Hobson Article - September 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015

As readers of The Hobson will be well aware, Auckland is growing fast.  That’s because we live in a desirable and dynamic city.   While Auckland’s success is something to celebrate, growth does create challenges and it requires considerable investment to manage that growth.

During the past Parliamentary recess I’ve been visiting a number of schools in the Epsom electorate, to check on how they are going and to gather feedback on what the school communities are talking about and what they’re worried about.  Most of them have expanding rolls and are doing well.

I had the pleasure of joining my colleague Hon Nikki Kaye, Associate Minister of Education, to open four new excellent classrooms for Mt Eden Normal School.  The new $1.4 million four classroom block raises the school’s roll capacity from 692 to 799.  

The new classrooms, which are lovely and warm, will provide better, more modern learning spaces for more students. They will also provide more innovative and flexible teaching spaces.

But, of course, it was the 600-odd kids lined up on the school playground that was the memorable thing for me at the opening.  Just like my generation, they were smart and enthusiastic.  They were probably better behaved than we were.  And they were certainly more ethnically diverse.   The thing that made me feel best was to see the unbridled optimism among those faces, and even better to know that optimism is fully justified.

Also in our neighbourhood, the Government has recently announced new classrooms for Remuera School, Newmarket School and Orakei School.  

On the question of growth, one of the things I’m often asked is why the Government doesn’t encourage some of Auckland’s many immigrants to settle in some of the many other parts of New Zealand which battle with population decline.

So I was pleased that the Prime Minister recently announced changes to our immigration settings along those lines.

Under the changes, points awarded for Skilled Migrants with a job outside Auckland will be boosted from 10 points to 30 of the 100 they need to get residency. They will also now need to commit to a region for a year rather than the current three months. 

Entrepreneurs setting up businesses outside Auckland will also double their points from 20 to 40 of the 120 points they need for residency, under the changes. 

The changes will spread the benefit of migration across the country as part of National’s commitment to building a more competitive and productive economy.