First Responders – Auckland Weather Update #2

Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Auckland fire crews are continuing to respond to over 500 calls for assistance from people affected by the heavy rain. They are prioritising incidents where life is at immediate risk, and particularly where the disabled or elderly need rescue.
Fire and Emergency Communications Centre Shift Manager Alex Norris said every fire truck in Auckland has been dispatched and there are 14 people answering 111 calls. People are being urged to only ring 111 if life is in danger, because the number of non-urgent calls is delaying the response to people who need help the most.
Areas hard hit include Ranui, where there are reports of houses being moved off their foundations, as well as Sunnyvale, Henderson, Birkenhead and Glenfield.
If people have water entering their property but life is not at risk, Alex Norris said they should to do what they can to lift furnishings and possessions without putting themselves at risk. Neighbours may also be able to help. But please do not call 111 about flooded property if there is no threat to life or safety.

Fire Safety – Bans are in place for Southland’s Sandy Point and Edendale

Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand

The private use of charcoal barbecues, charcoal grills, wood-fired pizza ovens and chiminea are banned for Southland’s Sandy Point and Edendale until further notice.
This is in addition to several parts of Southland already in a prohibited fire season – which means a total ban on open air fires.
District Manager, Julian Tohiariki says this is part of ongoing efforts to reduce the risk of wildfire over summer.
“Due to the sustained hot weather, the vegetation in Sandy Point is extremely dry, and it’s expected to remain this way throughout summer.
“Edendale township is also experiencing exceptionally dry conditions in the area, and there’s a high risk of vegetation fires,” he says.
Julian Tohiariki says Fire and Emergency is working with the local Councils to manage the two locations, including putting up relevant signs in the area.
“We have many holidaymakers in the area, increasing the risk of wildfire significantly,” he says.
“Normally the private use of charcoal barbecues, charcoal grills, wood-fired pizza ovens and chiminea are allowed during a prohibited fire season but we need to do what we can to lessen the overall fire risk to Sandy Point and Edendale.
“This temporary ban under Section 52 of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act will remain in place until further notice.
“We’re asking people to do their bit to keep these communities safe,” he says.
Fire and Emergency reminds locals and holidaymakers that Coastal Southland and all of the Department of Conservation estate, including Stewart Island, are currently in a Prohibited Fire Season.

Employment News – PSA welcomes first public sector agency to adopt a flexible working week with no pay cut

Source: PSA

The Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi has congratulated staff and management of Ngā Taonga after New Zealand’s audiovisual archive became the first public sector agency to adopt a flexible and shorter working week with no cut to pay.
“This is great news for our members and for Ngā Taonga and recognises the big changes in how we all want to work these days,” said PSA National Secretary Kerry Davies.
“Good on all at Ngā Taonga for doing the mahi on this and taking the lead in the public sector and moving with the times. Up until now the private sector has been taking the lead on this.
“It’s really pleasing that this approach was very much driven by staff and management ensuring the model adopted has excellent buy-in across the agency.”
Ngā Taonga has introduced a flexible working week of 32.5 hours with no reduction in pay together with more flexible hours and greater options for working from home. Staff have three working pattern options to choose from to suit their individual needs, which include a five-day work week with reduced hours, a four-day week with Friday off, and a nine-day fortnight with alternate Fridays off.
“We are really pleased that the public sector is at last embracing what is now becoming more common in the private sector.
“There is plenty of evidence that employers who adopt a more flexible approach to work, including shorter hours with no reduction in pay and three-day weekends achieve better outcomes. That includes improved health and well being for workers along with greater productivity. It’s a win-win.
“We all learned during the COVID-19 lockdowns that we can work effectively from home, so the time is now right for this approach and the PSA hopes it becomes more widespread in the public sector.
“As work becomes more intense and as many choose to retire much later, we need to focus on workplace practices that allow employees to achieve a good work-life balance.
“It’s also important that employers recognise the various needs of all their employees who have different cultural, community and whānau commitments.
“Workplaces that embrace flexible practices will over time do better at attracting and retaining people and in a tight labour market, that is more important now than ever,” said Kerry Davies.

First Responders – Auckland weather update #1

Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Fire crews are responding to over 400 emergency calls in Auckland due to the weather.
Calls where people are in danger are being given priority. People are urged to only call 111 if life or safety is at risk because the volume of calls has been causing delays in answering them.
Every fire truck in Auckland is responding to the priority calls.
If water is entering property, people should do what they can to lift furniture and possessions, without putting themselves at risk. Please do not ring 111 for calls about flooded property if there is no threat to life or safety.
People are also advised to stay off the roads except for essential travel.

Education News – From Cybersecurity to Carpentry – Open Day opens eyes to study at Ara | Te Pūkenga

Source: Te Pukenga

The Ara |Te Pūkenga Summer Open day was the busiest in many years with a Canterbury heatwave no barrier to hundreds of students seeking to explore study options.
Organisers said there was something for everyone with information on study pathways, student support and enrolments as well as the opportunity to talk one-on-one with tutors and take campus tours with free ice-cream in hand.
Manager Youth and Community Development Mark Simons said it was the busiest summer Open Day in recent years with over 400 registrations along with whānau on hand in support.
“Both our help desk and enrolments desk were very busy with students submitting applications for this coming semester on the spot,” Simons said. “We also have registrations to follow up from prospective students for mid-year or those preparing applications for 2024 so that’s promising for us too,” he added.
Prospective learners were able to find out about more than 150 career-enhancing study options ranging from certificates and diplomas to degrees and graduate qualifications.
The event spanned all Ara campuses including Woolston, Manawa and Timaru with students at all stages of study exploring their options.
Attending the expo for the first time, the team from Te Ōhaka Centre for Growth and Innovation (which is based at Ara’s City campus), were keen to offer insights to the next generation of founders.
“Partnered with Ara, ChristchurchNZ and the Ministry of Awesome, we are the home of early-stage high-growth start-ups,” Ministry of Awesome Head of Programmes Zach Warder-Gabaldon said.
“We want to take every chance to talk to students about experiential learning. Working in the start-up space helps build confidence in professional skills such as problem solving and collaborating effectively which are of value in whatever path students may take,” he said.
The relationship also featured in the Digital Technologies information session.
“It was great to see so many students are keen to find out more about our relationship with Te Ōhaka, software application courses, our new course on cybersecurity, and the industry collaborations which play into the strong opportunities for employment in our sector,” Department of Business and Digital Technologies  Senior Academic Staff member Amit Sarkar said.
The Department's  Academic Manager Jeremy Ainsworth said Ara’s small class sizes and practical approach were attractive to students across the wide range of subjects on offer.
Caitlin Gibbs has her sights set on a Bachelor of Accounting at Ara after working hard to get her NCEA and Foundation Studies under her belt.
“Maths and numbers have been my strength, so I’ve always had accounting in mind, but it was good to hear about other subject strands such as Human Resources and Leadership. I can’t wait to get started next year – it feels fresh and modern but I’m going to need a map to find my way around,” she laughs.
Caitlin’s mum Karyn was on hand for support and to help with enrolment.
“It was good to have all the information presented in front of us and not be left to wander around trying to figure things out,” she said.
Potential Dual-enrollees, friends Amelia Holland, Ashley Woods and Danye Takitimu were also drawn to the Business information session.
While Amelia also raced to catch the Architecture presentation, her friends spoke about finding out more about taking Level Three courses at Ara which would allow them to continue at school and their passion for dance this year.
“I still commit a lot of time to dance, but afterwards job-wise I want to build a career in business or law so I’m looking to build on the courses I have taken at school,” Takitimu said.
Woods said she was hoping to be able to have the same flexibility in her learning. “It’s been helpful having to the chance to ask questions and stuff. People have been really nice,” she said.
Sarah Morris and Patricia Wyatt, who described themselves as “best friends and stay-at-home mums” headed into the Open Day to talk to someone about a possible truck driving course.
Instead, the pair came away with clear ideas about enrolling in a carpentry course together. “I like the idea of working with my hands,” said Wyatt. “I’m not very good at reading and writing and stuff but I was always good at Lego. Maybe this is something I can do well.”
Morris confessed that being a tradie was not something she’d ever thought about before the event. “But after talking to people here, I now see that there’s a lot more women doing it and that women are being encouraged to do it.”
“We do everything together, so we might as well do this together too,” said Morris.
Woolston Campus Hub Manager Vanessa Gooch, who introduced the idea of carpentry to Morris and Wyatt, said talking to people about their interests and background often leads to new horizons. What is ‘Ara Experience and Engagement’?
“The beauty of Open Day is that people like them come in with no idea of what they want to do but leave with some concrete options.”
“Many say things like ‘I left school too early’ or ‘I don’t have my NCEA’ but there’s always a pathway for almost every person through our bridging and foundation courses. There are six-month taster courses. There’s a space for everyone here,” she said.
Trades education tends to be a very supportive environment to learn in, Gooch said. “You’re treated like you’re part of a family here. We care about you, and we want you to succeed. There’s a lot of support to do well here.”

Culture News – Fund extension gives more support to New Zealand’s screen sector

Source: Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Access to the Screen Production Recovery Fund has been extended from 31 January to 30 June 2023, and expanded to cover productions funded by Te Māngai Pāho, announced Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage today.
“These changes to the Fund provide crucial additional support and certainty to the New Zealand screen sector, and its financiers, through the busy summer filming period and into 2023,” says Emily Fabling, Pou Mataaho o Te Aka Deputy Chief Executive Policy and Sector Performance.
“The changes guard against the continued risk of significant setbacks and flow-on consequences, from key cast and crew needing to isolate with COVID-19.
“Making the Fund accessible to productions funded through Te Māngai Pāho, as well as the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ On Air, also helps to ensure equity of Government support.
“New Zealand’s screen sector is an important contributor to our economy and COVID-19 recovery. It provides a diverse range of highly skilled jobs and is valued at more than $3.5 billion per year, with around 4,000 firms directly employing approximately 14,000 people.
“The support provided by the changes announced today does not require new money, as forecasts show existing funding is sufficient to cover productions over this period,” says Emily Fabling.
Notes:
Screen productions can access full eligibility criteria, and apply for funding, via the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ On Air and Te Māngai Pāho websites.

Save the Children – Heating bricks and melting ice: creative ways Ukraine families are surviving this winter

Source: Save the Children

Families in Ukraine are resorting to increasingly desperate measures to survive the war this winter, Save the Children said, as daily blackouts last up to 12-hours a day amid freezing temperatures.
Power cuts are forcing families in parts of the country to melt snow for water, leave food on balconies instead of in refrigerators, and heat bricks for warmth.
Following an escalation of attacks last October, half of the power-generating capacity in Ukraine and about 40% of grids were damaged, according to the Ukrainian government. Electricity cuts now affect the entire country, lasting from eight to 12 hours per day, while the temperatures have plummeted as low as -15°C (5°F) in parts of the country this month.
Larysa-, 68, a grandmother who resides alone in Bucha after her children and grandchildren fled the country, now heats bricks in a gas oven and later places them across the house for warmth.
“Sometimes there is no light for 14 hours. And when there is no light, we have no heating. We turn on the gas oven and that's how we keep ourselves warm. The oven is turned on around the clock. I will pay more for gas, but what else can I do? I would rather pay for gas than get sick,” said Larysa.
Subsequent attacks against energy infrastructure in mid-December left half the regions without power, ensuing water and heating outages for almost three days.
While hospitals and schools are being prioritised for energy supply, many still run fuel generators to ensure they are stable and functioning.
A director for the district hospital in Sumy oblast, said: “A child that is born in cold conditions needs special protection. If the hospital cools down [due to a loss of power], we can only operate for a few hours a day. After that, we will only be able to provide first aid and await the evacuation.”
The hospital serves about 600 patients a day and delivers almost 400 babies every year. Save the Children helped the hospital buy and install a solid-fuel boiler to keep the wards, operation units and delivery rooms warm during an emergency.
Sonia Khush, Save the Children Country Director in Ukraine, said:
“People in Ukraine are now facing possibly the most difficult winter in their lifetime and many parents are struggling to keep their children warm in semi-destroyed homes, with no electricity or heating amidst constant power outages and ongoing hostilities.
“It is a matter of life or death if families cannot heat their homes. Ahead of this winter, Save the Children multiplied its efforts to deliver crucial assistance in cash, heating items and restoration of people’s houses, schools, and hospitals. But as long as attacks against energy infrastructure continue, this winter may appear as devastating for children and displaced families in Ukraine, as are missiles and artillery rounds.”
Save the Children calls on warring parties to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and ensure that energy infrastructure and civilian objects, such as homes, schools, and hospitals, are protected from attack.
To help keep families in Ukraine warm this winter, Save the Children and local partners are providing shelter, food, cash, fuel, psychological support, and baby and hygiene kits to displaced families. In areas with active fighting, the aid organisation is distributing winter clothing for children, providing war-affected families with blankets, heaters, and hard coal for stoves.
Save the Children has been operating in Ukraine since 2014, delivering humanitarian aid to children and their families. It is now supporting refugee families across Europe and helping children to access education and other critical services.

Health News – Government proposals on vaping a step in right direction, but help needed in communities

Source: Asthma and Respiratory Foundation

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation New Zealand is welcoming recent proposals from Government to further restrict vaping, but says action is urgently required in communities with the greatest need.
“The proposals set out by the Ministry of Health in its consultation document are a great start, and we welcome this focus on greater protection for our rangatahi from the harms of vaping. However, regulations must go hand in hand with practical, on-the-ground education and support for young people and their whānau – which is still very much lacking,” says Foundation Chief Executive Letitia Harding.
“We have known about this need for some time, but it was brought into sharp focus after the Foundation appointed our first Āpiha Takawaenga Māori (Maori Community Liaison) in the Tairāwhiti region last May,” Ms Harding explains.
The purpose of this role was to work with whānau, hapū and iwi groups, kura and schools, iwi health providers and community organisations to improve respiratory health outcomes for Māori. “The overwhelming need expressed by the community was vaping harm education. This finding is backed by recent figures from the ASH New Zealand Survey which found that 34% of Māori teens aged 14 and 15-year vape regularly,” she says. “The statistics are even higher for Māori girls of this age, with 40% vaping regularly.”
During the six-month pilot programme, the liaison worker Sharon Pihema, developed a youth education programme centred around kaupapa Māori values and delivered it to rangatahi across the region. She also built valuable networks with other health providers working in vape harm prevention and provided training to others in this field.
The Foundation is hoping to roll out this pilot programme, placing four Āpiha Takawaenga Māori in areas with identified high respiratory needs: Te Tai Tokerau, Tāmaki Makaurau, Waikato and Ōtautahi. “We have seen the success of this approach in reaching rangatahi, and believe that hand in hand with greater regulation, we can change the current dire situation of youth vaping in New Zealand,” Ms Harding says.
“New Zealand needs to acknowledge that vaping is not being used primarily to stop smoking. It has become a mainstream recreational activity, which is normalised amongst young people. Unfortunately, this is no surprise as the Ministry of Health’s Vaping Regulatory Authority has stated it views vaping products as primarily recreational and smoking cessation as secondary,” she says. “We need to be using every tool available to address this issue.”
Note: In a letter to the Medical Classification Committee in February 2022. Vaping Regulatory Authority spokesperson Andrea Eng wrote: ‘Our position on vaping products is that their purpose is principally recreational rather than therapeutic, and that their use as a cessation aid for smokers is secondary.” This can be viewed here: https://www.medsafe.govt.nz/profs/class/Agendas/Agen68/CommentsForAgenda68.pdf

Fire Safety – Fire and Emergency declares a restricted fire season for Otago’s Alpine Zone

Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Otago’s Alpine Zone is now in a restricted fire season, as of 8am this morning (27 January 2023) until further notice.
This includes the upper reaches of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, Makarora, Matukituki Valley, and Glenorchy, through to Rat Point.
A restricted fire season means a permit is required to light a fire in the open air.
Otago’s Lakes and Central Zones remain in a prohibited fire season, which means a total open air fire ban.
Group Manager Nic McQuillan says the weather forecast for the Alpine zone has prompted this change.
“There will be little to no rain over the next few weeks, and the vegetation in the area is drying out,” he says.
“We still have many holidaymakers in the area, and moving into a restricted season means activities such as lighting campfires and bonfires will need a permit.
“We ask that everyone remains vigilant and checks the conditions before lighting any fire,” he says.
“With the history of large and uncontrolled fires at this time of year in the Otago district, it’s important to understand the risks of lighting any fire.
“The recent Mt Creighton fire has shown significant fires can ignite and spread quickly even in moderate fire danger periods,” he says.
“Anyone with a permit will need to comply with specific conditions on their permit so they can light their fire safely. You can apply for a permit at www.checkitsalright.nz.”

Amnesty International – NZ Government fails criminal age review

Source: Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand

This morning, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child called out the failure of the New Zealand Government to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility. Referring to the current minimum age of criminal responsibility, the Committee stated clearly that the NZ Government is “just not getting children’s rights right”.
The minimum age of criminal responsibility is the age at which tamariki (children) can be prosecuted for criminal offending. In Aotearoa New Zealand, this age was set at 10 years old in 1961. In 2019, the UN advised that all State parties should adopt a minimum age of at least 14 years old. Since then, the New Zealand Government has failed to take steps to get in line with this recommendation. Today, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child described the current minimum age of criminal responsibility in Aotearoa New Zealand as an “offence-based approach”, not a “child-centred approach”, and they asked the Government to advise what steps are being taken to bring the minimum age of criminal responsibility in line with UN standards.
Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand is calling on the New Zealand Government to uphold its international human rights commitments and raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 years old.
Campaigns Director Lisa Woods said, “It is completely unacceptable that the Government has dragged its heels on this issue. Today’s review by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is a damning indictment of the political lethargy which continues to put young people at risk of life-long harm.
“What we risk with the current legislation is using the criminal justice system to respond to issues caused by, for example, trauma and a lack of health and mental health support. Instead of solving problems caused by a lack of resources and services, our current laws are funneling children into a system that can trap them for the rest of their lives. This does irrevocable damage to the child, their whānau, and to the rest of society.”
Growing calls for reform
Aotearoa New Zealand ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993. The Convention lays out clear recommendations for the country’s youth justice system, among other things. Following New Zealand’s third Universal Periodic Review in January 2019, the Government agreed to consider whether the current minimum age of criminal responsibility should be increased to align with international standards. In 2021, the Government advised that it was monitoring the progress of a working group set up to review the laws in Australia, where many states have set the minimum age of criminal responsibility at 10 years old. But since then, the NZ Government have gone quiet, despite the rising calls for reform.
“Raising the age of criminal responsibility is one of the many changes needed to improve the youth justice system in Aotearoa New Zealand. Ultimately, transformational change is needed across many of the country’s big systems. Raising the age of criminal responsibility is just one of many steps that the Government must take,” said Woods.
Notes:
The discussion of the minimum age of criminal responsibility begins at 3:04:00