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Sunday, April 30

Big wet set to continue.

Weather experts are warning people to keep packing their brollies and raincoats as New Zealand mops up after a miserable few days of torrential rain. Heavy rain warnings remained in force in Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa overnight as the east coast experienced the deluges already felt in Northland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Otago last week. Metservice spokesman Bob McDavitt said 100-130mm of rain fell on the mountains around Hastings in the 24 hours to 6pm last night. Te Puia Springs had 54mm in the same period and Hastings had 36mm. McDavitt said the intense rain was caused by moist air shifting over New Zealand from Tonga and Fiji. It resulted in downpours when that warmer air hit cooler air over New Zealand.
Source:Sunday Star Times

Time capsule uncovered in Ashburton.

A piece of Ashburton's past - a time capsule - has been uncovered during the demolition of the town's old Technical College. Ashburton District Council property manager, John Rooney, says the capsule was sealed beneath the foundation stone when it was laid in 1912. He says it is not uncommon for time capsules to be placed under public buildings, and they often contain items such as coins, postage stamps, and newspapers. The time capsule will be opened tomorrow in the presence of Ashburton's Mayor and members of the local historic society.

Muisc Month launches this afternoon.

It is set to be the month of punk, as New Zealand Music Month kicks of for another year in Wellington this afternoon. The official launch gig at the Wellington Town Hall features hardcore rockers The Bleeders, daredevils turned musicians Deja Voodoo, and all-girl Wellington three-piece band, Cherry's Gemstones, who are releasing an EP and starting a tour of the country. Thousands of fans are expected to turn up. Music Month committee head Anthony Healey says there will be plenty of music for those with more sensitive ears, with 300 gigs from hip hop to classical planned. The gigs will be played at parks, theatres and libraries throughout the country.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Traffic chief wants to demolish harbour bridge.

By Miles Erwin
In an ambitious plan to get Auckland's traffic moving again, the city's transport chief has suggested building tunnels, demolishing the harbour bridge and limiting some car parks to hybrid cars only. Auckland City Council transport committee chairman Richard Simpson has even suggested making car parks shorter to discourage Aucklanders from buying giant SUVs. Mr Simpson intends to put his suggestions for alleviating traffic congestion and pollution to the council. His prime concern is Auckland's extremely high rate of car ownership, with 1.7 per household instead of 1.4 for the likes of San Francisco, a city he says he admires.

Rugby-Super 14-Stormers snap Crusaders' unbeaten streak.

CAPE TOWN - The Crusaders' unbeaten run in the Super 14 ended today when they were beaten 17-28 by the Stormers this morning. It was the Crusaders' first loss in 11 matches this season and ended a 17-match unbeaten streak stretching back into last season. The result allowed the Waratahs to lead the standings with a better points differential even though they are level on 42 points with the Crusaders. The Waratahs secured a 20-3 victory over the Highlanders on Friday night.

Rolling Stone in Auckland hospital.

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has been airlifted to a New Zealand hospital with a serious head injury after falling out of a palm tree while on holiday in Fiji. The 62-year-old, and fellow Stones member Ron Wood, were attempting to climb the tree at an exclusive resort when he slipped and fell, hitting his head. Richards was reportedly flown from the resort to a private hospital near Suva where he was treated on Thursday morning. He was transferred to Auckland's Ascot Hospital that afternoon with his wife, Patti Hansen, by his side. He was still in the hospital yesterday.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Possum furrier lining up hot deals for cold comrades.

Veteran furtrader Peter Gray is on the verge of breaking into the lucrative Russian market in a deal potentially worth millions to his Hokitika firm. Gray, 64, is regarded as a pioneer in the possum fur business, having sold skins and garments for almost 40 years. He has enjoyed good times - selling thousands of possum skin koalas to Japanese seamen in the 1970s and fur coats and jackets to Italians in the 1980s - and struggled through hard times after the 1989 crash in international fur sales. Gray believes the Russian and Chinese markets could re-invigorate the New Zealand possum trade, which he said peaked with sales of three million skins a year in the late 1980s.
Source:Sunday Star Times

Saturday, April 29

What's happening to the Little Blue penguins?

Wildlife experts are at a loss to explain why large numbers of Little Blue penguins are washing up on North Island beaches. The birds are starving to death because it is the moult season, where they stay on land without food for three weeks or more. The penguins have also suffered from a poor feeding season and many were unable to feed their own chicks. North Shore's SPCA bird wing officer Sylvia Durrant says she has cared for a record number of penguins this season. She says more than 140 have been treated since October and over half have died. She says while there is no scientific evidence on the lack of fish for the penguins, she suspects severe flooding last year has played a part.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Govt has little influence on family size.

New research shows government policies do not have much influence on peoples' decisions about having children and forming families. The Families Commission has been reviewing studies from the past 15-years. It wanted to see if government policies affected things like living arrangements and decisions on family size. Senior researcher Jeremy Robertson says public policy seems to have relatively little impact. He says the decisions people make are more likely to revolve around values, cultural beliefs and economic factors.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Big coup for NZ animation studio.

An Auckland animation studio has scored a $9.5 million international children's series. Flux Animation Studio has begun work on Master Raindrop - a series based on Asian myths and legends which will screen in 26 half-hour episodes. It is being lauded as a groundbreaking deal for the New Zealand industry as it is the first time a local company will work with animation producers from Singapore and Australia. Flux managing director Brent Chambers says the success of Weta Workshop has prompted interest in New Zealand animation.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Defence force personnel deployed to Vanuatu.

Yet another overseas deployment for our defence forces. Fifteen personnel, mainly from the Army, are leaving today to help turn the empty Luganville police barracks in Vanuatu into a new prison. NZAID is funding the project. The work includes repairing the electrics and plumbing, building a perimeter fence, strengthening walls and building a control room. The job is expected to take five weeks.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

More Potential Blood Donors Banned.

The New Zealand Blood Service has extended its ban on donors who lived overseas at a time when Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease was circulating. People who lived in the UK during that period have already been barred and now prospective donors who lived in France or Ireland for more than six months between 1980 and 1996 can no longer give blood. The extension is expected to cut up to 250 active donors from the service. The Blood Service says the decision was made based on recommendations from a group of experts.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

McCains chip away at workforce.

The Manawatu town of Feilding has had a major blow, with around 140 workers at McCains being told the plant is closing for good when the food processing season ends in December. It is believed the company is moving its chip production to Timaru and will bring in specialty products like hash browns from Australia. EPMU National Secretary Andrew Little is outraged. He says when McCains bought the plant from Heinz Wattie five years ago, it promised to spend $9 million upgrading it. He claims it has not spent a cent, and is now saying the plant is too old to be viable.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Dutch Queen's Day marked on Harbour Bridge.

The flag of the Netherlands will fly atop the Auckland Harbour Bridge tomorrow to mark the monarchy's national day. Queen's Day (or Koninginnedag) is celebrated on April 30, or the day before if April 30 falls on a Sunday. The orange pennant flying above the tricolour signifies that it is the birthday of a member of the Dutch Royal House, the House of Orange.

Tobacco giant apologises to Maori.

The head of a tobacco giant has made a very public apology after the company marketed a cigarette brand called Maori Mix. The product turned up in Israel late last year, prompting anger from Maori health groups. It was sold by Philip Morris, which is owned by multinational corporation Altria. Two representatives of the Maori Smokefree Coalition raised the matter during Altria's annual shareholders meeting in the United States this morning, prompting an apology from the company's CEO, Louis Camilleri. He says Altria will not be using the Maori Mix product again and it was a mistake to use the name in the first place.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Budget airline reinstates flights.

Freedom Air is resuming flights to Melbourne from Hamilton, Palmerston North and Dunedin, when warmer weather arrives. The low cost airline withdrew its loss-making services late last year but all three regions have made it clear they want them reinstated. Freedom's General Manager Stephen Jones says the airline has come up with a compromise, which is a summer seasonal service running from October to March. However, it means Freedom flights to Fiji from Wellington will be cut during summer and flights to Fiji from Hamilton and Palmerston North will go via Melbourne.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Friday, April 28

Goff returns from Honiara.

The defence minister flies out of the Solomons today after a lightning visit to Honiara. Phil Goff has inspected the New Zealand contingent in the Regional Assistance Mission, known as RAMSI. He has also been briefed by local officials, and taken a tour of Honiara with some of our Defence Force personnel.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Smokefree support grows.

A survey carried out by anti-smoking groups shows the number of New Zealanders supporting a ban on smoking in pubs and bars has nearly doubled in the past five years. According to the UMR Omnibus survey, 74 percent of those questioned support a complete ban - up from 38 percent in 2001. Smoking was banned at pubs and restaurants back in December 2004.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Govt reassurances over childhood education.

The Education Minister is confident the Government is on track to meet its commitment to provide 20 hours a week free early childhood education. Steve Maharey says the initiative should be in place by July next year. He says in line with existing funding rules, there will be a six-hour a day cap on free provisions. Mr Maharey says early childhood services can ask parents for donations, but will not be able to charge for any of the first 20 hours. Parents will need to enrol children in a licensed early childhood service in order to access the free hours.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Change of heart on NZ-US military ties.

By Audrey Young
Richard Armitage, the former high-ranking United States official most closely associated with reprisals against New Zealand's anti-nuclear law, has had a change of heart and is now arguing for closer military ties. Mr Armitage, the former Deputy Secretary of State under Colin Powell, now says "there is no need to take an overly punitive approach" to New Zealand and says it is no longer in the United States' interests to maintain its ban on military exercises. He suggests in an article that New Zealand could work more closely with the US, for example in the South Pacific and in patrolling the Malacca Straits, between Malaysia and Indonesia. "New Zealand has demonstrated its commitment to spreading freedom. New Zealand Defence Forces have played a vital role in the war against terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

Stay-home mums and their kids 'more likely to be poor'.

By Stuart Dye
The children of stay-home mothers are almost three times as likely to be poor as those whose parents both work, an early childhood conference will hear today. OECD economist and social policy analyst Willem Adema will also tell the Early Childhood Council's annual conference that mothers who interrupt their careers to care for children are at higher risk of poverty when they are older. The findings are from Dr Adema's Babies and Bosses study which looked at work and family life in 13 OECD countries. It revealed that the "clear gap" in New Zealand was after-school care. Although there were organisations to provide care, there was no central system, such as in Sweden and Denmark. Recently, the UK and Australia had also made it a priority, Dr Adema said.

$20 billion-a-year workplace headache.

The economic and social costs of workplace-related injuries and disease could total $20.9 billion a year - up to four times higher than previous estimates. A report released by the National Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee estimates the full cost of such diseases and injuries is made up of $4.9 billion in financial loss and $16 billion in costs related to suffering and premature death. Only 2 per cent of the total costs are "compensated" by organisations such as ACC and the Ministry of Social Development. The research drew on a number of other studies and analysed all new cases of occupational disease and injury in the year to March 2005.

Floods hit upper North Island.

Torrential rain has closed roads and caused serious surface flooding overnight from Whangaparaoa north of Auckland, through the Coromondel to Waihi and Tauranga. The Karangahake Gorge between Paeroa and Waihi in the Hauraki District was closed as a metre of water flowed over the surface of the road and police said it was likely to stay closed until midday at the earliest. A severe weather warning has been issued for the Bay of Plenty, with MetService predicting rain with isolated heavy thundery downpours in the Kaimai Ranges and west of Whakatane in particular.

Thursday, April 27

Buying Alcohol Easy For Minors.

An undercover police operation has found it relatively easy for minors to get their hands on alcohol. Under-18-year-olds were able to buy drinks at a six of the 18 bars or pubs visited in a two-day sting in Auckland over the weekend. Three bottle stores also sold alcohol to minors without asking for identification. Liquor Licensing Coordinator Senior Constable Jason Loye says the nine outlets and premises are facing prosecution.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZ soldier caught up in Egypt bombing identified.

The name of the New Zealander who escaped injury after being the target of a terrorist attack in Egypt has been released. Army Private Joshua Roewen was driving in the northern Sinai near the Gaza Strip when his vehicle was targeted by the first of two suicide bombings. His vehicle was damaged, however the 21-year-old is being credited with getting the vehicle and its three occupants away from the danger area. Private Roewen has been based in the area since February as part of a six month tour of duty and is expected to stay in Egypt despite the attack.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

$6-a-day charge possible for Auckland motorways.

Driving on Auckland's motorways could cost up to $6 each weekday morning in a tolling option which is among five anti-congestion charging schemes under Government consideration. Potential charges outlined in a $2.3 million Ministry of Transport study include $4.80 for driving up the Southern Motorway from Drury to Auckland, $4 along the Northwestern Motorway from Massey, and $3.35 from Greville Rd to the city side of the harbour bridge. But motorists using a combination of these links between 6am and 10am, such as those travelling between Northland and the Waikato, will not have to pay more than $6 a day. The scheme is the only option for which charges depend on distance travelled - motorists will pay either 25c or 15c a kilometre, depending on which parts of the network are in the most dire need of unclogging.
By Mathew Dearnaley

Aussies get matey in push to lure Kiwis.

A bold Tourism Australia push to attract even more New Zealanders across the ditch ends tomorrow at the Viaduct Basin in Auckland, with a knees-up for the locals. The "We're all mates really; come and spend your money with us" campaign – aka "G'Day NZ" – has featured a range of headline-hunting events, leading up to tomorrow's "Longest Australian Lunch in New Zealand". A photographic exhibition at Te Papa began the campaign last Sunday and on Anzac night there was a Spirit of Mateship dinner, promising "rivals over entrees, mates by dessert". The campaign's aim is to get more New Zealanders holidaying in Australia, a spinoff from a worldwide push that began in February with the "So, Where the Bloody Hell Are You?" promotion.
Source:Dominion Post

Cricket-New Zealand co-host bid boosted.

The chances of Australia and New Zealand being named co-hosts of the 2011 cricket World Cup have been boosted by the tardiness of the rival Asian bid. ICC President Ehsan Mani says the extra time taken by the Asian bloc to hand over its bid compliance book, has harmed the four-nation bid. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have made a joint proposal, but they missed the first deadline in March. They were allowed an extension until April 21st to set out their proposal. The ICC board will vote on a 2011 World Cup host this Sunday in Dubai.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Internal affairs cracking down on passport fraud.

Criminals thinking of attempting passport fraud need to know they face a high chance of being caught and suffering severe penalties, the Internal Affairs Department is warning. The department is determined to identify fraudulent passport applications, regardless of how old the fraud was, it said yesterday. New systems and procedures such as checking death records, a shorter term of passport validity and the introduction of an e-Passport would make it extremely difficult – even for determined criminals – to obtain a New Zealand passport.
Source: NZPA

Auckland civil defence response fails test.

Auckland's new regional civil defence system has effectively failed its first test. In an exercise which modelled the region's response to a once-in-100-years cyclone, the regional civil defence group's knowledge and resources were found to be "not at a satisfactory standard" to meet legal requirements. The evaluation of December 8's Exercise Jaffa by a former chief of naval staff, Rear Admiral Fred Wilson, found that many of the senior team had no civil defence and emergency management experience or training, had never been in the group emergency operations centre before, and were consequently unsure of their role and what was expected of them. "This is a serious indictment on the professionalism of many of the senior managers present, who are chosen to undertake key responsibilities in a regional emergency."
Source: NZPA

Wednesday, April 26

Radiation therapists strike.

Radiation therapists are walking off the job nationwide tomorrow, in protest at their cost of living claim being rejected. Therapists in the six centres which offer radiation treatment for cancer will strike for 14 hours from 7.30am. Association of Professional and Executive Employees national secretary Deborah Powell says therapists fought hard in 2002 for salary increases to counter major recruitment and retention problems. She says now they want to maintain those salaries with a cost of living increase, but the district health boards have offered zero.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

From a royal acorn, VC's oak tree grows.

By Stuart Dye
Reginald Judson never spoke openly about the war, but he made his own dedication to the friends he lost when he planted a lone oak tree in the 1920s. Yesterday, eight decades later, his daughter-in-law and grandson were at Stockade Hill in Howick to see a plaque unveiled to mark the tree and honour the man who planted it. It was a fitting tribute to a soldier described as the World War I equivalent of Charles Upham. Reg Judson won the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal in a few weeks' fighting in the Bapaume region of the Somme in mid-1918. Barry Dreyer, from the Howick RSA, said it was believed the tree-planting marked the first Anzac Day remembrance service in Howick. The acorn came from the grounds of Windsor Castle and was given to Mr Judson by the then Duke of York (the future King George VI) when he was the Duke's official escort on a visit to New Zealand in 1927.

More pocket pain for motorists.

Petrol prices have risen again. The price of a litre of petrol is up three cents at some BP stations, taking unleaded 91 to just under $1.71 a litre and premium to almost $1.76. Diesel is up five cents. The move comes despite the cost of a barrel of crude oil falling more than $1 overnight following remarks by US President George W Bush who has ordered an investigation into the ethics of oil companies.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

NZ unlikely to send troops to Timor.

New Zealand troops are unlikely to be sent to East Timor, despite the fledgling nation dealing with unrest in its military, Defence Minister Phil Goff says. Hundreds of former East Timorese soldiers, sacked after deserting last month, are petitioning Timor Leste's government to have their dispute resolved. The soldiers, who make up about a third of the country's military, have been protesting in the capital of Dili. Some former soldiers have threatened to wage guerilla war if their demands in relation to conditions and the military's system of promotions are not met. But Mr Goff today said the protests were peaceful and Timor Leste's government had assured New Zealand the situation was an internal one they could handle.
Source: NZPA

Pair's 'completely stupid' Cook Strait crossing.

Two boaties were rescued trying to cross Cook Strait in a four-metre wooden dinghy with a single sail and oars made from broomstick handles. The pair, a New Zealander and a Dutchman, set sail from Wellington on Sunday for the Marlborough Sounds. They crossed Cook Strait unharmed but when they reached the entrance to Tory Channel they ran into trouble in the seven-knot (12km/h) current that flows out of the Sound. Senior Constable Paul McKenzie, of Picton police, said it was sheer luck that the pair were spotted by a boat chartered by a dive group and rescuers were able to reach them. When asked why they had made the trip, the pair told rescuers: "It was one of life's goals."
Source:The Press

Flooding causing chaos in Oamaru.

Consistent and heavy rain has flooded shops and houses in Oamaru this morning and caused widespread slips and surface flooding throughout much of Otago. Oamaru Chief Fire Officer Gary Gibson said the town's fire services had been flat out responding to calls from about 4.30am, with drainage and gutters unable to cope with the volume of water. "There has been steady rain right throughout the night and it has basically gone through and backed up now. The gutters just won't cope with it," Mr Gibson said.
Source: NZPA

NZ poet wins Queen's Gold Medal.

Prime Minister Helen Clark yesterday congratulated poet Fleur Adcock on being awarded the prestigious Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2006. The 72-year-old poet is to be presented with the medal on June 7 by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. "This is a stunning achievement and puts the Auckland-born writer in the company of the world's greatest English- language poets including, W. H. Auden, Siegfried Sassoon, John Betjeman, Philip Larkin, Robert Graves, Sir Stephen Spender, Ted Hughes and the late Allen Curnow, who was awarded this prize in 1989," said Clark. The poet, who has won many prizes and awards for her work, was born in Auckland but spent much of her childhood in England where she has lived since 1963. She has held a British passport since 1964.
Source: NZPA

St Paddy's NZ junket costs Irish $70,000.

An Irish politician's junket to New Zealand for St Patrick's Day has so far cost Irish taxpayers 36,000 euros ($NZ71,000) – and that's before they pay for his travel inside New Zealand. The eight-day trip by Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Eamon ae Cuiv was disclosed by an opposition MP, Fine Gael's spokesperson on foreign affairs Bernard Allen, the Irish Examiner newspaper reported. Thirteen of the 15 ministers in Cabinet trotted off around the globe for the St Patrick's Day celebrations, and Mr Allen said that he had managed to obtain the expenses listed by six of them. In the case of Mr ae Cuiv – a grandson of Eamon De Valera, a founding father of the Irish Republic – the costs of internal transport in New Zealand had not yet been collated. Mr ae Cuiv told the newspaper that his trip to New Zealand had been justified and said it represented value for money.

Tuesday, April 25

New Zealander involved in billion dollar scam in the US.

NEW YORK - A New Zealander has been released on US$5 million ($7.98 million) bail and warned he could be deported after pleading guilty to charges relating to a billion dollar scam in the United States. Stephen Richards, 41, pleaded guilty to securities fraud, perjury and obstruction of justice charges related to his role in a US$2.2 billion accounting scheme at the computer software company Computer Associates International Inc. Richards appeared before Judge Leo Glasser in a US District Court in Brooklyn on Monday and was warned he could be deported. He was the former head of sales at the company. Richards ran CA's New Zealand operation in the 1990s before climbing through the company ranks, via its Australian operations. Sanjay Kumar, the former chief executive of CA Inc., also pleaded guilty to the same charges.

Goff takes cautionary message to Solomons.

By Audrey Young
Defence Minister Phil Goff will visit the Solomon Islands this week to deliver a strong anti-violence and anti-corruption message to voters and the Government. "Mob rule simply isn't going to be tolerated and those that engage in it will find that there are consequences," Mr Goff said last night. "It's important to get the message across that the rule of law applies to those who are governed and those who are in Government alike. The new Government is going to have to work very hard to ensure that they do win public confidence, that they are working for all Solomon Islanders and not for a few." Mr Goff will also meet and thank almost 200 New Zealand military and police personnel keeping the peace there, whose ranks were boosted after rioters opposing the new Government burned much of the commercial centre last week.

University of Auckland's youngest has a BSc at 16.

By Stuart Dye
At 13, most young people are coping with becoming teenagers, but Jesse Wu was starting university. This week, at the ripe old age of 16, he will graduate with a bachelor of science degree in maths and computer science. That makes Jesse the youngest graduate from the University of Auckland and among the youngest the country has seen. But the Henderson teenager - who is three years younger than anyone else graduating this week - is not sure what all the fuss is about. "I'm used to studying with, and being with, people older than me. It's a lot of work, but I enjoy it."

NZers phone home from Egypt following blasts.

New Zealanders holidaying in Egypt have phoned home to tell family they weren't affected by blasts which killed at least 30 people in a popular holiday area there. More than 100 people were also wounded in the three blasts, which ripped through the Red Sea town of Dahab early today (NZT). New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) spokeswoman Helen Tunnah this morning said there had so far been no reports of any New Zealanders caught up in the blasts. She said New Zealanders in Egypt had been calling home to reassure family.
Source: NZPA

Rainy start to ANZAC Day.

ANZAC Day dawn ceremonies are underway throughout the country. In Auckland, thousands are at the War Memorial Museum in drizzly conditions. In a departure from the usual programme, a haka was performed before the national anthem was played. Army chaplan, Colin Mason, led the first prayer. "Today, we remember and salute those, who on Turkish soil, gave so much. As we pause here, we do so to honour not only their bravery, their sacrifice and their self-giving sprit, but to pause also to honour their desire to see peace in our world." Around 5000 people are at Wellington's cenotaph to join the prayers and hymns. The Army band and pipers are playing. New Zealand RSA president Jim Windsor and his Australian counterpart laid a wreath at the foot of the cenotaph. Mr Windsor was overcome with emotion and had to be comforted as he was led away. In Christchurch, there is also a good turnout for services in Cathedral Square, with many children attending.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Diplomat ordered out.

India's top diplomat in New Zealand, Harish Dogra, has been given 10 days to leave the country after being sacked and recalled to New Delhi. The move comes after complaints from Indians in New Zealand about the High Commissioner's work. The diplomat has been refusing to leave his official residence. He claims it is not safe for him and his wife to return home. On Wednesday, his successor will present his formal credentials to Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Govt told to ease up on petrol tax.

The Government is being told it can no longer afford to ignore rising fuel prices. New Zealand First is calling for the GST on petrol to be scrapped. Transport spokesman Peter Brown says it now costs around $16 more to fill up an average car compared with a year ago. He says the extra 20 cents a litre saved by axing GST from petrol would help everyone. Mr Brown says every time the price of petrol goes up, the Government gets a bit more money.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Record wine crop raises fear of glut.

Winemakers are expecting their biggest vintage this year, easing pressure on exporters but raising concern about over-supply in the domestic market. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into large-scale wineries and continued vineyard expansion across the South Island over the past few years. The result was expected to be a record harvest this year, possibly eclipsing the 165,000 tonnes from 2004. New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said the prediction, pre-harvest, was for 165,000 to 185,000 tonnes this year.
Source:The Press

Heavy rain closes roads, shortens dawn service.

Heavy rain shut two main roads on Auckland's North Shore today when drains failed to cope with the deluge. Oteha Valley Road was heavily flooded, said police and was closed for several hours as the drains failed to cope with the water. Link Drive was also closed as heavy machinery was called in to cleared blocked rains. Torrential rain fell overnight but stopped briefly as the dawn service was about to begin at Auckland's Domain. As guests walked into the parade ground rain bucketed down again and continued throughout the shortened service. The speech to old soldiers by Auckland mayor Dick Hubbard in the Domain and an air force flypast were cancelled because of the weather.
Source: NZPA

Therapists' strike to hit cancer treatment.

A nationwide strike by radiation therapists will disrupt treatment for nearly 500 cancer patients. The 14-hour action on Thursday will hit public hospitals in six district health boards: Capital and Coast, MidCentral, Auckland, Waikato, Canterbury and Otago. Appointments for 480 patients will have to be rescheduled. Wellington Hospital has contacted and rebooked 67 patients. Capital and Coast spokesman Michael Tull said hospital staff had juggled the timetable to ensure all patients received the recommended number of doses for the week. About 250 radiation therapists, who operate linear accelerator machines, are claiming a pay rise of 5 per cent and an employer contribution to superannuation schemes.
Source:Dominion Post

Year to recognise veterans, says Clark.

New Zealanders have been asked to recognise the courage and sacrifice of returned service people this year. Prime Minister Helen Clark, speaking at the Mt Albert war memorial service, said the government had designated 2006 as the Year of the Veteran. "A key aim of the Year of the Veteran is to provide opportunities to recognise veterans in our communities." Miss Clark said the government was presenting certificates of appreciation and lapel badges to those who had served in times of war or emergency. Earlier she told the crowd New Zealand's commitment in two world wars had been huge – more than 100,000 sent overseas in World War 1 and 135,000 mobilised overseas in World War 2.
Source: NZPA

Goff to go to Solomons.

Preparations are being made for a VIP visit from the New Zealand Government to the Solomon Islands. Defence Minister Phil Goff is expected to make a brief trip to Honiara this week. Two more air force flights are scheduled to go up to the Solomons this week. One leaves tomorrow morning and the other, early on Wednesday.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Monday, April 24

Another Victoria Cross could be sold.

By Ian Stuart
Another World War 2 Victoria Cross won by a New Zealand soldier could go on the market as the debate intensifies over the future of the only double award given to a combat soldier. Anita Hulme said she had been considering selling the Victoria Cross her father Sergeant Clive Hulme won on Crete in 1941. Ms Hulme said today she would not hand over the VC to the Queen Elizabeth II Army Museum in Waiouru in perpetuity as other families had done and was considering selling it the way the daughters of Charles Upham were considered selling his VC and Bar. Captain Upham was the only combat soldier from any Commonwealth army to have won the VC twice and his family believes it could be worth $9 million.
Source: NZPA

Development threatens rare bird.

A planned development on a prime stretch of Northland coast could have catastrophic consequences for the country's most threatened bird according to a new report. The New Zealand fairy tern is the country's rarest bird, with just 11 known breeding pairs. A proposed subdivision 1400 house subdivision at Te Arai Beach backs onto the Mangawhai Sandspit, the most important breeding site in the world for fairy tern and the New Zealand dotterel. The Department of Conservation commissioned the report which says the development would have a significant impact on the shorebirds, with people trampling foraging chicks or nests.

Midwives fail to keep pace with birth rate.

By Martin Johnston
A new analysis of the midwifery workforce shows it is ageing and failing to keep pace with the birth rate.Like many parts of the health workforce internationally, midwifery is short-staffed. In some parts of NZ, including Counties Manukau, the shortage of community midwives is so severe that the Health Ministry has granted an exemption to health boards from its rule designed to ensure a woman has the same lead maternity caregiver throughout pregnancy and birth.

Auckland commuters face suggested parking tax.

By Mathew Dearnaley
Thousands of workers with company carparks could be stung by a $10 daily levy to price Aucklanders out of private vehicles. A $2.3 million Ministry of Transport study proposes that such a levy - if adopted out of five possible congestion-battling options - should cover all non-residential parking in five Auckland business districts from 6am to 10am each week day. That means private business premises, including commercial buildings, shopping malls, hotels and supermarkets, and not just carpark buildings and kerbside spaces.

Wannabe cops too fat and too unfit.

Hundreds of would-be police recruits are failing fitness tests, forcing the police to review their gruelling pre-entry physical standards, considered to be among the world's toughest. The government has pledged 1000 new officers over the next three years, but police are turning away top people, including stocky athletes and top brains of both sexes, because many find the 2.4km run impossible to finish in the time allowed. Police have revealed that for every 100 people who call their 0800 recruitment line, only one makes it to police college. Fitness is one of several factors hampering progress. Police trainers are finding applicants do not have the swimming skills and fitness levels they did 10 or 15 years ago, and are having to spend more time holding "fitness schools" to get them in shape.
Source:Sunday Star Times

Labour, Nats united on nuke-free stand.

Labour ministers and senior National Party MPs have presented a united face to the United States over New Zealand's nuclear-free stance. At a forum in Washington urging closer ties, National leader Don Brash helped to present a non-partisan stance on the nuclear-free issue, urging United States officials to move past the stalemate and develop a free trade agreement. The united stance is an acknowledgment that public opinion is firmly behind the nuclear ban and is in contrast to the confusion that surrounded National's position during the election campaign.
Source:Dominion Post

Sunday, April 23

Rumsfeld vows NZ-ban review.

By Fran O'Sullivan
WASHINGTON DC - United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has promised to examine whether the presidential ban on joint military exercises with NZ should be clarified to accommodate NZ's increasing role in the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). NZ Defence Minister Phil Goff said the commitment came in talks at the Pentagon, where he had also urged the US not to allow the long-standing anti-nuclear issue to get in the way of building a foundation for a strong bilateral economic and security relationship for the 21st century.

NZ soldier injured in Afghanistan.

A New Zealand soldier was injured in a firearms incident in Afghanistan yesterday. The soldier sustained minor injuries to his hand and lower leg while clearing his weapon at an unloading bay in Bagram, the Defence Force said. The injuries were not life threatening. The soldier was transported to Camp Lacey Hospital in Bagram Air Field where he underwent surgery to clean the wounds, New Zealand Army spokeswoman Major Denise Mackay said.

Working mums are homesick - study.

Government research has found many working mothers would rather be at home, delivering a rebuff to Prime Minister Helen Clark's call for mums to go out to work. A third of all working couples say they are unhappy they both have to work, says research by the Ministry of Social Development. For those couples, their ideal arrangement would be for one partner to stay at home and take responsibility for childcare and housework. The survey, of more than 1100 parents, is the first to shed light on the hotly debated topic of whether mums and dads should both be in the workforce. A year ago, the prime minister called for mothers to return to the workforce in the interests of a growing economy. She said the government would pour more money into childcare to give women the choice of working.
Source:Sunday Star Times

Saturday, April 22

NZ issues protest against Norway.

New Zealand has joined 11 other countries in formally calling on Norway to end commercial whaling. Norway says it intends to increase its catch to 1,052 and to expand hunts into international waters, in defiance of the International Whaling Commission's global moratorium. New Zealand's environment minister Chris Carter and his Australian counterpart Senator Ian Campbell, have jointly announced the formal diplomatic protest. Campbell says Norway is ignoring the international community, and must stop whaling.

NZ loses Under 19 rugby final.

New Zealand has lost the final of the Under 19 Rugby World Cup in Dubai. The baby Blacks have been beaten 17-13 by Australia. Australia leapt to a 14-nil lead early on in the match, scoring two tries, leading 14-3 at halftime. New Zealand fought back in the second half, answering back with two tries, but handling errors cost the team. The Australians gave away several penalties, but played a hard physical game especially at the breakdown, dominating most of the match in that area.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Peters meets with Russian counterpart.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow. Peters has hailed the outcome of the talks saying the pair continued dialogue initiated at last years APEC meeting. Peters and Lavrov discussed building up bilateral links between the two countries including consultation on foreign policy, looking at ways of simplifying travel arrangements between New Zealand and Russia and boosting business and people to people contacts. He said New Zealand needs to acknowledge Russia's continuing importance in world affairs. Peters travels on from Moscow to Kyiv, where he will make the first visit by a New Zealand Foreign Minister to Ukraine.

Restaurant enlists children's help.

A posh Christchurch restaurant has picked the brains of school children to help design a new kids menu. The esteemed Clearwater Golf Resort in Christchurch decided they they wanted a kids menu reflecting the wishes of those eating it so they enlisted the help of a local school. For the last 2 months more than 40 seven and eight year olds have been dreaming up the top restaurant's entire kids menu.
Source:One News

Mount given back to local Maori.

The Mount is being given back to Mount Maunganui's Maori, but everyone will still have access to it. The Maori Affairs Minister and local iwi have started the process which will see four iwi take back Mount Maunganui or Mauao. They want it protected from commercial development. "This is a sacred piece of ground to us, but it's for everyone to enjoy and it's got a steep, steep history, which we're proud of and we want to share with the rest of the community," says Colin Bidois, Te Runanganui O Tauranga Moana. It is expected to be six weeks before the Mount officially returns to Maori ownership.
Source:One News

Christchurch Press remains in crisis.

One of the country's biggest newspapers is in crisis mode with the printing machines at The Press out of action for nearly 24 hours - and they're still not fixed. The machines normally print over 90,000 newspapers a day in Christchurch but that has all come to a stop after a major electrical fault. Sixty four thousand subscribers missed out and retailers that did get the paper quickly ran out as well.
Source:One News

Friday, April 21

Chinese hitch a ride to NZ.

Five Chinese fleeing the violence in the Solomon Islands have arrived in New Zealand. Chinese shops were targeted and set on fire during two days of rioting in Honiara. The five hitched a ride on the Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757. All commercial flights to the Solomons have been cancelled. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the five Chinese are here on visitor permits and there is no indication they are seeking refugee status.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Air NZ regrets having to hike up its fares.

Air New Zealand is hiking its domestic and international airfares by 10 percent in response to rising jet fuel prices. The increase comes into effect on May 1. Chief financial officer Rob McDonald says the airline regrets having to increase fares but the numbers are stark, with the price of jet fuel more than doubling since April 2004. He says despite the price increase, Air New Zealand will still not recover the increased cost of jet fuel.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

New Zealander gets a top job at World Bank.

WASHINGTON: World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has appointed two men, one of them a New Zealander, to be his top deputies, according to a notice circulated to the bank's board of directors. Wolfowitz named Graeme Wheeler, the World Bank's treasurer and a former New Zealand Treasury official, as one of his two managing directors. The other is Juan Jose Daboub, a former finance minister of El Salvador. Mr Wheeler was the former chief executive of the New Zealand Treasury's Debt Management Office from 1993 to 1997 before joining the World Bank to serve as the director of financial products and services.

Muslim women urged to become more visible.

Muslim women should be more active in the wider community and more outward-looking, says Islamic Women's Council spokesperson Anjum Rahman. More than 150 Muslim women from throughout New Zealand will hear Miss Rahman at this weekend's annual convention in Hamilton. Women's Affairs Minister Lianne Dalziel and Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres will also speak. Miss Rahman said the theme of the conference was social action.
source:Waikato Times

Thursday, April 20

Peters meets Russian counterpart in Moscow.

New Zealand and Russia will look at ways to simplify travel between the two countries to boost business and people to people contact, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says. He has just been in Moscow, where he met Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Mr Peters said Mr Lavrov had commended New Zealand's involvement in the Pacific, Afghanistan and Russia, where New Zealand is supporting the G8 programme to destroy stocks of chemical weapons. Mr Peters went from Moscow to Kyiv, where he is making the first visit by a New Zealand foreign minister to the Ukraine.
Source: NZPA

A rare taste of Uruguay.

The first Uruguay film to be shown in New Zealand is one of the feature pieces of this year's Latin American Film Festival. The annual event begins in Auckland today. Festival Director Kerry Robins says there are eight films from five countries. He says Uruguay has only produced about 50 films, so it is a privilege to have the movie, The Last Train. Mr Robins says the festival is a great opportunity to experience Latin America, without having to hop on a plane.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Chapel gets foundation work.

The historic chapel at Auckland's Waikumete Cemetery is to get firmer foundations. The Chapel of Faith in the Oaks was built in 1886 and fell into disuse before being restored and reopened in 1986. It is used as a mortuary chapel and is a category one heritage building. However its foundations are crumbling and it needs another makeover, and will be worked on from the ground up at a cost of $270,000.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Number of strikes increases.

There was a sharp rise in the number of strikes last year. Fifty-three work stoppages were held nationally in 2005, up from 34 in 2004. It is the highest number of strikes since 1996, when workers downed tools in 72 separate disputes. Statistics New Zealand says work stoppages have been trending downwards since a peak in the late 1970s, when there were more than 400 a year.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Dyslexia breakthrough made by Ak Uni.

Auckland University has made a breakthrough in the study of a condition that frustrates thousands of New Zealand children and their parents. Researchers have found abnormal brain activity appears to be the reason why some dyslexia sufferers find it difficult to read. The team used magnetic resonance imaging to map the way blood flows through people's brains when they are reading. Lead researcher Karen Waldie says dyslexics appear to be trying to read with the right side of the brain, while most people use the left side.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Richest woman's $140m payday.

By Liam Dann
Thirty years ago, frustrated with the quality of sleeping bags on the market, Jan Cameron started sewing her own in a tiny flat. Soon she was selling them to friends and on her way to building a business empire - or so the legend goes. Yesterday the reclusive Christchurch-based owner of Kathmandu sold 51 per cent of the outdoor clothing and equipment chain for nearly $140 million. The deal - which will confirm her status as New Zealand's richest woman - leaves her with a 49 per cent stake and takes the value of the company to $275 million. Two private equity funds - Goldman Sachs JBWere's Hauraki fund and Australian fund Quadrant - will share the controlling stake.

Wednesday, April 19

Dad fined $500 for assaulting school bully.

A Christchurch father and former strongman convicted of assaulting a schoolyard bully is blaming the primary school for failing to take any action on bullying. Daryl Falcon, 34, was convicted and fined $500 in the Christchurch District Court yesterday for the assault on an 11-year-old boy outside Mairehau Primary School on March 30. Falcon admitted grabbing the boy "around the scruff of the neck" and poking him in the face while yelling at him to stop bullying his daughter, who is also 11. Falcon stopped when a teacher intervened. He had also been upset when his daughter, Amanda, told him she had been slapped in the face with a book and punched in the arm. Speaking outside court, Falcon said the whole incident was unfair and he was unhappy with the school's lack of action. "At the end of the day, the bully still wins. The school didn't do anything."
Source:The Press

NZ cops injured in Solomon Islands riots.

Two New Zealanders were among 19 policemen hurt in rioting which left Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, a smouldering wreck overnight. The rioting broke out after the Solomons Parliament elected Snyder Rini, 57, its new prime minister. Mr Rini was finance minister when the Solomons spiralled into an ethnic conflict in the late 1990s. The unrest only came to an end in August 2003 after Australian- and New Zealand-led military intervention. New Zealand has 35 officers with the Participating Police Force which was yesterday guarding Parliament when people opposed to Mr Rini began rioting. A spokesman for the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP) said 19 police had suffered a range of injuries, including two New Zealanders who are suffering from cuts and bruising from rocks and glass fragment wounds. The others injured were Australians. Five RSIP officers have also been hurt.

Kiwi photographer wins Pulitzer.

Former Evening Post photographer Melanie Burford has won a prestigious Pulitzer Prize. Texas-based Burford, 35, won the Pulitzer's Breaking News Photography section with seven Dallas Morning News colleagues. Their 20-frame portfolio depicted the chaos and pain after Hurricane Katrina engulfed New Orleans last September. The Pulitzer Prize recognises the cream of American journalism. Burford was an Evening Post staff photographer from 1992 to 1999. She left New Zealand six years ago to study and work in Ohio before taking a job at the Dallas Morning News in 2003.
Source:Dominion Post

Bid for bigger New Zealand handed to UN.

The Government's $44 million bid to expand the country's territory by 1.7 million square kilometres could go to the United Nations today. The 2500-page Law of the Sea submission, covering potentially mineral-rich seabed reserves, has taken 10 years and $44 million to compile. – It outlines scientific evidence defining New Zealand's underwater continental shelf according to UN guidelines.
At present, New Zealand's exclusive seabed rights extend as far as the Exclusive Economic Zone which stretches 200 nautical miles out to sea – totalling four million square kilometres. If the bid is accepted by the UN, it will give New Zealand sovereign rights to any oil, gas and mineral resources on or under the extended seabed territory, which could be worth millions of dollars. New Zealand's exclusive fishing boundaries are not included in the proposal and remain set at 200 nautical miles.
Source:Dominion Post


PM says Indian situation is unusual.

Prime Minister Helen Clark says the controversy surrounding Indian High Commissioner Harish Dogra is unprecedented. Mr Dogra was recalled last month but remains in the country on extended leave and it is understood he is refusing to go. Miss Clark says its an unusual situation but the Government has not been informed that the High Commissioner's position has changed so it is business as usual. Miss Clark says it is not up to the Government to make inquiries.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Inventor test drives fuel alternative.

A Palmerston North inventor is driving the length of New Zealand in a car powered by cooking waste from McDonald's to try to prove that vegetable oil can be used as a reliable motor fuel. James MacDonald hopes to patent the engine modification he has spent two-and-a-half years developing. "You can use hemp oil, vegetable oil, tallow, chicken fat etc, so any hydro carbon chain," he says. His trip from Bluff to Cape Reinga is expected to take a fortnight.
Source:One News

Rugby- Henry to name squad of 39.

New Zealand coach Graham Henry will name a squad of 39 players ahead of test matches against Ireland and Argentina in June, although only 24 will be available for the Ireland tests. The other 15, many of whom are likely to have been involved in Super 14 playoffs, will be rested for the June 10 and 17 matches in Hamilton and Auckland and instead travel to Buenos Aires ahead of the rest of the party. Henry said 11 players from the Ireland tests will join the squad in Argentina for the June 24 match. Splitting the squad and sending players ahead to acclimatise would be repeated for the Tri-nations against South Africa and Australia, he added.

Rugby-Under-19 final between Aussie & NZ

The two best junior rugby teams in the world will meet in the under-19 World Cup in Dubai this Saturday morning. New Zealand and Australia won their respective semi-finals this morning, beating England and France. New Zealand beat Australia 22-17 in preliminary play.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Price of petrol rises again.

The price of petrol has risen another six cents a litre at BP. Ninety-one octane is now $1.679. Ninety-eight is also up another six cents. The price of diesel has risen two cents a litre.

Birds stolen from Napier aviary.

Thieves have struck the aviary at Napier's Botanic Gardens. At around midday on Sunday, a visitor noticed a hole had been cut in the aviary. Napier Senior Sergeant Andy Sloan says up to ten yellow and green parakeets were stolen. They are valued at between $800 and $1,000 a pair.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Tuesday, April 18

Wellington recluse stuns art world.

A Wellington recluse has stunned the art community by having his work picked up by a major New York art museum. Two examples of Martin Thompson's "obsessive geometric abstraction" have been gifted to the American Folk Art Museum – which specialises in works by self-taught artists worldwide – and are now in its permanent collection. The shy, bearded Thompson, 49, of Aro Valley, is often seen shuffling around inner-city Wellington with a folder of his work under his arm. Each of his works is done on A4 mathematics paper and consists of separate positive and negative images displayed side-by-side. He colours selected individual squares with an ink pen to create intricate geometric patterns. Thompson says his drawings – which sell for up to US$1600 ($2570) each – are inspired by his environment. Thompson, who has a history of psychiatric illness, has been an artist for 26 years, producing about 1200 works. Massey University fine arts lecturer Stuart Shepherd said Thompson was the first New Zealander to have work in the American Folk Art Museum.
Source:Dominion Post

BNZ offered American program to protect internet customers.

An American computer security company says it will sell software to the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) for securing digital identities and information in online banking. Entrust Inc said in a statement that its "Identityguard" product would provide a second factor of authentication for BNZ online banking customers. The Entrust Inc website said the security system used a numeric grid in a manner similar to a bingo game. "In environments like banking and healthcare, grids can easily and inexpensively be imprinted on the back of cards already distributed to consumers," said a report on the website.

Stones set to rock the capital 30 years on.

By Heather Tyler
The Rolling Stones will play to about 35,000 fans in Wellington tonight -- 30 years after their only other gig in the capital in 1966. Fans are coming from as far away as Hawke's Bay and Palmerston North for the performance at the Westpac Stadium, part of the wrinkly rockers' A Bigger Bang world tour. They played to over 50,000 at Western Springs stadium in Auckland on Sunday night.

NZ steps up diplomatic efforts on whaling.

New Zealand is stepping up diplomatic efforts to head off a Japanese bid to gain control of the International Whaling Commission. The commission will meet at the end of May, and Japan and fellow pro-whaling nations appear to have a majority, which would allow them to control crucial aspects of the commission. Prime Minister Helen Clark said today New Zealand was making a concerted diplomatic effort to try and encourage anti-whaling nations to attend the meeting. It was also talking to many small nations that have joined the commission and voted alongside Japan after receiving aid packages from the pro-whaling nation. Miss Clark said a possible majority was "of real concern",
click HERE for full story

Stamps, coins and a haka will mark Queen's 80th.

New Zealand Post and the Reserve Bank will officially mark the 80th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II with a special postage stamp and commemorative coins. Prime Minister Helen Clark said yesterday that a letter had also been sent on behalf of the people of New Zealand to the Queen offering best wishes for her birthday on Friday, April 21. "I extended warmest best wishes and greetings and congratulated the Queen on her milestone birthday," Helen Clark said.

Hunters told to be polite.

Fish and Game has made a plea to hunters to be courteous and tolerant if they encounter anti-hunting supporters during the gamebird season. With the opening of duckshooting just under three weeks away, Fish and Game New Zealand director Bryce Johnson has warned shooters that ethical hunting is an issue that is increasingly attracting media attention. "Animal rights groups will take every opportunity to oppose the sport and will draw public attention to activities or practices that do not meet the highest standards," he writes in a letter accompanying gamebird licences.

Secret $1.1m offer received for Upham's medals.

By Mike Houlahan
A militaria collector is willing to offer a world-record price of more than $1 million to buy the double Victoria Cross won by New Zealand war hero Charles Upham. However, any sale overseas would need to be cleared by the Government, and Captain Upham's family feel it is unlikely their family heirlooms would be allowed to leave the country. The Herald revealed on Saturday that one of Captain Upham's daughters had been in discussion with the Government over the nation buying the war hero's medals but that their offer had been rejected. Captain Upham, who died in 1994, is one of three people to have been awarded two Victoria Crosses.

Brash more diplomatic this time?.

National's leader Don Brash has lined up a number of king hitters in the Bush administration over the next few days as he visits the American capital. He will meet with top agriculture and defence officials but is likely to be a little more diplomatic in his speech. After his last meeting with a group of senators, Dr Brash was dogged by claims he had told them New Zealand's nuclear policy would be "gone by lunchtime." The information came from the notes of the meeting from a Foreign Affairs official but Dr Brash claimed he could not remember saying it. Over the next few days he will meet with deputy secretaries of state Richard Armitage and Bob Zoellick, who have in the past slammed New Zealand's nuclear stance.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Another Middle East contract for NZ company.

A New Zealand educational trust has won another contract in the Middle East. The Multi Serve Education Trust now has contracts to mentor 20 schools in the Gulf States. Its director of international education, Jo Mullins, says Multi Serve has won the contracts partly because of strong team work and experience in education reforms rather than by not forcing its ideas on the schools. She says New Zealand's multi-cultural approach helps because it is quite different from the way countries such as the United States and the Britain look at educational reforms.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Girls value travel, study higher than motherhood.

Despite New Zealand having one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world, teenage girls do not view motherhood as a priority, a study has found. Few girls between the ages of 13 and 15 in a Massey University study said having a long-term relationship or children was important. Most were focused on either travel and study or on owning a house and a car, author Jackie Sanders said. "Having partners and husbands was not a big thing. They were very much focused on needing to look after themselves." The findings come as statistics show New Zealand's first-time mothers are getting older and the country's birth rate continues to languish below the level required for repopulation. At the same time, New Zealand has the third highest teenage pregnancy rate in the developed world.
Source:Dominion Post

Doctors warned of new infection.

Australian scientists are warning family doctors to look out for virulent new strains of drug-resistant bacteria – a public health risk that is becoming a world-wide problem. Infection rates of the usually hospital-acquired infection MRSA, commonly called golden staph, have almost doubled in the community since 2000 in Australia, according to research published in this week's edition of The Australian Medical Journal. Researchers say those most at risk are people involved in contact sports such as rugby and wrestling. Christchurch microbiologist Ben Harris said MRSA was a worldwide problem and was already found in about 8 per cent of Auckland residents. Christchurch was fortunate to have very little community-acquired MRSA, he said. "It's partially good luck that's kept it out of Christchurch, partially good management and also geographical isolation.
Source:The Press

Monday, April 17

Petrol price places pressure on trains.

Wellington's passenger rail operator says it's struggling to deal with a significant jump in the number of commuters using its service, as a result of increased fuel costs. The cost of petrol has gone up 24 cents a litre, and diesel by 30 cents so far this year. Ross Hayward, the passenger manager for Tranz Metro, which operates Wellington's commuter rail service, says commuter numbers have jumped by about seven percent in the past year. He says roughly half that increase is because more people are leaving their vehicles at home, and says that's putting pressure on peak services, which are often operating at over-capacity.

Landcorp in rush to undo deal.

A state owned company is trying to undo a land deal after discovering it has sold Maori land to developers looking to build an exclusive golf course. Landcorp believed it had title to the property near Mt Ruapehu but now accepts iwi protesting against the sale has rights to the land. Now Landcorp is backing out of the sale process and fast. It has discovered that its predecessor, Lands and Survey, may never have had full title to the land in the first place and it should have been offered back to Maori a long time ago.
Source:One News

Sunday, April 16

Second batch of bats set loose on Kapiti.

The newest short-tailed bats at Kapiti Island have made their first venture into the wild. The three bats, which were born in captivity at Mt Bruce in January, have been freed from the island enclosure where they have been kept for the past six weeks. They are kept in the enclosure while they acclimatise to their new surroundings and develop a homing instinct to the island. The young bats join at least nine transferred to the island last year in a groundbreaking project to save a threatened colony in the Tararuas from possible extinction. Believed to be the last remaining population of short-tailed bats in the lower North Island, the colony of about 200 have been under siege from predators such as ship rats and stoats.
Source:Dominion Post

No satisfaction for fans as items banned.

Bring yourselves and not much else. That appears to be the message to Rolling Stones fans heading to the rock and roll band's first gig in Auckland since 1995. The list of items the thousands of concert goers are not allowed at tonight's Western Springs concert is exhaustive. No chilly bins, glass or plastic bottles, cans, umbrellas and what the organisers describe as "other weapons". Cameras and other recording devices are also banned. People can expect to be searched when they arrive at the venue. The gates open at 5:30pm, two hours before the concert starts.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Sept 11 film 'too close' for Kiwi victim's family.

New Zealand September 11 hero Alan Beaven is to be immortalised in the first Hollywood movie about the terrorist attacks, but his Auckland family will not rush to see the film. Beaven's brother, Ralph Beaven, said the idea of watching a film of his brother's ordeal was traumatic. Universal Studios is soon to release United 93, which will focus on the United Airlines flight which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania before it could reach its intended target in Washington DC, thought to be the White House. It is believed the hijackers failed in their mission because a group of heroic passengers, including former Auckland University student Beaven, stormed the cockpit. Beaven will be played in the movie by British actor Simon Poland. A year after the 2001 attacks, Beaven's wife, Kimi, revealed to the Sunday Star-Times that her husband's remains were found in the cockpit of Flight 93 and his voice was on the cockpit voice recorder.
Source:Sunday Star Times

Surprise fee stings Telecom customers.

Telecom customers are paying hundreds of dollars in rentals on phones they could buy for a fraction of the cost. Since the 1980s Telecom has charged some customers phone rentals. Customers are not sent reminders saying they are renting a phone or asked if they wish to continue the service. A call to the service desk revealed Norman had been renting a phone for more than 10 years. Telecom no longer offers the phone rental service to new customers, but 177,000 customers still rent phones, generating more than $700,000 a month for the company. Many people rented phones in the late 80s when the state-owned telecommunications business was sold and became Telecom. Specific phones were required to use the network, which people chose to rent, and at that time handsets were more expensive.
Source:Sunday Star Times

Sex education - officials to check if it works

Sex education in secondary schools will be reviewed next term as government agencies try to understand how it affects the sexual behaviour of students. Education Review Office staff will review 100 randomly selected schools with the aim of identifying programmes that are working effectively and where they can be improved. New Zealand has comparatively high rates of teenage pregnancy and increasing rates of sexually transmitted infections among young people. In a study of 28 countries, New Zealand had the third highest teenage birthrate with 27.3 births per 1000 young women.
Source:Sunday Star Times

Saturday, April 15

Easter eggs okay by fat police.

At last you can eat Easter eggs and not feel guilty. Anti-obesity groups that would normally rail against sugary, fatty foods say it's okay to indulge yourself with Easter treats - as long as you confine the splurge to the holiday weekend. "I have no problem with people eating chocolate at Easter-time," says Fight the Obesity Epidemic spokeswoman Dr Robyn Toomath, a diabetes specialist. "In fact in some ways this is exactly how we should be eating chocolate. It should be a treat food. If it's a once-or- twice-a-year you-eat-too-much food that's fine. Obesity Action Coalition executive director Celia Murphy agrees, but she thinks 20 Easter eggs - a confectionery manufacturers' association estimate of New Zealand's consumption per capita - "is a bit over the top.

Petrol price fuels big increase in public transport use.

Public transport operators in Wellington are struggling to cope with soaring passenger numbers, as rising fuel prices force commuters to ditch their cars for buses and trains. Petrol prices have gone up 24 cents a litre, and diesel by 30 cents a litre, this year. Tranz Metro passenger numbers had grown by 7 per cent since last year, partly because of increased fuel costs, passenger manager Ross Hayward said. The growth meant hundreds of extra passengers were catching commuter trains every morning, pushing already busy Tranz Metro services toward their capacity.
Source:Dominion Post

Warbirds Over Wanaka.

A spectacular display of aircraft has entertained crowds at the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow. Around 100,000 were expected to attend the event over three days, from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. The airshow has evolved into a biennial event with three days of non-stop aerial action, as well as military vehicles, vintage machinery and ground displays. It is the brainchild of Wanaka resident and aviation enthusiast Sir Tim Wallis, who said the airshow was originally envisioned as a display event but has since become an international fixture.
Until Easter Sunday
* 50 aircraft, including flimsy biplanes of World War I, Spitfires from World War II, fighter jets from the Korean conflict and Vietnam War strike planes.
* Plus a display of private collectors' classic fire engines, including models by Dennis, Leyland, Seagrave, Commer and Ford.

Stones Fans Pray For Good Weather.

It could be rock n' roll gods versus the weather gods this Easter Sunday. The Rolling Stones will be playing at Auckland's Western Springs Stadium. Stadium General Manager Dave Stewart says it is going to be an amazing show, with a huge, moving stage, pyrotechnics and lighting. He says now Auckland just has to come to the party with good weather. He says the forecast is okay for Sunday, but closing in on Easter Monday. So he says fingers-crossed the bad weather does not come in early. Dave Stewart says Western Springs Stadium can hold about 55,000 people and it is likely there will be a capacity crowd.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZ Dating Site Offers Safety SOS.

A dating SOS service has been launched for people who have met potential partners on the Internet. Dating website says it wants to provide peace of mind for the first face-to-face meeting. The service can be used by entering the time and date of the date into a website, and when you expect to be home. If you are not home when you thought you would be to cancel it, a text message gets sent to a friend or family member. An e-mail will also be sent with specific details about where you were going and who you are going with. CEO of Sparkle Road, Chris Parker says it is a step in the right direction in promoting and enhancing awareness about internet safety. "Safety issues about meeting strangers offline is something most dating sites sweep under the rug, but we've made a move here to show our 75,000 members that we do care about their wellbeing, and wish to provide them with tools that will make them feel safer when they're out meeting new people.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.
click HERE for the website.

No one hurt in Napier plane crash landing.

The Civil Aviation Authority will investigate the crash landing of a light plane at Napier Airport yesterday. The plane was substantially damaged after landing on its belly when landing gear failed on approach to the airport, the CAA said. No one aboard the aircraft was injured in the incident.

BNZ blocks overseas use of more ATM cards.

The Bank of New Zealand has blocked the overseas use of nearly 5000 more cards as it works to minimise the damage from an ATM skimming fraud. The scam has seen Bank of New Zealand accounts fleeced of more than $100,000. It involved phonecards being loaded with bank card details stolen from ATM machines and then used to withdraw cash from more than 100 accounts - some of them accessed from Canada. Yesterday the bank said that based on information from the police, it had blocked the overseas use of a further 4844 cards used in the six Auckland ATM machines believed to have been targeted by a sophisticated skimming group. The move affected customers who may have used the six machines - at New Lynn, Silverdale, Pakuranga, on the corner of Queen and Victoria Sts, Manurewa, and a stand-alone machine on Ponsonby Rd - between February 10 and February 28.

Fancy a trip to Devastation Creek or Heartbreak Spur?.

Planning a road trip this Easter? It might pay to steer clear of Disappointment Gully, Mount Vexation, Devastation Creek, Deaths Corner and Dismal Valley. You might also want to think twice before you stop at Slaughterhouse Creek, Heartbreak Spur or Cannibal Gorge. However, if you like to live life on the edge, you are bound to enjoy a visit to Terror Peak, Lovers Leap or Snuffle Nose. These are just some of the places in the South Island that Wellington map-making firm Geographx stumbled across while putting together its new Atlas of New Zealand. Other unforgettable destinations include Nervous Knob, Hoary Head, Mount Misery and Stinking Creek. "The attraction is that there must be interesting and possibly sad stories behind these place names, many of which were given by early European settlers," said Geographx map-maker Roger Smith. "Unfortunately, a lot of the more unusual names were for places that are just too tiny to feature in the atlas."
Source:The Press

Christchurch hospitals clear 4400 from waiting lists.

Nearly 4500 patients needing surgery or a specialist assessment at Christchurch hospitals have been told in the past year that they will not get it. This week, the Hawkes Bay District Health Board axed 1800 people from its waiting lists to see hospital consultants and told the patients to go back to the GPs who referred them. Canterbury patients have fared no better. In the past year, 2000 patients have been struck from specialist-assessment waiting lists and sent back to their GPs. Another 2400 patients were cut from elective-surgery waiting lists last year. These were patients who had seen a specialist and were assessed as in need of surgery. They, too, have been told they would not get it and have been sent back to their GP without treatment.
Source:The Press

Friday, April 14

Easter-Good Friday

News returns tomorrow.

Thursday, April 13

Report finds NZ facing power problems.

An international survey is underlining the challenge New Zealand faces to ensure future electricity supplies. The PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 43 countries found most are facing big challenges in replacing aging infrastructure and finding renewable energy sources. Spokesman Craig Ross, says much of New Zealand's electricity network was last replaced just after World War II. He says it is unfortunate that so much of the infrastructure needs replacing all at once, and he believes the government will have to help by easing regulations to speed up the work. The report also found many utility companies experience problems with regulatory bodies and Mr Rice says adversarial attitudes have to change to give a more balanced approach.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Tougher checks double contraband finds.

The amount of contraband confiscated from prison visitors has more than doubled in the past three years, says the Corrections Department. The "great result" was due to tougher detection measures, said national systems and security manager Karen Urwin. "Increased surveillance at checkpoints and within prisons using drug dogs, television monitoring in visitor areas, scanning equipment and random searches has boosted contraband finds," she said. The number of drug-dog teams has doubled since 2004 and last year the Government allocated a further $4.1 million over four years for crime and drug detection within prisons.

Brash heads to US for defence and trade talks.

By Audrey Young
National leader Don Brash will meet United States Deputy Secretary of State Bob Zoellick in a four-day trip to Washington next week. He will also meet Deputy Trade Representative Karan Bhatia and defence policy officials at the Pentagon. He will also be a key speaker at the US-New Zealand Partnership Forum in Washington, organised by the New Zealand United States Business Council. He will be accompanied by foreign affairs spokesman Murray McCully and list MP Tim Groser, a former top-ranking ambassador. And while Mr McCully was undertaking a review of National's foreign policy, Dr Brash said: "I don't think we're expecting any dramatic changes in foreign policy, certainly not that I'm aware of." Dr Brash said yesterday he expected the nuclear issue to be raised in some of the talks in Washington - as it often is with New Zealand politicians.

It's raining dogs - and cats.

By Claire Trevett
The SPCA needs people to replace hot cross buns with cross-breed dogs after being hit with double its normal intake of puppies and dogs in the lead-up to Easter and the dog registration period. Auckland SPCA's general manager, Jane Thompson, said 60 dogs had been taken into its Mangere centre in three days this week. By yesterday the centre was asking people to wait until after Easter to give up their dogs because it was running out of space. The centre already had 45 dogs waiting for adoption, and were hoping Easter would bring new owners, not new dogs. She said there was often a spate of dogs brought in before public holidays and also just before dog registration was due, because owners did not want the costs of registering.

Email scam targets Trade Me users.

Trade Me has warned users of an email scam targeting their log-on details. An email is circulating, purporting to be from Trade Me, asking members to confirm their details. "It directs you to a site that looks like Trade Me and asks you to log in," the site said. "This is not from Trade Me. "If you have already responded to the email please change your password immediately.

Furious Indian envoy blasts his boss.

Indian high commissioner Harish Dogra is refusing to accept his recall and has accused his country's foreign secretary of illegal actions that have made India a laughing stock. In an extraordinary outburst in a 10-page letter, a copy of which was received by The Dominion Post this week, he also calls for Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran to resign. Mr Dogra, who till now has refused to publicly confirm his recall from New Zealand – made public last month – opens his letter to Mr Saran with: "Ever since you communicated the recall order, you have taken the cloak of secrecy to conceal your ill-advised and illegal actions. A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said the Government would continue to deal with Mr Dogra as India's representative till it was advised otherwise by New Delhi.
Source:Dominion Post

Wednesday, April 12

Motor homes descend on Wanganui.

Motor home enthusiasts are arriving in Wanganui in their hundreds for the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association's golden jubilee rally. A total of 2500 are expected by tomorrow night.

Shops urged to stay closed on Easter Sunday.

The union for retail workers is urging shop owners to keep their doors closed on Easter Sunday. The National Distribution Union says it fully expects some renegade traders to see themselves above the law and open in spite of the possibility of being fined. National secretary Laila Harre says Easter Sunday should be for communion and companionship, not commerce. She wants businesses to respect the law and the values of family and community.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Farmers flocking to Victoria (Australia).

Victoria's much cheaper land prices are encouraging New Zealand dairy farmers to cash up and move to Australia in greater numbers. Western Victorian dairy cattle leasing agent Rod Banks says he has noticed about 50 percent more New Zealanders moving across the Tasman in the past year. Mr Banks says one advantage is the ready availability of grain for feed in Victoria, which changes the economics of dairying. Journalist Megan McNaught says a northern Victorian real estate agent told her the numbers speak for themselves. She says he estimates a 300-cow farm costs about $1.5 million in the Murray Valley, whereas the equivalent farm would cost $4.5 million in New Zealand
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Immigration hit-list under fire.

Tough new vetting procedures for migrants considered potentially risky to New Zealand is putting a strain on the Immigration Service and worrying human-rights lawyers. They are concerned the Immigration Service's newly established Immigration Profiling Group (IPG) is operating under a veil of secrecy and taking too long to process some foreigners' applications to settle in New Zealand. In some cases applicants are waiting up to a year. IPG was set up in July last year to scrutinise the applications from "high-risk" migrants from countries associated with abusive governments and human-rights violations.
Source:The Press

West Coast snails get the shove.

Government ministers said today they weighed up the economic benefits of mining $400 million worth of coal and the risk to a population of rare native snails before deciding the snails must move. Solid Energy was today given permission to move the giant powelliphanta augustus snails from their home above the coal seam on the Mt Augustus ridgeline on the West Coast. Conservation Minister Chris Carter and Associate Energy Minister Harry Duynhoven released the decision today, saying Solid Energy would have to implement an "intensive mitigation package" to preserve the snails before it could begin mining. Up to 150 snails must be moved by hand, not by mechanically scooping up their habitat as earlier proposed.

St John restructuring could lose up to 80 jobs.

St John Ambulance is to restructure its operations, with the loss of up to 80 jobs. The service said today that the move to centralise its administration in Auckland came at the end of a comprehensive review and would make the service "more efficient and more effective". Jobs could be lost in human resources, marketing, education, and corporate services. St John chief executive Jaimes (correct) Woods said the changes aimed to cut down on duplication of jobs across the country. Front-line ambulance officers were not affected by the restructuring but could ultimately benefit from it, he said.

Police recover stolen geckos (lizards), pair arrested.

Police have recovered three native geckos stolen from Orana Wildlife Park near Christchurch and arrested two people. Customs officials were alerted yesterday and police began investigating after park staff found the geckos's enclosures had been tampered with and three animals were missing. One was thought to have been taken on Sunday. Widlife experts feared the two northland green geckos and one rough gecko were destined for the international black market. Park head keeper, native fauna, Tara Atkinson-Renton, said today police had lifted fingerprints from the enclosures and were following a strong lead after a couple had been seen in the park on Sunday and again yesterday. Police swooped on a suburban Shirley house today and recovered the geckos.
Source: NZPA

Tuesday, April 11

City of Sails up there with the best.

Auckland is the fifth best city in the world to live. Sydney is in 9th place and Wellington is ranked 12th according to Mercer's annual Worldwide Quality of Living Survey, The survey ranks Zurich as the best city in which to live, while Baghdad is the worst. London is 39th, New York is lacklustre at 46th and even Paris does no better than 33rd.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Religion in schools not a big deal.

A new survey suggests New Zealanders are not particularly fussed about keeping religion out of schools. The Listener magazine poll of about a thousand people reveals more than half think schools should teach that a divine being or god is responsible for creating the universe. About a quarter believe Earth was created by God in six days. The Listener says the results suggest many people might be comfortable with religious theory being part of the curriculum, challenging assumptions about the separation of church and state.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Fathers told to tone down protests.

Protesting fathers are being asked to tone it down for the sake of children. The Law Society is concerned that members of a men's group have held protests outside family lawyers' homes. Family Law Section Chairman Simon Maude says the lawyers are also being abused via loud-hailer, which is upsetting neighbours. He says children in one area have felt intimidated and frightened. Mr Maude says it is an ineffective and illogical way to advance the cause of men in the Family Court.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Fewer Maori smoking.

New figures show the number of Maori smokers has dropped by around 16,000, but Associate Health Minister Mita Ririnui says that is no reason to be complacent. Around 171,000 Maori were smoking in 2002. Now 155,000 over the age of 15 classify themselves as smokers. Mr Ririnui says that shows Maori have either given up, or the younger generation has decided not to start. He says the data also shows Maori smoking rates are coming down faster than the rest of the population, but Maori need to ensure that is not a one-off event.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Fresh cash for meningococcal jabs.

Another 22-million dollars is being injected into the Meningococcal B campaign as it celebrates its three-millionth jab. The milestone comes as figures are released showing a 57 percent drop in cases since 2003. Health Minister Pete Hodgson says more than 85 percent of the eligible group of under 20-year-olds has now been vaccinated but says the extra funding is to ensure Meningococcal B becomes history. Mr Hodgson says there is no point stopping a job that is almost complete but not quite done. He says the number of cases of epidemic strain meningococcal disease in under 20-year-olds has dropped from 189 in 2003 to 82 last year. The funding will enable continued vaccination for all newborns and vaccinations of under-fives through to 2009, in addition to an extra six months of vaccination for five to 19-year-olds through to December 2006.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Rush for Rugby World Cup tickets.

More than 100,000 tickets have been snapped up in 10 hours on the opening day of the second release of tickets for next year's Rugby World Cup in France. Sales have been widened to the public worldwide after the first ticket release on November 5th went to what the IRB terms its rugby family including players, volunteers, administrators, officials and club fans.
Close to 800,000 tickets of the 1.6 million available have now been sold.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Wellington the healthiest city in New Zealand.

Wellingtonians are generally healthier than the average Kiwi, with lower hospital admission rates for heart disease, heart attacks and strokes, figures show. Maori and Pacific Islanders do better in Wellington than in other regions, but continue to have higher admission rates than other ethnic groups for most key conditions. Capital and Coast District Health Board's six-month progress report, to December 31, 2005, shows Wellingtonians have generally lower hospital admission rates than elsewhere in New Zealand.
Source:Dominion Post

Greens send letter to doctor facing court-martial.

A New Zealander being court-martialled for not going back to Iraq has been sent a letter of support by Green MP Keith Locke. Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall Smith refused to serve a third time in Iraq, with his lawyer saying the New Zealand-raised RAF doctor believed the decision to go to war was "manifestly illegal". Ft Lt Kendall-Smith has denied four charges of disobeying a lawful command and has said he will go to jail over the matter. Mr Locke said today he applauded "my compatriot" Ft Lt Kendall-Smith for his "strong moral stance" and willingness to challenge the legality of the continuing war in Iraq.

Monday, April 10

Government: Water still public.

The Government will continue to allow consent transfers to avoid making water a tradeable commodity. There had been speculation a water programme of action might lead to limited trading in water rights. But guideline documents released to help work towards a sustainable water strategy show privatisation has been ruled out. Environment Minister David Benson-Pope says consultation so far favours the transfer of water consents. He says the Government regards water as a public resource.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Big deal for NZ firm.

A New Zealand company specialising in providing Eftpos terminals has won a contract to install its systems in Singapore's largest taxi fleet. Cadmus Technology and its major partner, ST Electronics, have secured a $13.94 million contract to put new General Packet Radio Service taxi telematics and payment systems in the taxis of Comfort Transportation.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

PM wants answers over surgery wait.

The Prime Minister says the government will be asking Auckland City Hospital why patients are facing longer waits for heart surgery. The hospital is struggling with heart bypass and angioplasty procedure numbers, largely because of a shortage of nurses. It will be advising some new patients that they do not qualify for surgery within six months. Helens Clark says health spending rises every year and the government wants more productivity. She says on the surface, Auckland City Hospital's actions seem odd - given the increased funding it is getting.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

British bobbies becoming kiwi coppers.

Ninety-seven British bobbies will soon be transformed into kiwi coppers. The police officers are beginning an 11 week conversion course at the Police College in Porirua. They will be welcomed by Police Minister Annette King and new Commissioner Howard Broad. Training and Development National Manager, Superintendent Alistair Beckett, says although the officers are experienced, there is a lot they need to learn about New Zealand. Half of the new officers have up to 10 years experience and the other half up to 20 years.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Wahine memories haven't faded.

Thirty-eight years after the sinking of the Wahine interisland ferry, the memories are still vivid for those who survived the tragedy. The Lyttleton to Wellington ferry struck Barrett's Reef off Wellington's coast, just after 5:40am on April 10, 1968. The order was given to abandon ship at 1.15pm. Frank Hitchens who was a steward on the vessel, remembers people being very calm as preparations were made to abandon ship. He says he helped some through a doorway, onto a sloping deck and into the lifeboats. Fifty-one people died in the disaster.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Sunday, April 9

UK guild expels Kiwi firm.

Fishers Fine Arts, of New Zealand, has been expelled from the Fine Art Trade Guild in Britain after a complaint about poorly restored artwork. The guild suspended Fishers in January while it investigated a complaint from Wairarapa farmer Andy Burnett, who with his brother Neil, had paintings returned from Fishers with glaring differences after restoration work, reducing their value.
Last week, Fishers was expelled from the guild for breaching its code of ethics by failing to protect the interests of its customers.
Source:Sunday Star Times

Marineland Mourns Dophin Shona.

Napier's Marineland aquarium is closed this weekend, as staff deal with the death of one of its star attractions.
Thirty-six-year-old dolphin Shona passed away yesterday of natural causes. Marineland Manager Gary MacDonald, says it is like losing a family member and it is a very sad for the park and for Hawke's Bay. Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott says it is the first time that Kelly, Marineland's second dolphin, has been without a companion and her welfare needs to be attended to. A fence is being erected around part of the pool while another animal is introduced to keep her company. Marineland is unlikely to be permitted to import another dolphin bred in captivity.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Camp Closure Stirs People.

Around 40 people have braved poor weather in Taupo today to protest against the district council's plans to close the town's iconic camp ground. The group are among 6,000 local residents who have signed a petition calling for a referendum in relation to the camp's closure. The protesters marched through town with placards bearing phrases such as 'Democracy in Taupo is dead' and 'Rogue council - listen to the people.' The council announced earlier this week it is not prepared to govern by referendum, and that the camp would close as planned later this month.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Did war hero break rules?.

A New Zealand war hero broke the international rules of combat by killing German soldiers in World War II while disguised as a Nazi paratrooper. The claim appears in a newspaper report about a new book. Alfred Clive Hulme was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest British and New Zealand bravery award, for his actions in the 1941 Battle of Crete. It is there that he killed 33 German snipers and other soldiers while dressed as a German paratrooper. Historian Glyn Harper writes about it in his book, In the Face of the Enemy. Mr Hulme, the father of racing driver Denny Hulme, died in 1982. His daughter Anita says accusing her father of war crimes is a terrible thing to do.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Rules toughen on kid's advertising.

Under tough new advertising rules foods which are high in fat, sugar and salt are not to be portrayed as healthy in commercials, and celebrities cannot be used to promote them to children. The changes to the advertising code mean that only ads promoting more nutritious food choices can be shown to children. And from now on, using celebrities such as cyclist Sarah Ulmer to help sell food which is deemed unhealthy to children, will no longer be allowed. Among the new guidelines, ads must not be misleading and they cannot encourage children to eat or drink "treat" foods to excess. They also must not encourage children to substitute main meals for snack or fast foods.
Source:One News

Health warning for islands.

The Ministry of Health is warning travellers about outbreaks of two contagious diseases on some Pacific Islands. Senior health advisor Dr Andrea Forde says there have been more than 90 confirmed cases of measles in Fiji and 20 cases of Hepatitis A in people returning from Samoa. She says anyone planning to travel to the islands should make sure their immunisations are up to date.

Saturday, April 8

Measles outbreak in Fiji.

An outbreak of measles in Fiji and recent cases of travellers returning from Samoa and Tonga with Hepatitis A, have prompted a warning to families planning to spend the school holidays overseas. The Ministry of Health says parents should be aware of health risks they may face. It says New Zealand children are routinely immunised against measles at 15 months and four years, but an epidemic in New Zealand in 1997 saw six children die from complications.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Honest NZ praised by US travel agent.

American travel agent Hank Kallio is singing the praises of honest New Zealand after his wallet containing $1115 in cash was returned to him six months after he lost it. Mr Kallio was here last year for a travel conference and knew he had his wallet when he met Tourism New Zealand chief executive George Hickton for a drink in a Christchurch hotel. Later, at the conference opening, he realised his wallet was gone. It was found under a cushion in the bar, but stayed in storage for six months after refurbishing.

Plunket loses Government helpline contract.

Plunket has lost the Government contract to run a 24-hour helpline for parents and caregivers, which it founded 12 years ago. The Ministry of Health announced yesterday that McKesson New Zealand, the company already contracted to provide the 24-hour Healthline service, had been chosen to provide a Well Child free-phone service. The service was previously operated by Plunket, under subcontract to McKesson. Plunket chief executive Paul Baigent said he was deeply disappointed at the ministry's decision - but vowed Plunket would seek other funding sources to keep Plunketline going.

Friday, April 7

Digital TV launches this year.

The march towards free-to-air digital television has begun, with TV Works and TVNZ launching free digital satellite services later this year The companies have negotiated to share space on the Optus D1 satellite. Rick Friesen, spokesman for TV Three and C4 parent company TV Works, says they are happy to bring digital channels free to their viewers. He says the types of channels available will be announced later this year.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Marineland dolphin has died.

Shona the dolphin has died.
One of two remaining dolphins at Napier's Marineland, Shona had been unwell for more than a month and it was not expected that she would last as long as she did. Manager Gary MacDonald says Shona passed away naturally this afternoon and the Department of Conservation has been notified of her death.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

SIS warns of Al Qaeda sympathisers.

The Security Intelligence Service's annual report to Parliament states Al Qaeda sympathisers are living in New Zealand but the agency is not aware of any specific threat. Auckland University political studies lecturer Paul Buchanan says the report is deliberately vague and taking advantage of the fact there is a large amount of secrecy in the SIS charter. He says it does not mean there are active cells in New Zealand. Dr Buchanan says anybody who may hold rhetorical sympathy with Al Qaeda could be classified under the definition.

Kiwifruit could help tummy troubles.

A specialist is testing a dietary supplement which could provide relief for thousands of people suffering from indigestion. Gastroenterologist John Wyeth has been studying stomach disorders for 20 years and is helping to develop a supplement based on kiwifruit which could reduce acid reflux. He says the important thing is that the new supplement is completely natural, based on kiwifruit enzymes and is made in New Zealand. Dr Wyeth says up to 40 percent of the population suffers from some form of indigestion, so this could provide a natural solution.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

80 NZ Post staff to lose their jobs.

New Zealand Post plans to lay off about 80 head-office workers in Wellington and Auckland as it strives to cut costs in its struggling postal business. Spokeswoman Suzanne Carter said the state-owned enterprise faced continuing pressure in the domestic letters business, competition from electronic mail and the economic slowdown. "We are operating in a different environment than we used to. The economic slowdown is beginning to bite." The 650 affected staff, mainly in Wellington and the rest in Auckland, were told of the proposed changes last Thursday and Friday.
Source:Dominion Post

NZer refused bail in prosecution of Polish roof collapse.

Three managers – including a New Zealander – charged with negligence in an expo roof collapse in southern Poland's Katowice that killed 65 people in January have been refused bail. Judge Jan Karnas was reported by the Polish Press Agency to have said that there was a risk the men would intimidate witnesses to change testimonies if they were released on bail. The judge was also reported to have said that New Zealand-born Bruce Robinson – managing director of Expomedia, the London-based parent company of International Katowice Fairs (MTK) which owned the building – posed a potential flight risk. He said the bail applications of the three, who were arrested on February 23, were being turned down because the accused were likely to be found guilty and that the charges carried a maximum of eight years imprisonment.


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