Pacific News Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff

CANNABIS REFERENDUM PART OF GREENS' DEAL

New Zealand will have a referendum on legalizing marijuana for personal use as part of the Greens deal with Labor.

An email to party members sets out policies the Greens secured in their confidence and supply agreement.

Drug use will be treated as a health issue and there will be an increase in drug and alcohol treatment funding.

Leader James Shaw said it was time to test public opinion on the question of marijuana for personal use.

"After [the late trade unionist] Helen Kelly’s medicinal cannabis campaign and other moves to move towards a more regulated market model in places like Colorado and Hawai’i and some of the states in Canada ... it does seem that the public mood has shifted.

"So we thought well maybe it is time to put that to the test," Mr. Shaw said.

Ms. Kelly, the former Council of Trade Unions leader, was diagnosed with lung cancer and her attempts to manage led to her battle to get medical cannabis legalized.

Shaw said another part of the Greens' deal with Labor is addressing the gender pay gap in the public service.

"It is time that we deal with it, it is 2017 and actually the gap in the public sector is often worse than it is in the private sector."

He said in some government departments men earn up to 20 percent more than women in the same roles.

The email said there would also be "significant climate action, with a shift towards a net zero carbon emissions economy by 2050."

An independent climate commission will be established and there would be support for a shift in farming to more sustainable land use.

(Source: RNZ)

LABOR-NZ FIRST GOVERNMENT: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

New Zealand has a new Labor-led government in a coalition with New Zealand First - ending nine years of National governments.

New Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will head the Labor-New Zealand First government, supported by the Greens.

Ms. Ardern and Green Party leader James Shaw say they're certain the new government will last the full term.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, speaking shortly before 7pm on Thursday, said it had secured policies to advance economic positions and he wanted to address poverty.

"That's why in the end we chose a coalition government of New Zealand First with the New Zealand Labor party."

The new prime minister, Labor leader Jacinda Ardern, will be New Zealand's second youngest leader.

 The Green Party has ratified the deal offered by Labor and will get three ministers outside Cabinet and one undersecretary. Its leader Shaw said the ministerial responsibilities would relate to climate change, restoring forests and rivers and ending poverty.

Peters has been offered the deputy prime minister role; NZ First will have four ministerial portfolios and one under-secretary position.

 The government was announced shortly before 7p.m. on Thursday, a coalition of Labor and New Zealand First — ending nine years of National governments.

Peters said the government is a coalition between New Zealand First and Labor, which — in turn —has a confidence and supply arrangement with the Greens.

The final results gave National 56 seats, down two on election night, while Labor and the Greens combined had 54 MPs, up two.

(Source: RNZI)

NIUE LANGUAGE IN CRISIS

An academic says the Niue language is at crisis levels with New Zealand-born Niueans not speaking the language of their forefathers.

Niueans are celebrating their language, culture and heritage this week in New Zealand as part of the Pacific Language weeks.

University of Auckland's John McCaffery said he had studied Pacific languages for four decades and believes the Niue language could be gone within five years.

He said less than five per cent of New Zealand-born Niueans could speak their language fluently with youths speaking English at school, work and in the home.

McCaffery said the number of Niuean speakers was in danger of declining further.

"Given that about 80 percent of all Niuean people in New Zealand were born here, and without bilingual schooling the situation is a bit grim to say the least. But having said that, the Niue community appears to be the most enthusiastic, the most supportive and the most determined to do something about the language."

He said while night language classes had their place, the best way to revitalize a language is to incorporate it education curricula from early childhood to secondary school level.

New Zealand's department of statistics says Niuean people were the fourth largest Pacific ethnic group living in New Zealand in 2001, comprising 20,100 or nine percent of New Zealand's Pacific population.

(Source: RNZI)

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