Nicola's News: March 2024

I hope this email finds you well, having enjoyed a happy Easter break with friends and family. It's hard to believe that April is already here. A lot has happened in the first quarter of the year! Our Government has successfully delivered on its 100-day plan, which will pave the way for growth with the elimination of policies that were costly or inefficient.

I am slowly starting to return to MP duties – as and when my 12 week old baby allows!!. In March, I had a great time at the Children's Day and Malvern show, and have spoken at the opening of an art exhibition at Kate Sheppherd House, as well as attended the opening of the multi-million dollar Riverlands pet food plant in Hornby, and the new birthing unit at Christchurch hospital.

School Property Inquiry

Recently, there has been a lot of media coverage regarding the scaling back of expansion plans for schools around the country, including Rolleston College. To provide some context on this issue, the Ministry itself has paused a number of projects once it became evident cost and delivery expectations could not be met. Alongside that subsequent inquiry, the Education Minister has also ordered a Ministerial review focussed on why 350 school building projects are also facing cost blowouts. This includes Rolleston College.

Minister Erica Stanford has chosen three independent reviewers to lead the Ministerial Inquiry into the School Property Function of the Ministry of Education. The outcome of this will help evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the current arrangements.

I want the community to be assured that I have been in constant contact with Principal Rachel Skelton and Minister Stanford to advocate for Rolleston College and to ensure that the Ministry is aware of Selwyn’s needs.

The independent reviewers will submit their final report and recommendations to the Government by June 2024.

European Union Free Trade Agreement

More good news for our local agricultural sector! The European Union Free Trade Agreement Legislation Amendment Bill has received Royal Assent, completing the process for New Zealand's ratification of its free trade agreement with the European Union. It will come into force earlier than expected, from 1 May 2024

The agreement will offer several benefits, including an annual boost to GDP of up to $1.4 billion and an increase of exports to the EU by up to $1.8 billion per year by 2035.

This is fantastic news with several Selwyn-based growers and horticulturalists. Key products to benefit from the EU-FTA include onions, fish and seafood, and honey.

National Medical Travel Assistance Scheme Boost

For Selwyn residents in need of healthcare, the government is delivering an $18 million boost to those who need to travel for specialist treatment. The changes to the National Travel Assistance (NTA) scheme include:

- Mileage rates rising from 28c to 34c a kilometre

- Accommodation rates increasing from $100 to $140 a night.

- Those staying with friends or whānau will receive an increased rate of $35 a night.

- More flexible payment options.

This scheme provides essential financial assistance for those needing to travel for treatments like cancer, renal dialysis, diagnostics, or other complex care that can't be provided locally. Previously, outdated reimbursement rates, a bureaucratic claims process, and local variations have prevented some New Zealanders from accessing it properly. As a result, some families can't afford the upfront costs, so they delay treatment, or choose less effective local treatment.

These changes will be delivered in tranches, with the rate increases and an easier email claim option being implemented from 1 April 2024.


Good news for families! Finance Minister Nicola Willis has announced a new credit that will help parents and caregivers of young children with the rising cost of living. From 1 July, eligible parents can get back up to 25% of their weekly ECE fees, to a maximum of $75 per week.

It's no secret that many families are struggling with high housing, food, and childcare costs these days. This new credit, called FamilyBoost, is a campaign commitment and forms part of the Government's overall tax plan. FamilyBoost will make it easier and more worthwhile for families with young children to work by directly assisting them to pay those ECE fees.

This credit is available to all families earning up to $180,000 with childcare costs, and the maximum repayment will gradually reduce for families earning more than $140,000.

Kāinga Ora Sustaining Tenancies

Housing minister Chris Bishop has instructed Kāinga Ora to take stronger action against tenants who behave badly, and end the Sustaining Tenancies Framework. Along with the Finance Minister Nicola Willis, he has sent a letter to the Board of Kāinga Ora, outlinig heir expectations that it will make sure tenants who misbehave are dealt with more strictly, stop people from falling behind on their rent, get empty homes filled as fast as possible, build enough new homes to help meet targets, and spend money wisely and save when possible.

The Sustaining Tenancies Framework let tenants live in a Kāinga Ora house even if they were rude, violent, or damaged the house, this was a problem because there were hundreds of complaints every month, but hardly any tenants were kicked out. He wants Kāinga Ora to change the rules. The total amount of rent owed to Kāinga Ora went up from $1 million to $21 million between 2017 and 2023.

There are over 25,000 people waiting for a home. We are wanting to ensure tenants are respectful of their neighbours and paying rent on time.

Here to help

As always, my team and I are here and available to help.

You can get in touch with us by emailing [email protected], phone 03 344 2800, or pop into the office in Rolleston Square between Monday and Fridays, 10:00am - 4:00pm.

Kind regards,

Nicola Grigg