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Finance Minister says it will not cost much for Waka Kotahi to use its English name first

Dec 05, 2023

Finance Minister Nicola Willis says it will not cost much for Waka Kotahi to start calling itself by its English name first.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown has instructed the agency to refer to itself as 'New Zealand Transport Agency Waka Kotahi'.

Willis did not say how much the change would cost.

In terms of changing things like letter-heads and signs on buildings Willis said she believed "public servants would be practical and common sense about that which is to do it in a way that absolutely minimises the costs and makes that change as seamlessly as possible".

As part of its coalition agreement with New Zealand First, the National Party agreed all public services would have their primary name in English, except for those specifically related to Māori.

The government's plan to use mainly English names for government departments and agencies is one of the things protesters were reacting against as part of a National Action Day which led to thousands gathering in centres around the country today.

NZ not yet considered signing up to COP28 commitment

There are 118 countries which have signed up to the commitment to triple renewables and double energy efficiency at the UN Climate Change Conference - COP28 - being held in Dubai.

They include the US, Australia, Britain and the European Union.

Willis said New Zealand had not committed because the government was new and had not considered those things yet.

But she said the government was very committed to renewable energy which it planned to double in New Zealand by 2050 and the first steps towards that were in the 100 day plan.

"So these are things that we just need to step through and take advice on before we sign up."

Climate Minister Simon Watts was heading to Dubai this week, she said.

Working for Families boost will compensate some 'cost of living increases'

Willis has confirmed her planned mini-Budget will take place on December 20 and the new government has also announced a boost to Working for Families.

Willis said it would help parents facing rising costs.

"We will be adjusting and increasing the size of family tax credits as well as the size of Best Start payments to families to compensate for some of the cost of living increases they have faced."

Family tax credits are per family and it would benefit up to 264,000 recipients, while the Best Start tax credits are per child and 137,000 recipients would benefit, she said.

From April 1, 2024, the money would go to those families who qualified automatically and they would not have to apply for it, she said.

On National incorrectly stating that there was only one tobacco outlet in Northland when in fact there are 30, Willis again acknowledged they got it wrong.

"What we think staff got confused by was that there would be some towns in Northland with only one outlet."

But she said that was obviously quite different from saying there was only one outlet in Northland.

"So the error is regretted, we've fronted up and we will make sure in the future that we double-check these things."

Main image (RNZ/Angus Dreaver): Nicola Willis has confirmed her planned mini-Budget will take place on December 20.

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