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Tuesday, February 28

Oil expert optimistic.

An oil expert says New Zealand could become less dependent on international oil supply. High oil prices is being blamed as a major reason for New Zealand's trade deficit rising to a record $7.1 billion. Group manager of Crown Minerals Adam Feeley says there are known petroleum systems in Northland, on the East Coast, in the Canterbury Basin and the Great South Basin. He says the only question is the scale of the potential reserves. Mr Feeley says it is realistic, with aggressive exploration, that New Zealand can become significantly less dependent on international supplies. Local fields are currently producing around 15 percent of the country's liquid petroleum needs.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

No "God Save the Queen" at Games.

Commonwealth Games officials are defending a decision not to play "God Save the Queen" at the opening ceremony in Melbourne next month. The Queen will open the Games at the MCG on March 15 but organisers say it is not mandatory to play the British national anthem. Buckingham Palace says it is happy with the decision to only play Advance Australia Fair.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Savings scheme for first time buyers.

A national workplace savings scheme with incentives for first home buyers is being introduced to Parliament today. The Kiwisaver scheme was a key plank of Labour's election campaign. The scheme is voluntary for all employees aged 18 to 65 and will give workers the option to put four or eight percent of their gross salary automatically into a savings fund. All new employees are automatically enrolled and existing employees can opt to join. The Government will provide a $1,000 kick-start for each account, and first home-owners will receive a one-off payment of $1,000 for each year they have signed up to, to a maximum of $5,000. Kiwisaver should be in place by April next year.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Sloop rescued off Canterbury.

The Coast Guard has successfully rescued the crew off a sloop that ran into trouble off the Canterbury coast this morning. Team leader Trevor Cross says the 'Estelle' lost power about 50-kilometres off shore near Woodend beach. He says a cruise ship, the 'Sea Born Spirit' responded to 16 calls from the Rescue co-ordination centre and stayed with the vessel until the Coast Guard arrived. Two people and the vessel are currently being assisted to Lyttelton Harbour.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Mainland thirsty for heavy rain.

Heavy rain is needed across the South Island to replenish dipping hydro lakes, save a West Coast town from running out of water, and help a parched Mid-Canterbury. New Zealand has slipped closer to a possible severe winter electricity shortage, with national hydro storage levels now lower than at the same time in 1992. Meridian Energy says it is watching the situation with concern. Electricity industry consultant Bryan Leyland believes without heavy alpine rain in the next month the chance of a winter power crisis is quite high. In Westport yesterday, residents rushed to buy bottled water after the town's reservoirs dropped to 17 per cent amid predictions they could run dry soon. Some Mid-Canterbury residents are getting water trucked into their properties as their bores run dry.

Monday, February 27

Trade deficit rises.

The annual trade deficit has sailed past the seven billion dollar mark. It has come in at $7.1 billion for the 12 months to the end of January. That is about 23 percent of exports, the worst figure for a January year since the oil crisis of 1976. Imports for the period were a record $37.9 billion, driven by rising oil costs. Exports fell slightly to just under $31 billion.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Stones heading to NZ again.

What some call the greatest rock'n'roll band ever is heading to New Zealand again. The Rolling Stones have confirmed two concerts in April as part of their Bigger Bang world tour. The first is at Auckland's Western Springs on Easter Sunday. The second will be two days later, April 18, at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. Preferential ticket sales for Visa card holders begin on Friday at 9am. General sales do not start until the following Wednesday.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Couples say 'I don't' to civil unions.

Marriage celebrants are opting out of conducting civil unions because barely one couple a day has elected to have the alternative ceremony since its introduction almost a year ago. Only 362 couples have chosen civil unions, compared with 15,683 marriages, since the Civil Union Act - which allows same-sex and heterosexual couples to gain legal standing on a par with marriage - became law last April. Only 62 heterosexual, 145 gay and 153 lesbian couples have had civil unions. Internal Affairs figures show the majority of civil unions are occurring in the main cities but the ceremony's popularity in places like Taupo - where two civil unions have taken place - is limited. Most celebrants contacted by the Sunday Star-Times last week had yet to receive an inquiry about civil unions, let alone conduct a ceremony.
By EMMA PAGE and JENNIFER DANN Source:Sunday Star Times

Critics say $29m Wellington stadium too small.

Plans for a $29 million indoor sports complex at Wellington's Evans Bay have been unveiled, but critics say the centre is too small. Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast will tell a council committee this week that the eight-court sports centre is the best of two final choices, after five years of trying to find a solution. She believes the Cobham Court centre, to be built at the Cobham Drive-Troy St roundabout on the way to the airport, will be big enough to meet demand. But Wellington netball management says it will not be big enough. Ms Prendergast said the council could not afford a 12-14 court facility, but said there was room for a future council to expand it if necessary.
By NICK CHURCHOUSE Source:Dominion Post

Vodka ad goes down badly with Russian women.

A liquor company is offering a Russian bride as first prize in a vodka promotion, a gimmick Russian women in New Zealand say is offensive. The competition offers $8000 or a return trip to Moscow with spending money, to join a "find-a-bride" tour. The promotional material includes an image of a blonde scrubbing a floor, and the words: "Let me tell you, those Russian women are awesome, they don't care if you watch cricket on Valentine's Day, hell they don't even care if you're short and fat. It's almost too good to be true." But statistics show that Russian women are not flocking to look after fat, lazy Kiwi husbands. In the last financial year, only 17 Russian women were granted entry to New Zealand under the partnership visa policy. The company offering the bridal trip, 42 Below, started the campaign for its Stil vodka in stores and by email yesterday.
42 Below is known for its stunts aimed at gaining publicity.
By TONY WALL Source:Sunday Star Times

Loss of foreign students costs Wellington $50m.

Wellington has been hit to the tune of almost $50 million after a 20 per cent drop in international student numbers. A new report by Education Wellington International shows 5475 international students studied in the Greater Wellington region last year, down from 6854 the year before. Their contribution to the region's economy also fell, from $194 million to $145 million. The report shows that schools and private training institutions were worst hit, most having about a quarter fewer students than the year before.
By SOPHIE NEVILLE Source:Dominion Post

Sunday, February 26

Sefton Fire Controlled.

Canterbury emergency services have managed to rein in a fire which threatened property in Rangiora. The scrub fire raged through a large area of the Sefton Domain and there were concerns for nearby properties, but a fire service spokesman says the blaze is now under control.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

No "New Zealanders".

No place on the census form to term yourself just a New Zealander. 78,000 of us described ourselves this way back in 2001, using the empty box on the ethnic group question. It had been hoped Statistics New Zealand would change its mind this time around, however, the closest box to tick is still "New Zealand European". That is something National Party deputy leader Gerry Brownlee is not happy about. Mr Bownlee says many of us are not affiliated with Europe, and Statistics New Zealand is doing too much to divide the nation.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Aircraft Crashes At Wanaka.

A light aircraft has crashed upon takeoff from the airport at Wanaka. Police say it happened just before five o'clock Saturday afternoon. The pilot, and only occupant, sustained some injuries when the privately-owned Tacnam plane went down 30 metres from the runway. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZers Caught Up In Brazil Art Theft.

Two New Zealanders are reportedly among tourists caught up in a big art theft in Brazil. Four thieves took advantage of a carnival procession outside a museum in Rio de Janeiro to steal works by Monet, Picasso, Dali and Matisse. The thieves apparently threatened guards and visitors with grenades. Among the stolen paintings are Pablo Picasso's "Dance," Claude Monet's "Marine," Henri Matisse's "Luxemburg Garden," and Salvador Dali's "Two Balconies." South American website Global Online reports the New Zealand couple, and two Australian tourists, were among those held by the gunmen during the robbery.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Saturday, February 25

More turbulence ahead for Air NZ.

As unions reeled from another round of job cuts at Air New Zealand, the airline was defending its actions - and warning there could be more discomfort ahead. "The tough decisions unfortunately haven't ended yet," chief executive Rob Fyfe said. "I am determined Air NZ will become the right size and shape to earn the right to grow going forward." Yesterday Air NZ announced a possible 470 corporate job losses as it announced its financial position - a 55 per cent fall in first half profit. The latest swathe of job cuts bring the number of redundancies at Air NZ to 917, after it recently axed 114 cleaners and 310 people from its engineering division.
By Catherine Harris

Motorists dealt a second price shock at the pumps.

Motorists yesterday suffered their second price shock in a week, and a weakened kiwi dollar also helped push diesel to a new peak. The latest petrol rise of 2c a litre means the price has jumped 6c since Tuesday, to the level it reached a month ago, equalling its highest price since Hurricane Katrina drove 91-octane petrol to a record $1.56c in September. Most urban service stations are now selling 91-octane for $1.48c a litre and 95-octane for $1.53c.
By Mathew Dearnaley

Free digital TV on the way.

Decisions clearing the way for free-to-air digital television are expected by the end of the year. The Government favours a BBC-style model, creating at least two commercial-free digital channels with a public broadcaster approach to broaden the fare offered on One and TV2. Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey hopes to have a specific plan for TVNZ approved by the end of the year.
By Geoff Cumming

Water is answer to kidney problems.

Kidney disease is increasing at an alarming rate, according to the New Zealand Kidney Foundation. Spokeswoman Carmel Gregan-Ford says there are at least 260,000 New Zealand adults who have a significant amount of kidney dysfunction. She says end-stage kidney disease is costing $80 million a year to treat. The Foundation is asking people to be kind to their kidneys, and drink lots of water. Ms Gregan-Ford says they have declared this National Drink Water week Schools are also encouraging students to choose water rather than sugar laden soft drinks.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZ Arts Festival is underway.

A bird's eye view of the earth is one of the must-sees at the New Zealand International Arts Festival, now underway in Wellington. The festival features more than 100 events and exhibits which last through to March 16. Over the past two decades the biennial New Zealand International Arts Festival has attracted around 300,000 people each year.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Pay campaign gathers momentum.

Supersize My Pay campaigners say last night's strike action which hit the Restaurant Brands' national call centre was their most successful yet. The campaigners say the call centre is one of the lowest paying call centers in New Zealand, paying just above the adult minimum wage and only employs part-time workers The Restaurant Brands umbrella includes Pizza Hut and KFC. Workers at a Burger King in Auckland and a KFC in Wellington became the latest to join the ongoing industrial action. Unite spokesman Simon Oosterman says workers at Burger King were intimidated and being threatened with the sack.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

New town unveiled in Christchurch.

Plans for a new, billion dollar town have been revealed in Christchurch in what it's developers describe as the "largest model in the world". Pegasus town will be built just north of Christchurch, and Thursday's launch gave new meaning to buying straight from the plans.
Source:One News

Rescuers get beached whale back to sea.

Volunteers helped Department of Conservation staff rescue a whale which tried to beach itself in Auckland yesterday. The grey's beaked whale, which looks like a large dolphin, tried to beach itself on Narrow Neck Beach in Devonport on Auckland's North Shore about midday yesterday. DOC staff, a marine mammal ranger and volunteers helped load the distressed whale on to a pontoon and towed it out to sea about 4pm, in front of a crowd of about 300.
Source: NZPA

Friday, February 24

Warehouse warns of killer plants.

A South Island-wide recall is being issued by the Warehouse to customers who have recently bought swan plants from its stores. The plants, commonly used by gardeners to attract Monarch butterflies, were sourced from a Southland nursery but have been contaminated by a toxic spray drift which will kill caterpillars and butterflies. The Warehouse says only its South Island stores have been affected and customers who have bought the swan plants can return them for a full refund or replacement.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Census details a century of changes.

As New Zealand prepares for its latest census on March 7, facts from the last century show the type of information it has provided and give an indication of issues that were important at the time:
Notes on each census since 1901 click HERE
Source: NZPA

'Razor gang' denies cost-cutting.

The Government has released details of a far-reaching review of state spending and performance, but denies the ministerial "razor gang" is a cost-cutting move. Its first targets will be agencies and programmes that have received sharply increased funding, but may not be delivering value for money. They include business assistance programmes, the health sector, Child Youth and Family and capital spending and asset management in Defence, Corrections, Justice and Police. The sustainability and shape of long-term funding for Defence and its procurement policies would also be examined. "The reviews are not aimed at cost-cutting, they are intended to assist government to get more nimble at moving resources to where they have the greatest impact within the agency," Associate Finance Minister Trevor Mallard said.
By VERNON SMALL Source:Dominion Post

Japanese tourist missing.

A search and rescue operation has been launched on the West Coast for a missing Japanese tourist. Sixty-six-year-old Katsusbaro Najashima was last seen at Punakaiki on Tuesday. It is thought he intended to walk the Inland Pack Track. The alarm was raised after he failed to return to his accommodation.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Top US general praises NZ role in Afghanistan.

The top-ranking commander of United States forces in the Middle East has praised New Zealand's contribution in Afghanistan, saying it has been "very helpful to the coalition". General John Abizaid met Prime Minister Helen Clark in Wellington yesterday during a short visit to New Zealand. His stopover came two days after Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters raised eyebrows when he said the US did not give New Zealand the credit it deserved for its role in the Pacific. Asked about the issue, General Abizaid said: "I can't say what role I think that New Zealand would play in the Pacific but I can tell you that New Zealand's role in Afghanistan has been very helpful to the coalition.
By Ruth Berry

Sky dumps Alison Mau from Prime.

Television presenter Alison Mau has been dumped from Prime TV following a week of what she calls "inexplicably callous treatment" by its new owner, Sky Television (NZ). Mau had been tipped to replace Prime's week-nights newsreader, recently married Suzy Aitken, who now goes by the name Suzy Clarkson. But Sky yesterday announced Clarkson would carry on with Prime under a new contract alongside Eric Young.
By Angela Gregory

Clinton cruises into City of Sails.

Apparently fully recovered from a bout of "Delhi belly", Bill Clinton arrived in Auckland early today on the final leg of a speaking tour expected to earn him more than $1 million. The globe-trotting former United States President flew in from Australia on a private jet after speaking engagements in Sydney and Melbourne. Mr Clinton's speech, to be delivered to the Global Business Forum at SkyCity's convention centre, is expected to be broadly similar to that delivered in Australia, touching on war, terrorism and HIV/Aids.
By Anne Beston and Stuart Dye

NZ hostages freed unhurt.

Five New Zealanders were among more than 50 meat workers held hostage at a Vanuatu abattoir yesterday by a gang of colleagues armed with machetes and metal bars. Between 30 and 40 armed men entered the abattoir on the outskirts of Port Vila about 9am local time [11am NZT] and held 45 local workers, the New Zealanders and an Australian hostage for six hours. The hostage takers were union members who have been locked in a dispute with the Vanuatu Government for more than a year over work conditions. The drama ended when the Army signed an agreement to ensure continued negotiations, according to the Vanuatu National Workers Union.
By Louisa Cleave

French steal 'Kiwi' for EU wine labels.

A French winemaker has registered the name "Kiwi" for use on any wine sold in Europe - meaning the term cannot be used there by New Zealand winemakers. Loire valley wine producer Andre LaCheteau is selling a dry white wine made from French grapes called Kiwi Cuvee. His cheeky move has already forced one New Zealand winemaker to stop using a Kiwi label on wine it had started selling in Sweden, despite it going on sale before the French company registered the name. New Zealand Winemakers spokesman Philip Gregan said it was an ironic twist on French complaints about people poaching their wine names such as champagne and burgundy.
Source: NZPA

Thursday, February 23

Kiwi berries harvest underway.

First there was the good old green kiwifruit, then came the 'gold' variety. Now the latest variety is kiwi berries. The small hairless fruit are being packed for export in Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty. Linda Harley, from the Kiwi Berry Growers Association says 2,500 trays have been picked this week, and are heading by air to about eight countries. She says growers have 22 hectares in production and there is now pressure to get enough fruit onto the market.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Gold nugget sells for $15,000.

A Southland man who discovered a huge gold nugget while snorkelling in the Arrow River last month has sold the precious metal for $15,000 on auction website eBay. The auction, which closed at 4am yesterday morning, attracted 36 bids from 12 potential buyers from New Zealand, Australia and the United States since being listed on Valentine's Day, The Southland Times reports today. Hobby prospector Henry Geerlings, who found the 8.87 troy ounce, or 275g nugget, said he got out of bed at 3am to watch the final hour of the auction unfold.
Source: NZPA

Fonterra to axe 300 cheese jobs.

Fonterra is to close its Dunedin and Panmure Mainland cheese plants with the loss of at least 300 jobs. The dairy giant delivered the blow to staff yesterday as it attempts to cut costs and increase productivity across its businesses. A spokesman said staff were told yesterday that the company's preferred option was to close the plants, and staff can now make submissions on the proposal. Fonterra has proposed to relocate its Eltham plant to a new site which would be re-equipped. It is understood the three sites employ about 400 staff, and only 100 would be needed to operate the new plant.
Source:Dominion Post

Wednesday, February 22

Showgrounds in for $26m expansion.

After 53 years as the venue for the Easter Show and recent events ranging from the Bride and Groom Show to Big Boys' Toys, the newly named ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane is being redeveloped at a cost of $26 million. The first stage is under way to complete a new entrance, food courts, wine bar, function rooms and extensions to two exhibition halls in time for the Royal Easter Show in April. The second stage will involve demolishing all of one hall and part of another to create a main 6000sq m hall.
By Bernard Orsman

Ocean surges rob area of tourist cash.

Hawkes Bay missed out on up to $150,000 in tourist spending because of ocean surges that forced a cruise ship to bypass Napier yesterday. The difficult conditions prevented the Statendam with about 1200 passengers from berthing or from being moored safely.The Hawke's Bay Today calculated that $150,000 was lost to the city.

NZer detained over Polish roof collapse.

A New Zealand man is being questioned in Poland today over the collapse of a crowded exhibition hall in the south of the country last month in which 65 people died. Bruce Robinson, managing director of Expomedia, the London-based parent company of International Katowice Fairs (MTK) which owned the building, was picked up in Warsaw yesterday and taken to Katowice for questioning by a prosecutor. Two other members of the management team have been detained with him. The snow-laden corrugated iron roof of the vast exhibition hall in the southern industrial town of Chorzow caved in on January 28 when about 200 people were inside attending one of Europe's biggest racing pigeon shows.

Nurses warn of staff crisis.

The Nurses Organisation is warning that a recruitment crisis is looming in the primary health sector. The union has conducted a survey of members ahead of planned collective contract talks with 650 employers covering around 3,000 primary healthcare staff. They are demanding a pay rise of nearly $10,000. Spokeswoman Chris Wilson says 95 percent list pay parity with nurses at district health boards as the top priority to keep them in the industry and more than 60 percent say there are recruitment problems in their workplace. She says matters will rapidly become a crisis, if union members remain underpaid and undervalued.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Big rise in Kiwis leaving for Australia.

It seems the lure of Australia's hot weather, golden beaches, higher paying jobs and better opportunities remains irresistible to New Zealanders. Statistics New Zealand figures issued yesterday, show 22,500 more citizens left New Zealand for Australia than returned last year - up almost 34 per cent on 2004. It is the highest net loss to Australia since a net 24,600 left in 2001. Overall, New Zealand gained 7000 people more than it lost during 2005, about half the 15,100 gain of 2004. National's finance spokesman, John Key, said the number of New Zealanders voting with their feet and moving to Australia was alarming. "The Government continues to be in a state of denial about the increasing competitiveness of the Australian economy," he said. "Quite clearly the massive tax reductions that (Australian Treasurer) Peter Costello has been signalling in Australia are continuing to attract more and more skilled Kiwis."
By SUE ALLEN Source:Dominion Post

Maori MP wants total smoking ban.

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira is floating the idea of a total ban on smoking tobacco, but he appears to have little support. The Tai Tokerau MP said he wanted a ban on the sale and manufacture of tobacco. The reformed smoker also wants the Government to take legal action against tobacco companies for "those who smoke, those who have died from smoking and those who will continue to die". Mr Harawira said too many people, especially Maori, were dying of tobacco-related illnesses so it was time to make a stand against tobacco.

Tuesday, February 21

Army Landrovers in big demand.

The queues of buyers are already forming as the Army prepares the first batch of surplus Landrovers to go on the market. The army is replacing about 300 petrol-powered Landrovers with its new Pinzgauer truck and Nissan Navara light operational vehicle. A handful of the fleet have already been sold but they were not operational and did not attract a lot of interest. In April the Army will sell about 100 Landrovers at auctions at the Burnham and Linton Army camps and the sales had attracted "a tremendous amount of interest", said the Army's assistant chief of general staff, Colonel Peter Cunningham.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Work starts on first big tunnels for 30 years.

Rock was broken yesterday in the first big road-tunnel project in 30 years - the $365 million tolled motorway extension north of Auckland. A 50-tonne boring machine called a road-header raised a cloud of dust but little noise as it began drilling the first portal of a set of 340m twin tunnels through Johnstones Hill at the northern end of the 7.5km extension from Orewa to just before Puhoi. The two tunnels, 15m apart but with emergency connection chambers, will eventually be linked to a sweeping 537m viaduct which Transit New Zealand and its construction partners are building above the Waiwera River.
By Mathew Dearnaley

MTV boss tipped for TVNZ chief's job.

Expatriate New Zealander Brent Hansen has quit as boss of MTV Europe, fuelling speculation that he may become TVNZ's new chief executive. Mr Hansen, who has spent the past 15 years at MTV, has not publicly commented on why he resigned or what he will do next. There has been speculation in US media that Mr Hansen, who made his name in New Zealand as producer of the iconic 1980s music programme Radio with Pictures, will return to New Zealand to run TVNZ.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Road safety course for foreign students.

A growing number of international students are falling victim to accidents on Auckland's roads. Two thousand students will attend seminars over the next two days aimed at promoting the road safety message. Over the past five years, some 56 Asian pedestrians have been hit by vehicles in Auckland city. Road safety co-ordinator Claire Dixon says the accidents share a lot of common factors although many are caused by students failing to adjust to the fact New Zealanders drive on the other side of the road. She thinks as a result of that, many cross directly into the path of oncoming traffic.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Westport water at record lows.

Residents of Westport and nearby Carters Beach may have to boil drinking water as reservoir levels fall to record lows. An unusually dry summer has pushed water supplies to their limit. Buller District Council communications officer Lisa Hankey said the council was investigating supplementing the water supply with untreated water from a disused bore near the Buller Bridge, last used by a flax mill in the 1970s. Council staff have been pumping water from another source and the town's residents have been conserving water, but the efforts have not been enough. Water in the three reservoirs are 26 per cent of normal levels, down nearly 11% on Thursday's measurement. The reservoirs could be emptied in six days if there is no significant rain.
By SANDRA COX Source:Dominion Post

Oops - PM tells press of secret visitor.

Prime Minister Helen Clark has made an embarrassing gaffe by announcing the visit of a high-ranking American general – and then asking media not to publish the fact. Miss Clark announced yesterday at her regular post-Cabinet press conference that this week she would meet General John Abizaid, the head of the United States Central Command, which includes US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. But within an hour of the press conference Miss Clark's chief press secretary David Lewis approached media to ask them not to publish what she said, citing US sensitivities over security issues. Mr Lewis said last night that a mistake he had made had led Miss Clark to make the announcement a day early.
Source:Dominion Post

Monday, February 20

PM sends Telecom a message.

The Prime Minister is sending Telecom another warning that its performance must improve. Last week, the company announced it was reducing prices and upgrading broadband speeds, but Helen Clark says the company cannot continue to only make moves when it comes under pressure from the public or Government. She says she has come away from conferences such as APEC feeling like New Zealand is a country cousin in telecommunications. Miss Clark says New Zealand may have been one of the first countries in the world to have access to broadband, but has been outstripped. "I'm interested in how we move forward so that our people get the advantages of fast Internet access right across the country." Miss Clark does not want to prescribe any solutions, but says the Government is serious about getting results.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZ whisky among the best.

A Timaru-based distillery is considered to be up there with the best according to The Malt Whisky Year Book, the international whiskey review. The Coaster, a whisky aged for four years before bottling, is the only New Zealand whisky picked for the international accolade. Southern Distilling Company owners Peter Wheeler and Malcolm Willmott say the inclusion of the 'smoked peat, single malt nature' of The Coaster comes after a $4 million upgrade of the distillery. Mr Wheeler says the recognition is great and says the company is about to release a new whiskey onto the market that Irish-kiwis will love.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

New kiwi record at box office.

The World's Fastest Indian is now New Zealand's number one film of all time. The movie, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as Burt Munro, has surpassed Once Were Warriors at the local box office over the weekend. It has earned $6,700,000 and distributor John Hart believes it will top the $7 million dollar mark. The film has only just opened in the United States and Britain. Mr Hart believes the British will embrace Anthony Hopkins and the Americans will like it because it paints a good picture of them.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZ shines in Cambridge exams.

Almost 30 New Zealand students sitting Cambridge International Exams have topped an international results table. The students, from among about 45 schools that offer the exam as an alternative to NCEA, will be recognised at a "Brilliance in New Zealand" prize-giving night on Friday. Macleans College at Bucklands Beach, Manukau City, was one of the high achievers with three of the five world top places at A-level (equivalent to NCEA level 3). Nine Kiwis topped the world at IGCSE level (equivalent to NCEA level 1) and 13 at AS level (NCEA 2).
By Stuart Dye

New Zealand coins set to change in July.

New 50, 20 and 10 cent coins will be introduced around the country on July 31, the Reserve Bank announced today. The new coins will retain the same design but will be smaller and lighter. The new 10c coin is to be copper coloured. Reserve Bank currency manager Brian Lang said there would be a transition period of three months, from July 31 to October 31 2006, during which time both old and new coins could be used. "From November 1, 2006, you will not be able to use the old coins, including the 5c coin, but you will always be able to redeem them at the Reserve Bank," Mr Lang said.

Cervical cancer vaccine on way.

New Zealand women and girls will be able to buy a world-first vaccine to help protect themselves against cervical cancer, possibly within eight months. CSL, the company which will supply the Gardasil vaccine injections in New Zealand, hopes the Government will license it by October. It will cost $100 to $300 for the three-shot course. With three-yearly cervical smears, the vaccine could become part of the protection against a disease which, although declining, is each year found in about 180 new patients and kills 60. The vaccine protects against the human papilloma virus (HPV) strains which account for 70 per cent of cervical cancers. Because HPV is sexually transmitted, the vaccine is most effective if given before a person becomes sexually active. It is expected to be offered for girls as young as 11, to protect them before they first have sex and to coincide with the last of the childhood vaccinations on the national schedule.
By Martin Johnston
click HERE for full story

Petrol to cost $2 a litre by year end, warns expert.

Petrol will rise to $2 a litre by the end of this year and society should be preparing now for the day when oil runs out. This is the bleak picture painted by Michael Saunders, a transport energy specialist studying for a doctorate in Brazil. His presentation to a forum of Tauranga engineers, Planning for Long-term Fuel Shortages, was partly about weaning Kiwis off their cherished cars.

UN ozone experts meeting in Otago.

United Nations ozone experts will meet in Alexandra, Central Otago, on Friday to update their report on the environmental effects of ozone depletion. The ozone layer, 24km above the earth's surface, acts as a shield against UV radiation, and the United Nations Environment Programme scientists will report on the environmental effects of depletion of the ozone and its interactions with climate change. The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) is hosting the panel between February 24 and March 4. Niwa has hosted two previous meetings of the panel - in Queenstown, 1996, and Wellington, 2002. The panel is made up of experts from Europe, Scandinavia, North and South America, Africa, and Asia, including Dr Richard McKenzie who works at Niwa's atmospheric research station near the tiny Central Otago settlement of Lauder.
Source: NZPA

Nats still ahead in latest poll.

National has maintained its lead in a new One News-Colmar Brunton poll, but Labour's support is on the rise. The poll, broadcast last night, shows National with 45 per cent support, down 1 per cent from December. Labour is on 42 per cent, up 5 per cent. Of the minor parties, the Greens remain unchanged on 6 per cent, New Zealand First is down 2 points to 4 per cent, while support for the Maori Party (2 per cent), United Future (1 per cent) and ACT (1 per cent) remains unchanged. While National maintained its lead over Labour, leader Don Brash's support as preferred prime minister slipped from 20 to 18 per cent.

Delivery of census forms starts today.

Collectors will today start delivering forms for the five-yearly census, to be held on Tuesday, March 7. A nationwide force of 6500 collectors will deliver the forms to around 4.2 million individuals and 1.6 million dwellings.

Sunday, February 19

Footing the bill for Bill.

There is concern the cost of security for Bill Clinton's speaking trip to New Zealand this week will make a dent in the Police budget. The former US president will be in the country to speak to an audience paying more than 1500 dollars each to attend the seminar of which Mr Clinton is part. While Mr Clinton will better off by several hundred thousand dollars, the taxpayer will be picking up the bill for his Police security measures. Police Association president Greg O'Connor says the Clinton visit is just one occasion where event organisers are effectively being subsidised. Mr O'Connor says now might be a good time to discuss whether such organisers should be chipping in to help cover security costs.Mr O'Connor says there is a big difference between an official visit on state business, and a private trip for cash such as this.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Oxfam to come to mudslide victims' aid.

Oxfam New Zealand will find out today just how it can help those involved in the Philippines mudslide disaster. Hundreds are feared dead after a mountain collapsed, burying homes and a crowded elementary school. The disaster engulfed most of Guinsaugon, a farming village of about 1,800 people in Leyte province. Oxfam's executive director in New Zealand, Barry Coates, says a programme manager in the Philippines has flown over the area with the civil defence teams to get a better idea of the devastation.

Nazi hunter seeks war criminals in NZ.

Israeli Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff arrives in New Zealand tomorrow to publicise Operation Last Chance, a last attempt to round up surviving Nazi war criminals. Zuroff, director of the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, in 1990 sent the New Zealand government the names of 46 suspected Nazi war criminals living in this country. But after a police inquiry, the National government decided in 1992 there was not enough evidence to bring a prosecution. The centre now runs Operation Last Chance, which offers a $US10,000 ($15,000) reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of war criminals.
By ANTHONY HUBBARD Source:Sunday Star Times

Saturday, February 18

Campbell aces Halberg Awards.

Michael Campbell's career came full circle last night when he won the Halberg Supreme Award for his achievements as a professional golfer - 13 years after he clinched the title as a member of the Eisenhower Trophy amateur team.Before more than 1000 people gathered at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre in Manukau, Campbell was also named 2005 sportsman of the year for winning the US Open at Pinehurst and the world matchplay championship at Wentworth, England. An emotional Campbell choked back tears during the highly-charged presentation. He smiled and laughed as his children, Thomas and Jordan, hammed it up in a live TV cross and was clearly moved as the Patea Maori Group performed a song for him written by his grandmother.
By Martin Johnston

NZers want to have another go at Nile trip.

Two New Zealand adventurers are preparing to resume their journey to the source of the Nile only months after aborting the trip because a friend helping them was murdered. Veteran rafting guide Cam McLeay, 43, and Wellington businessman Garth MacIntyre, 40, will again join Scots millionaire Neil McGrigor but plan to take armed guards with them this time, the Glasgow Herald reports. The team had to temporarily abandon their dream of charting the legendary river from sea to source, after a friend who helped them during difficulties on the river was killed during an ambush by Ugandan rebels. Authorities later said the party made itself vulnerable to the November attack by rebels on a remote Ugandan road left by setting off ahead of a military escort. The two New Zealanders and another Briton, George Heathcote, 40, of England, fled on foot from the ambush - in which about 20 bullets were fired - leaving Mr McGrigor behind with an injured leg, and their friend Steve Willis, the proprietor of a tourist camp at Paraa in northern Uganda. Mr Willis, 36, was shot dead at the scene, in Murchison Falls National Park, after leaving behind 22 soldiers and armed rangers with the expedition equipment because he was late for an appointment.

Kawhia was home of the giant penguin.

Children on a fossil hunt have discovered the remains of what may have been the biggest penguin to waddle the planet. The remains were found last month near Kawhia and are thought to be 40 million years old. Experts think it may be the finest example of the long-extinct bird found. They say the Kawhia giant dwarfed the huge emperor penguin, and had it lived today would have looked many men in the eye.
By LUCY REED.. Waikato Times

Kiwi conman jailed over $83m fraud.

New Zealand conman Derek Turner has been sentenced to 20 years in a United States jail for swindling investors worldwide of $83 million. The former Aucklander broke down and cried – and blamed his victims – in a New York court yesterday as Judge Joanna Seybert handed down the sentence. Turner – and his high-profile lawyer Joe Conway – had argued for a lesser sentence after he admitted a $US16 million ($NZ24 million) fraud, relating to a non-existent hedge fund when Turner was based in the Bahamas. He had been arrested in April last year after an FBI sting and was due to be sentenced to a maximum of six years' jail.
By CHALPAT SONTI Source:Dominion Post

World titles galore for NZ.

New Zealand has bounced back from a mediocre two days of pool events with a barnstorming first day of open beach events at the World Lifesaving Championships in Melbourne. New Zealanders claimed four world titles at the beach to move from sixth to second behind Australia. Team captain, Morgan Foster set the standard, winning the men's beach sprint with Holly Moczydlowski winning the women's sprint. Nikki Cox won the women's ski race and the men's beach relay team retained its world title.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Friday, February 17

School pays kids to turn up.

Wellington High School is paying pupils $50 just to turn up to school. The inner city co-educational school has told pupils that if they get to the end of the year without missing any classes, they will win $50 and a certificate. Thirteen pupils – out of a roll of about 1000 – received the money last year. One parent said she was angry the school was spending money, including parents' $300 donations, on "bribes". "I will be deducting the $50 that the school seems to think it can afford from my kids' school fees...It is outrageous." Schools should encourage attendance by ensuring teachers were interesting rather than offering incentives, she said.
By SOPHIE NEVILLE Source:Dominion Post

NZers choose overseas travel.

More New Zealanders are taking their holidays overseas. Research carried out by the Ministry of Tourism shows there has been a nine-and-a-half percent fall in spending by domestic travellers, which is a $733 million drop; the amount domestic travellers pump into the economy is down to $7 billion annually. Researcher Bruce Bassett says people are preferring to travel overseas than within New Zealand, probably because the high New Zealand dollar is making it more affordable to travel overseas. He says while there may be some concern from local tourism operators, the number of visitors coming to New Zealand from abroad is still high
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Money still rolling into Govt coffers.

The money continues to roll into the Government's coffers, again defying Treasury predictions. During the final six months of last year, the operating surplus was $4.4 billion, $1.6 billion ahead of forecasts. The bigger than expected surplus was driven mainly by the sale of Meridian Energy's Australian subsidiary Southern Hydro and better than expected investment returns.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Fat attack launched on obese kids.

The Government is gearing up for a major assault against New Zealand's costly and growing epidemic of child obesity. Three senior ministers will next month discuss a Cabinet paper on health, education and physical activity initiatives to tackle the problem. Nearly one in three New Zealand children are overweight or obese. The blitz has the backing of the Prime Minister, who said this week that the Government was looking at "fresh policies" to tackle child obesity. "Our rates are disturbing and will deliver poor health long-term to many of our people at a very high cost to the taxpayer," Helen Clark said. Education Minister Steve Maharey told the Herald yesterday that halting child obesity was one of his priorities. The 2002 National Children's Nutrition Survey found 31 per cent of New Zealand children were either overweight or obese. For Maori children the figure rose to 41 per cent, and for Pacific Island children 62 per cent.
By Ainsley Thomson

Canterbury rail crash blamed on heat.

A rail line buckled by heat caused 27 wagons to tumble from the Selwyn River Bridge in Mid-Canterbury last month, investigators have found. Ontrack, the agency responsible for railway track maintenance and safety, said no problems had been detected during a track inspection two hours before the derailment.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Apple-picking illegals told to leave the country.

Sixteen people living unlawfully in the Hastings area have been ordered to leave the country. Apple-picking season is under way, and people who either do not have work permits or are in the country illegally are historically attracted to the area at this time of year. Department of Labour border security group manager Api Fiso said the department had received information about the illegals.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Transtasman single market back on agenda.

Moves to speed up the formation of a single economic market between New Zealand and Australia will be on the agenda at a high level meeting next week. Finance Minister Michael Cullen will hold talks with Australian Treasurer Peter Costello at the meeting in Melbourne. Dr Cullen said: "Work on the single economic market objective has been a key feature of recent bilaterals and I am hopeful of good progress on measures to better integrate the two economies. "The bilateral is an important opportunity to discuss regional economic issues and to accelerate initiatives towards a single economic market." The meeting is an annual event and this time Dr Cullen will be accompanied by Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel.

No surprise at Tokelau result.

A Tokelau community leader in Auckland is not surprised an independence referendum has failed. The UN-supervised referendum fell just short of the required two-thirds majority, although most of the votes were in favour of independence.. Fala Iosua says Tokelau, with a total population of around 1500 people, does not have the infrastructure to sustain itself. He says there is no working economy, as the money just goes round and round and no new wealth is created. He says business activity is non-existent. Tokelau relies on the $4 million sent annually by New Zealand to fund its civil service. Tokelau will remain on the United Nations list of 16 non-governing territories which means it will not be able to become a member of the Pacific Forum or the European Union's development assistance programme.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

De-stressing the workplace.

Too many staff are getting stressed at work - and giving up. The Working Well group which is organising a series of countrywide seminars on the issue, aimed at trying to give employers the tools to stop staff leaving or getting too depressed. Organiser Anna McNaughton says it is everyone's responsibility to make work a better place. She says retention of staff is a major problem and many bosses need to create an atmosphere which is conducive to encouraging staff to stay.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

NZ mothers getting older.

New Zealand mothers are getting older, while the birth-rate continues to languish below the level required by a population to replace itself. According to figures released by Statistics New Zealand today, annual birth rates for the December 2005 year suggest New Zealand women average 2.0 births – the same as for the last decade. The total fertility rate required for a population to replace itself without migration is 2.1 births per woman. However, New Zealand is still marginally more fertile than Australia, which has only 1.8 births per woman, and England and Wales (1.7).
Source: NZPA

Thursday, February 16

Property market is sluggish.

The number of residential properties sold last month hit a five-year low. Around 3,600 homes changed hands, the lowest January figure since 2001. In comparison, there were more than 7,000 sales in January 2005.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

TVNZ board to face charges.

Television New Zealand is being hauled in front of Parliament's privileges committee. Parliament's Speaker Margaret Wilson has adopted a recommendation from the Parliamentary select committee which unanimously supported the course of action. TVNZ will now have to front up to the committee to defend the charge which arises from its censure of former boss Ian Fraser for attacking the board. Mr Fraser stepped down from the CEO's job last October saying he had no confidence in the board. He fronted up to the inquiry and outlined why he had lost confidence, and as a result the board accused him of serious misconduct and stripped him of any further duties. Mr Fraser is on the payroll until April.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Focus refunds cash to Government.

An organisation providing support services for the disabled has had to refund millions of dollars to the Government. Focus 2000 is the country's largest non-profit organisation, which provides services for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. An audit carried out in 2004 discovered that the group had been invoicing the Health Ministry for services it never carried out - to the tune of $2.5 million. Deputy Director of General Disability Services Geraldine Woods says the money has now been refunded.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Central NZ feels 5.9 magnitude quake.

An earthquake centred in the South Taranaki Bight was felt in the centre New Zealand at 1.15am. The GeoNet Data Centre says the quake measured 5.9 on the Richter scale and was what it calls a "deep" event. It was centred 80 kilometres north-east of Collingwood, with a focal depth of 180 kilometres.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

MP wants smoking made illegal.

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira wants smoking made illegal. Anti-smoking lobby group ASH has made a submission to Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Select Committee to increase tobacco excise. It wants another $1.50 added to the price of a pack of cigarettes. The Te Tai Tokerau MP told the committee that if it is agreed that smoking kills, it should be stopped. Mr Harawira says the medical evidence alone is enough to warrant legislation to make the manufacture and sale of tobacco illegal.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Tax cuts in doubt.

Michael Cullen says it is a fact of life that the Government has to make up the financial shortfall after axing the carbon tax. The Finance Minister has announced that the Government's promise in the Budget to lift personal income tax thresholds, may not now be affordable. He says the carbon tax was worth around $330 million in revenue and was already built into future forecasts. Dr Cullen says the reality is that there is no free lunch when managing the economy. He says forgoing the carbon tax means the Government has to make up the difference by cutting expenditure or boosting revenue.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

V8 race to cost Hamilton $7m.

The cost of bringing the streets of Hamilton up to scratch to host a V8 Supercar event will be up to $7 million, the city's council said today. Ratepayers will foot the bill, with Hamilton City Council saying the money had been set aside in council's long term community plan. The estimate was on the high side of what it might cost, he added. The investment will be used to transform the area around the streets of Frankton from a sleepy suburban village to an international racetrack capable of hosting up to 200,000 spectators.
By Simon O'Rourke

Plantation forests facing decline.

New Zealand's shrinking plantation forests are in danger of declining further. New plantings, which peaked at 98,000 hectares in 1994, are now at their lowest level since 1960. In an annual review of forest planting, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) estimates that 6000ha of new forest land and 32,000ha of harvested land were planted last winter. This is well below the 10,600ha and 40,600ha planted in 2004. Forestry land would decline if commodity prices remained in a downturn and the Government did not alter its climate-change policy, said Forest Owners' Association chief executive David Rhodes.
By TIM CRONSHAW Source:The Press

Wednesday, February 15

Kissing contest ends in romantic proposal.

Locking lips for almost three hours in down-town New Plymouth failed to stop the words coming out of Inglewood's Jarard Peters. "Will you marry me?," he asked his soon-to-be fiancee Phillippa Jordan while down on one knee yesterday, after winning a kissing competition on Devon St in New Plymouth. The 28-year-old said he had numb lips after kissing his love of 10 years for two hours and 42 minutes in the radio station competition, but he had already decided he would propose on Valentine's Day. "I said to myself, if you do win this competition then I will do it." Phillippa (28) said "yes" and the $1500 diamond engagement ring they won was slipped on her finger.

Greens call for controls on TV food ads.

The Green Party wants controls put on TV advertising following the publication of research showing most advertisements on children's programmes are for unhealthy food. "It is crazy that we are allowing our children to be bombarded with advertisements by ruthless marketers for food that we know is unhealthy," said the party's health spokeswoman Sue Kedgley. "These manipulative advertisements are telling children that it is normal and healthy to eat high sugar, high fat, and high salt foods on a regular basis - and encouraging them to pester their parents to buy these products." Ms Kedgley said the best option would be to follow the lead of Sweden and Norway, where no advertising at all was allowed during children's viewing hours.
Source: NZPA

Big cannabis seizure on West Coast.

Police have uprooted 5000 cannabis plants and charged 15 people during a five-day cannabis search on the West Coast. The operation, involving an Iroquois helicopter, 17 police staff and a police dog, finished today. Westport police Sergeant Craig Tickelpenny said the results were better than last year when police searched on foot. Inquiries were continuing and more charges were possible. He was unable to estimate the value of the haul. He said plants ranged in height from seedlings to 2.5m and few were fully mature. A mature plant would have an estimated street value of about $1000 but immature plants were worth little. Like previous years, most of the plants came from Buller. They were concentrated in the Charleston and Karamea areas.

Muslim head girl at Catholic school.

The appointment of a Muslim student as head girl of St Mary's College has raised eyebrows among some who feel the top spot should be reserved for a Catholic. Aysser Aljanabi, an Iraqi student and one of the 10 per cent of non-Catholics at the state integrated Wellington city school has been selected as head girl for 2006. Head students are usually chosen after a student vote and discussions between senior staff and the principal. Old Girls Association president Vonnie Nunns said the appointment had been controversial and admitted to being surprised at a Muslim being made head girl. She would not comment further but said the old girls had "no say in the policy" of the school.
By SOPHIE NEVILLE Source:Dominion Post

PM fires opening shot at Telecom.

Prime Minister Helen Clark used her opening statement to Parliament to fire a warning shot at corporate giant Telecom over the price and quality of its fast internet service. Telecom has been criticised by its rivals and internet users for using its financial strength and near monopoly on local services to limit access to competitive services. Miss Clark said broadband speeds were too slow, New Zealand was one of the few countries with restrictive caps on data, and for broadband uptake the country had slipped to 22nd out of 30 OECD countries.
By VERNON SMALL Source:Dominion Post

Tuesday, February 14

State of the Nation this afternoon.

The Prime Minister will deliver her state of the nation address to Parliament later this afternoon. Helen Clark says it will outline the Government's priority areas for the coming year and will look at the economy. Miss Clark uses the term "economic transformation" which she says means the economy has to be undergoing continual change. She says innovation is the key, along with research and development, skills and business investment which she will cover in her speech.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Name change vote for Wanganui.

The spelling of Wanganui's name has been an ongoing debate for decades but on Saturday a referndum revealed the majority of locals want to keep their city name. About 80% of the people who took part in a referendum wanted to keep their city's name spelt without an h. The spelling of the river's name was changed in 1991 to include the h - when it is spelt with the h it means great expansion of water. Changing names is nothing new. Otago used to be Otakou, Wellington was Poneke, Manukau used to be called Manuka, and Mount Taranaki was changed to Mt Egmont and then back again.
Source:One News

Dogs no longer posties' top hazard.

New Zealand Post says a decrease in dog attacks has made reversing vehicles the number one cause of injury to letter carriers. New Zealand Post general manager Matthew Nant says a carrier is struck by a vehicle on average every three days and around 20% require medical treatment and time off work. Nant says a lot of effort has gone into reducing the number dog attacks and now the emphasis needs to be on the numbers of vehicle collisions.

Land information going electronic.

Land Information New Zealand is completely phasing out paper documents, a move which will cost more than 100 jobs. Cabinet has approved the move to have all survey and land title transactions lodged electronically from 2008. Three of the company's five processing centres, in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, will close by 2015. Of the 255 staff employed in the centres, 112 will lose their jobs over the next three years.

Govt backs school's website initiative.

Education Minister Steve Maharey says the government is backing a website set up by an Auckland school, which allows parents to access information about their child's behaviour. Parents of students at Avondale College will be able to log onto a secure website, which is updated daily with information about their child's academic performance, attendance records and behaviour. Maharey says he will be making other schools aware of the initiative and he believes many will pick it up.
Source:RNZ/One News

Small towns buck property trend.

As predicted the property slowdown has begun, but small sleepy towns particularly in the North Island are bucking the national trend. New figures show Otorohanga, Kawerau and Wairoa have recorded staggering growth in real estate values as city dwellers clamber for bargains. Hamilton house prices are strong but easing, up 26% on the same time last year. Christchurch is up 20%, Wellington 13%, Auckland 11% and Dunedin 10%.
Source:One News

Overseas help for endangered parrot.

New Zealand conservationists are flying in help from overseas in an effort to save the endangered Kakapo.
The birds have become increasingly infertile but it is hoped a foreign expert can inject new life into the breeding programme. Endangered Birds Specialist Dr Juan Blanco has flown half way across the world to help solve the fertility problems of its only flightless parrot. Blanco's expertise is as rare as the birds he works with. The artificial insemination of endangered birds. "The case of the Kakapo is probably the most special in the world because there are so little, just a few numbers," says Blanco.
Source:One News

Renewed call for trawling halt.

Greenpeace is renewing calls for a ban on bottom trawling ahead of an international meeting in Wellington on how to manage and protect marine environments in the South Pacific. The organisation has released pictures of deep sea corals and creatures uncovered by New Zealand fishing trawlers, which it says highlights the destructive nature of bottom trawling. The Ministry of Fisheries says it will take about four years to set up a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation. However, Greenpeace's ocean campaigner Carmen Gravatt says that is too late for animals on the sea floor affected by bottom trawling.

Monday, February 13

Hope not lost in four decade mystery.

Aviation enthusiasts still hope a plane which went missing during a scenic flight from Christchurch to Milford Sound in 1962 will one day be found. 'Lost without a Trace', a book telling the plane's story, has been launched at the Canterbury Aero Club. One of the largest aerial searches to ever take place in New Zealand failed to find any sign of pilot Brian Chadwick and his four passengers on board the Dragonfly ZK-AFB. Aero Club president Chris Bell says 60 people attended yesterday's launch. He says many of those who were part of the original search, still hold hope it will eventually be discovered.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Sunday, February 12

Minimum wage campaign steps up.

The campaign to increase the minimum wage steps up a notch this afternoon. Members of the Unite union are holding a stopwork meeting to push the 'SupersizeMyPay' campaign. Minimum and youth wage workers are being invited to the Auckland Town Hall to hear guest speakers, comedians and musical acts. Campaign director Simon Oosterman says unless companies listen to the outcry against low wages, workers will be forced to take widespread industrial action.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Workers needed for fruit picking.

Hawke's Bay is looking for thousands of workers to help cope with a bumper fruit season. Horticulture New Zealand says the harvest has come a little earlier than usual and it has been a great year for fruit. Hawke's Bay director Ru Collin says the harvest swings into gear from tomorrow and thousands of people are needed to help bring in the fruit. Ru Collin says the work could last up to five months and anyone interested in a working holiday in Hawke's Bay should contact
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Roses in short supply for Valentine.

Here is an early warning for anyone planning a floral treat for someone special on Tuesday. The humid weather is limiting the supply of long stem roses for Valentine Day. But the flower sellers say it is not driving up the price. A dozen will still cost you about the same as last year, between $90 and $100. Interflora's Chris Grindley says the weather has put pressure on flower suppliers.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Eden Park's $200m facelift revealed.

Eden Park is set for a major facelift with a massive new stand for the Rugby World Cup - but the project is likely to cost well over an initial projection of $130 million. The Herald on Sunday has obtained details of a favoured "horseshoe" design for the new-look stadium, which will boost its capacity to 60,000 for the 2011 tournament. The cost of enclosing the ground from three sides - the existing South Stand and Eastern terraces would be demolished and replaced with a huge, multi-tiered structure - would cost closer to $200 million, said an industry source. That cost also includes building a concourse under the stadium and an expanded transport park.
By Dylan Cleaver and Gregor Paul Source:HERALD ON SUNDAY

Saturday, February 11

NZ helping Fiji's squatter settlements.

New Zealand intends to focus its aid efforts for Fiji to help solve the growing problem of squatter settlements. Foreign Minister Winston Peters has just ended his visit to Fiji. Recent figures suggest the number of people living in squatter settlements is increasing significantly. It is estimated 82,350 people are living in 182 settlements across the country. NZAID is contributing up to $2.1 million in 2006, and up to $10 million over the next three years to support the programme. Mr Peters says he will work closely with Fiji's Ministry of Local Government and is committed to providing assistance on a long term basis.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Missing Tongans found.

Four missing Tongan fishermen have been found after more than three weeks at sea. They disappeared on the 19th of January while fishing north of Tonga. They were found this morning 370 kilometres south of Fiji by a Fijian fishing vessel, and are reportedly safe and well. An RNZAF Orion had been involved in the search for two days but was recalled after nothing was found and the search was suspended.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Bacteria from Antarctic volcano used to speed up DNA tests.

A bacterium found in a volcanic vent in the side of Antarctica's Mount Erebus has been developed by New Zealand scientists to speed up forensic DNA testing. The organism - which uses an enzyme to protect and repair its own DNA - has been incorporated in new DNA extraction products to be launched on the world market next week. The process has less risk of contamination and is faster: and getting the DNA out of hair shafts can be cut down from one to two days' work to four hours. Dr Saul has said he expects the new method will take over much DNA testing in the world's crime labs because of its simplicity.

Muslims hope lobbying will prevent fallout.

New Zealand Muslims hope that Middle East exports worth $1.5 billion may yet escape any damage caused by the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The New Zealand Federation of Muslim Associations has been at the forefront this week of lobbying Middle Eastern ambassadors to persuade their political masters not to impose sanctions. "I am very optimistic and hopeful that we will be spared," association president Javed Khan said yesterday. "If it were going to be a huge thing, then obviously we would have been advised by now, or we would have had some sort of communication from these countries, but we haven't received anything."
By DAN EATON Source:The Press

Grand Old Lady set for big opening night.

A $10 million spruce-up of the Hawke's Bay Opera House is on track for a grand opening – and within budget. Extensive renovations to Hastings' "Grand Old Lady" are fast taking shape as preparations are made for a March 24 opening weekend. The project is regarded as the largest redevelopment in Hastings for some time and Hastings Mayor Mr Yule said there was already significant interest in holding national and local events there. The community would be rewarded with an opera and performance venue equal to anything in New Zealand and Australia.
By KAREN HODGE Source:Dominion Post

Friday, February 10

Speedway event attracts overseas attention.

The biggest event of the national speedway calendar is on in Palmerston North this weekend. The 2006 CIS New Zealand Superstock Teams Championships is being held at Arena Manawatu. Speedway promoter Bruce Robertson says the event has attracted 12 teams, including two from Palmerston North. He says interest in the event from overseas has made it a truly international event.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Heavy rain warning for East Coast.

A heavy rain warning has been issued for the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne. Heavy falls, up to 25 millimetres per hour, have continued throughout the morning with heavier rain and thunderstorms affecting parts of Gisborne, north of Tokomaru Bay, by this afternoon.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Fijians warned about fruit picking jobs.

Fijians are being warned about dodgy job-offers in New Zealand. The Immigration Minister has issued the alert after news reports in Fiji about the company "Pooz Travel World", which has reportedly been offering apple picking work in New Zealand. Applicants are being charged $2,000. Immigration Minister David Cunliffe is concerned people are paying for a service that has no guarantees. He says even if a company is acting on a worker's behalf, the applicant still needs to meet certain criteria before being granted a visa.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Peters hints at easing of work permits for Fijians.

The Government might be ready to look at issuing more temporary work permits for Fijians about mid-year when a Cabinet paper would be ready, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said yesterday. Mr Peters gave the assurance at talks yesterday in Nadi with his Fijian counterpart, Kaliopate Tavola. Labour mobility, or the lack of it, is a sore point with Fiji and has repeatedly been raised with New Zealand. Now that New Zealand has labour shortages and the lowest unemployment rate in the OECD, it has reached the Government's agenda. But the issue is being officially overseen by Prime Minister Helen Clark, rather than Mr Peters or the Immigration Minister, David Cunliffe, because it was raised by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase with her several years ago.
By Audrey Young

Rugby-All eyes on Eden Park.

Expect something a bit different from the Hurricanes tonight. All Black centre Conrad Smith says the arrival of former Canterbury coach Aussie McLean in the Hurricanes camp has really added something to their approach to the game. Ahead of tonight's opening Rebel Sport Super 14 game against the Blues at Eden Park, Smith says McLean has made an impact in the "Canes" camp. He says it is always good to hear a voice from outside. Close to 30,000 tickets have been pre sold for the game with Blues officials hopeful for a crowd of around 40,000.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Twister rips through Taranaki beach camp.

Caravans and cabins were hoisted into the air like toys after a tornado carved its way through the Oakura Beach Holiday Park early yesterday. Miraculously, no one was injured during the few seconds of destruction in the campsite about 4am. But the damage to holiday homes at the popular seaside spot is being counted in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Kiwis want State to pay for retirement.

New Zealanders are among those saving the least for their old age, with well over 75 per cent believing the State should provide them with a retirement income, a survey has found. Fund manager AXA surveyed almost 10,000 people in 12 countries, including 615 New Zealanders, about their attitudes to retirement and how they were preparing financially. The survey found that Americans were the best savers, squirreling away $US1253 a month ($NZ1853) for their retirement, followed by people in Hong Kong, who save $NZ862. By comparison, New Zealanders rank a lowly ninth out of 12 countries with people saving only $423-a-month. We rank slightly above Germany, Italy and last-placed Spain. Australians are saving the equivalent of about $NZ660 a month.
By SUE ALLEN Source:Dominion Post

NZ's last colony to vote on future.

Residents on the tiny Pacific country of Tokelau are gearing up for a vote on independence which will be historic both for the population of about 1600 and for New Zealand - but more in symbolic than practical terms. There are 619 people, about 70 or 80 per cent of those eligible, registered to vote on whether New Zealand's last colony should move to self-government. United Nations officials will supervise the referendum which will begin in Samoa's Apia tomorrow for Tokelauans temporarily based there. Apia is the setting off port to get to Tokelau which is 500km north of Samoa, a boat trip of 28 hours or longer. Voters on the atolls Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo will then have their turn and results will be announced on February 15.

Thursday, February 9

Crashed planes from Massey University.

The pilots of two light planes have been killed in a mid-air collision in the Manawatu. The pair were the only occupants of the aircraft, which slammed into each other over the town of Shannon, near Palmerston North at about 9.30 this morning. Both planes were training aircraft from the Massey University School of Aviation, which is not commenting at the moment as they try to work out what went wrong. The Civil Aviation Authority has been advised of the crash.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Wages rising at near record levels.

Wages are rising at their fastest pace in 13 years and are nudging record levels, but economists say the golden days of rapid pay rises may be drawing to an end. Statistics New Zealand's Labour Cost Index showed private sector wages, excluding overtime, rose 0.7 per cent in the December quarter. On an annual basis, the index rose 2.9 per cent - the highest since the survey began in 1992. The more volatile quarterly employment survey, also released yesterday, showed average hourly earnings rose 5.4 per cent to $21.35 in the year ended December - the biggest rise since 1990. Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly said the rapid wage rises were a logical consequence of the tight labour market.
By SUE ALLEN Source:Dominion Post

Australia seeks NZ help in Afghanistan.

Australia, often a critic of New Zealand's defence arrangements, wants tips from Kiwi soldiers on setting up provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan. Prime Minister Helen Clark said Australia intended to establish a provincial reconstruction team (PRT) at Kandahar in the country's troubled south, and had approached New Zealand's Defence Force for advice. "They have certainly been discussing with our defence people how we have conducted our PRT and ours is seen as a model. Miss Clark also said the Government was keen to see a single market between New Zealand and Australia implemented quickly, but progress would have to made carefully and reviewed frequently so that it was not eroded by policy changes in either country.
By MARTIN KAY in Canberra Source:Dominion Post

Whaling Commission 'dysfunctional' - Carter.

The International Whaling Commission is a "dysfunctional organisation in need of radical reform", Conservation Minister Chris Carter says. Opening the seventh annual meeting of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium yesterday, Mr Carter said the activities of Japan's whalers this summer had angered many New Zealanders. Japan abandoned commercial whaling in 1986, in line with an international moratorium, but began catching whales again the following year for what it calls "scientific research". Two Greenpeace vessels recently finished a 75-day protest, shadowing the Japanese fleet across the Southern Ocean and transmitting pictures of the slaughter around the world. "Many Kiwis will find it more than a little ironic that your consortium has now gathered on our shores to discuss non-lethal whale research programmes and techniques," Mr Carter said.

Women 'just as likely to beat up men'.

Young women are as likely to kick, punch and verbally assault their partners as they are to be victims of such attacks, new Christchurch research shows. The School of Medicine survey of more than 800 people found "very similar" levels of domestic violence – ranging from minor psychological abuse to severe assault – inflicted by men and women. Both sexes reported similar rates of injury. Lead researcher David Fergusson said agencies dealing with domestic violence should not assume men were the perpetrators or that women hit out only in self-defence. "In fact, women initiate violence more than men." He said domestic violence typically involved both parties. "If one partner was violent, so was the other one. This contrasts quite sharply with the dominant popular view that domestic violence is largely perpetrated by men on women."
By KAMALA HAYMAN Source:The Press
click HERE for full story

Nats' retreat brings welfare policy pledge.

National has ended a three-day planning meeting with leader Don Brash pledging to put some flesh on the bones of policy intended to reduce welfare dependency. In 2005 Dr Brash caused a stir when he suggested tougher welfare policy was necessary to reduce the numbers of long-term beneficiaries. His idea that women on the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) should have to work or retrain when their youngest child became five and they would not automatically get the DPB if they had another child while on the benefit, resulted in his then welfare spokeswoman Katherine Rich quitting the job. Dr Brash said today his MPs backed his welfare views and current spokeswoman Judith Collins would be working on detail aimed to reduce benefit numbers without hurting children.
Source: NZPA

NZ firm's CEO linked to Australia oil-for-food scandal.

The chief executive of kiwifruit exporter Zespri has been named as an alleged key player in the scandal linking the Australian Wheat Board and the oil-for food-programme in Iraq. An Australian inquiry into the issue has been told that Tim Goodacre, who was chief executive of the AWB until 2002, had intimate knowledge of illegal payments channelled to Iraq, Radio New Zealand reported today. The Australian Wheat Board has been accused of paying A$300 million ($331 million) in kickbacks to the former Iraqi government under the United Nations oil-for-food programme. The AWB's former international trading manager, Mark Emons, alleged that Mr Goodacre, now chief executive of bay of Plenty-based Zespri, was well aware of the payments and was included in all correspondence related to them.
Source: NZPA

Unemployment rate 3.6 per cent.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.6 per cent in the December quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand's (SNZ) household labour force survey published today. There was confusion about whether it represented a rise or fall. The September quarter figure was first published as 3.4 per cent -- the lowest on record since SNZ began the series in 1986 -- but that was revised to 3.7 per cent today. New Zealand had boasted of having the lowest unemployment rate in the world based on the earlier figures.
Source: NZPA

Wednesday, February 8

Crumbs! Who ate all the pies?.

Wanganui police are going house to house in the suburb of Springvale seeking crumbs that might lead them to crates of missing baking. Fifteen crates of bread, pizzas and pies fell off a truck while it was travelling through the area earlier today. Police arrived to find a number of empty crates. They say it appears some locals may have helped themselves before the spilt goods could be secured. As well as investigating issues surround the insecure load, police say they are trying to find the missing food.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Rain forecast for parched areas.

Some welcome rain is expected today in the parched areas of Marlborough and the Kapiti Coast. A low pressure system has moved over an area stretching from Buller and Marlborough to Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. MetService forecaster Bob McDavitt there will be thunderstorms, hail and some brief intense rain this afternoon. Rain is forecast until Friday.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Call for more science students.

New Zealand needs more students to consider science and agriculture-based careers, according to AgResearch. This year it has prizes worth $15,000 for students and their schools who win categories in its annual AgResearch High School Agriculture and Science Photography contest. Spokesman Allanah James says last year it received almost 400 entries and Christchurch Boys' High took out the top honours. She says more young people are needed to study science and consider careers in the pastoral sector.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Big jump in hourly pay rates.

New statistics reveal New Zealanders have more money in their pockets - and the demand for workers is still high. Labour Cost Index figures out today show private sector wages have risen by 0.7 of one percent in the past quarter and 3.1 percent for the year ending December. The average hourly rate is now $21.35 an hour - a jump of 5.4 percent for the year. A December annual movement of this magnitude has not been seen since the year to December 1990 Much of that is due to the big rise in wages for nurses and other health and community service groups. Many workers in transport, storage and communications and wholesale trade areas also enjoyed significant wage rises.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

ANZAC currency unlikely.

An ANZAC currency does not look to be on the horizon. The issue was raised today following bilateral talks in Canberra between Prime Minister Helen Clark and her Australian counterpart John Howard. Miss Clark says the concept of a joint currency has never been ruled in or out. She says there are many implications which would have to be looked at first. John Howard is much more definite, saying Britain is right to stay out of the Euro as giving up a country's currency is a very big step.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

We must follow Australia's tax cuts, says Dunne.

The Government cannot afford to ignore the Australian government's plan for significant cuts to both business and private tax rates, Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said today. Because of this, the Government had to make "bolder" moves to get more than just a brief, temporary advantage from tax changes, he said. Mr Dunne said a thorough review of business taxation was needed to ensure New Zealand remained competitive with its major trading partners such as Australia, encouraged investment and promoted productivity.
Source: NZPA

Touchdown sold to Dutch TV company.

New Zealand reality TV production company Touchdown has been sold. The buyer is a Dutch firm, Eyeworks Group, but there is no word on the sale price. It is understood there are no plans for job losses and Touchdown's high profile founder and CEO Julie Christie is staying on. Touchdown was formed in 1991 and its shows include Treasure Island, Miss Popularity, and The Chair, the format of which was licensed to 25 countries including the BBC in Britain and ABC in the United States.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Dare-devil balloonist fails to fly out of volcano.

Wairarapa hot air balloonist Rick Walczak's attempt this morning to become the first person in the world to fly out of a live volcano has been abandoned due to windy conditions. The dare-devil balloonist was to attempt to fly his egg-shaped balloon out of White Island volcano in the Bay of Plenty about 8am. The weather forecast had been perfect but wind drafts inside the volcano made it too dangerous for the crew, Mr Walczak said from White Island.

Employers feel migrants help businesses.

A new survey shows employers are pleased with the skilled migrants they are hiring, with more than half saying they thought employing a migrant had benefited their organisation more than hiring a New Zealander. Immigration Minister David Cunliffe said today the survey, carried out to see how well the Department of Labour was meeting employers' needs during skills shortages, found 81 per cent of employers were satisfied with the performance of migrants they had working for them. The survey also found 56 per cent of employers thought their organisation had "benefited more" from employing a migrant than it would have from employing a New Zealand resident.
Source: NZPA

Muslim community leaders appeal for calm over cartoons.

New Zealand's Muslim community leaders have appealed for calm in the wake of widespread angry protests over the publication of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. After a meeting of Muslim community leaders in Auckland last night, Javed Khan, president of Federation of Islamic Associations said it was important the situation did not become further inflamed. "We are all New Zealanders, our heart is in New Zealand and we want this issue resolved peacefully," he told NZPA. "We do not want to bring any problems from outside the country to here." The Muslim community in New Zealand was opposed to any trade bans, he said.

Tuesday, February 7

Mild autumn on the cards.

A mild start to autumn is on the cards, but there is a 70 per cent chance a cyclone will make its presence felt in the next three months, according to National Climate Centre predictions. The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) outlook for February-April predicts a mild start to autumn with average or above average temperatures in all regions, and lighter than normal westerly winds. Although there may be cold outbreaks from time to time, temperatures should be relatively mild overall. For the rest of the tropical cyclone season through to April, normal cyclone activity is expected, meaning a 70 per cent chance of a cyclone affecting the country between now and April.

NZ population reaches 4.12 million.

The population of New Zealand has increased to 4.12 million in the past year, according to Statistics New Zealand. The resident population increased by 37,000 (0.9 per cent) to 4,120,900 at December 31, 2005. This increase compared with a rise of 44,500 (1.1 per cent) in the year to December 31, 2004.

Hotdogs and popcorn as Americans celebrate Super Bowl XL in NZ.

United States Ambassador William McCormick was one of dozens of Americans who enjoyed Super Bowl XL at the Cavalier Tavern in Ponsonby yesterday. The Ambassador was a guest of the American Club, which had adorned the tavern in American flags and gone overboard with hotdogs and popcorn. He said Mr McCormick had a great time in a jovial atmosphere, which included a halftime performance from the Rolling Stones. However, the Ambassador's team, the Seattle Seahawks, went down to the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-10.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Holiday jobs attract more travellers from Japan.

Britons make up by far the largest number of working holidaymakers in New Zealand, but Japanese made a determined run into second place. Satomi Matsubara, who works part-time in an inner-city Auckland internet cafe, is one of 3270 young Japanese who came last year, her main goal to improve her English. Fluency, she says, will open up the world and its people to her. New Zealand has established Working Holiday Schemes with 23 countries, ranging from Britain and Ireland to countries with less obvious links: Finland, Uruguay, the Czech Republic and Malta. The programmes, most reciprocal, allow 18 to 30-year-olds to visit and work in New Zealand for a year, except for Britons, who get two years.
By Julie Middleton

Grammar hires enrolment enforcer.

Auckland Grammar School has hired its own enrolments officer to act as a detective to catch families trying to get around the zoning system. The Government requires schools such as Auckland Grammar to draw up a zone of preference rather than select applicants from anywhere. But parents desperate to get their children into the school use tactics such as moving temporarily into the zone or renting a room within it. Headmaster John Morris said late enrolments of students newly arrived in the zone were causing disruption to Grammar's classes and timetables. The school is now refusing to enrol new students claiming to live within the zone after 80 applied within the past week.
By Nicola Boyes

Long road home.

As the end of the long weekend nears, drivers are being urged to be patient when heading home. Roads are expected to get busier, as the evening goes on. National road safety manager Dave Cliff says they have already had calls about impatient drivers who would rather get there quickly than safely. He says the usual routes into Auckland and Wellington are expected to be jammed as drivers head home.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZ's only touring circus for sale.

The Whirling Brothers Circus, New Zealand's only touring circus, is up for sale. The circus has battled animal rights activists for decades, but owner Tony Radcliffe says poor health is the reason he's quitting. It's not often you see a four tonne elephant up for sale, but 40-year-old Jumbo is on the international market along with the Whirling Brothers Circus. The travelling circus has attracted controversy for decades, but 60-year-old Radcliffe says it is his ill health which is forcing him to give up the hard work. It is a unique set-up which doesn't come cheap. Radcliffe is looking for close to one million dollars for the entire circus.
Source:One News

Family not giving up hope.

The family of former All Black Norm Hewitt is having an emotional time as they continue searching for a family member who has gone missing off Mana Island near Wellington. The alarm was raised around 1pm yesterday after Hewitt's 38-year-old brother Robert failed to surface while diving. A wide search of the area has so far failed to find him.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Monday, February 6

Leadership threat for Oxford head.

A New Zealand administrator has reportedly come under fire after attempting to implement reforms at one of England's most prestigious universities. John Hood was appointed vice chancellor at Oxford University in 2004 and has proposed a number of changes including staff performance reviews and establishing a board of governors. The London Times newspaper reported that some university staff are contemplating a vote of no-confidence in protest against Dr Hood's style of management. It says they have accused him of trampling on centuries of tradition by trying to run the university in the style of a business chief executive. In July 2005 another New Zealander Dame Judith Mayhew-Jonas resigned from her role as Provost at Cambridge University's King's College after proposing similar reforms.

Vintage cars mark historic journey.

On Sunday around 150 vintage cars embarked on the final stage of their journey to mark the centenary of the first car trip between Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook. The drivers set off from Lake Tekapo on Saturday, the same day as 100 years previously, when Rodolph Wigley and John Rutherford arrived at the Hermitage hotel at Mount Cook after driving for four and a half days. Leading the rally was a 1902 De Dion, thought to be one of the original cars to make the trip.

No need to peel stickers off fruit.

The days of putting manicured nails at risk trying to peel stickers from fruit and vegetables are over. Foodtown, Woolworths and Countdown supermarkets are introducing new natural light labelling technology today. A precisely tuned beam of light is used to mark fruit and veges with any required information. Progressive Enterprises says it is a safe and simple system which does away with the hassle of trying to peel away annoying little stickers.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Games team victim of theft.

The New Zealand Winter Olympic team has been the victim of theft in the build-up to the Turin Games starting in Italy on Sunday. Equipment and clothing to the value of $20,000 was stolen. It is understood to be almost exclusively gear belonging to officials. The skiing and snowboarding teams have been affected, apparently when their gear took what might be politely termed a "detour" in transit in Canada. Fortunately none of the athletes' expensive equipment has been stolen.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZ Middle-East embassies on high alert.

New Zealand embassy staff in Muslim countries are on high alert after two New Zealand papers published controversial cartoons of Prophet Mohammed this week. "The posts closest to the action have been instructed to contact (us) by phone overnight if there were any issues, and there have been no responses," Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman Rob Hole said Sunday. New Zealand has embassies in Tehran, Iran, and Riyadh of Saudi Arabia and are in the process of establishing an embassy in Cairo, Egypt, said Hole. "We've also advised our posts in other Muslim countries in South East Asia and in Europe where there have been protests," said Hole.

MP calls for Waitangi to be multi-cultural day.

A Maori Party MP is calling for Waitangi Day to be a multi-cultural national day. Hone Harawira will attend this year's celebrations for the first time as Te Tai Tokerau MP. He is urging New Zealanders to think of Waitangi Day as a reason to stop and consider the country's progress and direction. But he also wants it to be a celebration of cultures. Mr Harawira says in future years, he would like to invite leaders from different cultural communities to speak on the Treaty Grounds. He says Waitangi Day should be about marking everything that makes New Zealand unique and special.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Helen Clark says cartoon issue not freedom of press issue.

The Prime Minister has spoken out about the Mohammad cartoon controversy, saying she does not think it is a freedom of the press issue. Helen Clark says the New Zealand press is free, and politicians do not dictate what it can and cannot print. She says it is a question of judgement. She does not think the publication of the cartoons does anything to bring communities together in New Zealand or around the world. Helen Clark says the New Zealand government's position is very strongly in favour of respecting all religions and working to bring communities together, not drive them apart.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Sunday, February 5

Another hoax text message.

Vodafone is warning mobile users up and down the country of yet another hoax text message. There has been a surge in the numbers of people receiving a message promising $20 if you forward a text on to 10 friends. Vodafone has put a list of the most recent hoaxes in its website. It is warning those behind it, that they will be tracked down.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

US and EU back apple access bid.

New Zealand has received top-level support from the United States and the European Union in its battle for access to Australia's apple market. Trade Minister Phil Goff also raised the prospect yesterday of further World Trade Organisation action against Australia. The Americans and Europeans had supported New Zealand when it complained about Australia at a meeting of the WTO's Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee in Geneva this week, Mr Goff said. An end to Australia's 85-year ban on Kiwi apples appeared likely last year when Biosecurity Australia issued an draft import risk analysis, but the proposed rules were so tough, New Zealand growers said exports would be uneconomic. New Zealand was given till the end of March to make submissions.
By JON MORGAN Source:Dominion Post

Dom Post slammed for publishing cartoons.

The government is being criticised for not taking a stronger line on controversial cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed. The Dominion Post has today published the 12 cartoons, which have caused international outrage among the Muslim community. They depict Mohammed in a way which implies involvement in terrorism. Islamic Association president Javed Khan says the government should be taking a stand against the cartoons. Mr Khan says he would have expected the government to show support for a minority group under attack.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

2 dolphins die at Waipu.

Two dolphins have died after a small pod became stranded at Waipu Cove in Northland. Five came ashore, and surf lifesavers managed to turn three of them back out to sea. The small pod of Bottlenose dolphins became stranded just before 1pm.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Kiwis flocking, investing in Fiji.

Despite ongoing political instability, New Zealand tourists are thronging to Fiji in every growing numbers with visitor numbers expected to have topped 100,000 last year. New Zealanders are not just going there to lie on the beach either - they're investing in holiday property. Fijian Tourism Minister Pita Naa-Du-Vah, visiting New Zealand, says the number of Kiwis visiting his country has more than doubled from 49,000 in 2000 to about 108,000 last year. The minister says there are a few reasons for the continuing rise in New Zealanders going to Fiji. He says the old relationship between the two countries has always been there from colonial times and is still very strong today.
ASB Business/TVNZ interactive

Saturday, February 4

NZ tourism slump.

New Zealand inbound tourism is suffering a slump. Latest figures show international visitor numbers are down by just under 2% to slichtly more than 307,000. A slow down in the world economy, rising oil prices, and the strong value of the New Zealand dollar are all thought to be having an impact on the tourism industry. Tourism New Zealand Chief executive George Hickton says it is now time to launch a major promotion of what is great about New Zealand as a destination. He says the promotion needs to remind people about the 100 percent New Zealand campaign when it comes to booking holidays.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Dolphins stranded at Waipu.

A small pod of dolphins has become stranded at Waipu Cove in Northland. Four of the animals, all believed to be Bottlenose Dolphins, came ashore just before 1pm. Surf Lifesaver Lisa Jack says everyone at the beach is doing their best to force the dolphins back out to sea. She says it seems to be a small pod and they hope no more of them make their way onto the beach.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Hefty Kiwis fall over at army's basic training.

Kiwis are getting fatter and less fit, frustrating New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) recruiters trying to boost the number of people in uniform for the first time in decades. Slick television advertisements comparing the excitement of handling military hardware to life on the farm have inspired New Zealanders to peel themselves off the couch, but many are finding they are not as fit as they thought. Defence Force assistant chief, personnel, Bruce Pepperell says that, unlike our allies in Britain, the United States and Australia, New Zealand is having little trouble attracting wannabe soldiers. "We are oversubscribed, and we are pretty picky about who we take. We haven't had to lower our standards yet," he said. With just under 13,000 people in the ranks, recruiters are seeking to add another 3000 people over the next eight years under a long-term initiative to which the Government has contributed more than $4 billion.
By DAN EATON Source:The Press

New tool for DNA testing.

Murderers and rapists who leave the tiniest shred of DNA evidence will be snared with a new crime-fighting tool soon to be used by New Zealand police. The technology will help police solve some of the thousands of cold cases where traces of forensic evidence have been kept. Environmental Science and Research (ESR) forensic scientists are working with leading British forensic scientists to develop the sophisticated new technique, which police hope will be operational by June. Police have thousands of cold, or unsolved, cases on the books for crimes ranging from petty to serious.

Convicted farm worker agrees to leave NZ.

Israeli farmworker Alon Dor, who was accused of contaminating his employer's milk with penicillin, is due to return to Israel today. Dor, 40, had struck a deal to leave New Zealand to escape sentencing on all outstanding charges against him, The Press reported today. Dor was charged with deliberately using penicillin to contaminate 14,000 litres of milk, causing losses of nearly $20,000, at a Mid-Canterbury farm after he was sacked. The charge was later dropped after DNA evidence proved inconclusive. But by then Dor faced other charges, including immigration fraud, assaulting police, intimidation and threatening to kill. In Christchurch District Court yesterday, Dor struck a deal to return to his ailing wife in Israel by pleading guilty to all the outstanding charges in return for leaving New Zealand almost immediately.

Friday, February 3

Secrets to be shared.

The Defence Minister has reached an agreement with NATO to share classified information. Phil Goff is in Brussels at the NATO headquarters for a meeting with Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. The pair has agreed an arrangement for the exchange of sensitive information for shared peacekeeping operations. New Zealand has worked with NATO in Bosnia and is currently serving alongside its forces in Afghanistan. Mr Goff says previously information sharing has been on an ad hoc basis.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Multi million dollar snow machine.

Installation of a multi-million-dollar automatic snow-making machine has begun at The Remarkables Ski Area in Queenstown. Southern Alpine Recreation, which owns the field, has been working for six years to obtain consent from DOC to take water from scenic Lake Alta for snow-making. The state of the art machine starts snow-making automatically when temperatures and conditions are right. It will bring snow-making onto the Castaway Trail, the top of the Superpipe and the Terrain Park. Snow-making is expected to begin in early June with the ski area scheduled to open on June 24.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.


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