All in News

Education: ChristchurchNZ to launch this year

A number of organisations in the Christchurch and Canterbury region are merging into a single entity – ChristchurchNZ – in an effort to optimise the opportunities that tourism, international education, major events, city promotion and economic development can deliver. These include Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism (CCT), the Convention Bureau, Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC), Christchurch Educated, and the Christchurch City Council’s Major Events team. Together, their purpose is to "support prosperity, opportunity and a great quality of life in Christchurch and Canterbury". The new entity will be located in the new BNZ Centre, Cashel Mall once the premises are completed in July or August. One example of collaboration already underway is the Canterbury Job Ready Programme, designed and delivered by economic development, regional Chambers of Commerce, NZ Trade and Enterprise and the regional international education team.

Work and residence: Woodhouse usher in changes

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse on April 19 announced changes to permanent immigration settings include introducing two remuneration thresholds for applicants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC), which will complement the current qualifications and occupation framework. One will be set at the New Zealand median income of $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled. The other threshold will be set at 1.5 times the New Zealand median income of $73,299 a year for jobs that are not currently considered skilled but are well paid. These changes will come into effect on August 14, 2017. He also proposed a number of changes to temporary migration settings to manage the number and settlement expectations of new migrants coming to New Zealand on Essential Skills work visas. Additionally, the minister announced a one-off pathway to residence for around 4,000 long-term temporary migrant workers and their families living in the South Island.

Cabinet reshuffle: Know your government

Prime Minister Bill English on April 24 announced the appointment of Gerry Brownlee as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nathan Guy as Minister of Civil Defence, Nikki Kaye as Minister of Education and Mark Mitchell as Minister of Defence. In other changes Simon Bridges has been appointed Leader of the House and Nicky Wagner has been made Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration. Tim Macindoe, National’s senior whip since the 2014 election, and Scott Simpson, have been appointed ministers outside cabinet.

Remembrance: On ANZAC Day - Let's also remember the 1,400 Indians killed at Gallipoli too!

As New Zealand paid tribute to the 102nd year of Gallipoli landings last week, historians across the Tasman are calling for greater acknowledgement of the important role Indian troops played during the eight-month-long campaign. In a new book titled, Die in Battle, Do not Despair: The Indians on Gallipoli, 1915, Peter Stanley, a military historian at the University of New South Wales in Australia, has challenged past historical records that had put the number of Indians who fought at one of World War I major battlegrounds at around 5,000. Drawing from previously unpublished official and private records from the UK (including forgotten British officers' memoirs), Australia and the National Archives of India, Professor Stanley has now put a powerful argument for revising this figure to 15,000.

In support of Sonny Bill Williams: an open letter to him

I write to you in the mist of your harshest criticism to date to offer and express my appreciation for what you have achieved in the past two weeks. This letter is to commend you for being true to yourself; for identifying who you are and believing in your kaupapa; for having the conscience to use your profile for causes you believe in; for standing by your decisions despite being criticised; and most importantly for furthering the understanding of Treaty based Multiculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Hit and Run: My book is dedicated to New Zealand military - Nicky Hager, author and investigative journalist

Nicky Hager, author of Hit and Run, co-written with war correspondent Jon Stephenson, addressing the gathering on April 6, at the Transitional Cathedral in Christchurch. The public meeting was organised by the Christchurch Progressive Network led by last year's mayoral candidate John Minto. "The book is about what the New Zealand military – and especially the Special Air Service (SAS) – did in Afghanistan in response to the first New Zealander dying in combat in August 2010," said Hager while releasing the book in March. 

First home: For house and land packages, only 5% deposit is enough

“For turn-key projects – house and land packages, you pay a deposit upfront and the remainder when the property is complete. It's important to note that you may be able to purchase such a package with as little as 5 percent deposit. And your KiwiSaver first-home withdrawal or KiwiSaver HomeStart grant can make a part or all of your deposit,” informed Nathan Miglani, from Loan Market, while addressing the gathering at a free first-home buying seminar organised by the Christchurch-based social organisation Indian Cultural Group (ICG) on April 10. It was part of a series of informative sessions ICG organises, dealing with issues of health, finances, and women empowerment, explained Sandeep Sachdev, President of ICG.

New outlook: Changing the way we look at our economy - Lyttelton's Living Economies Expo

Those who attended the recent Living Economies Expo came away energised and inspired to make change. The purpose of the event was to seed systemic change. The realisation that our systems are not working is fairly widespread: see the increasing coverage in our media of topics such as climate change, water quality, housing shortages, a failing health system, the growing divide between rich and poor, decrease in the diversity of species, questionable political leadership worldwide and of course the connector of all these issues – our current highly dysfunctional monetary system.

Funds: Grants for community groups

The Community Organisation Grants Scheme (COGS) opened for application from April 12, announced Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Alfred Ngaro. “From today communities will be able to apply for $12.5 million of grant funding for the projects and organisations that matter to them most. The COGS funding is unique in that it’s decided on and distributed by local distribution committees. That means we have locals deciding what matters most to them and what will have the most impact on their own communities,” informed Ngaro.

Funds: Community embarks on a $1.2 million fund-raising drive for the Indian Centre in Christchurch

The recently incorporated Canterbury Indian Community Centre Trust (CICCT) has started raising funds to make the dream of an Indian community centre in Christchurch a reality in the next two years. The Trust hit the ball rolling on April 8 in a specially organised ghazal and old Hindi melodious songs night, where the attendees were introduced to the objectives of CICCT by Ponnuram Venu Gopal, one of the its trustees.

Law and order: Police responds to the community, increased presence for all regions

Police Commissioner Mike Bush on April 12, announced the numbers of new Police staff each district will get as part of the $388 million investment in Police announced by the Prime Minister in February 2017. The investment will see an increase of 880 sworn and 245 non-sworn staff over four years.  Sworn staff will be recruited over the next four years from July 2017, with approximately 220 new additional recruits added per year. The first phase includes the recruitment of 220 constabulary staff.  The first wing to include new recruits funded through the investment package, Wing 308, will start on July 10, 2017. These 80 recruits will graduate in October, 2017.

NZ Red Cross: Pathways to Employment programme for former refugees

"Finding employment is a key part of the resettlement process. It gives former refugees financial independence and also offers them the opportunity to use their skills and contribute back to their community." - NZ Red Cross

Recognising this, the country's Red Cross runs a Pathways to Employment programme that helps former refugees plan their employment, education, training and career goals and ultimately find work.

Engage with us: Jimmy Chen, chair of Christchurch City Council's multicultural subcommittee

As Chair of Christchurch City Council's Multicultural Working Party, it has been privilege to lead the development of the Multicultural Strategy for the past year. This strategy is also a commitment by the Council to support and embrace the diversity of the people in Christchurch. But in order to ensure the strategy deliver, we need to develop an action plan. We need to also monitor progress on this plan to ensure its success.

Regenerate Christchurch: Community puts ideas forward

Christchurch's rebuild after the 2011 earthquake got a major breakthrough last week with Regenerate Christchurch (RC) announcing Gerry Brownlee's - minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration - approval for the company's approach for developing a Regeneration Plan for the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor. RC is a new entity, established in 2016 to lead the regeneration of Christchurch including the central city, residential red zone and the eastern New Brighton.

National Family Violence Summit in June

A national summit on family violence will be hosted by Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley in Wellington on June 7. The Summit will support the work already underway as part of the Government’s family violence reforms, which includes the introduction of the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill to overhaul the Domestic Violence Act and strengthen family violence laws. Family violence is a significant and complex issue in New Zealand, with Police responding to an incident every five minutes, and costing the country over $4 billion per year, noted the ministers while annoucing the summit.

New Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki launched

Minister for Children Anne Tolley officially launched the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, on March 31. “This is the start of a four to five year major transformation programme to build a more child-centred care and protection system, focusing on harm and trauma prevention and early intervention, rather than crisis management. The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki will also be a single point of accountability for children and young people where it will be easier for them to raise concerns or complaints. Children and young people will also have access to a new independent advocacy service, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai," noted Anne Tolley.

Excellence: Migrants among the best bus drivers in New Zealand

Two migrant drivers based in Christchurch can now claim they are among the country’s best, after winning the top two awards at Go Bus Transport’s Bus Roadeo at the Airforce Museum in Christchurch on Saturday March 11. Raymund Llamas, who is from the Philippines and has driven buses in his home country and in Dubai, was named Go Bus Driver of the Year, and Arvinder Singh from India, won the runner-up.

Increased pressure on staff to change grades: Tertiary Education Union

Staff at tertiary education institutions are experiencing higher levels of stress, unsustainable workloads and are feeling more alienated from their jobs compared to a decade ago, according to a report published recently by the Tertiary Education Union. Titled Education Under Pressure, the report adds "increased pressure on staff to change grades, dedicate less time to teaching and change admission rules, all of which lead to lower education outcomes for students".