Wellington, May 15,2023
In his post-Cabinet press conference today, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins reiterated the boost to education through 300 additional classrooms built across New Zealand, bringing the total number of new classrooms funded by the government to 3,000.
“Over half of those have already been delivered, and around a thousand more are currently either being built or in the planning stages,” the PM, who had also been the Minister of Education, said.
Hipkins drew a comparison between the state of education infrastructure at present and that bequeathed by the predecessor government. “It’s fair to say that back in 2017 we did inherit a run-down school property portfolio, ageing run-down classrooms that were not fit for learning in, and in many cases were overcrowded,” he noted.
He said since 2017 almost every state school in the country had been upgraded and $2 billion had been spent for that purpose. He cited the case of Ridgway School in Wellington, saying: “We saw just how fantastic some of the new classrooms we’ve invested in are, and the difference that they’re making to teaching and learning.”
Prime Minister Hipkins turned his focus to the billion-dollar cyclone recovery package announced over the weekend, “more than doubling the support the Government has already provided to those regions affected by extreme weather this year.”
He said the government was focused on rebuilding public assets such as roads, rail, and schools.
Hipkins conceded that cyclone recovery was a big cost that ate into the resources earmarked for other initiatives. Since January, after taking charge as prime minister, he had been working to reset the government’s priorities and had reduced “the number of policies and programmes that we are working on.”
He said New Zealanders “haven’t seen the full picture of our plan ahead in terms of what we will be doing instead,” adding that the upcoming Budget will reveal the full story of “our reset and our reprioritisation exercise.”
The PM was reluctant to be drawn into a discussion around the Budget but hinted that it would help New Zealanders “get through the challenging economic situation that we face whilst also making the right investments and building for the future.”
Hipkins said he would be making an announcement in Auckland over the weekend on climate change before traveling to Papua New Guinea to attend the Pacific summit called by US President Joe Biden.
Quizzed about Ohariu MP Greg O’Connor’s remarks made to a Sri Lankan student, when he allegedly said “this is not Sri Lanka,” Hipkins said O’Connor “recalls the conversation differently.”
Hipkins said he had been reassured by the MP that “the inference that has been placed on that conversation is incorrect.”
Venu Menon is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Wellington