Pacific – Fiso John Fiso (ONZM) concludes his time as Pacific Cooperation Foundation board chair

Source: Pacific Cooperation Foundation

Fiso John Fiso (ONZM) concludes his time as Pacific Cooperation Foundation board chair and acting chief executive as Afamasaga Jackie Curry appointed to lead PCF operations

Following six months as chair and acting chief executive (CE), and three years as a board member, Fiso John Fiso will be stepping down from his roles at the Pacific Cooperation Foundation.

Mr Fiso’s role over the last six months was to put in place an implementation plan for the strategy, hire a new chief executive, assist the new board members with a smooth transition, and ensure that PCF was positioned to increase the Foundation’s contribution to development and collaboration across New Zealand and the Pacific region.

Afamasaga Jackie Curry has now been appointed as a Management Consultant to lead PCF operations, with a focus on implementing the organisation’s strategic initiatives, in a role set for the next eight months.

“I feel the job I had been put in place to do has been done,” says Mr Fiso. “There is now a strong board, and a good team in place, led by Jackie, to take the organisation through the next year, and then onto a bright future. I have also established a Wellington office so the organisation can align more closely with the Government, the diplomatic corps, and other stakeholders based in the Capital.

“I took on the position of chair and acting CE earlier this year during a period of significant transition for the Foundation following a review, change in leadership and governance, and development of a new strategic plan – I am eternally grateful to the staff and board for their work in a short space of time assisting me get the organisation positioned for growth,” said Mr Fiso.

“The opportunity I had at PCF was one I valued and I am grateful for the roles I was given, but now it is time for me to step aside and let the new governance, Jackie and the and team take it from here,” concluded Mr Fiso.

“Working for the PCF is an incredible opportunity and I believe the PCF is in a strong and unique position to connect people in New Zealand and the Pacific to enable a more prosperous and empowered Pacific region – which includes New Zealand – and I’m excited to be part of it,” said Afamasaga Jackie Curry.

“The PCF Board thanks Fiso John Fiso for his dedication to the PCF over the last few years and more recently taking the helm as we steered through significant change. His legacy will be the PCF’s commitment to strengthening and growing our shared Pacific and New Zealand identity for a prosperous future. We also warmly welcome Afamasaga Jackie Curry with all the skills and experience she brings, and look forward to her contribution,” said David Vaeafe, Board member PCF.

Further information on Afamasaga Jackie Curry

As Director of Spacific Consultancy Ltd for the last ten years, Jackie has been working closely on economic development and business growth projects with Pacific businesses and NGOs in New Zealand and the Pacific region. This has included a range of business education and training programs in New Zealand for the Pacific Business Trust, Martin Hautus Pacific Training Institution, AUT, and Te Wananga o Aotearoa, the United Nations Development Programme, International Labour Organisation, as well as training for the Samoa Tourism Authority, Ministry of Business Innovation and Development in New Zealand. Jackie is in the final stages of her completing her Masters in Business, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing), and a Postgraduate Diploma in Business (Entrepreneurship & Marketing).

Employment – FIRST Union says horticulture industry must pay locals a living wage too

Source: First Union

FIRST Union says today’s announcement that the Government is allowing the horticulture industry to bring into the country 2,000 RSE workers if they pay them a living wage shows they can afford to pay locals the same.
Most local fruit pickers earn the minimum wage of $18.90 or just above, whereas RSE workers doing the same work alongside them will now be getting at least $22.10. The union is calling on employers to match the wage for locals to ensure equity between the two groups.
FIRST Union has over the past few weeks conducted a survey of members who have been made redundant, mostly former employees of The Warehouse, which shows only 4% would consider moving to work in horticulture for the minimum wage. This increases significantly to 31% when asked if receiving the living wage of $22.10 would change their mind.
This flies in the face of horticulture employers saying that money isn’t the issue and Kiwi workers are just lazy,” says spokesperson Anita Rosentreter.
Seeka CEO Michael Franks told RNZ this morning that they are doing everything they can to get locals into the work, but Ms Rosentreter says FIRST Union has approached the company to negotiate a collective agreement containing better wages and conditions and there has so far been no cooperation. The two parties are meeting again on Monday to continue talks.
The Government has also announced subsidies for the industry, such as bonuses for workers who complete six weeks of work and up to $200 a week per worker for accommodation. Ms Rosentreter says the Government should have made this assistance conditional on employers paying all workers a living wage. “Why is the Government subsidising a minimum-wage industry that employs people on unlawful casual contracts whilst pocketing eye-watering profits?”
“Horticulture employers need to front up and fix the significant, ongoing issues in their industry in order to attract locals to the work – not just now but for years to come – and paying all workers a living wage is a wise place to start.”

Employment – Komiti Pasefika supports RSE changes

Source: CTU
Komiti Pasefika, the voice of unionised Pacific Island working people in Aotearoa, is supportive of the changes to the RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme
“People in the Pacific Islands will benefit from the move to ensure the living wage of $22.10 is the minimum people will get paid. This will enable these working people to financially support their families and contribute to their country of origin. This is especially significant given the impact of COVID on tourism in the Pacific,” Komiti Pasefika Co-convenor Caroline Mareko said.
“It is totally appropriate that the costs of managed isolation are met by the employer. It is unacceptable for any of the costs of managed isolation, or travel, or accommodation, once out of isolation, to be met by the employee. We think it is important to note that the accommodation provided needs to be of a high, liveable standard – warm, dry, spacious and clean. Too often we have heard stories of slum like housing.”
“RSE employers also have a duty to be providing for the health and safety needs. Employers need to be providing for PPE (personal protective equipment) as necessary. Employers also need to ensure that any relevant COVID information is provided into the relevant languages.”
“Our people have workplace rights.” Said Komiti Pasefika Youth Convenor, Yanah Partsch. “We believe those employers who are part of the RSE scheme should be required to provide information, in the relevant languages, to all employees. This would be best practice and something we will campaign to include with all RSE scheme employers.”
“Komiti Pasefika wants to see a commitment that should either all, or part of, Aotearoa move back to a ‘lockdown’ situation that there is a plan for the safe repatriation of these working people from the Pacific,” said Komiti Pasefika Convenor, Caroline Mareko.

Working better together – Fish & Game and Federated Farmers

Source: Federated Farmers
Federated Farmers and Fish & Game have agreed to work together more closely to identify areas of collaboration.
The two organisations acknowledge they have a history of struggling to appreciate each other’s point of view. But high-level board discussions are now underway and are leading the way forward to a more productive relationship, Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says.
“Many of our members are also members of Fish & Game. And fishermen and farmers are very similar people. We both love the outdoors and likely have more in common than we do in difference.
“It is pleasing that we have been able to come together and discuss those areas of shared interest and concern and think about ways in which we can work on those areas of difference.”
One area of co-operation highlighted very early on in discussions is working together around the issue of access to farmland for hunting and fishing purposes.
“One of the first things we will look at is providing more assistance to Fish & Game for ensuring the right information is given to fisherman and hunters so that farm property rights, biosecurity and health and safety requirements are understood.”
Feds working more closely with Fish & Game will require some farmers and growers to put aside the dislike and distrust they’ve felt towards the organisation and its members.
“There comes a time where you need to draw a line in the past and move forward,” Andrew says.
“We are not breaking out the marshmallows, lighting the camp fire, and signing “kumbaya” together, but we both recognise that an adversarial approach really only benefits lawyers.
“We are not going to agree on everything, but we can at least disagree in a respectful manner that doesn't vilify either farmers or fisher's in the eyes of one another.”

Fish & Game has goodwill meeting with federated Farmers

Source: Fish and Game NZ
Fish & Game and Federated Farmers have initiated a dialogue aimed at improving relations.
Six members of the NZ Fish & Game Council met with their counterparts from Federated Farmers on Sunday (November 22), a cordial get-together in which both parties discussed areas of common interest.
New Zealand Fish and Game Council Chair Ray Grubb says when fishing through farmers’ properties, he is made welcome and often offered a cup of tea or a beer. “We can and should have the same relationship nationally. This meeting was pleasant, beneficial and long overdue: we discussed issues such as access, catchment groups, wetlands and connecting local Feds and Fish & Game people to look at what we can work on together. Basically, we are looking at combining our strengths to improve freshwater.
“It’s a good starting point. Both parties agree there are lots of areas of commonality.”
Mr Grubb says while there may well be issues which Fish & Game and Feds don’t agree on, there are many they are already working on together in small ways. And there is good work being done on farms around the country by such as catchment groups which need to be acknowledged and applauded. The Pomahaka catchment group is an excellent example.
“Making broad-brush statements about the primary sector is not appropriate given the work that many farmers are doing to reduce the impact of their activity on waterways and the generosity shown to anglers and hunters by allowing them onto their land.”

Education – Five Year Agreement Signed – Mana Ōrite: Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa and the Ministry of Education

Source: Ministry of Education
A Joint Statement: Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa and the Ministry of Education
Mō tātou, mā tātou, e ai ki a tātou is the driving force behind a new five-year agreement that will be signed on Friday 27 November between Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa and the Ministry of Education.
More than 20 MOE officials and representatives together with 80 leaders of Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa will come together this week to sign two documents that underpin a strong working relationship between these two organisations.
Kaupapa Maori education including Kohanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa Maori Aho Matua, Wananga and Kura a Iwi are clear examples of movements that are achieving positive educational, cultural, social and wellbeing outcomes for our people. These positive outcomes have been achieved despite the lack of equity across the education system.
“Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa has developed a strategy to help to address the many barriers to success for our Uri and our communities. We need the support of the Government to achieve it. Kua Ea is an opportunity for the Ministry of Education to continue to partner with Ngā Kura ā Iwi to progress towards equity with the wellbeing of Uri, whānau and Māori communities at the centre” said Pou Kōkiri of Ngā Kura ā Iwi Watson Ohia.
“We value the strong relationship we have with Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa and also recognise there is more we must do to ensure positive education outcomes for all ākonga Māori. This new funding agreement shows our intent to create equity within the system, while also providing Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa greater autonomy and agency to grow” said Iona Holsted Te Tumu Whakarae mō te Mātauranga, Secretary for Education.
The relationship between the Ministry of Education and Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa is based on ‘Mana Ōrite’ whereby the two organisations work in partnership to achieve outcomes that are determined by Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa. Established five years ago with the Minister of Education of the time Hon.Hēkia Parata and Ngā Kura ā Iwi leaders Pem Bird, Arihia Stirling and Waimatao Murphy, ‘Te Kawa Whakapūmau’ outlines the commitment to ‘Mana Ōrite’.
The Kua Ea Outcomes Agreement is the result of that commitment which outlines the objectives of Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa. Kua Ea aligns the strategic priorities of Ngā Kura ā Iwi o Aotearoa with the governments priorities for Māori Education and what Ngā Kura ā Iwi expects to achieve within the next five years to November 2025.
“We look forward to continuing our work alongside Ngā Kura ā iwi o Aotearoa. As autonomous, independent educators for their iwi taketake, they are leading the way for their people, and challenging us to shift our thinking and the way we work with Māori, iwi and whānau. We value this relationship.” said Ms Holsted.
“Ngā Kura ā Iwi is focused on Uri achieving Mana Motuhake as expressed in the Ngā Kura ā Iwi vision. Mana Motuhake ensures that Uri have the cultural grounding, knowledge, skills and wellbeing to live a fulfilling and meaningful life” said Mr Ohia.

Business – More than 1700 attend EMA Spring Briefings

Source: EMA
New Zealand border issues, skills and staff shortages and new rules around compulsory Christmas shut-downs dominated discussions during the EMA’s recently completed Spring Briefing round.
More than 1700 EMA members joined the briefings with record numbers in venues such as Tauranga, Whakatane and Hamilton.
“It was clear members were looking for some direction and certainty from the new Government and they were also keen to get face-to-face with fellow business people and our EMA team,” says the EMA’s Head of Advocacy and Strategy, Alan McDonald.
“Many of the questions and comments focused on the huge levels of frustration at trying to get people through the border and quarantine system. Skills shortages were a real issue for many of our members across multiple sectors before COVID-19 hit and the COVID-19 crisis has only brought those shortages into sharper relief.
“The government’s view that these roles will be filled by either returning or unemployed Kiwis is simply not happening as businesses still struggle to fill roles from the basic to the big end of a business. Better border and quarantine facility management is an urgent priority for our members and businesses across the country if we are going to make the recovery and transition necessary to restore and enhance our economy for the well-being of all New Zealanders,” he says.
The EMA’s Head of Legal and General Counsel, Matthew Dearing, said the new rulings on compulsory shut-downs over the traditional Christmas break were also causing significant concerns and confusion.
“The way this has been treated in the past is no longer relevant and the new rulings create a level of complexity that many businesses are struggling to understand. The policy pack we’ve developed continues to be picked up by our members and non-members to help manage the issue as the Christmas season rapidly approaches,” he says.
Improving productivity, infrastructure development and recent changes to the Privacy Act were other topics frequently raised by members, and concern was expressed at the potential raft of employment legislation including more sick leave, new public holidays and minimum and living wage increases adding costs to business at a time when they can least afford it.
The EMA holds three rounds of Briefings a year to share economic, policy and legal information updates with members. The Summer Briefings begin in February.
About the EMA:
The EMA is New Zealand’s largest business service organisation dedicated to helping people and businesses grow. It offers advice, learning, advocacy and support for 7400 businesses as members of the EMAExportNZ and The Manufacturers’ Network. The EMA is part of the BusinessNZ network and its territory spans the upper North Island. The EMA also offers many of its services nationally to member businesses, and through its partners.

Employment – CTU welcomes living wage for fruit pickers

Source: CTU
The Council of Trade Unions is welcoming today's announcement by Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor that the 2000 people from the Pacific being brought to New Zealand to pick seasonal fruit, will be paid no less than the living wage of $22.10 per hour.
“This decision sets an important precedent for employers who complain of labour shortages. Employers, regardless of industry, must do their bit to raise wages and conditions to attract people to work,” CTU President Richard Wagstaff said.
“We would like to see all employers in horticulture, not just those in the RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme, step up and pay the living wage to everyone they employ.”
“Paying the living wage must become the new minimum standard for all industries and especially those with labour shortages. If businesses want to employ temporary migrants, they must commit to raising wages and standards of decent work for all the people they employ,” said Wagstaff

Environment – Beware hazards among the online bargains this Black Friday

Source: Environmental Protection Authority
Lurking online this Christmas shopping season are lots of products containing chemicals that can pose a risk if they don’t meet New Zealand’s strict safety standards.
The Environmental Protection Authority’s Safer Homes programme has some tips and tricks to keep in mind as you’re bargain-hunting this Black Friday.
“Cosmetics and toiletries, such as perfume and makeup, can pose the most risk for unsuspecting shoppers,” says the Safer Homes programme manager, Lizzie Wilson.
“When you’re buying beauty products stick to legitimate brands, rather than copies, especially online. They may contain toxic ingredients or cause unexpected skin reactions.”
When you’re online it can be hard to know if a product is fake, if it’s been tampered with, or whether it has been stored correctly. If it’s a fraction of the usual cost, be wary.
Children’s art supplies like finger paints, crayons, and watercolour paints are also products that online shoppers should be careful about. These products have labels which aren’t always obvious online and can contain ingredients that may be harmful.
In the past two years, 200 New Zealand children aged under 15 have ended up in hospital after being harmed by a hazardous substance. This includes products labelled natural or environmentally friendly, which can still be hazardous.
“We all like the convenience of online shopping, but it’s important to take a close look before you click purchase, to avoid buyer’s remorse this Christmas shopping season.”
When shopping online remember:
– Buy products from retailers and brands you know and trust.
– If you are in any doubt about the safety of a product, don't buy or use it.
– If the label isn't in English, doesn't list the ingredients, batch code and NZ importer and manufacturer contact details, the product isn't compliant with the safety rules.
And when your purchases arrive:
– Keep cosmetics and other hazardous substances out of reach of small children. Even if the product states it’s non-toxic or natural it could be dangerous if swallowed or applied. 
– If you have an allergic or other reaction to a product, stop using it immediately. If the reaction is severe, get medical help. 
– It's also a good idea to patch test products to find out whether a product is likely to irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction if it is applied to a larger area.

Social Sector – Reforms needed to support community self-sufficiency in an uncertain future

Source: Salvation Army

The resilience and community spirit that came to the fore during the Covid-19 lockdowns must be backed up by strong Government support and reform, The Salvation Army says.

The sixth, and final Covid-19 Social Impact Dashboard tracks key social progress areas including food security, financial hardship, addictions, housing, incomes and employment, crime and punishment. The Salvation Army has again surveyed New Zealand communities and is calling on the Government to support long-term solutions to poverty, rather than encourage a reliance on 'band-aid' solutions such as food parcels and emergency welfare payments.

Of growing concern is the 'sharp end' of housing – homelessness, transitional and social housing –areas in which The Salvation Army operates. The Social Housing waiting list continues to quickly climb, reaching over 20,000 applicants in August 2020. Over the main Covid-19 lockdown periods, more than 3600 new applicants joined the waiting list – a 22 percent increase since our first Dashboard in early April 2020. Nearly half of these applicants are Māori, and 12 percent are Pacific, two groups disproportionately represented on this list.

The Salvation Army is doubling down on its calls for the Government to increase benefits and deliver liveable incomes. As Covid-19 subsidies come to an end, and with an expected 20 percent increase in calls for help with food and Christmas gifts this year, benefit increases are needed now.

Urgent action is needed on employment and training support for those most affected by the impacts of Covid-19: young people, especially younger Māori and Pasifika, and the regions and communities worst hit. The Government has so far only implemented some of the WEAG recommendations. More must be implemented.

While food parcel distribution for The Salvation Army has slightly decreased since the release of our last Dashboard – from 1794 in June to 1788 in November – food parcel distribution is still 30 percent higher than pre-Covid-19 levels. The Salvation Army welcomes MSD's $21m allocation under the Community Food Response Grant Funding to support 131 community providers over the next two years. However, we continue to stress that long-term change that empowers communities should look towards a model that supports self-sufficiency rather than creating dependence on foodbanks.

As many New Zealanders face ongoing instability in employment and income levels, protections for them in the form of debt collection legislation and more investment in safer credit options are required.

Our centres are reporting increasing levels of stress and anxiety. In line with Budget 2020 commitments for more funding for addictions services, there needs to be stronger regulation of online gambling; investment in more early intervention and public health AOD services along with mental health worker support for NGO AOD treatment providers. In the wake of the cannabis referendum, a robust policy needs to be developed to determine what decriminalisation could like in New Zealand.

The Salvation Army is concerned that the number of remand prisoners is increasing, as is the average duration they are held in custody awaiting trial or for sentencing. We propose reforming the Bail Amendment Act and increasing funding for reintegration services, along with concerted efforts around Māori and the criminal justice system, in particular developing more practice with Māori, such as in the successful Ngā Kōti Rangatahi.

The sixth Salvation Army Covid-19 Social Impact Dashboard can be found here: