2 Nov 2017

Jacinda Ardern in Christchurch

2:32 pm on 2 November 2017

In her first visit to Christchurch as Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has said the government is working on introducing better mental health services for children there, and it will not require legislation.

Watch Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaking to reporters in Christchurch:

Ms Ardern flew to Christchurch after meeting with mayor of Auckland today and said the government's focus for mental health services in Christchurch had been on young people.

"We've already said that we want to make sure that we have a team of 80 professionals who can specialise in supporting children - in particular at primary school level - so children and young people has been a big focus for us.

"We know that there are mental health needs much more broadly . . . but we are going to start with services for kids.

"That's something that doesn't require legislation so that's something we're working on as quickly as we can."

She said the government, and new Health Minister David Clark, were also looking into the Canterbury District Health Board.

"One of the big issues with the Canterbury District Health Board was simply the fact that the relationship with the government had deteriorated so badly.

"Today the Ministry of Health, a week after being sworn in, is down here starting on rebuilding that relationship making sure that we're meeting the health needs in the Canterbury area."

She said she would not speak about the exact fiscal implications for the DHB at this point.

"But I can say you will see a partnership between this government and the CDHB."

"We've always acknowledged that services here have been stretched, particul in terms of mental health. The fact that the minister a week after being sworn in is here shows what a priority fixing these issues are.

She also reiterated the govts commitment to makiing the first year of tertiary study free.

She was asked about increasing education in tourism, but instead highlighted trades as more of a focus.

"There are a number of areas where I'd like to see young people considerign their career options, yes tourism is one of them . . . but there are a number of other areas - I'd place particular emphasis on the trades.

"We need more skilled builders, we need more people training as electricians, we need more plumbers, we need to value the trades because we desperately need them.

Discussions with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday would include refugees on Manus Island.

"But of course that's within our wider commitment generally to make sure that New Zealand is lifting the take of refugees that it supports,

She said she would be keeping the offer of taking 150 refugees from Manus Island on the table.

"Keeping in mind that we have said that we want to double the [refugee] quota over time."

She also spoke about being named the 13th most powerful woman in global politics.

"I don't think it's going to change the expectation that I still unload the dishwasher at home . . . I'm certainly flattered by being included on the list but I'd like to see a lot more women in contention."

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs