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Monday, October 31

Nats target Te Puni Kokiri.

The National Party wants a full review of the Ministry of Maori Development which accuses of frivolous and excessive expenditure. Te Puni Kokiri has released a Kapa Haka CD which reportedly gets played in lifts in a bid to boost staff morale. National Party Maori Affairs Spokesman Gerry Brownlee says his party will be using the select committee process to instigate a full inquiry into the ministry's activities and expenditure. He says most taxpaying New Zealanders will agree that elevator music is not a good use of their money. Te Puni Kokiri has admitted it spent up to $50,000 on the project, saying playing the CD in lifts is an attempt to boost staff morale. Mr Brownlee says the government has known for some time there are problems within the organisation but has yet to do anything about them.

Aussie netballers in disarray.

Former Australian netball captain Vicki Wilson believes her side is in a state of disarray less than five months out from the start of the Commonwealth Games. Wilson believes the combinations in the Aussie team thrashed by the Silver Ferns on Saturday were all wrong. Arguably one of Australia's greatest players, Wilson is questioning the lineup coach Norma Plummer put out. She says Plummer left out specialist mid-courters for a start, and tried players out of position. Wilson says the moment Jess Shynn took the court at wing attack, with Eloise Southby-Halbish at goal shoot, she knew they would suffer. She says Shynn usually plays at centre, and together the pair do not have enough speed. Vicki Wilson says even in their right positions, the Australian squad just does not match this current New Zealand team.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

New routes for Pacific Blue.

Pacific Blue launches two new routes to the Pacific Islands this week. The airline's inaugural Auckland to Tonga flight took off earlier this morning. The Auckland to Rarotonga service begins tomorrow.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

PM comments on TVNZ row.

The Prime Minister denies any interference from the government at TVNZ. Departing CEO Ian Fraser has lashed out at the board of the state broadcaster. He believes it is meddling in day-to-day operations. It is understood things came to a head when the board asked Mr Fraser to take over responsibility for negotiating salaries for top news presenters. Helen Clark says there has not been any coercion from the government about the size of some TVNZ pay packets. But she says the public looks askance at some of the salaries being paid right across the public sector, and you would expect a board to keep the public's interest in mind.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Kmart poised to expand.

Four years ago it was up for sale, now Kmart is poised to expand its New Zealand operations. The Australian Financial Review says the chain's Australian owner Coles Myer has written to New Zealand shareholders saying the company plans more store openings. At the moment Kmart has 13 stores here, most in the North Island. However they have struggled in competition with The Warehouse and other retailers. The Warehouse looked at buying the chain in 2001, but backed away, saying the price was too steep.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Outside managers for 88 schools.

More schools than ever are under the control of outside managers, as boards and principals run into financial, governance and curriculum problems. Eighty-eight secondary and primary schools are under some form of statutory intervention – with managers, advisers and, in extreme cases, commissioners put in to help. At the beginning of this year, 79 schools had outside help, compared with 67 the year before, 41 in 2003 and 17 in 2002, the year it started. The Education Ministry can appoint statutory managers or specialist advisers if it is concerned about a school's operation, or the welfare and education of pupils. Schools can also request help to deal with financial or employment problems.
Source:Dominion Post

Injured soldier evacuated to Germany.

A New Zealand soldier injured in an explosion in Afghanistan is on his way to a military hospital in Germany today. He left Kabul this morning on a coalition aircraft configured for medical evacuations, accompanied by a New Zealand army doctor, the Defence Force said. The accident occurred when a device detonated while a group of soldiers was clearing old munitions. The soldier suffered lacerations to his lower body, mainly to his feet.
Source: NZPA

Money from US$100m lotto scam 'hidden in NZ'.

US authorities want to seize more than $18 million from a New Zealand bank, after a Vanuatu conman was convicted in Memphis, Tennessee, last week for his part in a US$100 million ($142 million) international lottery scam. US District Judge Bernice Donald found Robert Murray Bohn, of Vanuatu, guilty last Wednesday of racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and mail fraud, which she said was committed in the course of laundering money from the lottery fraud. Federal prosecutors have recovered US$16 million from the scam?s engineers, and hope Bohn?s conviction will help them get US$13 million more from a New Zealand bank, Memphis newspaper Commercial Appeal reports.
Source: NZPA

Sharks may mistake swimmers for NZ fur seals.

Increased numbers of shark attacks on humans in Australia may be partly due to the spread there of New Zealand fur seals, says a marine biologist. A significant increase in New Zealand fur seals in Australian waters over the past two decades has provided a good source of food for sharks, Scoresby Shepherd, a marine biologist at a South Australian research institute told The Australian newspaper. Dr Shepherd said the higher number of seals could have contributed to the increased numbers of attacks on swimmers and surfers.
Source: NZPA

Sunday, October 30

New political correctness spokesman already making his mark.

National's new Political Correctness spokesman is already making waves. Wayne Mapp was appointed to the position in National's front bench reshuffle. Many thought the new role was tongue and cheek, but he is taking it very seriously. He has already criticised the recent ant-smoking laws and now he is inviting the public to come to him with any concerns they have about PC. Wayne Mapp says getting the issues into the public arena may be the way to solve them. He says he is going to research everything from bans on lolly scrambles because somebody might get hit on the head with a lolly, to controls on free speech.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

TVNZ chief resigns, cites political interference.

Beleaguered TVNZ chief executive Ian Fraser has quit the state broadcaster, saying he has "lost confidence" in his politically-appointed board. Mr Fraser, who has been at the helm of TVNZ through three and half stormy years, offered his resignation following a board meeting on Friday. TVNZ bosses had been set to meet him tomorrow to persuade him to change his mind, it was reported earlier. However, Mr Fraser released a statement today confirming he had told the chairman of his intention to resign.

Pregnant grandmother wants ACC payout.

A grandmother who fell pregnant after having her tubes tied is expected to lodge a claim for "personal injury" compensation - the second case of its type in a fortnight. The woman's claim follows the case of a 31-year-old reported in the Herald on Sunday last week who won court backing to claim compensation for her pregnancy as a"personal injury" after having her tubes tied. The woman's initial compensation claim was denied but she appealed, resulting in the district court judgment. ACC has since appealed to the High Court. It is yet to be decided whether compensation would be sought for the period of the pregnancy or the course of the child's life. In his decision, Wellington District Court judge John Cadenhead found the 31-year-old woman's pregnancy could be considered a "personal injury" and she had the right to lodge a claim with ACC.

NZ humiliates Australia in netball Test.

Australia's netballers say they can still close the gulf between them and New Zealand in time for the Commonwealth Games after crashing to a record defeat in Auckland. Coach Norma Plummer said she was looking for a hole to hide in after the Silvers Ferns thumped Australia 61-36 in a game where captain Liz Ellis was carried off the court with a game-ending knee injury in her record test appearance. The 25-point margin in front of a full house at Trusts Stadium was New Zealand's biggest ever victory over Australia, beating a 24-year-old record. At one stage the Silver Ferns looked like eclipsing the greatest historical margin between the two teams of 31 goals set by Australia in 1948.
©AAP 2005
click HERE for full story

NZ producer on LA's red carpet.

A movie funded by a first-time Christchurch producer, and starring her daughter in a lead role, screened in Hollywood on Saturday night. Meet Me In Miami, produced by Lisa Abbott, is up for a top prize in the Los Angeles International Film Festival. "The Italian producers couldn't come up with the funding, so the movie was just going to fall by the wayside unless someone came in and took it over," says Lisa Abbott. So Abbott moved the entire production, including the Latino stars, from California to Christchurch. Three years later the movie has now been chosen as a finalist in the Los Angles International Film Festival, which means a trip to the red carpet for the film's producers and stars.
Source:One News

Israel to reopen NZ embassy.

ISRAEL is to reopen an embassy in New Zealand, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said Friday, signalling a further warming in once chilly relations between the two. The relationship took a frosty turn after two suspected Israeli spies were arrested in March 2004 and charged with trying to fraudulently obtain New Zealand passports. Uriel Zoshe Kelman and Eli Cara were convicted in July last year, then deported last September after serving two months of their six-month prison sentences. Israel closed its embassy in Wellington in 2002 for cost cutting reasons and has since then conducted its diplomatic business with New Zealand from Australia. New Zealand suspended diplomatic relations following the passport conviction, with Prime Minister Helen Clark saying they would not be restored until Israel apologised. In August a statement of regret arrived and Israel's new ambassador to New Zealand was later accredited.
Copyright 2005 News Limited

New Zealand soldier hurt in Afghanistan blast.

A New Zealand soldier was hurt in an explosion at a Coalition base in Afghanistan today. A Defence Force spokesman said the soldier suffered lower body injuries while ordinance was being moved for disposal. An explosive device detonated during handling. The soldier was part of a New Zealand Special Air Service deployment on operations in Afghanistan. He was treated at the scene and evacuated to a Coalition medical facility. The soldier's injuries are not life threatening. His next of kin have been informed. No further information was available.

Michael Campbell thinking of becoming British citizen.

New Zealand Golf star Michael Campbell is thinking seriously about becoming a British citizen. Campbell is a descendent of Sir Logan Campbell, a Scot and a resident of Brighton in southern England The US Open champion said: "I've lived in England for 12 years and my great-great-great grandfather was Scottish, so come on Tony Blair, give me membership. "If there was a chance of dual citizenship, I'd take it."

Saturday, October 29

Netball-Silver Ferns beat Australians 61-36.

The Silver Ferns have blown Australia off the court in the one-off test in Auckland. New Zealand took control early and did not relinquish it, winning 61-36 over the old foe. Having led 29-15 at halftime, the Silver Ferns went on to win by a record margin of 25 points, dominating throughout the court. It is New Zealand's seventh win over Australia in its last nine matches.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Flag of Turkey to fly on Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Auckland Harbour Bridge will fly the flag of Turkey tomorrow in recognition of the Turkish National Day. The flag will fly from dawn until dusk on Saturday 29 October. Transit considers requests from nations wanting to commemorate their country?s national days. Recently the flags of Austria, India and Switzerland have been flown from the bridge.

Rare NZ Stamps Under The Hammer.

The first ever postage stamps sold in New Zealand 150-years ago are going under the hammer today. People have come from all over the country and the world to bid on the one penny, two penny and one shilling 1855 Queen Victoria stamps. Stamp dealer John Mowbray says they should fetch a good price. He has estimated the stamps are worth between $500 and $3500. He says he expects around 50 to 60 people at the auction, although hundreds of bidders will be taking part by phone and email.
Copyright 2005 Newstalk ZB News.

First hihi chicks hatch on mainland in 120 years.

A pair of hihi, or stitchbird, notched up a conservation milestone in Wellington this week when they hatched the first chicks recorded on the mainland in more than 120 years. The endangered native bird was confined to just a few islands, until the release of 64 at Karori Wildlife Sanctuary earlier this year marked the hihi's return to the wild on the mainland. "Seeing the hihi breed in the sanctuary, and in fact for the first time in the wild on mainland New Zealand, is certainly a significant event for the sanctuary and New Zealand conservation," sanctuary chief executive Nancy McIntosh-Ward said. "This species has done particularly well since they were released at the sanctuary in February and May this year," she said. The mild winter in Wellington had prompted hihi and many other species, such as bellbird, saddleback and brown teal to produce chicks up to a month earlier than normal.

Rugby-ABs face media barrage in UK.

The All Blacks have arrived in the UK to a barrage of questions over the controversial Lions tour spear tackle on Brian O'Driscoll and the allegations of foul play leveled at Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu. Coach Graham Henry has fiercely defended his side once again, with the British media fixated on the new video footage of the incident released during the week. Henry says these things happen in rugby, it was not done deliberately, they feel for O'Driscoll - but what else can they say. Almost the entire media conference on the team's arrival in Cardiff was taken up with questions about Gavin Henson's book and the Brian O'Driscoll saga.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Christchurch firm mystified over oil-for-food naming.

A Christchurch man whose company is among those named in a report detailing massive corruption in the United Nations' oil-for-food programme says he did nothing wrong. Yesterday, the Independent Inquiry Committee report named 2400 companies internationally, including Christchurch's Ecroyd Beekeeping Supplies Ltd, which it says illegally profited from trading with the regime under the oil-for-food programme. Stuart Ecroyd, who runs Ecroyd Beekeeping Supplies Ltd in Burnside, told The Press he was asked by the UN to supply $700,000 worth of beekeeping equipment to Saddam Hussein's Government and did so with the knowledge of the New Zealand Government three years ago. "Three years ago we sent an order of beekeeping equipment to the Iraqi government. "It was through the UN – they were paying for it. They were paying the bill and they gave us the order."
Source:The Press

Govt has new plan for farm walkways.

The Government has resurrected its plan to create public walkways beside rivers crossing farmland – believed to be one of the main reasons it lost rural seats in the election. Farmers marched on Parliament to present a 26,000-signature petition against the proposal and ill-feeling over it is likely to have contributed to former agriculture minister Jim Sutton's loss of his electorate seat. Mr Sutton sidelined the issue before the election, but the new minister, Jim Anderton, has kicked it back into play. He wants public access to what he calls "iconic" rivers and coastal foreshores and is forming a committee of all interested parties to find a means to allow renewed legislation. He had no preconceived ideas about what form access should take, but people's rights to rivers and the foreshore should be protected, he said.
Source:Dominion Post

Vetting keeps hundreds out.

The number of asylum-seekers making it to NZ has plummeted, partly due to airline passenger screening introduced after the September 11 atrocities. The Advanced Passenger Screening system, designed to improve border security, began in August 2003. Since then 800 people, not all asylum seekers, have been stopped from coming to NZ, says Deputy Secretary of Labour Mary-Anne Thompson. The system picks up passport and visa discrepancies and people can be stopped in another country from boarding an aircraft to New Zealand. Since 2000, the number of asylum-seekers has fallen from about 2500 annually to 500 for the 2004-2005 year.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Friday, October 28

Maori crime rate concerns Government.

The high proportion of offending by Maori is rated "a significant concern" by the Ministry of Justice. It noted in its annual report today that though Maori form just 14.5 per cent of New Zealand's population, half the prison population and 45 per cent of offenders serving community-based sentences identify themselves as Maori. The ministry said it was working with communities and iwi on initiatives to reduce Maori offending. Dealing with crime generally, the ministry reported that recorded crime continued a downward trend in the 12 months to June this year. There was a 7 per cent reduction across all offences, while police resolutions remained relatively stable at 44 per cent.

Statue theft could be copycat.

The taking of Napier's iconic Pania of the reef statue could be a copycat theft. The statute, which has graced Napier's waterfront for more than fifty years, was reported missing yesterday morning, having been stolen overnight. It has still not been found. Earlier this month a large bronze sculpture weighing more than a tonne was stolen from outside a restaurant at Waikanae, 60km north-east of Wellington, then anonymously returned after money was paid. Napier Detective John McGregor said police could not rule out the possibility the theft of Pania was the work of copycats looking for a ransom.
click HERE for full story

Locals face off against Toll in ferry dispute.

Marlborough Sounds residents came face to face in the Environment Court yesterday with Toll, whose vessels they say are destroying their environment and endangering their lives. They told the Blenheim hearing of near misses, injuries and erosion as ferries ply the confined waters of Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte Sound. The court is considering objections to the council's proposed Variation 3, which would require large vessels wanting to sail more than 15 knots (27kmh) through the Marlborough Sounds to apply for resource consent and meet the council's wave height criteria. Guardian of the Sounds spokesman Peter Beech, who led last month's protest flotilla against ferry speed, told the court nothing less than a 15 knot speed limit was acceptable.
Source: The Marlborough Express

BBC programmes to showcase NZ.

New Zealand is about to come under the spotlight as one of the world's biggest broadcasters, the BBC, heads here to start filming. A crew will arrive in New Zealand next month to film three items to be shown on BBC television during the Chelsea Flower Show next May. Last year was the first time New Zealand entered the 92-year-old Chelsea Flower Show but the entry – the Garden of Wellbeing – won a gold medal. The North Island-inspired garden used native ferns and trees, Maori culture and geothermal landscapes and was one of only six gardens the Queen chose to visit. This year, Tourism New Zealand is working with garden designer Xanthe White on a second entry. The BBC will film at the Ellerslie Flower Show where New Zealand's entry for next year's Chelsea Flower Show will be launched.
Source:Dominion Post

Thursday, October 27

Church services sidestep so congregation can watch rugby.

Rugby is arguably one of our most popular religions and it seems at least one Tauranga church agrees. Greerton Bible Church is scrapping its Sunday church services in favour of supporting the men in black - with the congregation due to watch the All Blacks Grand Slam Tour on a big screen instead. The Chadwick Rd church's senior Pastor Russell Embling said the event, dubbed the Big Screen Grand Slam Tour, would replace its regular weekly service each Sunday throughout November. "A lot of people are going to watch the All Black games on Sunday morning, so we figured if we can't beat 'em, join 'em. "Rugby and the All Blacks are a big part of Kiwi culture, there's no denying that." Churchgoers will instead have the option to attend a Friday night service at 7pm during November. The Grand Slam - in which the All Blacks go head-to-head with Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland - was last attempted in 1983.

NZ's economic growth to slow sharply - poll.

New Zealand's economic growth is expected to slow sharply this year as a ballooning current account deficit, strong currency and the industrialised world's highest interest rates take their toll, a Reuters poll shows. However, economists are less pessimistic about this year's growth prospects than they were in a July poll because of the strength of domestic consumption and business investment. The economy is expected to grow 2.5 per cent in 2005, the poll of 10 research houses found, higher than July's 2.3 per cent forecast, but well off 4.4 per cent growth in 2004. Growth is seen slowing further in 2006 to 2.1 per cent, unchanged from the median view in July's survey. A convergence of unpalatable factors has some economists saying a hard landing, or even a recession, awaits New Zealand.

Typing error has Israel "admit" to NZ spy mission.

JERUSALEM, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Israel has blamed a clerical error for a government statement that appeared to admit that its Mossad intelligence agency operated in New Zealand last year. The arrest in Auckland of two Israelis who confessed to trying to obtain a New Zealand passport fraudulently soured diplomatic ties. Israel apologised over the incident but made no comment on Wellington's charges that the men were spies. Announcing talks on Wednesday between Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and New Zealand Ambassador Jan Henderson, a government statement noted that the meeting would be the first of its kind "since the incident with the Mossad". Asked if this constituted an official admission, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said "incident with the Mossad" should have been in inverted commas to reflect that, as far as Israel is concerned, espionage is a New Zealand allegation. Uriel Kelman and Eli Cara were arrested in March 2004 and pleaded guilty to assuming the identity of a bed-ridden Auckland man and attempting to order a passport in his name. They were jailed for three months and deported. New Zealand authorities were tipped off when a passport clerk reported the foreign accent of one of the Israelis.

Judge endorses under-age liquor stings.

Police sting operations on liquor stores have been endorsed by a Rotorua High Court judge. The police lodged an appeal after the Liquor Licensing Authority refused to suspend the license of a Taupo bottle store, which had sold alcohol to a 17-year-old volunteer during a police operation last November. The authority was concerned that when asked by the manager if she was over 18, the volunteer replied "of course." Her identification was not checked. Justice Winkelman concluded that the manager was faced with "a fair replication" of a situation regularly faced by liquor shop staff. Police say the high court decision reinforces the idea that police operations are not an artificial entrapment. The Taupo case will be heard again by the Liquor Licensing Authority

Netball-Personal milestone for Irene van Dyk.

The fact Silver Ferns shooter Irene van Dyk is about to become the world's most capped netballer means little to the player herself. Van Dyk will gain the title in Saturday's test against Australia, which will be her 129th international match. She concedes the number does not mean a great deal and says, hopefully, there will be many more games to come for her. Irene van Dyk says she has an unbelievable passion for netball, so Saturday is like any other international, full of excitement. It is also expected to be a physical match, with the Australians having had a dig at New Zealand after their loss in June, highlighting their physical style of game, and bringing it up again when they arrived in the country a couple of days ago. However, the Silver Ferns will not be toning it down in Auckland on Saturday, and van Dyk says neither of the teams are angelic, and what comes around goes around. She will not be surprised if she is a target on Saturday, but says the goal attacks have been working to counter that.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Famous statue stolen- Napier's Pania of the Reef stolen overnight.

Napier's iconic Pania of the Reef has been stolen. The Marine Parade statue is modelled on a 13-year-old local Maori girl and has been there since 1954. Senior Sergeant Tony Dewhurst says a crime scene investigator is examining the site. Police believe the statue was stolen overnight. According to Maori mythology, Pania was a beautiful maiden of the sea. The statue, at the northern end of the Parade, has been a much-photographed tourist attraction. MP for Napier, National's Chris Tremain, says he cannot believe someone would have the audacity to take it. He says it is unacceptable and the people of Napier want it back. He says Pania of the Reef is a key part of Marine Parade and the city.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Giant Chinese space-tracking ship makes rare visit.

A big Chinese space-tracking ship bristling with satellite dishes is on a rare but low-key visit. The 21,000-tonne Yuan Wang II and its 470 crew are stocking up on supplies in Auckland after a month in the Pacific. The vessel was monitoring a five-day flight of the Shenzhou 6 capsule and its two astronauts. The Chinese consulate in Auckland was guarded yesterday about the purpose of the week-long visit of the Yuan Wang II, saying it was unable to confirm the ship's involvement in the space programme.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

NZers may face end of ancestral visas to UK.

New Zealanders who have been relying on having a British-born grandma or grandpa to gain easy access to the EU may find the route blocked. The Times reported yesterday that a rejig of immigration rules could end the entry and settlement rights of New Zealanders and other Commonwealth citizens with British grandparents. Many New Zealanders have relied on an "ancestral-visa" scheme to be allowed to enter Britain and work there. In Wellington, British High Commission spokesman Bryan Nicolson said immigration policies were constantly under review. The high commission had asked London to clarify the changes being signalled in newspaper reports. The Times reported that a new points-based system could end the ancestral-visa scheme.
Source: NZPA

Brash appoints political correctness eradicator.

National has created the menacing-sounding role of "political correctness eradicator" to counter the Government's "PC" culture that it says is eroding New Zealanders' rights and freedoms. The role is the creation of party leader Don Brash, who has given Wayne Mapp, ranked number 14 in the National line-up announced yesterday, the eradication job. Dr Mapp, who holds a PhD in international law, gave a speech in June about getting rid of the politically correct culture. This impressed Dr Brash so much he decided to create the role. In that speech Dr Mapp said political correctness ran counter to the "basic freedoms of society". "A person, an institution or a government is politically correct when they cease to represent the interests of the majority and become focused on the cares and concerns of minority sector groups."
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

NZ researchers hope to unravel dolphin DNA.

Research which analyses the DNA of New Zealand bottlenose dolphins may help with the long-term conservation of the species. Analysis of DNA inherited from dolphins' mothers will reveal if there are any connections between different populations of dolphins here and around the Pacific Ocean. This information would help with the management of the dolphins, Gabriela de Tezanos Pinto, a PhD student based at the University of Auckland's School of Biological Sciences, said. Three small and isolated populations had been identified in the coastal waters of New Zealand at Northland, Marlborough Sound and Fiordland.
Source: NZPA

NZers think fireworks' sales are a fizzer - survey.

More than half of New Zealanders think fireworks should not be available for sale, a survey for the New Zealand Fire Service has revealed. The service said the results came at a time when the number of fireworks-related fires had tripled in the past four years. The number of fireworks sold in New Zealand each year had also increased. Fireworks go on sale from today (October 27), ahead of Guy Fawkes Day on November 5. In a statement yesterday, the Fire Service said 54 per cent of those surveyed thought no-one should be able to buy them over the counter.
Source: NZPA

Wednesday, October 26

Brits vote NZ favourite place on earth

Readers of London's Daily Telegraph newspaper have voted New Zealand as their favourite place on earth, for the second year in a row. More than 25,000 readers were polled in Britain's biggest survey of travel habits and the results were announced at the eighth Telegraph Travel Awards reception at the Royal Opera House in London. The readers who named New Zealand as their favourite place, listed South Africa and Australia as their second and third choices.

Air NZ to start direct flights to Adelaide.

Air New Zealand will start direct flights between Auckland and Adelaide from March next year. Air NZ will operate three direct flights a week between the centres - flying on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The airline is the first international carrier to commit to the Adelaide airport's new $260 million terminal, which will officially open this Friday. Air New Zealand will use its new Airbus A320 on the route.

Footnote Dancers Take Off!.

Four of New Zealand's top young contemporary dancers from Footnote Dance Company head to the UK this week to immerse themselves in the international contemporary dance world. The opportunity to embark on an intensive month-long work-out with some of the best contemporary dance companies and choreographers in the world is a professional development initiative instigated by Footnote's Director Deirdre Tarrant and is a New Zealand dance-sector "first".

NZ’s biggest annual stamp auction.

The first postage stamps ever issued in New Zealand 150 years ago are among nearly 1200 lots to go under the hammer at Mowbray’s major international $1.3 million stamp auction in Wellington on Saturday. The sale by publicly-listed Mowbray’s is easily New Zealand’s biggest annual stamp auction. The penny, two penny and one shilling 1855 full-face Queen Victoria stamps were the first New Zealand postage stamps ever sold in this country. Up for auction at the West Plaza Hotel on Friday are five one shilling stamps, one penny stamp and eight two penny stamps, all from 1855. The dull carmine-coloured one penny stamp, on its own, is expected to fetch $3500.

CYF workers strike for more pay.

More than 300 Child Youth and Family workers are striking on Wednesday for more pay. The National Union for Public Employees says some of the workers earn only a dollar more than the minimum hourly rate and have been offered a pay rise that is less than the rate of inflation..

Tonga under pressure to go for democracy

Royal-ruled Tonga is coming under pressure from New Zealand to head toward democracy after a crippling public service strike in the kingdom this year. Prime Minister Helen Clark confirmed this yesterday before meeting the Tongan delegation at the 16-nation Pacific Forum summit in Papua New Guinea. Tonga has sent only its low-ranking Foreign Minister Tua Taumoepeau Tupou to this week's summit. King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV's youngest son and prime minister, Ulukalala Lavaka Ata, was expected to attend and though he has left Nuku'alofa, officials in Papua New Guinea say they do not know if he will show up.
Source:Dominion Post

E-passport could be introduced later this year.

An "e-passport" containing biometric data and an embedded chip should be introduced before the middle of next year, the Department of Internal Affairs says. The United States has requested that countries that are part of its visa waiver programme include biometric data such as digital photographs and fingerprints by October next year. The Department of Internal Affairs annual report, released this week, says live trials of a New Zealand "e-passport" are already being conducted in the United States, and such a passport should be introduced by July 1 next year. The US requested the new standards after reviewing security in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Source: NZPA

Kiwifruit poisoned in mystery attack.

A Katikati orchardist has lost a $50,000 kiwifruit crop in a poison attack on his land. Eric Hutchinson contacted police when a 1ha block of kiwifruit withered and died in 24 hours. Mr Hutchinson suspected the vines had been sabotaged with poisonous spray. Samples sent to a laboratory in Hamilton confirmed his suspicion, showing that the plants had been doused in the potent weedkillers Roundup and Buster. Mr Hutchinson believes he knows who is responsible for destroying his vines. "I think it's a person who's had a grudge with somebody else and they've got the wrong orchard."
Source: NZPA

Tuesday, October 25

Flood recovery team to assess damage.

Gisborne's flood recovery team will meet farmers and vegetable processors to get a more accurate assessment of damage and losses from last Friday's severe rain storm, before preparing a report for the government. Almost 300 millimetres of rain fell in 24 hours in the Gisborne East Coast region last Friday, causing flooding on more than 2,000 hectares of land on the Poverty Bay and Tolaga Bay flats. The rainfall was almost as great as Cyclone Bola in 1988 which cost the region more than $50 million. Gisborne region flood recovery manager John Clarke says the heavy rain and flooding damaged an estimated 3,000 hectares of crops.

Secrets safe in Taranaki pub.

A 70-year-old safe in a Taranaki pub has refused to give up its secrets to an expert safecracker this weekend. The safe, which was found at the Stony River Tavern, has foiled the best attempts of safecracker John Levestam and his vault-busting technology. It was found by builders earlier this year. It is believed to be older than World War Two, and it seems nothing short of World War Three will open it. The frustrated locksmith - with 300 successful openings to his name - suspects he's battling supernatural security. "There must be something wrong with the lock. Or there's a ghost that doesn't want it opened." Levestam used a computerised code cracker which, for the second time, tried all the million possible combinations for the lock to no avail.
Source:One News

Police recruit school leavers, British.

Police are about to start a major recruitment drive to attract new officers from among school-leavers and hopeful immigrants from the UK. A team is flying to England on Tuesday to interview some of the 2,000 British applicants for training as police officers, only about 100 of which will be accepted. In New Zealand, for the first time in decades recruiting staff are preparing to lure school leavers into the force. Police human resources' Wayne Annan says the latest group of raw recruits at Porirua police college have an average age of 28. But from next year recruits could be as young as 18 years old. "It provides an opportunity for us to employ the younger people and for them to start an early career in the police."
Source:One News

Skifield Finances On Thin Ice.

A South Island skifield has asked its members to open their wallets and hearts to ensure its survival. Temple Basin near Arthur's Pass is on the brink of insolvency after a less-than-plentiful ski season. They have asked members and the wider community to help save the skifield for 2006 and the following years. Committee spokesman Geoff Turner says they have struck a cashflow problem. He says they expect the club will be unable to pay its bills by February.
Copyright 2005 Newstalk ZB News.

Queensland taxes NZ incomers.

New Zealanders moving to Queensland face an extra tax to help the state bail out its troubled health system. In his mini budget today, Premier Peter Beattie will announce a 'newcomers tax' - a two to three thousand dollar charge on a house purchase for anyone moving from other states or overseas. Mr Beattie wants to raise an extra $1.5 billion dollars. Most of the 25,000 foreigners who move to Queensland each year are New Zealanders. Shadow Health Minister Bruce Flegg says Mr Beattie is appealing to Queenslanders' parochialism in an attempt to blame immigrants for the health system's financial woes. He says he is forgetting that half the health budget is paid for by the Federal government, and taxes in the state have been increasing by four times the rate of inflation in recent years. Dr Flegg says the proposed legislation also ignores the fact newcomers already pay heavy stamp duty on property and pay income tax.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Monday, October 24

Clark pushing PNG to play leadership role.

PORT MORESBY - Prime Minister Helen Clark will urge Papua New Guinea to play a stronger leadership role in the Pacific during talks today. She is spending today meeting PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and other ministers and officials ahead of the Pacific Forum starting tomorrow. Helen Clark is expected to encourage PNG to be a regional leader and will discuss the need for the Pacific region to cooperate better -- as suggested under the Pacific Plan which the forum's 16 members will decide to sign up to or not. PNG is the Pacific's largest island country with about 5.5 million people. However, it suffers from poverty, crime and has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the Pacific. New Zealand has pledged $30 million over three years to raise living standards.
Source: NZPA

Kumara the hot potato in UK.

The kumara, that gnarled old favorite, enemy of the vegetable peeler and friend of the roasting pan, is up for a top United Kingdom food award as the choice of the health-conscious gourmet. The sweet potato has been shortlisted in the fresh produce category of the Q-Awards in London that recognise taste, quality, packaging, presentation, value for money and nutrition. Dargaville-based co-operative Delta Produce has increased kumara exports to the UK since 2003 from four containers a year to one every week to 10 days. Delta general manager David Jones expects exports this year to hit $1 million, a significant boost to the $30 million industry. "It's selling very well with its profile boosted by chefs such as Jamie Oliver ... and now it's been shortlisted for the Q-Awards."
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Mt Taranaki eruption overdue say scientists.

Mt Taranaki is "overdue" to erupt and researchers say when it does it is likely to cover much of the North Island in a blanket of ash and disrupt airports, power and water supplies. The volcano has shown little or no sign of activity for 200 years, but new research by Dr Shane Cronin, of the Institute of Natural Resources at Massey, suggests it has erupted at least once every 90 years on average for the past 9000 years, with a major eruption every 500 years. The research indicated the last major eruption was in 1655 with smaller eruptions recorded in 1755 and possibly the early 1800s.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd
click HERE for full story

PM's minder in drink-driving chase.

One of Helen Clark's police bodyguards was in the passenger seat of a Porsche that careered around a posh Auckland suburb with a drunk policeman at the wheel. The mid-afternoon spin in the Porsche Boxter through Remuera was so fast that pursuing police pulled out of the chase leaving the Eagle helicopter to track the car. The car reached speeds of at least 100km/h in 50km/h zones during the bizarre incident last Monday. The driver was stood down from his duties and has since appeared in court, pleading guilty to drink-driving, reckless driving and failing to stop. The actions of the diplomatic protection officer who went along for the ride are now under scrutiny.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Cause of plane crash that killed Kiwi pilot a mystery.

A New Zealand pilot has been killed in a mystery plane crash in Namibia that left the small plane he was flying a charred wreck. Dougal Williamson, aged in his late 30s, and his Australian colleague Ian Payne, who were working for Perth-based geophysical surveying company GPX, were killed when their Cessna 210 crashed on a farm south of the capital Windhoek on Thursday morning. The experienced pilots were six weeks into a low-altitude flying programme assessing the region for mineral deposits. Mr Williamson was the co-pilot in the two-man team, but was reportedly flying the plane at the time of the crash.
Source:Dominion Post

MP backs drinking-age bill.

A campaign to have the legal drinking age raised from 18 to 20 – floundering after the MP backing it lost his seat – has a new face pushing to make it law. Hamilton Labour MP Martin Gallagher has stepped up to take over former Progressive MP Matt Robson's bill. Gallagher voted for the Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction) Bill, which would make it illegal for under-20s to buy alcohol, during its first reading in June.

Sunday, October 23

Air NZ warns of more cuts.

Air New Zealand's short-haul aircraft maintenance base in Christchurch will close as quickly as the airline's Auckland-based heavy aircraft operation if it does not stay competitive. And although the Christchurch operation was now a good business, the airline's group general manager for ventures, Craig Sinclair said, the airline - and its 800 workers in Christchurch - were taking nothing for granted. Air NZ last week announced plans to outsource its wide-bodied jet maintenance and close some engineering operations at the cost of 600 jobs. Qantas is likely to follow suit. The airline said on Friday night it was "considering a substantial restructure" of its engineering and maintenance operations. Media reports said Qantas planned to send more than 3000 highly skilled maintenance job overseas unless it got concessions from its workforce.
Source:Sunday Star Times

Cricket-Kiwis thrash SA (South Africa) in tour opener

It was first blood to New Zealand, when they achieved a comfortable five wicket victory over South Africa in the Pro20 match at the Wanderers yesterday. Chasing a small target of 134 for victory, the visitors achieved this score with two overs to spare. The South Africans had a disastrous start to their international season, when they suffered an embarrassing collapse, after being sent in to bat.

Horomia visits flooded area.

Gisborne looks likely to get government help with the huge clean-up operation following this weekend's floods. Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia is taking a drive this morning with Gisborne's mayor Meng Foon to survey the damage. Mr Horomia says he will be reporting back to Cabinet on ways the Government can be involved.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Dumb and Dumber - the picture of stupidity.

United States federal prosecutors have released photos of the so-called "Dumb and Dumber" bank robbers - which includes Kiwi Anthony Prince - posing for the camera while holding stacks of stolen cash. Prince - a 20-year-old New Zealander with Australian residency - and Luke Carroll, 19, were sentenced to prison last month after pleading guilty to robbing a bank in Vail. The men, who were working at a Vail ski shop, were dubbed "Dumb and Dumber" by the media because of a string of clues they left behind that led to their capture the next day. The duo netted $129,500 in the robbery last March.. In the photos, Prince grins into the camera with $20 bills fanned out in each hand. With lips pursed, Carroll holds a plastic-wrapped stack of bills in one hand and notes spread out in a fan in the other. Prince got four-and-a-half years in prison and Carroll was jailed for five.

Bailey's absence fails to harm TVNZ ratings.

TVNZ's gamble to replace highly paid newsreader Judy Bailey with younger blood appears to be working.The latest television ratings indicate Bailey's current absence from the OneNews desk has had little impact on viewer share. Bailey took a month's holiday after the announcement her $800,000-a-year contract would not be renewed. Agenda host Simon Dallow has been reading the weekday 6pm news since October 10. AGB Nielsen figures indicate he has been matching, and in some cases improving on, Bailey's audience in the 25-54 age market.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Herald reporter fired for making up story.

A reporter on the Herald on Sunday has been fired for fabricating a story. John Manukia was suspended last week after a complaint over reports published in the Herald on Sunday last week based on a purported interview with former South Auckland police officer Anthony Solomona. Mr Solomona's lawyer complained to the paper that there had been no interview. The Herald on Sunday in an apology to Mr Solomona today said Manukia had neither met nor spoke to Mr Solomona. The quotes attributed to Mr Solomona were fabricated, the apology said. Manukia was fired on Friday and Herald on Sunday editor Shayne Currie said he was deeply disappointed by the incident.
Source: NZPA

Flood clean-up begins.

Civil Defence teams in Gisborne have switched into clean up and recovery mode following widespread flooding in the area. Most of the water is receding but many areas are still covered in silt. Civil Defence officer Richard Steele says the Poverty Bay Flats and the area north of Tolaga Bay appear to have been the hardest hit. Vegetable growers look set to suffer from the severe flooding in the upper East Coast region and northern Hawke's Bay.

FSA to look at unpasteurised cheese.

Food Safety Authority is looking at whether it should allow unpasterised milk products to be eaten in New Zealand. New Zealand requires all milk products to be pasteurised before sale, but many European countries allow unpasteurised milk products to be eaten. The acting executive director of the Food Safety Authority, Sandra says there are increasing calls from New Zealanders to allow unpasteurised cheeses to be sold here. Daly says they will thoroughly assess the level of risk from pasteurised and unpasteurised products, and decide what warnings would be needed on the cheeses. She says in the countries where the unpasteurised cheeses are allowed each year people become seriously ill, and occasionally die from eating the cheeses.

Nelson celebrates man who named city.

Half a world away from where the battle originally took place, the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar was also celebrated here at home. Nelson put on a grand naval show to salute the man who gave the city its name. Admiral Lord Nelson's heroics meant that a town in a British colony on the other side of the world would bear his name and still celebrate his success 200 years later "Trafalgar 200 reminds us of that great admiral for which the city gets it's name," said Prime Minister Helen Clark. And with the ceremonial blessing of the city, 500 naval personnel from 10 ships from Australia and New Zealand all docked at the port of Nelson
Source:One News

Telecom to remove 400 payphones.

Telecom says 400 payphones will be removed from its network, with work expected to start before the end of the year. Telecom's national payphones manager Sheridan Broadbent says payphone use has dipped sharply since 1999 because of increased cellphone usage. Broadbent says 700 payphones, mostly in metropolitan centres, are under review.
Source:RNZ/One News

Rugby-Surprises in All Blacks squad.

Auckland utility back Isaia Toeava is one of five new All Blacks included in the squad announced on Sunday to tour the UK and Ireland in November. Toeava joins Taranaki lock Jason Eaton, Wellington prop Neemia Tialataand loose forwards Chris Masoe (Taranaki) and Angus MacDonald (Auckland) as debutants in the squad.
All Black squad:
Forwards: John Afoa, Jerry Collins, Jason Eaton, Carl Hayman, Andrew Hore, Chris Jack, Sione Lauaki, Richie McCaw, Angus Macdonald, Chris Masoe, Keven Mealamu, Anton Oliver, James Ryan, Greg Somerville, Rodney So'oialo, Neemia Tialata, Mose Tuiali'i, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock.

Backs: Dan Carter, Jimmy Cowan, Rico Gear, Doug Howlett, Byron Kelleher, Luke McAlister, Leon MacDonald, Aaron Mauger, Mils Muliaina, Ma'a Nonu, Joe Rokocoko, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Conrad Smith, Isaia Toeava, Tana Umaga (capt), Piri Weepu.

ACC claim for pregnancy.

A woman who fell pregnant after having her tubes tied has won the right to claim ACC compensation - based on the argument her pregnancy was a "personal injury". According to the woman's lawyer, the decision could now be applied to other failed contraceptive measures - including broken condoms or falling pregnant while on the pill. The judgment came after the woman - who cannot be identified - applied to ACC for compensation when she became pregnant after having a tubal ligation. Her initial compensation claim was denied and the woman appealed, resulting in the district court judgment. ACC has since appealed to the High Court. In his decision released last week, Wellington District Court judge John Cadenhead found the 31-year-old woman's pregnancy could be considered a "personal injury' and she had the right to lodge a claim with ACC. (Accident Compensation Commission)
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Welcome to NZ's parking ticket capital.

Wellington parking wardens are the most slap-happy ticketers in the nation. And Christchurch motorists are the most rebellious about paying their parking fines. More than one ticket was issued for every man, woman and child in Wellington last year, and the capital's residents paid the equivalent of $44.50 each in parking fines, compared with $7 in Christchurch and Dunedin. The Sunday Star-Times compared the number of parking fines issued in central Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, and found Wellington wardens were the most prolific, writing 12 tickets for every 10 Wellingtonians. Aucklanders came next, at eight tickets for every 10 residents, and four out of 10 Christchurch and Dunedin residents were fined.
Source:Sunday Star Times

NZer killed in plane crash.

A New Zealander has been killed in a plane crash in Africa, it has been reported today. Australian Associated Press named the dead man as Dougal Williamson. An Australian man also died in the crash. The accident happened south of Windhoek in Namibia on Thursday morning, AAP reported. Mr Williamson was flying the Cessna plane when it went down.

Saturday, October 22


Auckland have won the NPC Division one final beating Otago 39-11

Next winter may still pose problems.

The country's biggest state power company believes the risk of future power shortages is easing. Meridian Energy has announced plans for three billion dollars worth of investment in hydro schemes and wind farms. Spokesman Alan Seay says the company is looking at a number of possible sites all over the country. But he believes the imminent crisis we were warned of, seems to be easing. Mr Seay says things are a lot better know than they were a year ago and while there is a lot of building work to do, we are heading down the right track. He says next winter may pose some problems however, as the new schemes will not have been constructed by then.

Workers focus on opening flooded Gisborne roads.

Civil Defence workers in Gisborne are focussing their attention on opening some of the roads out of the city. All roads into and out of Gisborne are blocked by floodwaters or slips, after a night of exceptional rain in the district. MetService says up to 300 millimetres fell in parts of the region, peaking at 36 millimetres an hour. Civil Defence spokesman Richard Steele says high on the list is clearing State Highway 2 between Napier and Gisborne, to prevent a petrol crisis. He says Gisborne only has enough fuel for four days, but he is confident the road can be reopened by tomorrow. Road blockages have also closed SH2 between Matawai and Te Karaka while extreme caution is urged between Hastings and Waipawa. State Highway 35 between Tokomaru Bay and Gisborne is also closed with surface flooding requiring the need for extreme caution between Te Kaha and Gisborne. A slip has closed SH 5 between Taupo and Eskdale.

NZ scientists spend weeks trying to capture elusive rat.

Think your life is a rat race?
Just ask scientists about a rodent named "Razza" who gave a whole new meaning to the phrase during a four-month chase across two deserted islands in New Zealand. Like a furry Robinson Crusoe, Razza, a brown Norwegian rat, was cast away and left to fend for himself in an experiment New Zealand researchers say has given new insight into why it's so hard to eradicate vermin from fragile island ecosystems. For 18 weeks, Razza sidestepped countless traps and turned up his nose at poisoned bait before eventually plunging into the South Pacific and paddling 400 meters (yards) in open water to a new island in search of love, according to research published in this week's issue of the journal "Nature." The study was motivated by the need for conservation "because of the problems of rats on islands and rats reinvading islands that have been cleared," author Mick Clout of the University of Auckland's School of Biological Sciences told The Associated Press on Thursday.
click HERE for full story

Rain causes chaos in New Zealand.

Heavy rains and strong winds have caused major disruptions on New Zealand's North Island. In one of the worst hit areas, Tolaga Bay, families have been evacuated from their homes as a precaution should rivers burst their banks. Schools and roads across the area have also been closed and meteorologists have warned that further evacuations may have to take place should the rains continue. Meanwhile, in Auckland a mother and daughter had to flee from their damaged home after a bank collapsed on top if it as a result of the rains. Richard Steele, a civil defence officer in the area, has warned people to stay at home. "The weather's pretty shocking here, so you'd only really want to travel if you have to, and that would be our advice.

East Coast weather alert.

Civil Defence officials on the East Coast are preparing for a long night ahead, as the floodwaters continue to rise. A handful of homes have been evacuated in the small township of Mangatuna, just north of Tolaga Bay. Houses in the low-lying areas south of Gisborne are also under threat from the weather. More evacuations may follow throughout the night. Many roads are closed throughout the East Coast and Hawke's Bay. Police are warning motorists to drive safely on the remaining routes where surface flooding is causing concern.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Rugby League-Kangaroos hang on for Auckland win.

A three-try blitz at the start of the second half was just enough to ensure a narrow 28-26 victory and revenge for Australia in the return Tri-Nations Test against New Zealand in Auckland on Friday. With a 16-8 half-time lead, the Kiwis were on track for their first back-to-back victories over the Kangaroos since 1953 following their 38-28 victory in Sydney. But tries to Mark Gasnier, Darren Lockyer and Matt Cooper in the first eight minutes of the second spell left the New Zealand defence in tatters and ensured Australia will be favourites for the Tri-Nations title when they play Great Britain next month.

Friday, October 21

New Zealand official eyes better U.S. ties.

New Zealand's new foreign minister said Wednesday he wants to improve relations with the United States strained for 20 years by New Zealand's anti-nuclear policies. "It is what I think most New Zealanders would want and our allies would want and the United States would want," Winston Peters told The Associated Press in an interview. New Zealand's 1985 laws banning nuclear weapons and nuclear powered ships from its harbors has been a 20-year irritant between the two countries and has been blamed for Washington's reluctance to negotiate a free-trade deal with Wellington. Peters, sworn in Wednesday as foreign minister in Prime Minister Helen Clark's third-term Labour-led administration, stressed that political leaders cannot ignore the popularity of the nuclear-free policy.

Tui tops Forest and Bird's inaugural Bird of Year poll.

The tui stands out from the flock as New Zealand's favourite bird, according to a recent poll by Forest and Bird. The iconic songbird was the most popular choice in the inaugural New Zealand Bird of the Year 2005 poll, attracting 20 per cent of the vote. Forest and Bird conservation manager Kevin Hackwell noted that a tui among kowhai was also the logo of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, which launched its national appeal this week. "The tui is one of New Zealand's most iconic dawn chorus birds with a call that is loved across the land."
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

NZ borders will close in case of pandemic.

When the next influenza pandemic strikes, New Zealand's borders are likely to be closed to all incoming travellers. The lock may be on for several days, says a pandemic planning guide for businesses. All passengers may be quarantined for at least eight days, says the guide, published yesterday by the Ministries of Health and Economic Development.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ.
click HERE for full story

Former All Black jailed for $4m fraud.

A former All Black known for his clean living and quiet demeanour is behind bars after admitting he ripped off family and friends to the tune of nearly $4 million. Steven Pokere, 47, played 18 tests for the All Blacks between 1981 and 1985, and was famed for his elusive attacking play and solid defence. He offered no defence in the Auckland District Court to Serious Fraud Office allegations that the company he ran with three others, FF Traders, defrauded 36 investors of $3.9 million. Pokere pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud and was sentenced last month to 2 1/2 years in prison.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Higher minimum wage a challenge.

There is one business leader arguing in favour of boosting the minimum wage to $12 an hour - although there is a "but". Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief Michael Barnett says the minimum wage across the Tasman is already $12.30 an hour - the equivalent of $13.50 in our currency. He says to be competitive we need to try to match that. But under today's economic conditions that could be a big ask for many employers. Mr Barnett says it could add $10 million a year to the wage bill of businesses like supermarkets and call centres, that employ high numbers of people and operate long hours. He says instead of being afraid of having a high wage economy, the challenge is to come up with ways to grow the economy so businesses can afford to pay more.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

BNZ latest victim of internet scam.

An internet banking scam doing the rounds in Australasia is now targeting Bank of New Zealand customers. The bank took its site offline temporarily last night after discovering the hoax. Customers are receiving e-mails directing them to what appears to be a legitimate website. It asks the customer to enter bank account information, including PIN numbers, which are then used to rob the account. There has been a spate of similar scams in the past month. BNZ is working with other banks, police and internet service providers to investigate the scammers.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

NZ man caught with counterfeit $US1.2 million.

A New Zealand man has been caught at Auckland Airport allegedly trying to bring $US1.2 million ($NZ1.7 million) of counterfeit money into the country. Mustafa Yousif Ibrahim was arrested as he came off a flight from Sydney at 8pm on Wednesday. He was born in Sudan but is believed to have been made a New Zealand resident in the early 1990s after arriving as a refugee. A police summary of facts, presented in the Manukau District Court today, said the counterfeit money was found by Customs officers as they searched Ibrahim's bags before he came through the entry gate at the airport.

Fresh Blood For Cabinet.

Helen Clark is making no secret of the fact she wants some fresh blood. The Prime Minister has injected six new ministers into her cabinet. She says that may seem a lot of new faces but she has also been discussing the future with many of her MPs and some have already indicated they will not be standing again at the next election, allowing new people to come through.
Source: ©2005 Xtra Limited

Naked woman ruled 'offensive'.

A billboard for an erotica show, depicting a naked woman on all fours, has been deemed "socially irresponsible" by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board. K Bartlett, one of several complainants, said the billboard, advertising the Erotica Expo Ltd, which was situated in a number of highly visible locations, including the side of a motorway, Auckland's Mission Bay and the side of a truck, was "inappropriate and offensive to women". "There is no way a minority group would be shown in such a derogatory way, so why is it okay to offend 50 per cent of the population?" The billboard also had the potential to cause accidents on a very busy part of the motorway, the complainant said. Copies of the complaints were sent to the advertiser and the advertising company, Look, but they chose not to respond.
Source: NZPA

Air NZ set to fire 600 workers.

Air New Zealand is set to sack about 600 engineers in a move designed to save up to $100 million. The decision has shocked workers and comes just two days after the Government announced a "Buy Kiwi Made" campaign. The airline's shares fell to a low for the year of 106 cents after the announcement. Air New Zealand, 80 per cent owned by the Government, plans to send its wide-body aircraft and engines overseas – possibly to China or Singapore – for heavy maintenance.
Source:Dominion Post

Sunday, October 16

Record kite flying attempt falls short.

A group of kite flyers in Palmerston North have failed in their attempt to break a world record. Hundreds of kite flyers gathered to break the record for the most kites flown at the same time on Saturday as part of Manawatu's inaugural's Airstream Festival. Event manager Anne Louise Wirth says they needed to get 675 kites airborn simultaneously for at least 30 seconds in order to get into the Guiness Book of World records. They managed to get just under 400 kites airborn. The world record attempt was part of a number of activities being held at the festival. Wirth says with 400 kites in the air it was beautiful spectacle and they will try again next year.

Rugby (Union)-Auckland dazzle way into final.

Auckland 38 - Harbour 24
A five-try onslaught in the first half ensured Auckland a shot at their third NPC rugby title in four years with a highly entertaining 38-24 semifinal win over North Harbour in Auckland today.
Source: NZPA
full story CLICK HERE

Rugby League-Kiwis break Sydney hoodoo.

Kiwis 38 - Kangaroos 28
New Zealand broke a rugby league hoodoo last night defeating Australia 38-28 at Telstra Stadium, their first win in Sydney in 46 years. It is the perfect start to the Tri-Nations series but the side almost blew it after throwing away an early 18-0 lead. The great start was nullified by four Australian tries late in the first half to leave the scores leveled at halftime. But the Kiwis kept their composure and held off another onslaught from the Australian's after halftime to seal a historical victory. The sides meet again next Friday night in Auckland.

Saturday, October 15

Peters a kingmaker once again.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is considering a proposal sent to him by National, inviting him to help to form a centre-right Government. And the proposal maintains National would have the support of the Maori Party and United Future, giving it the same number of seats as Labour can now muster. This creates the firm 57-57 deadlock which has been speculated on for days, forcing Mr Peters from abstaining on a confidence and supply vote and making him kingmaker once again. Mr Peters sought a written proposal from National and it was couriered to him yesterday. Earlier in the day, before it was sent, he told Radio Live "it's probably too late" when asked if he would consider a National counter-offer. But he did not rule it out and also made it clear he had finalised no agreement with Labour.
Source: APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Another big movie for NZ.

Another Hollywood feature film is set to be made in New Zealand. Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures have announced plans to base production of the film 'The Bridge to Terabithia' in Auckland. It comes hot on the heels of 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe', produced by the same companies. Pre-production is scheduled to start in the next few weeks with principal photography commencing in January. The film will be directed by Gabor Csupo who created the Nickelodeon cartoon series 'Rugrats' and 'The Wild Thornberrys' and worked on early episodes of 'The Simpsons.'
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

RBNZ warning aimed at all NZers.

The Bank of New Zealand's chief economist believes Reserve Bank Governor Allan Bollard's warning on the economy is aimed at all New Zealanders as well as the incoming government. Dr Bollard says the country is living beyond its means, and the economy is currently unbalanced, with an unsustainable trade deficit, overvalued currency, high house prices, a resource shortage and inflation. He says New Zealanders do not save, and that we are spending 12 percent more than we earn each year. BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander says despite interest rates which by world standards are extremely high, New Zealanders are still taking out loans. He says they borrow to live the same sort of lifestyle as their overseas cousins. Tony Alexander warns the economy is in an unusual position, and there will be a correction. He says Dr Bollard also appears to be worrying that coalition bribes will further eat into the government surplus. Tony Alexander says the economy can't stand any more stimulation.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Disney pays gallery for its name.

What a stroke of luck!
When art gallery director Bryce Moller and his artist wife Shona hit upon the name Art Attack to showcase her work, they had no idea that six years later Disney Entertainment would launch its own bid for the New Zealand rights to the name. The entertainment giant wanted the rights to screen a children's art show of the same name but the Mollers had already filed an application for the New Zealand trademark. But after two years of legal negotiations, Disney now owns the name outright, and the Mollers are enjoying the fruits of a financial settlement they understood was considered by some intellectual-property lawyers as one of the highest they had seen. Asked whether it was a six-figure sum, Mr Moller replied: "Something like that."
Source: The Dominion Post.

Nurses to treat and discharge patients.

Nurses will soon treat and discharge patients at Christchurch Hospital's emergency department as radical steps are taken to reduce long queues for care. More than a year after Australian consultants Peter Brennan and Marcus Kennedy recommended far-reaching changes to reduce overcrowding at the city's only emergency department (ED), conditions remain cramped. It would mean some patients were "seen and treated by nurses and discharged by nurses", along with other changes to long-held practices.
Source: The Press

Judge asked to marry couple in court.

After being sentenced to five years and three months in prison for conspiring to supply P, two people involved in the region's biggest drug trial, known as Operation Kiwi, asked the judge to do one more thing for them. "Can you marry us?" Samuel Howe asked Justice Priestley in the High Court at Hamilton while clutching the hand of his partner of 15 years, Emily Anania, next to him in the dock. Justice Priestly politely declined. He told the pair he had the jurisdiction to marry them but said he would not. "Marriage is not something you can rush through," he said.
source: The Waikato Times

Kiwi crowned Miss World University.

Auckland student Jade Collins was last night named the 18th Miss World University in Seoul. Collins, 22, is a former contestant on the Miss Popularity reality TV show and models part-time, as well as studying at the University of Auckland. The Korea Times reported that 43 students from 42 countries competed in the beauty pageant and selected beauties will be sent to troubled parts of the world for volunteer activities as members of the World Miss University organising committee's peace mission.

Canterbury's semi-final horror.

Unless you saw it, you would not have believed it. Last night Otago beat Canterbury 37-22 at Jade Stadium to send the blue-and-golds into their first NPC final since 2001. This just was not expected to happen. If the script had run to plan, Canterbury would have won and then sat back tonight to watch Auckland and North Harbour belt lumps out of each other in the second semi-final. A win in the final would have allowed it to defend the NPC title and send coach Aussie McLean out on a high.
Source: The Press
full story CLICK HERE

Friday, October 14

Rugby-Otago vs Canterbury

Otago beat Canterbury 37-22 in the semi-final played in Christchurch. Otago go forward to play the winner of tomorrows other semi-final match.

Hundreds of refugees asked to leave.

More than 400 refugees were ordered or advised to leave New Zealand last year. The statistics released by the Department of Labour show 761 refugees successfully sought residency in New Zealand. The department says 267 asylum seekers were served with removal orders, then arrested and detained before they left. Another 172 voluntarily left New Zealand after they were encouraged to do so.

Fire closes hospital emergency department.

Middlemore Hospital's emergency department was temporarily closed and patients moved from the coronary care ward after a fire on the hospital's second floor this morning. Counties Manukau District Health Board chief executive Stephen McKernan said a small fire in a staff administration area was quickly contained by the sprinkler system, but water from the sprinklers had seeped through to the coronary care ward below. About 15 patients were moved to the cardiac catheter area and the emergency department - also on the floor below the fire - was temporarily closed. Patients were sent to Auckland City Hospital.
Source: APN Holdings NZ Ltd

More schools bypassing NCEA.

Schools are continuing to sign up for alternative exam systems despite Qualifications Authority assurances that this year's exam round will be trouble-free. The number of schools offering International Cambridge exams has increased fourfold in the four years they have been available. The exams are run by a private British company and are offered at international schools around the world. Cambridge International regional representative Simon Higgins said 45 schools offered the exams and about 10 more were considering it. Most of those that used them were in Auckland, but the trend appeared to be moving south, he said.
Source: The Dominion Post.

Gender pay gap 'dangerous' for families.

A sudden widening of the gender pay gap has been blasted by women as a dangerous trend with far-reaching effects on individuals and families. The gap is partly a result of women not being recognised for their skills and it is a "huge concern", says Council of Trade Unions vice-president Helen Kelly. The Statistics New Zealand June quarter income survey showed a significantly widening gap, she said. The survey shows pay for full-time employed men has gone up about 6.3 per cent since the June 2004 quarter, compared with a 3.2 per cent rise for women. Women were now earning an average 82 per cent of men's earnings, compared with 86 per cent in 2004, Kelly said.
Source: The Press

Why the Aussies envy us.

Sydney Morning Herald writer Paola Totaro says, while the Australians make Kiwis the butt of many jokes across the Tasman, we are the true 'lucky country' in several ways. Sydney Morning Herald writer Paola Totaro says, while the Australians make Kiwis the butt of many jokes across the Tasman, we are the true 'lucky country' in several ways. First impressions, especially cultural ones, are often gut-driven, gleaned via the heart rather than the intellect. They are shaped by circumstance and refined by further visits, reading, longer immersion. But intuition is a deeply undervalued human trait, one that science acknowledges but has yet to fully explain. And so, with intuition alone as a guide, here are seven reasons why New Zealand has it all over us.
If you need to know more (and you're not Australian)..... CLICK HERE

How a sandwich moved moggy from palm tree.

It's the smell that did it says 'cat whisperer' Jamie Green, after a stubborn moggy stuck up a palm tree for a week finally came down. Annoyed residents had had enough of the cat's howling and there was talk it might have to be shot, until Mr Green worked his magic. After more than an hour perched at the top of a ladder shaking a box of cat biscuits, he remembered the Marmite sandwich in his back pocket. The cat couldn't resist the smell of Mr Green's lunch, so made its way down the palm frond he had hold of. He gave it a shake, the branch broke and swung to the ground, and the cat jumped off and darted under a nearby house. Mr Green collected a $400 bounty from a radio station for his trouble.
Source: NZPA

$10,000 writing prize awarded.

Hawkes Bay writer Susan Wylie has won this year's $10,000 Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Award for her story Lolly. Kerry Challinor of West Auckland won the novice award and Vita Bryant of Wellington the young writer's award.
Source: APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Thursday, October 13

Cat uses up another life.

A Napier cat has escaped the death penalty. For the last week, the feral cat had been stuck a palm tree in the suburb of Maraenui. It had been disturbing neighbours with its crying but despite several attempts to get it down, it would not budge. Neighbour Mark Hodgson says people tried to lure it down with food. He says they eventually shook a frond which caused the cat to fall to the ground. He says the cat took off like a shot and he hopes it does not climb the tree again. The council had planned to shoot the animal tomorrow if it did not come down.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Worried mussel farmers raise cash to fight squirt.

The Mussel Industry Council has approved spending $50,000 to assess the impact of the sea squirt which is threatening New Zealand's $200 million mussel industry. Biosecurity New Zealand last week announced that the sea squirt from Korea had been found in Lyttelton Harbour and Auckland's Viaduct Harbour, and those areas would be surveyed over the next month to determine its spread. However, the aquaculture industry has called for immediate action to eradicate the pest, which has caused damage worldwide as it competes for food with shellfish like oysters and mussels, and eats their larvae. Mussel Industry Council (MIC) executive officer Lorna Holton said little was known about the sea squirt in New Zealand conditions, but it had caused considerable damage to Canadian marine farms, and there was no time to waste.
source: The Marlborough Express

Bird flu victims may be forced to fend for themselves.

When the next pandemic of killer influenza finally strikes, hospitals are expected to be so stretched they will handle relatively few cases of the feared disease. Likewise general practitioners expect to be short-staffed and do not anticipate routinely handling cases at their clinics. "There will be mass home treatment," Dr Jonathan Fox, president of the College of General Practitioners, said yesterday. "Self-management and self-reliance will be the cornerstone." Medical Association GP council chairman Dr Peter Foley said it was likely doctors would make every effort to work during a pandemic, but their first obligation was to their own health.
Source: APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Bank predicts housing market to come unstuck.

House prices are as much as 17 per cent overvalued and the "end game" is around the corner, but prices are not expected to crash that much, according to the Bank of New Zealand. House prices continued to rise this year, up about 15 per cent in the year to September, according to Quotable Value figures out earlier this week. BNZ said yesterday: "We are firmly of the opinion that the housing market will come unstuck." The market would be hit by rising interest rates, investors getting out of the rental market and falling migration. Bank of New Zealand chief economist Tony Alexander said yesterday it was not predicting a big fall in house prices, but they would be down next year and in 2007, with no movement for the following three or four years.
Source: The Press

NZ and Aussie drifting apart, says former PM.

New Zealand and Australia are starting to drift after a century of convergence, former prime minister Mike Moore says in an article published today. Mr Moore, prime minister for a brief period before Labour lost the 1990 election, said both countries shared a "political cycle" of similarities which was now being broken. "After 100 years of convergence, there is the beginning of divergence," he said in the article published in the Dominion-Post newspaper. "Australia is becoming more like the United States and New Zealand more like Canada and a bit Nordic." Mr Moore, who was director-general of the World Trade Organisation after he quit politics, said that in trade policy New Zealand's interests had, until recently, been seen as identical to Australia's.
Source: NZPA

Wednesday, October 12

NZ man on way to Pakistan after relatives die in quake.

A New Zealand man is tonight trying to fly to Pakistan after losing his parents and two of his children to the weekend's devastating 7.6-magnitude earthquake. It was earlier reported the man had lost four children but Pakistan Association of New Zealand president Naveed Hamid said it was now known the man had lost his parents and two children. He still had two other children alive in Pakistan. "He's trying to fly to Pakistan soon." Mr Hamid said the man was distraught and not communicating with people. "He's in shock."
Source: NZPA
full story CLICK HERE

Yacht rescue cost '$1m', couple airlifted.

The cost of rescuing two injured yachties stranded north of the Chatham Islands may be more than $1 million. The couple were being flown home to Christchurch this afternoon. Heloise Kortekaas and Bruce Cox were rescued from their stricken yacht by the crew of the P&O Nedlloyd Encounter just before 7pm yesterday, 750km north of the Chatham Islands. They were lifted off the Encounter by the Westpac Rescue helicopter this afternoon and taken to the Chatham Islands.

One in ten pupils skip school.

More than one pupil in every 10 is absent from school each day, research released by the Ministry of Education shows. The survey showed overall absence of 11 per cent, including a truancy rate of 3 per cent. Among factors affecting absence and truancy rates were school type, ethnicity and the socioeconomic communities from which students came. Absences for boys and girls were similar but whether a school was co-educational or single sex was a significant factor in truancy. Boys at co-educational schools had a higher overall absence rate than their counterparts in single sex schools. Maori and Pacific Islands students had double the truancy rate of New Zealand European and Asian students, the report said.
Source: APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Sun smiled in September.

September was drier and sunnier than normal in many regions. Of the four main centres, Wellington, warmer and drier than average, was the sunniest with 185 hours, Christchurch was cloudier and drier than average, Auckland warmer than average and Dunedin sunnier with near average rainfall and temperature. Niwa scientist Jim Salinger said September was the third consecutive month with above-average temperatures almost everywhere.
Source: APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Few NZ regions growing in population.

Most New Zealand regions are stagnating and some are declining, according to Waikato University's Population Studies Centre. Few regions had relatively quick population growth, partly due to economic changes resulting from the concentration of industries and population in fewer and fewer metropolitan areas, increasingly Auckland. A second reason was retirement migration to sun-belt destinations - Bay of Plenty, Nelson-Tasman and Marlborough - says a discussion paper, whose main author is Professor of Demography Ian Pool. Between 1986 and 2001 only four of 15 regions in this country had increased their share of the national total, Auckland (very significantly), and the three "retirement zones", the paper says. Those four regions, and perhaps Wellington and Canterbury, were the regions in the country doing well or at least getting by.
Source: NZPA

Invercargill takes centre stage at Indian premiere.

Invercargill takes centre stage tonight as the city hosts the world premiere of the movie The World's Fastest Indian. Red carpet, limousines, tuxedos and flash frocks will be the order of the day as hundreds of invited and paying guests converge at the Civic Theatre. The evening's celebrations will kick off at 5pm with pre-event entertainment featuring two Invercargill secondary school bands - Big Kitchen and Small Feet - Chant et Danse and Neil Chilton and Craig Allott. The most up-to-date information today suggested a stream of limos will deliver Fastest Indian stars Annie Whittle, Aaron Murphy, Christopher Lawford and Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt as well as director Roger Donaldson and producer Gary Hannam. Other high-profile people not associated with the movie include actor Sam Neill, Prime Minister Helen Clark, Mr Shadbolt's Dancing With the Stars partner Rebecca Nicholson and The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan. The World's Fastest Indian stars Oscar award-winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins and is based on the life of legendary Invercargill motorcycle speedster Burt Munro.
Source: NZPA

Tuesday, October 11

Aucklander Loses Family In Asian Quake.

An Auckland man has lost two children and his parents in the devastating earthquake in Pakistan. Originally it was believed four of his children had been killed when their home in Pakistan-administered Kashmir collapsed. However, Pakistan Association President Naveed Hamid says they now have a clearer picture of what happened. He says two of the man's children and his parents died, but two children survived the quake. Mr Hamid says the father is devastated and does not want to talk about it. He says quite a few other New Zealand Pakistani families have lost loved ones and many are still waiting for information.
Copyright 2005 Newstalk ZB News.

IRD Targets Rich.

One hundred of the country's wealthiest individuals are being singled out by the Inland Revenue Department in a bid to recoup millions of dollars of tax. IRD says nearly $36 million worth of additional tax has been gathered since it started its High Wealth Individual Programme last year. The scheme is designed to track the financial activities of businesses owned by individuals worth more than $50 million.
Copyright 2005 Newstalk ZB News.

Potting mix blamed for legionella case.

Another case of legionnaires' disease has been reported in Christchurch, but officials say it is from a different strain to the city's recent outbreak. The victim probably picked up the legionella bacteria from breathing in dust from potting mix, said Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Mel Brieseman. The strain, legionella longbeachae, was commonly found in compost and soil and potting mix, and caused one or two infections a year in the province. Twenty cases of legionnaires' disease were notified in Christchurch this year, and three people died in what was the city's worst outbreak.
Source: APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Fancy-dress 'bomb' backfires on wearer.

A man's fancy-dress choice could cost him thousands of dollars after he sparked a bomb scare that shut down part of central Christchurch. The 29-year-old man dressed up as a suicide bomber for a "bad taste" costume party and discarded part of his costume - fake explosives - in a central city rubbish bin so he could get into bars. The discarded item, made to resemble sticks of gelignite with wires and a clock, was found by a homeless man on Saturday and mistaken for a real bomb. Police cordoned off three blocks of the city for several hours and called in Army explosive experts to destroy the device, causing hotels to be evacuated and local businesses to shut their doors for the day. At least one hotel is now considering suing the man for up to $10,000.
Source: APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Biosecurity NZ to decide today on jet boat race.

Biosecurity New Zealand will meet today to decide whether the world jet-boat marathon in the South Island should go ahead this weekend. The discovery of the invasive water weed didymosphenia geminate (didymo), in several South Island rivers, has caused alarm due to its ability to spread rapidly, choking waterways and killing invertebrate life essential for fish survival. Marathon organiser Eddie McKenzie said he had been in talks with Biosecurity NZ, the Otago Regional Council and Environment Southland since last Monday after didymo had been confirmed by Fish and Game in the Hawea River. Hopes were now relying on providing effective sterilisation of the boats to convince Biosecurity NZ to allow the marathon to go ahead, he said.
Source: NZPA

Two earthquakes in Christchurch.

Christchurch was hit by two earthquakes last night. Institute of Geological and Nuclear Science says the largest quake occurred at 11.23pm and measured 3.1 on the Richter Scale. It was located ten kilometres north of Christchurch at a depth of nine kilometres. Ten minutes later a second quake struck, measuring 2.9 on the Richter Scale, which occurred 20 kilometres north east of the city at a depth of 20 kilometres.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Auckland gets Sunday trains for first time in 40 years.

Aucklanders are being invited to count down to the start of Sunday train services in a fortnight – the first time in more than 40 years. Rail operator Connex and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority are also promising trains until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, in a full suite of new timetables, from October 25. Authority chief executive Alan Thompson said a 25 per cent boost to overall services, and particularly the introduction of Sunday trains, was a big step towards "bringing Auckland's public transport services in line with comparable international cities".
Source: NZPA

Bird flu and you...

As the world begins to wake up to the threat of an avian flu epidemic, something 'alarmists' have been beating the drums about for years, information about the disease and its spread is acquiring a premium value.
Online sleuths hunting information about SARS found quickly that, even in the midst of the outbreaks in China, official sources of information were well behind in timeliness, in part because they were obliged to refrain from anything that smacked of speculation -- but also because official reporting is a political process and much was at stake.

There is a New Zealand blog/site that contains absolutely everything you need to know about 'Birdflu'...
CLICK HERE to go to the site.

Monday, October 10


Air New Zealand will start a weekly service to Niue from next month. The flight will leave Auckland on Friday night and return from Niue early in the morning. The service will replace flights by Samoa’s international airline Polynesian Airlines which will merge with Virgin Blue of Australia. Niue Premier Young Vivian says the new flights by Air New Zealand are a milestone and he says he is delighted at the decision.
Copyright © 2004 RNZI.

Big dollars, long odds in new Lotto game.

Lotto players looking for the gold at the end of the rainbow will soon have a new midweek million-dollar dream to chase. But problem gambling groups are dismayed at another long-odds jackpot game. Big Wednesday, with a prize package including cash, cars, travel, a boat and a holiday home, goes on sale next Monday, with the first weekly draw on October 26. But with the odds of winning Big Wednesday around 16 million to one, you might have more chance if you work for it. The prize is expected to continue jackpotting, and extra prizes will be added on successive weeks.
Source: The Press

Islanders mourn father figure.

Pacific Island communities in New Zealand are mourning the "father of Pacific communities" who passed away at the weekend. The Rev Leuatea Sio, one of the first Pacific ministers to be ordained into the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand, died on Saturday night. Only last week he celebrated his 80th birthday. For decades since arriving in Auckland from Samoa in 1951, Mr Sio had been at the centre of support for Pacific Island communities in Auckland. He drew communities together through his work in wide-ranging fields including the arts, sports, social services, and education. Through his reputation he came to be known as the father of Pacific communities.
Source: APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Cannabis link to Maori cancer.

Heavy cannabis use could be a cause of Maori having the world's highest lung cancer rate, groundbreaking research suggests. Many Maori from children to kaumatua use cannabis in "epidemic proportions", says a study by Richard Beasley of the Medical Research Institute in Wellington. The paper reviews the literature on cannabis and suggests it is more cancer-causing than tobacco, and, like tobacco, causes bronchitis.
Source: The Dominion Post.

Flu joins phone book's disaster listings.

Flu pandemic has joined natural disasters on the Civil Defence page of the new telephone book in a sign of growing concern about a potential outbreak. Wellington residents will be the first in New Zealand to see the warnings on the inside back cover of their Yellow Pages, alongside tips on handling earthquakes, floods and tsunamis. The new books are currently being delivered to households in the region. Other areas will get theirs during the next 12 months, as they come up for renewal. Under the heading Pandemic - worldwide disease outbreak, the Civil Defence information warns people to stay home if they are sick, keep away from other people, wash and dry hands before handling food and after coughing, and throw used tissues in the rubbish bin. Paracetamol for fever is included as one of the emergency survival items. A link is provided to the Health Ministry's website for more information on influenza
Source: The Dominion Post.

Labour tipped to go it alone.

Prime Minister Helen Clark is poised to announce the formation of a minority government that will exclude all but sole Progressive MP Jim Anderton and Labour MPs from ministerial office. It seems certain Labour has turned its back on a deal exclusively to its left, involving the Greens and the Maori Party, even though they could have delivered 61 votes and a one-seat majority for a Labour-led government. Instead, Miss Clark is expected to bow to a virtual veto of the Greens by NZ First and United Future and strike a deal with as many as five parties to allow her to form a government.
Source: The Dominion Post.

NZ to give $1m aid for natural disasters.

New Zealand will contribute $750,000 to the relief effort underway to help victims of a massive earthquake that has devastated parts of Pakistan and India. The death toll from the quake, which struck on Saturday afternoon (NZT), has spiralled out to an estimated 20,000, mainly in the Kashmir region of Pakistan, according to reports from there. Caretaker Aid Minister Marian Hobbs today said government aid agency NZAID would make an initial contribution of $750,000 to the international relief effort.
Source: NZPA

Sunday, October 9

Rescue mission underway for stricken yacht.

A rescue mission is underway following a mayday call this morning from a stricken yacht several hundred kilometres northeast of the Chatham Islands. Geoff Lunt, from the New Zealand Rescue Co-ordination Centre, said two people were on board the Janette Gay, including a man with an injured back. The yacht was battling heavy seas and strong winds. Its satellite distress beacon had been activated, but problems with its radio meant it was unable to receive messages from the rescue centre. Mr Lunt said an Air Force Orion aircraft was preparing to leave Auckland to locate the yacht, which is about 780km from the Chathams.
Source: NZPA

Still no power in parts of Auckland.

A burst of unseasonal weather has caused chaos in the Auckland area. Gale force winds have left thousands of people without power. At last count around 10,000 Vector customers were still in the dark. In the central North Island, the wintry blast has also brought snow to the Desert Road, which is closed with a diversion through National Park. But there is good news for skiers, with a big dump of snow just as the season was petering out. Mt Hutt is reporting 10 centimetres of fresh snow.
© 2005 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Saturday, October 8

Rugby-Ranfurly Shield

Canterbury 27- Auckland 12....Canterbury retains the Ranfurly Shield

North Island battered by gales.

The North Island's in for a rough afternoon with the MetService warning of gale force winds. The high winds have already arrived in Auckland, where gusts of up to 120 km/h will last until late this afternoon. For the rest of the upper North Island there will be strong winds mixed with heavy squally showers and thunderstorms. MetService forecaster Andy Downs says these weather conditions are often seen when there is a deep low passing over New Zealand, causing unstable weather.

Don't vie with China, NZ warned.

China's outgoing ambassador to New Zealand has warned that competing against his homeland in low-value manufacturing would be a "futile exercise". Chen Mingming, the ambassador since 2001, said New Zealand should stick to what it had a competitive advantage in. "I don't think it is wise to try to compete in those low-value areas," he told The Dominion Post. "You need to go up the value chain . . . It doesn't make sense to compete in making locks, textiles and shoes, but the high-end market – biotechnology, creative products, business training and education, tourism – you have to face that." Mr Chen, who finishes this month, has been one of the main drivers of a free-trade agreement between New Zealand and China.
Source: The Dominion Post.

Failed asylum seeker continues to elude captors.

A failed Somali asylum-seeker was still on the loose today after escaping from his escort at Wellington Airport yesterday. Abdikarin Ali Haji, aged 29, was being transferred to Upper Hutt's Rimutaka Prison after being arrested in Timaru on Tuesday when he made his break for freedom. The barefooted Haji had no trouble outrunning his escorts and disappearing into the back streets around the airport. It was the second escape by Haji who arrived in New Zealand in 1998. In 2003, immigration officials were driving him to Auckland International Airport to deport him when he threw himself from the car.
Source: NZPA

Health board tells patients - prove your identity.

New Zealanders will have to show a passport, birth certificate or other identification from next week to qualify for free care at the country's largest health board. The Auckland District Health Board is clamping down on treatment for ineligible foreigners which left it with $2.9 million in bad debts to June 30. Now it is demanding that all eligible patients – New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, people with work permits or from countries with reciprocal agreements – produce identification, or they will get a bill for their treatment. The move marks a new stage in the board's clampdown on free treatment for ineligible foreigners.
Source: NZPA

Friday, October 7

Traffic jammed for free fill-up.

The lure of free petrol clogged roads around a Parnell service station this morning. In a promotion for radio station Classic Hits, drivers were able to fill up for free between 8 and 9am at the Shell station on Beach Rd near the old railway station. Classic Hits head of news Alice Leonard said this morning the promotion was timed for the last day of school holidays in order to minimise the impact on traffic. The radio station announced the free petrol location at 7.45am and within 20 minutes traffic was at a standstill on Beach Rd as drivers tried to squeeze their vehicles on to the station's jammed forecourt.
Source: APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Warnings step up for Bali.

The Government has again stepped up its travel warning for Bali, telling tourists more bombings cannot be ruled out. The Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry's official advisory updated this week includes a fresh section on Bali. "If your presence in Bali is essential extreme caution should be exercised," the warning says. A triple bombing at the Indonesia resort island killed 22 people and injured more than 100 at the weekend, almost three years since terrorists bombed Kuta beach and killed 202 people. The official travel advisory was last strengthened in June, and advised travellers that there were indications terrorists may be "in the advanced stages" of planning attacks. The new advisory underlines that message and again tells people to defer non essential or tourist travel, both to Bali and the rest of Indonesia.
Source: APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Car-theft website a hit in Auckland, not elsewhere.

An internet website aimed at rewarding members of the public who report car thefts has been successful in Auckland but struggles in the rest of the country. director Frank de Jong said yesterday he was pleased with the number of stolen cars recovered since the website was launched in May this year. "We have recovered over 70 vehicles, and the value of those cars in total is approximately $550,000." Three-quarters of the recovered vehicles were from the Auckland area. Mr de Jong was unsure why the website had proved popular in Auckland and not in the rest of New Zealand.
Source: NZPA
(they steal more cars in Auckland Mr de Jong)

Biotoxin fails to stop scallop harvest.

The commercial scallop season gets underway in Tasman Bay and the Marlborough Sounds on Sunday, although the northern half of Golden Bay is still closed because of a biotoxin. Commercial fishermen delayed the start of dredging when high levels of domoic acid were found in Golden Bay last week, prompting Public Health to ban the gathering and eating of shellfish. However, that warning has been lifted in the southern half of Golden Bay, allowing scallop boats to start fishing this weekend.


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