Local Government – Lower Hutt Community Resilience Fund grants over $20,000 to local community groups

Source: Hutt City Council
The Hutt City Council’s Community Resilience Fund has granted over $20,000 towards community initiatives since being established in April.
The $100,000 Fund was set up to support community resilience during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 stage and ensuing recovery periods. Eligible community groups are able to receive up to $2000 in order to aid community resilience and wellbeing initiatives in Lower Hutt.
Since then, Council has also agreed to allocate an additional $30,000 to the Fund to help sport and recreation groups as they aim to get up and running again.
Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry says this is a positive milestone for the Fund and highlights the important work community groups are doing in the local community.
“In March we agreed to establish the Community Resilience Fund as part of our initial response to COVID-19. As a Council we knew it would be a tough and challenging time for our community during Alert Level 4 and the following recovery period, and saw an opportunity to support local solutions to enhance resilience,” Campbell Barry said.
“To date, the funding has been provided to purchase equipment for groups to store and package food, to keep people connected through services, and to buy tech items to allow health clinics to offer virtual consultations.
Campbell Barry says it is not too late for community groups to apply for funding.
“I encourage groups and organisations to apply for the Community Resilience Fund. Our Council is eager to support and build resilience in our communities through the COVID-19 recovery period.
Applications for the fund are still open. To check eligibility and to apply, visit: http://www.huttcity.govt.nz/resiliencefund
A full list of successful applications can be found on the Hutt City Council website: http://www.huttcity.govt.nz/Services/Funding/community-resilience-fund/successful-applicants/

Social Issues – Porirua’s Covid-19 helpline transition will go live today

Source: Porirua City Council 
During the Covid-19 lockdown period Porirua residents who were struggling and on their own could call an emergency helpline to get assistance from the Porirua City Council. This helpline will no longer be available from 5pm today (Friday, 5 June), but local support is in place.
Porirua Mayor and Civil Defence Emergency Management Group Chair Anita Baker says when we went into the Covid-19 lockdown period, Council set up an emergency helpline to assist our community to get the essentials they needed when everyone was asked to stay at home.
“For many people without support networks, getting essentials like food and medicine was difficult during this time and we were happy to deploy our Council staff to help,” she says.
“Although the emergency helpline will no longer be available from tonight, the Council has been working with the local welfare agencies to ensure that the people of Porirua continue to get the support they need.
“Porirua is a community that pulls together in tough time, nobody gets left behind. I want to encourage our people to reach out to any of our providers listed below if they need support, you are not alone and together we will get through this,” Mayor Baker says.
Council Chief Executive Wendy Walker says that nearly 90 Council staff were working shifts at the Porirua Emergency Operations Centre to support the welfare needs of Porirua residents and the emergency effort touched over 5000 Porirua residents’ lives.
“Now that we are moving down the alert levels and people are returning to work, our staff who helped out with the emergency efforts now need to return to their usual roles,” says Ms Walker.
See below a list of helplines that are available and local agencies that can assist with urgent welfare support. Visit our website poriruracity.govt.nz/welfaresupport for a list of local groups that can help with support.
Helplines available:
If you need financial assistance, please ring Work and Income on 0800 559 009. If you have been temporarily displaced from your home due to Covid-19 and need support to find short term temporary accommodation, please call MBIE’s Temporary Accommodation Service on 0508 754 163 to register. If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or just need to talk with someone, call or text 1737 to speak with a trained counsellor. If you aren’t sure where to get the help you need, ring the Government Helpline on 0800 779 997.
Local services available:
Salvation Army Porirua
The local team at the Salvation Army can assist you with food support if you need it. You can pop in and talk to the team about a food parcel everyday between 10am and 2pm at 89 Warspite Avenue, Cannons Creek.
If you need further information, give them a call on 04 235 6266
Citizens Advice Bureau Porirua
The team at CAB can assist with information and advice on a range of topics. This includes employment law, tenancy rights, food support, budgeting and questions about Work and Income NZ. You can call them on (04) 237 8846.
Te Roopu Awhina
The team at Te Roopu Awhina cares about supporting your whānau and helping you to find solutions that work for you, in your home, your school and in your community. They provide a range of health, education, social and economic wellbeing services – their kaupapa is Maori, but all are welcome. You can call them on 0800 872 800.
Porirua Whānau Centre
The Whānau Centre is well connected in our community and provide support and services for babies, through to children, and on to teenagers and adults – all the way to seniors. If you need some friendly, caring support, no matter what your age, background or your ethnicity, you’ll find it with them. And if they can’t help you directly, they’ll be able to help you find an agency that can, call them on 04 237 7749.
Taeaomanino Trust
Taeaomanino is a Pacific social service and health provider based in Porirua. It provides mental health and addiction services as well as several social and community health services to Pacific families and people, you can call them on 0800 345 345.
Vaka Tautua
Vaka Tautua is a national “by Pacific for Pacific” health and social services provider that can help you with a wide range of services, such as mental health services, older people support, disability and financial support – you can call them on 0800 825 282.

Infrastructure Sector – Infracom calls for Kiwis to determine their infrastructure future

Source: New Zealand Infrastructure Commission
Infracom (the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga) is calling for people interested in the future of New Zealand’s infrastructure to “join the conversation” as it outlines its plan to deliver a 30-year strategy.
Together with Infrastructure NZ, the Sustainable Business Council, InternetNZ and others, it is behind Visionweek (www.visionweek.co.nz), a free web summit envisioning post-COVID New Zealand. 
Infracom Chief Executive Jon Grayson says Infracom’s online sessions next week will outline how it plans to deliver a 30-year strategy and the opportunities to be involved as it’s developed. 
“For the first time, New Zealanders have a chance to create a stakeholder driven view of how infrastructure can support the way they want to live. Infracom is forming a vision with the collective input of Kiwis through a detailed strategy development programme. We’ll share this plan on 12 June,” he says.  
The strategy will assess the fitness for purpose of New Zealand’s infrastructure system as a whole, determining how well it’s working, identifying priorities, barriers to good outcomes, and its ability to meet future community expectations.
“The more the sector gets involved in the 30-year infrastructure strategy and the more consensus there is behind it, the more powerful it will be and the more influential it will be on governments across time,” says Jon Grayson.
A second Infracom webinar in the afternoon will focus on leading practice solutions for future strategic planning and how Infracom is incorporating these into its strategy development process. 
Visionweek runs from 8-12 June. Speakers in other sessions include Peter Beck, Frances Valintine, Tamati Kruger, Sir Peter Gluckman, Kate Boylan, Shamubeel Equab, Dr Rod Carr, Rachel Taulelei, Sir Stephen Tindall, Nicole Rosie, Rod Drury and more. 
Anyone can register for the summit at visionweek.co.nz. Participants are encouraged to post their ideas, videos, polls or other content using the #visionweekNZ hashtag on Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter, so these ideas can be shared through the platform. 
Initiated by Infrastructure NZ, Visionweek supporters include Infracom, Sustainable Business Council, the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, InternetNZ, the Ministry for the Environment and ASN Media. 
Register for Infracom’s webinar sessions here: 
Session 1 (Friday 12 June, 9-10am): How is New Zealand creating an infrastructure vision for the next 30 years? – https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kxOh1iLnQ-aOU-ktesy-Zg
Session 2 (Friday 12 June, 2-3pm): How do you strategise for future phenomena? – https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_p79K9ZUhTBaxP2PGdOkUtA

Business – Extensions to support schemes welcomed – Business NZ

Source: BusinessNZ
The BusinessNZ network has welcomed extensions to the Government’s loan and wage subsidy schemes, saying they would help both employers and employees.
BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope said pushing out the application deadline for the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme would give businesses more time to assess real levels of demand following the return to alert level 1.
And he said many more workers would now be able to receive the wage subsidy, given the change in criteria allowing a further 40,000 businesses to be involved.
“The Government has listened to business feedback and responded to changing needs as the economic effects of the Covid-19 emergency continue,” Mr Hope said.

Commerce – Extended support announcement welcomed

Source: Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce
Today’s announcement by Minister for Small Business Hon Stuart Nash regarding an extension of support for businesses that continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic been welcomed by Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson.
This includes a change in the required revenue drop threshold from 50% to 40% for the wage subsidy extension, and it will be for 30 days within a 40-day period. This means an extra 40,000 businesses will now be eligible. The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme application period has also been extended from 12 June to 24 July, which will enable eligibility for an additional 70,000 businesses taking the likely overall uptake for the extension to around 240,000 businesses.
Ms Watson says the announcement is “very positive news for business”.
“News of this extended, targeted support will definitely be welcomed by many businesses in the Canterbury region, in particular for small business who we know have been hit hard by COVID. Through our communications with local businesses in Canterbury and the wider South Island through our Helpline, we have heard many calls for a lower threshold for the wage subsidy. We have also heard directly from businesses that have found the small business cashflow support a real lifesaver, so are pleased to see the application period has been extended to enable more businesses to apply.”
Ms Watson say both policies will enable business some breathing space as they assess real levels of demand after getting back to Alert Level 1.
“This ongoing support enables businesses to take time to work through forecasts, understand the impact and get more certainty on their future.
“We know that many businesses were concerned that the pent up demand and backlog was pushing up their figures, giving them a false revenue figure for the last month which meant that they were just under the 50% threshold, but moving forward they were likely to see that demand even out.
“We are all of course hoping that the increased retail sales will be retained, however there are industries that will be well down on revenue for quite some time to come – particularly with our closed borders – and it’s important those vulnerable but viable businesses are supported through this period.
“We are also working with Government to ensure that businesses with owner operators are able to access support through the Small Business Loan.”
Ms Watson says today’s announcement demonstrates the Government’s commitment to working with businesses to tailor their support.
“The Government has moved quickly with the wage subsidy and been open to listening to feedback from the business community, firstly with the targeted extension and now today adjusting the threshold, which certainly supports the feedback we have been hearing from our members. It shows a real willingness by the current Government to evolve their offering quickly to accommodate feedback.”

NZ Police Association rejects Green Party’s ART/George Floyd claims

Source: NZ Police Association
President of the New Zealand Police Association, Chris Cahill, is appalled at the Green Party’s conflation of the trial of armed police teams (ARTs) in New Zealand, with the death of African American man George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
Green co-leader Marama Davidson and Justice spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman have written to the Police Commissioner Andrew Coster to remind him that Mr Floyd’s death has sparked “worldwide protests with fear and anger about the use of force and discrimination in policing” in the US and elsewhere.
“On the basis of this they have then urged the commissioner to halt any increase in the use of firearms by police in New Zealand, including any roll-out of ARTs which are currently being evaluated after a six month trial,” Mr Cahill says.
“To use the death of Mr Floyd as a conduit to make claims about New Zealand police “discrimination that results in increased police brutality and death” among communities in Aotearoa is offensive to officers who work in some of the most difficult, violent and fractured communities in our country,” he says.
“On behalf of the association’s thousands of members I object to this overt inference that they are to be held up as the problem.
“There is no denying that Māori are over-represented in most of the negative statistics in everyday life in New Zealand – in the prison population, in poor health and education outcomes, in mental health trauma and other socio-economic data. There is also no denying there have been, and probably still are cases of institutional bias within police but there is considerable ongoing work to address this.”
Mr Cahill says an extremely important element in this debate is simply ignored by the Green MPs – the proliferation of illegal weapons throughout many communities in Aotearoa.
The association has been telling New Zealanders for years that these weapons are a serious risk to communities. They are found in homes, in vehicles, used in robberies and gang warfare, and they are presented and fired at police officers many more times than most New Zealanders would imagine.
In 2019 police officers were attacked by someone wielding a gun 13 times and the number of serious incidents across the country where police officers are threatened or shot at, is at an all-time high.
“It is only by good luck that we have not lost several police officers at the hands of gun-wielding criminals in the last three years,” Mr Cahill says.
The association’s concerns are supported by data recently obtained by RNZ showing that in 2019 an offender was found with a gun on 3540 occasions, there was an almost 50 per cent increase in firearms seized by police in the last five years (excluding the gun buyback) and, in the past two years, there were eight fatal civilian-on-civilian shootings in Counties Manukau alone – one of the communities the Green MPs claim would be negatively impacted on by ARTs.
“The fact is these communities are the most victimised by gun violence and deserve the best protection from police who do not, as the Green MPs have insinuated, patrol communities with the intention of harming them,” Mr Cahill says.
“Police are called to hundreds of thousands of incidents across our country every year with the sole aim of keeping New Zealanders, irrespective of colour, safe from harm, and increasingly that includes harm from weapons,” he says.
“Taking firearms away from police will not solve this problem. The RNZ data referred to above shows that in 2019 officers faced more than 3500 firearms incidents but presented firearms only 305 times – a 33 per cent drop compared to 2016.
The trial of the ARTs is a response to this background of the use of illegal weapons, and Mr Cahill says while Police was remiss in failing to consult adequately on the ARTs, the success or otherwise of the trial is yet to be established.
“What we do know is no ART officer fired a shot during the trial and they dealt safely and quickly with hundreds of incidents. ARTs may not be the complete answer but there is certainly value in having highly trained officers more readily available to attend dangerous situations.”

Economy – How we’re supporting New Zealand’s economic recovery – Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Source: Adrian Orr, Governor, Reserve Bank of New Zealand

New Zealanders have put in the hard yards since the country went into lockdown in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, containing the infection rate, and allowing the gradual easing of restrictions to the point that Alert Level 1 is within reach.

Like many of you, we have had to change our way of working and communicating with each other and the broader community. We know there are hard times ahead for households and businesses and we need to continue to support each other.

The Reserve Bank is playing its part, acting quickly and early in tandem with the Government to cushion the economic blow to households and businesses from this unprecedented event. We also acknowledge the efforts of the financial sector in meeting the needs of their customers to date and the importance of sustaining that endeavour in the months and years ahead.

As we focus on the economic challenges ahead it is equally important that we look for opportunities presented by the recovery across the Reserve Bank's work.

The Bank has a wide range of initiatives underway. For example, our work on South Pacific Remittances, Climate Change and our Te Ao Māori strategy are key areas we're focused on moving forward. Later this month we'll be releasing our latest Statement of Intent that will outline more details about this work and other key focus areas.

We need to ensure that whatever we rebuild, reshape or invest in now is sustainable, long term in its horizon, helps us build resilience, and benefits generations to come.

You can be sure we are continuing to work closely with all of our communities, the Government and our international partners to ensure the overall well-being and prosperity of all New Zealanders, now and into the future.

Key updates

Building confidence through Monetary Policy

Supporting banks to promote Financial Stability

Our balance sheet at work

  • The implementation of Large Scale Asset Purchases and other COVID-19 responses is affecting our balance sheet, expanding it from $31 billion to $46.6 billion dollars in just two months. This is likely to increase further.
  • We've added a page to our website to show how each activity influences the assets, liabilities and net worth of our balance sheet in a simple and clear way. This page will be updated monthly to keep you informed about the changes in our financial position.  You can find out more here.

Insurance Sector – Tower says refunding COVID-19 car claim reductions is the right thing to do and gives back $7.2m

Source: Tower Insurance
Kiwi insurer, Tower, has today confirmed that it will be refunding customers $7.2m, due to the lower cost of car claims during the COVID-19 lock-down period.
Tower CEO, Richard Harding, said that every customer would be refunded part of the car insurance premiums they paid during the level three and four lockdowns.
“We’re a Kiwi company and look after our customers, so after seeing a significant reduction in claims, we knew the right thing to do was pass these lower costs on.
“For most customers, the refund will equate to around 40% to 45% of the car insurance premiums they paid between 24 March and 13 May 2020.
“We had planned to make refunds by the end of May, but because we also saw lower claims during the level 3 three lockdown, it’s taken us a little longer to calculate, so refunds will now be paid from late June.
Harding said it’s important that all insurers are transparent about how they are dealing with the windfall gain from lower claims during the COVID-19 lockdown, and this means being open about whether they will refund customers.
“Not making a windfall gain and refunding customers is the right thing to do, and while the lockdown could cause supply chain constraints and a slight uplift in claims expenses over the short term, the significant reduction in claims costs should be passed on,” said Harding.
Refund details
-Refunds will be paid to all customers who held car insurance with Tower from 24 March 2020 to 13 May 2020, inclusive
-Refunds will be calculated based on individual customers’ premiums paid, excluding taxes, fees and levies
-Refunds will be prorated for customers who cancelled or joined Tower during the lockdown period
-Tower will communicate directly with customers advising on how the refund will be paid, with refunds starting to be paid in late June
-The total cost of the refund is offset by the reduced claims cost and will result in a neutral financial impact to Tower

Local Government – New wetland and improved pipe system to reduce flooding in Porirua

Source: Porirua City Council 
Work to increase the resilience and capacity of the stormwater network and create a new wetland to improve drainage and the quality of stormwater running into Porirua Harbour is under way in Porirua.
“This first phase of work will improve the pipe system that carries stormwater to the sea and will reduce surface flooding in Elsdon Park between Mana College and the harbour,” says Porirua Mayor Anita Baker.
“This project is part of our long-term strategy to improve Porirua’s stormwater, wastewater and drinking water pipes.”
“This phase of the project will tie into planned work in the adjacent Takapūwāhia network and is part of a two-year, $13.5 million project that will see a new high capacity stormwater bypass main, upgrades to stormwater infrastructure at Porirua School, and a flood barrier to provide stormwater mitigation to residential properties on Ngāti Toa St. The last phase of the project will be the creation of the new wetland to capture excess water and filter stormwater before it runs into the harbour,” she says.
A history of flooding in Mana College, Elsdon Park and the local roading network was the catalyst for improving the stormwater facilities in this area, says Wellington Water spokesperson Alex van Paassen.
“Design options were investigated, and a wetlands solution identified as a key solution. The connecting pipework will be installed first, in preparation for developing the wetland,” he says.
“The nature of the project is somewhat unique in that it affects a public park, sports ground, a major arterial roadway (Titahi Bay Rd), high-use commercial and retail areas and waterfront reserves. That complexity means that we will also need to remove a few non-native trees along Titahi Bay Road although we will keep this to a minimum.
“While this will be staged, the complexities mean there will be some disruption, particularly for motorists using Titahi Bay Rd, and it will be highly visible.”
The first phase of this project will take approximately six months, with construction occurring from Monday to Saturday between 7am and 7pm and heavy vehicle movements will be restricted to between 9am and 6pm.

Appointments – Dr Helen Anderson reappointed to BRANZ Board for 12 months

Source: BRANZ
The Building Research Advisory Council (BRAC) has appointed Dr Helen Anderson to the BRANZ Board for an additional 12 months. Her current and final term was due to expire in August 2020.
BRAC has made this decision in recognition of the need for stability and continuity as the impact of Covid-19 unfolds. Dr Anderson’s ongoing involvement will ensure BRANZ remains well positioned to support the building system through this challenging period.
Dr Anderson is currently Chair of the BRANZ Board, having been first appointed in 2011. Transition to a new Chair will be undertaken in mid-2021 when more settled circumstances can be anticipated.
Dr Anderson is an independent director of several organisations including Dairy NZ, NIWA and Scion (Chair) and former Chief Executive of the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology. She is a Companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand, a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Directors, New Zealand and a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order.