care. 

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Supporting victims and survivors of domestic violence with world-leading Green policies

Source: Green Party

From today, every person affected by domestic violence will be able to get the help they need and keep themselves safe without worrying about losing their jobs.

The Domestic Violence Victims’ Protection Act, which began as a member’s bill sponsored by Green MP Jan Logie, came into effect today. It provides up to ten days’ paid leave for people affected by domestic violence and access to flexible working arrangements.

“This is a win for everyone – workers, employers, and our community,” said Jan Logie.

“Everyone should be able to live free from violence, but financial insecurity has often been a major barrier to people trying to leave abusive situations and keep themselves and their kids safe.

“Many people – survivors and their advocates – told us how important it was to be able to ask for help, to know they would get help, and to not have to choose between violence or poverty. This Act gives them options and security.

“And employers frequently told us they want to support people, but didn’t know how. Now they have a framework and guidance from MBIE to help them do the right thing.”

The legislation is world-leading, providing not only paid leave, but access to flexible working arrangements and protection from discrimination for victims of domestic violence.

“Since the Bill passed we’ve been contacted by people from all over the world wanting to adopt these policies and learn about our campaign to make them happen,” said Jan Logie.

The Greens, Labour and New Zealand First were united in supporting the Bill through every stage of the parliamentary process.

“Getting this Bill through demonstrates how we can work in both Opposition and Government to make real, progressive change happen,” said Jan Logie.

“I’m so proud and honoured to be able to make this kind of difference in people’s lives.”

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Gun control welcomed by Greens

Source: Green Party

The Green Party welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement on planned gun control laws, Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said today.

“Banning military style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles makes everyone safer. Banning these guns is the first step towards systemic changes to our gun laws,” says James Shaw.

“I welcome this announcement today, we just wish it wasn’t in such tragic circumstances.

“We owe it to the 50 people killed last Friday to ensure this never happens again.

“The Government has heard from tens of thousands of New Zealanders across the country calling for the urgent need to reform our gun laws.

“We are working constructively with our Government partners on further much-needed action to tighten access to guns in our country.

“I am pleased that our Government is acting so swiftly and decisively to rid the country of firearms designed to kill people,” says James Shaw.

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Eugenie Sage’s speech in response to Christchurch mosque terror attacks

Source: Green Party

Al salam alaikum. Everyone here in this House is expressing the deep grief and shock that is being felt across our country. We represent our people when we share the loss and the pain that Friday’s terrorist attack and mass murder caused. My thoughts are with the families and friends of each of the 50 individuals who died and the many others who have been seriously injured, and their brothers and sisters who were in the mosques and survived. I acknowledge each of you and your profound loss.

The fact that we failed to provide individuals and families who chose New Zealand as their home with a safe place to worship is deeply distressing, so it was all the more extraordinary to listen to the Muslim community leaders address the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and others at the Canterbury refugee resettlement centre on the morning after the attack. The courage, the humility, and the compassion that was in their words was extraordinary.

We can’t change what happened, but the outpouring of love and the coming together in a spirit of shared loss and pain that we have seen around New Zealand and overseas speaks to who we are as New Zealanders. The response has been one of unity, support, and aroha, with thousands coming together to smother hate with love. This shared sadness and aroha creates the strongest basis for working with resolve towards a country where we all feel safe, where we all know that we are valued, and where we are all protected from harm. So I’m pleased that our Government is acting to strengthen our gun control laws to help do that, and, through an inquiry, we’ll be seeking information on the focus and priorities of New Zealand’s intelligence agencies.

This terrorist attack has rocked my city of Ōtautahi—Christchurch—our country, and our world. I don’t have a frame of reference for it, and I’m struggling. The terrain is confusing. It’s complex, as Mr Brownlee noted. It’s raised many troubling issues about the world we live in, but it must increase our efforts to ensure that all our people in our country are protected from violence and aggression in all of its forms, whether it’s written, spoken, or physical.

As we come to terms with this tragedy, there are difficult conversations ahead for Aotearoa, so this is a time to reaffirm our commitment to diversity, to inclusion, to equality, and to peace. It’s a time to acknowledge the extraordinary response of our agencies: the police, the Canterbury district health service, the clinicians, the staff and the hospitals, but it’s also a time to acknowledge the media, for giving individual voices a larger audience, for amplifying the actions of aroha, and for their thoughtfulness in moderating what they share and thinking carefully about how they will report the trial of the murderer.

We can all help by on to love and hope, by expanding the circle of those that we know as friends, by connecting with each other, and by our sense of purpose. The effects of this event, like the earthquakes in Christchurch, will take decades to heal. While we go through this, let us be kinder to each other each day, be insightful about what needs to change, and to do that together. Ngā mihi nui aroha nui ki a koutou.

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James Shaw’s speech in response to Christchurch mosque terror attacks

Source: Green Party

Salaam alaikum. On Saturday, I accompanied the Prime Minister to Christchurch. The moment that affected me the most was our visit to the makeshift community centre at a Hagley Park school where many hundreds of bereaved and grieving family members had gathered. When the Prime Minister said to those families, in her remarks yesterday, “We cannot know your grief”, she spoke for me also. I have no words to describe the quantum of grief that was present in that school hall. The breadth and the depth of the pain and the loss are simply unimaginable to me. All I can do—as the Prime Minister also said yesterday—is to offer to walk with you at every stage.

So I want to say to those families, that you are in our hearts and in our thoughts. We stand with you in love and support. We also stand with you in defiance of this act of senseless and cowardly violence where a deluded mass murderer thinks that he’s proven himself in some way by taking the lives of innocent children and defenceless people at worship. All that has been proven is that he and his evil philosophy do not belong here. We, as New Zealanders, stand with our Muslim friends, who do belong here. This will not divide us. We will honour those who have been taken from us.

The attacks are motivated by racism and by hate and by fear of people’s differences. Some may judge us, as a nation, by this hateful act. New Zealand Muslim leader Dr Anwar Ghani says that he believes that we will come out of this stronger together and create a legacy that will be an example to the rest of the world. Dr Ghani believes that we can be a better nation and a better people. Yesterday, historian Dame Anne Salmond called out all forms of hatred, contempt, injustice, and inequality, and called on all of us to challenge that dark underbelly wherever we see it. She said we need to find better ways of being Kiwi.

It was only a few years ago that the children of Somalian refugees were beaten with baseball bats in Berhampore. Jewish synagogues and cemeteries have been attacked a number of times, and still face that threat today. Indian dairy owners report that the people who rob them often lace their language with racist slurs.

The party that Marama Davidson and I lead holds the practice of non-violence as one of our core charter values, and the practice of non-violence is not just the absence of physical violence; the practice of non-violence is to uphold and to enhance the humanity and the dignity of those who are different from ourselves. It is not merely tolerance; it is inclusion. So when our Muslim sisters and brothers, our refugee and our migrant communities can feel not just safe from physical violence and verbal abuse, when they can say not just that they live here but that this is their home, when they can say not just that they are not discriminated against any longer but that they are loved—not just tolerated but included—then we will be a better country, and we will have found better ways of being Kiwi. And, on that day, we will have defeated not just this terrorist who came to our shores to commit Friday’s act of mass murder but also all of his ilk.

The Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr said that non-violence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the person who wields it. Let the tragedy of Christchurch never be forgotten. Let its legacy be the call to stand for peace and love and inclusion.

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Golriz Ghahraman speech in response to the Christchurch mosque terror attacks

Source: Green Party

A-salaam-alaikum Mr Speaker,

Our nation’s heart is broken. My heart is broken today.

Five days on, as the wound is still fresh, we have comfort in all the love. All over our country. I have seen the outpouring of grief. I’ve stood with communities as we wrapped our arms around one another. We gathered at mosques, we held each other at vigils, we held our little ones a little tighter as we remembered that little Mucad Ibrahim at 3 years old was one of the victims on Friday.

The city of Dunedin ran out of flowers on Saturday. They were all at the mosque.

That is the New Zealand which welcomed me and my family when we fled oppression, the risk of torture, after we had lived through war. I will never forget that love as a nine year old girl coming down that escalator in Auckland airport with my frightened parents.

And I want to thank every single New Zealander who held true to our values, of love and inclusion this week. We are on the right side of history. It matters to our frightened communities.

I will never forget that a Syrian refugee family were among the victims of this terror attack. Like  my family they escaped the unthinkable and found freedom here. They came here to be safe, they died in Christchurch, NZ.

We owe those victims the truth. This was terrorism.

It was committed by white supremacists.

Planned at length without police interference. Because white supremacy was not seen as a pressing threat, though the Muslim victims had been.

Although the man who committed the terror happened not to be born here the ideology that lead to this atrocity existed here…ethnic communities, refugees, tangata whenua have been telling us it exists for years.

I know it as my daily truth, as a politician perceived to be Muslim, known to be a refugee, I’ve spoken about the barrage of hate I receive online, of gun violence, death threats, rape, calls for shotguns to be loaded. Every minority in NZ knows this truth. We have to pause, and listen. We can’t pretend this was an aberration from overseas. That would be irresponsible.

The truth is that this happened here. And it began with hate speech, allowed to spread here online. History has taught us that hate speech is a slippery slope to atrocity.  

We now know that New Zealand needs to address this.

The truth is that we, as politicians- and I mean on all sides of this House, are also responsible.

There sit among us those who have for years fanned the flames of division in here and out there. Blamed migrants for our housing crisis. There sit among us here who deliberately spread hysteria about the UN Migration Compact.  We know that those words were written on his gun.  

We’ve pandered to the gratuitous racism by shock jocks on breakfast shows to raise our own profile.

No one here is directly responsible for what happened in Christchurch. We are all horrified. But we are now all on notice. We must change the way we do politics here.

Our most vulnerable communities are hurt. We are scared. White Supremacists want us dead.

The people at those incredible vigils are watching. They will hold us to account. Their acts of love, their resolve, is the standard we have to hold ourselves to from now on.

The world is watching. We have to get this right. We have to demonstrate to the rest of the world that love, peace, and compassion is a far stronger force than the forces of hate and division. We must be brave as we have the hard conversations we need to have as a country. We must shine the light into the shadows of racism and hatred that exist in pockets of our society. We must weave the incredible outpouring of love for our muslim and migrant communities that we have seen over the last few days into the enduring fabric of our society.

We have to do this for all the families who have had the lives of loved ones taken from them. We have to do this for little Muscad Ibrahim.

Kia hora te marino

Kia whakapapa pounamu te moana

Aroha atu, aroha mai

Tātou ia tātou katoa

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Marama Davidson’s speech in response to Christchurch terrorist attack

Source: Green Party

Tēnā tātou,
Ka tika, me whai whakaaro ki a rātou kua
kapohia e ngā ringa tauwhiro ō Aituā.
kapohia e ngā ringa tauwhiro ō Aituā.
ao i tō koutou ngarohanga atu.
Nō reira, ki a koutou kua wheturangitia,
ki a koutou kua hoe i
ō koutou waka wairua ki tō tātou kaihanga
i te Wāhi Ngaro, hoea, hoea, hoea atu rā.
Kia mihia rātou e tangi atu rā, koutou e
tangi mai nā, tātou e
tangi atu nei. Huri noa, ki a koutou katoa e noho pani ana,
e noho kirimate ana, e noho pouri ana, kei kōnei mātou hei
pou aroha, he pou akiaki, hei pou tautoko mā koutou nōki.

I acknowledge the lives cruelly taken and badly injured in our Muslim community by a terrorist attack driven by hatred. We are holding deep love for your families and loved ones, and your entire Muslim communities. We are holding deep love for the city of Christchurch and all of us who are hurting and are angry.

You were praying. You were in the most profoundly peaceful state of harmony and compassion that a human can be in. You were with your children, your elders, your partners and siblings, your friends, and your closest loved ones. You were anchored in the collective love of your community, the collective practice of your sacred traditions under the shelter of your sacred place of worship. Your families have been ripped apart, your hearts broken, your wairua destroyed. As artist Ruby Alice Rose drew: “This is your home. You should have been safe here.”

I know that we must work together, all of us, to become an Aotearoa where everyone is safe to pray, or not—an Aotearoa where people are safe to be who they are. Manaaki and tika; caring for each other in a way that is just and right is what we should be upholding with every inch of our selves. Upholding my mana, my dignity is connected to upholding your mana, your dignity. I am as passionate about the well-being of your tamariki, your children, as I am about making sure my children are OK and have everything they need. These are the values we should be upholding with every inch of our being. This spirit of connection is how we will stay together and bring everyone with us.

I also acknowledge the calls from those in Muslim communities to ensure that we tell the truth right from the start. I note the Muslim voices highlighting the truth that New Zealand has a long history of colonial policy, discourse, and violence that sought to harm indigenous peoples. As tangata whenua, I am aware that we need to build connections now more than ever, to heal, and to create loving futures for everyone. I was privileged to sit with the elders at the Al-Mustafa Jamia Masjid mosque in Ōtāhuhu on Sunday. I shared with them the story of Parihaka and the violent Crown invasion into a peaceful community, and the recognition work that has begun because of our acknowledgment. They were grateful for the knowing of something they hadn’t known before. These are the bridges that we can build.

We must never again ignore or contribute to anti-Islamic hatred as part of the rise of white supremacy and extreme white-right ideology. As one young Muslim woman said, “we’ve now lost lives so I think it’s time that we started having the uncomfortable conversations.” The agenda that drove this violence wants to harm many other communities: Jewish communities, Sikh communities, Buddhist followers, people of colour communities, brown immigrants and refugees, tangata whenua and Pacific peoples, women and disabled peoples, and many others. I know the Muslim community tried to tell us these truths of the dangers that you faced and felt. We did not protect you. We will do better. I am pleased that we will support the Prime Minister and the programme across this House to ensure that we strengthen the systems and the gun laws that we have responsibility for.

So what do we do now? I am energised by the signs of people now reflecting on their own bias and prejudice and committing to fighting racism with all their might. I was asked to talk today about the hate that Muslim women wearing scarves receive, just going about their lives. I was asked to acknowledge stories like Muslim women doctors receiving abuse from the very people they are caring for, because of their headscarves. I want us all to commit to never accepting racism and bigotry from anyone in our beautiful country.

We know that people in your Muslim community need to know, as that rightful anger is harboured—we need to let you know that we hear you, that we get it. We know that you need to feel and see and hear that we have got your back, that we will do all we can to prevent this and protect you so that you aren’t left alone with that burden in your rightful anger. We need to create an inclusive world where no one feels excluded, so that no individual or group feels that the only choice they have left is to grab a weapon. How do we find safe avenues for people’s humanity to shine through, rather than their fear? It is time for us all to reflect. It is time to understand that words matter.

I acknowledge that today there is not one Muslim voice in this House. It is time to understand whose voices need to be put first. I acknowledge that the Muslim communities will choose how they grieve and that we cannot put our expectations on what emotions that might include. I also acknowledge the essential leadership role that tangata whenua have in taking us forward together, in bridging with our communities.

I want to end with thanks to all those who responded so bravely on Friday: to the police who put themselves in the line of fire to prevent further deaths, to all the ambulance paramedics who rushed to save lives, to all the nurses, doctors, and hospital staff who rapidly treated the wounded and continued to look after the survivors, to all the people standing on the street who did all they could to support those in need.

I want to thank the teachers and staff who looked after our tamariki and had to deal with the lockdown and keep children feeling safe and not confused. There were librarians who comforted people in the central city library. To everyone who held each other while the city felt under attack, to all those who continue to provide a warm embrace and a shoulder to cry on, you inspire me; you are the hope that we can have to make a real change.

I want to thank the Prime Minister. Her calm and strong leadership in one of the most harrowing situations that a Prime Minister could ever face is deeply appreciated. We know that the communities directly affected are incredibly grateful—we are all grateful. Kia kaha Jacinda Ardern.

We have a big shift ahead of us. We have lessons to learn. We have conversations to have. It’s just that this seems like it was too big a price to pay to get us to this point. In closing, to our Muslim communities, we love you, not just because you are us, but because you are you. Kia ora.

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James Shaw recovering after an unprovoked attack

Source: Green Party

The Green Party are supporting co-leader James Shaw and his whānau following an unprovoked attack this morning. 

James Shaw is currently under observation in hospital and is unlikely to be back at Parliament today. 

“I’ve been in touch with James this morning and he’s doing okay after this morning’s unprovoked attack. We thank everyone for their outpouring of aroha and have been passing this onto him and his whānau” said Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson.

“This morning’s isolated and unprovoked attack has shaken us all. We highly value how open and accessible our politicians are in New Zealand and we don’t want to see this change.”

“We’ve been overwhelmed with messages of support. Thank you all for the aroha people have been expressing today. I know that James, his whānau, our MPs, and staff all really value it.”

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