This week we've had the privilege of hosting Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in New Zealand, as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The six-day visit has been a fantastic opportunity for many New Zealanders to meet Their Royal Highnesses, during a series of public engagements. I especially enjoyed helping Prince Charles, the Governor-General, my wife Bronagh, and 64 invited New Zealanders celebrate their birthdays on Wednesday at Government House in Wellington.
It has been a very busy schedule for the Prince and Duchess, with engagements in Auckland, Wellington, the Manawatu, and Christchurch. I'm accompanying the Royals while in Christchurch, and it's a great opportunity for us to thank them for the support given by their family in the wake of the devastating earthquakes.
You can view some photos from the Royal visit on my Facebook page.
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Today I'm spending the day in Christchurch, including attending the Canterbury A&P Show with the Prince and Duchess. The annual show is part of Canterbury Cup and Show Week. It is great to see so many Cantabrians making the most of Canterbury Anniversary Day.
We're making some great progress on the rebuild of Christchurch. This is one of our four main priorities for this term in office, and the Government has made a firm commitment to all Cantabrians to do what it takes to rebuild a strong and vibrant city.
Just a few weeks ago, the Government and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) reached a significant milestone with the completion of zoning of every single residential home in greater Christchurch. It was important to get this process right to give Canterbury homeowners certainty about their future. Over 180,000 homes have been zoned green, which means those homeowners can get on with the process of repairing or rebuilding their home if it was damaged by the earthquakes. A further 7860 residential properties have been zoned red - which means their land is unlikely to be suitable for residential occupation for a considerable period of time - and they have received an offer to purchase their properties from the Crown. More than 5000 owners of residential red zone properties have already settled with the Crown.
Repairing damaged infrastructure is another area where we've made some great progress. $80 million worth of infrastructure repairs have been completed so far - from fixing roads, to fresh water and waste water pipe repairs, and restoring electricity. The repair of infrastructure will create over 1000 new jobs, and the Government has committed $28 million to maintain expanded training opportunities for young people in Canterbury - this means they can train for free and they'll be guaranteed a job at the end.
Read more about our progress rebuilding Christchurch here.
Protecting vulnerable children
The Government's White Paper for Vulnerable Children is an important part of our plan to protect our most vulnerable children and young people in need. The White Paper outlines over 30 new initiatives, including new legislation that makes some public sector CEOs accountable for achieving results for children in their care. At a local level Regional Directors and Children's Teams will coordinate individual responses for children using local connections and knowledge. We've already announced the first teams will be in Rotorua and Whangarei.
Read more about our initiatives to protect vulnerable children here.
Did you miss these important stories?
This week I announced the five winners of the Prime Minister's Pacific Youth awards, and the recipients of the Prime Minister's Business Scholarships.
From my diary
Last Sunday I thoroughly enjoyed attending the Fast5 Netball final at Vector Arena in Auckland, which was won by New Zealand's Fast5 Ferns.
This evening I'm farewelling Their Royal Highnesses from New Zealand.
Early next week I'm flying to Cambodia to attend the East Asia Summit. This will be a great opportunity for me to catch up with regional leaders and discuss some of the issues we're facing. Asia is economically important to New Zealand, so I'm looking forward to strengthening the ties we have with our regional trading partners. After the East Asia Summit, I'm flying to Myanmar, which will be my first visit to the country. I look forward to updating you on the trip when I get back.
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