Push on for Kiwis to plant more native trees with $6.6 million Government cash injection

The Government has today announced a funding boost of $6.6 million to get Kiwis planting more native trees around the country.

The $1 billion Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will provide the $6.6 million over three years towards Project Crimson Trust's Trees That Count campaign - which was launched in 2016.

"The Trust's goal is to motivate New Zealanders to plant as many native trees as possible," Forestry Minister Shane Jones said.

This funding will allow Trees That Count to significantly scale up its efforts to mobilise more people to get out there and plant native trees to mitigate climate change, improve the environment and increase biodiversity.

"We want everyone – children, mums and dads, grandparents, teenagers, iwi and private businesses – to be part of the nationwide native tree planting movement as part of the One Billion Trees programme," Mr Jones said. 

The NZ First MP said the funding will also be used to encourage businesses to fund trees which can be gifted and then planted by everyday Kiwis.

Landowners will also be able to pledge land to contribute to the tree planting effort.

Training is being developed with NorthTec, a local iwi and their plant nursery to get the project going, Mr Jones said.

Six regional advisors will be employed to train and connect land owners, tree funders and planting groups.

Pohutukawa Tree Flowers
Pohutukawa tree (file picture). Source: istock.com

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Former prisoners say they're having to lie to employers to secure a job

People who have been in prison say they are having to lie to employers to secure a job.

Just under a third of people who leave prison are back behind bars within their first year of release.

The Department of Corrections said gaining employment can reduce reoffending and it urged employers to give former prisoners a chance.

A woman, who wanted to be known only as Mihi, said she enjoyed her night-shift cleaning job in Auckland.

She said her colleagues were great and her boss was good too, which made it difficult for her to keep lying to him.

She did not want to use her real name because she did not want her boss to find out she had spent time in jail.

"I am quite an honest person and I would rather he knows - because he's really good," she said.

"Since I have been working there in June I have been wanting to tell him but I am scared that he might let me go.

"I need this job or a job."

Mihi served six months in Arohata prison for a string of convictions, including assault, breaching protection orders and benefit fraud.

She was released in January and said she has been turned down by countless employers when she has been honest about her past.

"I ended up mentioning that I just got released from prison - that that was the reason why I did not have any referees - he told me to get out," she said.

Another recruitment agency told her that no one would employ her, so she was wasting their time.

"It is stressful, it is hard, especially if you have been in prison - I did not realise how hard it was. No one wants to help you."

Mihi said employment was keeping her on the straight and narrow and she could turn to drugs and alcohol if she lost her job.

Patricia Walsh had racked up sentences amounting to 20 years imprisonment and had been to jail five times.

She has been out of prison since 2009 and said she lied to get her first job too.

But it put her on a path to get her Bachelor of Social Work and she speaks publicly about how to improve the system.

"Once I got off the P, I felt like maybe I could get a job," she said.

"But I lied - I said I didn't have a criminal conviction - but hey I got myself a cleaning job and I ended up cleaning the wānanga.

"I said to one of the students, 'How do I be one of you?"

Second chance

A reintegration worker who has completed her PhD on life after prison Joy Bullen said it should not be this way.

"For anyone that goes to prison they find that employment means they begin to be imprisoned all over again, they can't get employed because you are a risk," she said.

"So we don't say 'you've served your time, let's move on', we go 'no, you can't be employed because you are risk'."

The Department of Corrections has programmes in place to get prisoners work ready and to help them secure jobs on the outside.

In September, it managed to source jobs for 158 offenders who had been in prison or on community based-sentences.

It's director of employment and reintegration, Stephen Cunningham, said employers were getting on board but not enough of them.

On Tuesday, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis held two hui in Palmerston North where he discussed reintegrating offenders into society.

He urged employers there to take a chance and give jobs to former offenders.

You can hear more about life after prison on Insight, after the 8am news on Sunday with Wallace Chapmam on RNZ.

By Leigh-Marama McLachlan

rnz.co.nz

Prisoner (file picture)
Source: istock.com

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Alcohol warning label to be mandatory to urge risks of drinking while pregnant

All alcoholic drinks in New Zealand will soon have to come with a label warning of the risks of drinking while pregnant.

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation has voted to make the health warnings mandatory.

Food Safety Minister Damien O'Connor, the only New Zealander in the group, said it was the right move.

While the alcohol industry had been voluntarily including warnings, there was no consistency in approach, he said.

Officials will now develop an appropriate standard to be signed off.

rnz.co.nz

pregnant woman holding glass of alcohol
Pregnant woman holding glass of alcohol. Source: iStock

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Dedicated runner's incredible turnaround after nearly coming last in Auckland Marathon

An accountant who was one of the last to finish the Auckland Marathon in 2013 will be lining up for the start along with thousands of others again later this month, now with 47 marathons under his belt.

Mike Stowers has run 42 kilometres 47 times, including 12 ironmans - which means running a marathon then biking 180km and swimming four km.

"Still a 16-hour specialist in the ironman, but I'm getting my money's worth," he told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

"I'm a diesel engine so I chug along."

His motto: "Finishing is winning."

He's also lost kilos, down from 128kgs.

For more of Mike's story of exhaustion, pain and dedication, watch the video above.

Mike Stowers shares his story of exhaustion, pain, and dedication. Source: Seven Sharp


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