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Preventing elder abuse and providing swift, practical help for older New Zealanders who are abused or neglected is a very troubling issue which is why we are making changes to prevention services. I was delighted that Sir Peter Snell accepted my invitation to be patron of our SuperSeniors Champions and as I announced at a Seniors meeting in Takapuna on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Sir Peter will lead our team of 13 Champions to raise awareness of elder abuse, reassure victims that they are not alone and help us to spread the word that from 1 July new elder abuse services will be available and focused on appropriate, timely intervention whenever its needed, along with a new 24/7 toll-free confidential helpline 0800 EA NOT OK or 0800 32 668 65.

Healthy and productive oceans are important to island nations and to those of us living in New Zealand and on a peninsular where the Hauraki Gulf gives us a backdrop our community loves. I recently attended the UN Ocean Conference in New York which aims to galvanise support for combatting marine pollution and using our oceans sustainably. I also signed support for the Ghost Gear Initiative to rid the seas of debris from fishing boats, as well as noting our investigation into banning the sale and manufacture of products with microbeads.

Meanwhile at the exciting Americas Cup racing in Bermuda, Murrays Bay sailor Andy Maloney has impressed us all with his rapid transition into a high-performance ‘cyclor’ showing the fitness and adaptability required in tough competitions. The whole team deserves to take a bow for their efforts, from the shore crew to those on-board Aotearoa New Zealand.

From the giant spirit we’ve shown on the water to one of our most revered forest giants – it was a great pleasure to join Philip Simpson at Devonport Library to launch his outstanding new book on the Tōtara. Philip was awarded a Creative NZ Michael King Writers Fellowship to produce the book about the history of this magnificent tree that’s been a familiar timber. Maori crafted it into waka and fine carvings while Europeans used the resilient wood to build houses, railways and fences. Possums pose a particular threat to the Tōtara and DOC and Creative NZ often work together to raise awareness of the protection of our natural heritage. Through programmes like Predator Free 2050 I want to keep pests away from our native flora, as well as our native birds and I’ll be holding a meeting in August to discuss local predator control projects.
With the school holidays coming up some of you will be planning a winter break overseas. Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee is encouraging those travelling to potential troublespots to sign up to SafeTravel which is an online service to let the government know who is overseas and when. It will help Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade check up in the event that anything goes wrong. Peace of mind and personal safety is an important part of enjoying your overseas experiences so please have a look at to see all the regularly updated travel advisories and to register if you intend to take a break offshore.

I had a constructive meeting with Mary Nixon, the new Principal of Takapuna Grammar School, who is settling in well. She updated me on the $26 million building restoration project, which is progressing well and hopefully the hall at least will be open in time for the Labour Weekend 90th reunion which is set to be a convivial celebration given the family-oriented, multi-generational support base enjoyed by this fine school.

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