New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands ::: A News Blog ::: est 2004

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Wednesday, May 31

Chinese garden for Dunedin.

The Government is spending $3.7 million to build a classical Chinese garden in Dunedin. Helen Clark announced the project in Dunedin today. The Prime Minister says the garden will be a spectacular site with hopes it will become a significant tourist attraction. Miss Clark says it will acknowledge the sister city connection between Dunedin and Shanghai and honour the role that the Chinese community played in settling Otago and the rest of the country.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Ministry warns soccer fans - get measles jab.

A message from the Health Ministry to kiwis heading to Germany for the Soccer World Cup next month. Make sure you are immunised against measles. Germany, Australia and Fiji have all recently experienced outbreaks of measles. The outbreak in Germany is centred in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen where one of the World Cup venues is located. More than 1000 cases have already been reported there. More than 50 cases have been reported in New South Wales since March, while an alert has been in place for Fiji since April.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Kiwi released on to new island sanctuary.

Seven kiwi from a forest in the eastern Bay of Plenty have been released on to a new and safe island home. Tuhua or Mayor Island is now completely pest-free. The transfer was attended by officials including the Minister of Conservation and leaders of local iwi involved in the project. He says the kiwi were from a forest inland from Ohiwa Harbour near Whakatane that is at high risk from predators and habitat loss.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Niue in dark following fire.

Niue is in crisis after being left in the dark following a fire at its power station. Last night's blaze has destroyed one of two diesel generators and knocked out the station's switchboard. Local businessman Les Saunders has been told it could take up to two weeks to fix. He says essential services such as the hospital are running on emergency power. It is not clear what started the fire.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Lukewarm economy to boil again in 2008.

The economy is on track to grow a tepid 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent this year, avoiding a "hard landing" and bouncing back in 2008, according to the National Bank. ANZ National Bank chief economist Cameron Bagrie said if the present "grumpy growth" was as bad as it got, that would be seen as a good news story in a couple of years. Despite a slow patch, the economy should rebound to "joyous times again in 2008 and 2009" after another big drop in the dollar and lower interest rates.
Source: Dominion Post

Police issue warning about hoax email.

Police today warned that a hoax email purporting to be from them, and which contains a virus, is circulating within New Zealand. The Police Commissioner's office said today the email had caused concern among the public. The email suggested that recipients were "under suspicion of financial machination" and asked them to complete details and fax or email them. The email contained a trojan virus which would be filtered out by computers with anti-virus software. The police commissioner's office said recipients should simply delete the email and did not need to contact the police.

$1.8m for West Coast eco-tourism project.

A West Coast community trust has been granted $1.8 million to develop a valley as an eco-tourism attraction. Prime Minister Helen Clark announced the funding today to develop facilities in the Oparara Valley in the Kahurangi National Park near Karamea. Miss Clark, on a visit to the area, said the valley was home to several rare species including the blue duck, the great spotted kiwi, the short-tailed bat and the Powelliphanta snail.

Tuesday, May 30

New TV channel for Wellington.

Wellingtonians show strong interest on the capital's newest local TV station. Triangle TV has been broadcasting in Auckland for seven years, and will start transmissions in Wellington shortly. Chief executive Jim Blackman says they are delighted at the response they have had from locals, and say it has been much stronger than when the channel was launched in Auckland. Jim Blackman says they are hoping to start broadcasting in late July, depending on how quickly they can get the equipment up and running. He says the new channel will focus on events and issues important to the region.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Google puts everywhere in NZ on map

Google has put street-level maps of all of New Zealand online, launching the local version of its popular advertising-based mapping service far earlier than some domestic competitors had anticipated. Google Maps covers the whole country and lists nearly every road, from Auckland's Southern Motorway to Pier St in remote Jackson Bay. Its maps are of comparable quality to those put online by Wellington start-up Zoomin and established national mapping firm Wises.
Source: Dominion Post

Zip codes to be introduced across NZ.

By Simon O'Rourke
As if recalling phone numbers, passwords, pin numbers and access codes is not enough, a new set of digits is about to be thrown into the mix. New Zealand Post will announce tomorrow a new postal system for delivering to street addresses, introducing "zip codes" to the country for the first time. Four digits will help an automated mail sorter to channel personally addressed envelopes to one of 1800 different zones of New Zealand. Within each of those zones, there will be about 10,000 separate mailbox addresses. About 1.8 million information sheets will arrive in every mailbox from Thursday, outlining the changes and specifying each address's new postal code.
Copyright © 2006, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Chathams lose 11% of population.

It is clean, untouched and arguably the safest community in the country - so why are people leaving? The Chatham Islands have suffered the heaviest population loss of all territorial authorities in this year's Census. Six hundred and thirty people now live in the region, with 11.2 percent having left in the past five years. Mayor Patrick Smith is surprised at the latest figures, although he understands many families leave when their kids reach high school age. He says the Chathams are a great place to live and visit. He says tourism is on the rise as people increasingly seek rare destinations.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Shake-up of liquor advertising rules.

The rules and regulations on alcohol advertising could be about to get a shake-up. The Government has approved guidelines for a review of existing laws and has established a steering group to look at where problems may exist and what solutions may be available. The steering group is to meet with industry, consumer, advertising, hospitality, health, and other assorted groups over the next few months. Its final recommendations will be in the hands of the Government by the end of the year.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Giant waves batter beach homes.

Waves up to four metres high battered coastal homes near Hastings last night. Police issued a heavy swell warning to residents on the eastern coastline yesterday morning and last night went door-to-door in Haumoana as waves swept up the beachfront at high tide. One wave crashed into a wall and sprayed up to eight metres over a house and on to the road near the beach. Hastings District Council emergency officer Rene Londeman said though no homes had been evacuated, residents were being advised to be prepared to leave at short notice.
Source: Dominion Post

Claims Muslims targeted at Customs.

Some New Zealand Muslims claim they are being persecuted by Customs officers when they fly back into the country. They say they are being stopped at airports and questioned for hours on end because of their appearance and religion. Maher Fauzi has lived and worked in New Zealand for six years, he is a citizen and calls the country home. But he claims when he recently returned from holiday airport customs officers interrogated him like a potential terrorist because he is a Muslim. Fauzi says he and other Muslims on a flight from Dubai were questioned for two hours at Auckland Airport. Customs says it does not target people on the basis of race or ethnicity. But it says it develops intelligence profiles for targeting, which may include nationality along with other indicators such as travel itineraries.
Source:One News

Huge illegal paua haul busted.

Fisheries officers have seized what they believe to be the largest quantity of illegally harvested paua in the Wairarapa for years. Two hundred of the 500 paua are undersize. The seafood haul was found at Ngawi beach. Two men have been apprehended. Fisheries officers say the men are likely to face charges for possessing excess and undersize paua.
The Ministry of Fisheries has seized their four wheel drive vehicle.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Monday, May 29

Government plans fast track for medical training.

By Errol Kiong
Health Minister Pete Hodgson has sent a strong signal that doctors' training will be fast-tracked. The announcement follows the release of two reports outlining the need for changes to the traditional system and advocating a shift away from time-based training. The reports also find that the length of training for primary or secondary specialists is longer than it needs to be. Doctors have welcomed the move - but caution that it needs to be done without compromising patient safety. Mr Hodgson told a GPs conference in Rotorua on Friday that a new committee is being formed to streamline medical education and clinical training, and to appraise the system. Indications are that some changes will happen before next year's university intake.

Skifields open early.

Skiers and snowboarders got a welcome surprise yesterday as the first of the New Zealand's skifields opened. Mt Dobson skifield, in central Marlborough, opened its fields.
Copyright © 2006, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Major Fire Service revamp planned.

The Government is planning a major revamp of the Fire Service. Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker says the current legislation governing the service is 35 years old, and almost solely focused on fire rather than a wider rescue role. Mr Barker says the current system of fire management is not well suited to the service's future needs, and adds that the system is also unfair from a funding viewpoint. Ideas on how to shape the service for future needs will be discussed at a workshop involving interested parties.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Greens keep up pressure on Rakon.

The Greens foreign affairs spokesman is keeping up the pressure on technology exporter Rakon. Rakon has explicitly denied supplying crystal oscillators to the United States for use in smart weapons systems. The Prime Minister has also said publicly the oscillators do not require export permits. However Green MP Keith Locke says Helen Clark has left the door open as to whether they qualify under strategic export conditions. He says Defence Minister Phil Goff has said today that if the oscillators had been developed for military purposes they would be the subject of strategic export regulations.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

NZ deal with Oman.

An deal described as one of the country's biggest educational contracts has been struck between New Zealand tertiary providers and the government of Oman. A New Zealand consortium has signed a five year deal with the Omani Ministry of Higher Education to provide course content for business and IT degrees. Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen says the value of the contract is confidential, but it is understood to be the biggest ever for New Zealand's international education sector. He says the deal is a testament to the quality of our tertiary education institutions.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Rugby-Captaincy question gets Jerry thinking.

Jerry Collins doesn't hesitate on the rugby field, but he took a moment before saying "yes" to the All Black captaincy. Collins was named yesterday to lead the All Blacks in a one-off test against Argentina in Buenos Aries next month. Collins' response to All Blacks coach Graham Henry's offer, two days before the Super 14 final, perhaps confirmed the national selectors decision was the right one. It was measured and mature, his thoughts turning to his Hurricanes teammates. "I had to think about it, it's a big responsibility and I wanted to talk to some people first," Collins said after arriving home in Wellington from the Super 14 final loss in Christchurch. "I wanted to be sure it was the right thing to do."
Source: Dominion Post

Flexible work attracts older workers - survey.

Employers who offer flexible working hours and quality part-time work are well placed to attract and retain the skills of older workers, according to a new survey. The Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Trust's online Work and Age Survey asked 6400 people what they wanted from work as they got older and what workplace conditions would encourage them to stay in paid work longer. The survey also explored people's experiences of inter-generational issues and age discrimination at work. EEO Trust chief executive Dr Philippa Reed said this and previous research showed that employers who offered flexibility in working hours and work location were well placed to attract and retain skilled people. "Our surveys of parents and disabled people also found that flexibility is the No 1 factor that would enable them to make a more effective contribution to the workplace."

More women than men having unprotected sex.

More than half of New Zealand women aged 16 to 20 have had unsafe sex, compared to 43 per cent of men. Up to 55 per cent of New Zealand women admitted to having unsafe sex in the Durex Global Sex Survey 2005. Family Planning is working with Durex to highlight the role of condoms in helping to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDs and unwanted pregnancies.
source:Manukau Courier

Labour support drops in poll.

Labour has suffered the backlash from its budget, while National has benefited in the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll. Labour has fallen four points to 38 percent, while National has risen two points to 47 percent support. Of the minor parties, the Greens are on five, while New Zealand First and the Maori Party are on four and three percent respectively. Disapproval for the Government's performance has rocketed up seven to 43 percent, which is now above the number of New Zealanders who approve on 42 percent.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

First census statistics out.

The first results from the census are out. Statistics New Zealand says 4.1 million people filled in forms on March the seventh. That is a rise of nearly eight percent on 2001. Seventy-five percent of respondents were in the North Island on census night. Auckland is the region showing the greatest growth, with a population increase of nearly 150 thousand to 1.3 million. However the population in the Queenstown Lakes District rose a whopping 29 percent.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Sunday, May 28

Pacific earthquakes.

Two strong earthquakes have been recorded in the Pacific today, one at Tonga and the other in Papua New Guinea A earthquake the rocked Tonga measured 6.7 on the Richter scale. It hit late afternoon, 145 kilometres northeast of the capital Nuku'alofa. Another quake was felt in the New Britain region of Papua New Guinea and measured 6.2 on the Richter scale.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Plunket questions value of dietary supplements.

A chain of daycare centres has abandoned plans to give vitamins to its preschoolers after complaints from parents. Kindercare managing director Glennie Oborn is a seller of the Usana vitamins the chain planned to give the children. She said the idea did not come from her but from a parent. Kindercare, which looks after 2000 children at daycare centres in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, sent out a form asking parents' permission to supply daily vitamins to children aged two to five. It said: "We anticipate that this initiative will give our children additional resistance to infection." Parents were asked to return a consent form, and were told they could get more information from staff. Kindercare wrote that the supplements were in animal shapes, wild-berry flavoured, and it was in "no doubt" children would respond positively to them. Plunket spokeswoman Angela Baldwin, paediatrician Russell Wills and Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro were baffled by the idea. There was no evidence that supplements boosted people's immunity. Children required only a good diet.
source:Sunday Star Times
(ED note: this proposal is appalliing and should be subject to criminal offence if implemented.)

Heart Foundation's healthy tick campaign deserves big cross.

By Catherine Woulfe
Three years into an extensive revamp of the Heart-Foundation's Pick the Tick scheme, it has come under fire from experts who say it is confusing, ineffective, too commercially driven, and needs to go. Under the scheme, products that meet guidelines for healthy ingredients receive a Heart Foundation tick. The foundation is re-evaluating the programme, toughening the criteria products must meet to gain the tick of approval. The foundation claims 69 per cent of shoppers are swayed by the tick and says the programme has eradicated thousands of tonnes of fat, sugar and salt from New Zealanders' diets. But even before the giant task of toughening up the tick is finished next year, setting new levels to further restrict the amount of harmful substances in food, the scheme is earning a big cross from disgruntled anti-obesity groups and dietitians. They have long challenged it for the way it gives a tick to foods that seem healthy but which still contain what they believe are unhealthy levels of fat, salt or sugar.
Copyright © 2006, APN Holdings NZ Ltd.
click HERE for full story

Rugby-Misty-eyed rugby fans desert ground for TV.

Spectators at last night's sell-out Super 14 final left early - because they couldn't see the game in the thickly fogged evening. Herald on Sunday rugby writer Gregor Paul, speaking from Jade Stadium, said: "From what I can see, people have left the ground - especially those sitting up high. "I was finding it hard to see and those sitting right up top must not have been able to see a thing. "It's a sellout so they couldn't come down lower. I'd say they've gone home to watch it on TV."
Paul said it was difficult to see from one side of the ground to the other and, even 30-40m away from Jade Stadium, normally brightly lit at night, he couldn't see the floodlights because of the thick fog. Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said last night that the decision to go ahead with the game had been made after consultation with all interested parties - including the players, match officials and broadcasters.
Copyright © 2006, APN Holdings NZ Ltd.

NZ nurse under fire.

A New Zealand nurse is at the centre of the factional violence in East Timor. Rival gangs have clashed again in Dili. The nurse, Virginia Dawson, is helping the injured in slum houses converted into a medical clinic. She is treating injured people on both sides of the fighting. Yesterday she came under attack when members of a gang broke into the facility to grab a member of a rival gang who was receiving treatment. Ms Dawson has also rescued some of her Timorese staff trapped in their homes by the violence.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Red Cross seeks aid.

New Zealanders are are among those working in International Red Cross teams trying to get aid to earthquake victims in Indonesia. And New Zealanders here can help as well by donating money to the Red Cross world wide appeal to raise about $15,000,000. Yesterday's quake struck central Java at dawn, and measured 6.2 on the Richter scale. More than 3,000 people are dead.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Rugby-Henry names 39-man All Blacks lineup.

The All Blacks squad for the first three tests of the year has been named. Coach Graham Henry has announced his 39-man lineup in Christchurch.
There are three uncapped players in the squad, Highlanders prop Clarke Dermody, Blues lock Greg Rawlinson, and Crusaders winger Scott Hamilton.
The full squad is Dan Carter, Jerry Collins, Jimmy Cowan, Clarke Dermody, Jason Eaton, Troy Flavell, Rico Gear, Scott Hamilton, Carl Hayman, David Hill, Marty Holah, Andrew Hore, Doug Howlett, Chris Jack, Jerome Kaino, Byron Kelleher, Casey Laulala, Leon MacDonald, Chris Masoe, Aaron Mauger, Luke McAlister, Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Mils Muliaina, Craig Newby, Ma'a Nonu, Anton Oliver, Greg Rawlinson, Joe Rokocoko, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Rodney So'oialo, Greg Somerville, Neemia Tialata, Mose Tuiali'i, Isaia Toeava, Sam Tuitupou, Piri Weepu, Ali Williams and Tony Woodcock.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Aussies launch jobs raid on NZ.

Australia's raid on New Zealand talent is set to continue as a massive public service expansion has created 7000 highly paid new jobs. Of those new positions, about 3000 will be in the Australian capital Canberra where statistics reveal average pay rates are more than 50 per cent higher than in Wellington. Canberra-based Recruitment Management Company said Wellington was a "fairly obvious" market when hunting staff with the appropriate skills to work in the Australian public sector. Acting managing director Catherine Andrews said the company was banking on the recent Australian tax cuts creating a "possibly attractive income differential" for New Zealand public servants. Canberra-based Australasian IT recruitment company Icon Recruitment said it would look to Wellington to fill public sector positions in Canberra, after exhausting the Australian market.
Source: Dominion Post

Embassy contacting Kiwis after quake.

The New Zealand embassy in Jakarta is attempting to contact all Kiwis who may have been affected by the massive earthquake that hit near the city of Yogyakarta, on the southern coast of the main island of Java. The earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale is thought to have killed more than 1,000 people. Injured people have been flooding to the city's hospitals which are treating patients outside, because of the aftershocks. The New Zealand embassy in Jakarta is continuing to monitor the situation closely including updated reports of casualties. The Embassy has also attempted to contact all New Zealanders registered with the embassy and thought to be living or travelling in Central Java. New Zealanders affected by the earthquake that require assistance or advice should contact the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta on (021) 570-9460.
source:TVNZ Interactive/RNZ

Ambassador evacuated.

The New Zealand ambassador to East Timor has been evacuated to the Australian embassy. More New Zealand and Australian troops are on their way to the war-torn country, where violence has escalated today. Prime Minister Helen Clark says it has been an extremely difficult day for the New Zealand embassy. She says with increasing violence the decision was taken to evacuate ambassador Ruth Nuttall to the safety of the Australian compound. Miss Clark says in the last two days Ambassador Nuttall has been shot at, and she has shown great courage. Miss Clark says the first job for our platoon, which is due to arrive in East Timor this evening, is to secure the New Zealand compound.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Saturday, May 27

Rugby-Canterbury win Super 14 final.

Canterbury crusaders beat the Wellington hurricanes 19-12 in Christchurch to win the Super 14 rugby final.

What worries TV viewers?

Violence, sex and bad language are the top three worries amongst TV viewers. The Broadcasting Standards Authority has just released its latest rankings of the things that turn us off. BSA Chief Jane Wrightson says accuracy is also a big concern. She says New Zealanders' demand for accurate information comes from our love of news, which 80 percent of people say they watch regularly.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

25+ firefighters battle Dunedin blaze.

More then two dozen firefighters have battled to bring a blaze under control at a foundry in Dunedin. The fire started around 5.30am at Giltech Industries. Senior Station Officer Ben Pitelen says there was nobody in the building at the time. Mr Pitelen says fortunately in this case it was not in the foundry part of the factory so they were not dealing with molten and metals which can be a real danger. But he says there was quite a significant explosion at one stage.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Dunedin woman five times legal limit.

A Dunedin woman has pleaded guilty to driving with a blood alcohol level more than five times the legal limit. When Patricia Konia blew the police breath test a month ago she was so drunk she was over the machine's limit. In explanation for her actions, the defendant said she was just picking her car up from the pub. A blood test revealed 426 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. "I've dealt with post mortem results with people with blood alcohol levels of about 300. Anything at that level, we usually find that people are dead," says Inspector Carey Griffiths.
Source:One News

Raging Gun Battles Errupt In East Timor.

A gun battle is raging in streets around the presidential palace in Dili where there are reports of automatic weapons fire and grenade blasts. At the same time our Prime Minister is warning of the grave dangers our troops will be facing face in East Timor. Forty-two soldiers have flown out today for Townsville to join Australian forces heading for Dili. She says our force will work with the Australian military and both countries are likely to operate under the same rules of engagement. That means New Zealand troops could be under a "shoot to kill" policy. Helen Clark expects more details on the nature of New Zealand tasks in East Timor within 24-hours.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Trade Me fraudster jailed.

An Auckland man has been sent to prison for almost three years for a sophisticated internet fraud. Mark Hayes, 19, was sentenced in Auckland District Court today to two years and 11 months in prison for a complex crime that targeted consumers, banks and auction website Trade Me's members. He hacked into the bank accounts of the website's users. He had pleaded guilty to multiple counts of fraud and accessing a computer for dishonest purposes. He challenged the charges for almost a year but changed his plea to guilty the day before the trial was due to begin.
Source:NZPA © 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Tonga PM on first visit to NZ.

Tongan Prime Minister Feleti Sevele is in New Zealand on his first official meeting. Sevele is the first commoner to be Tonga's prime minister. He was appointed when the King's son resigned in February. The first commitment in his four day visit was meeting members of the Auckland Tongan community on Thursday night. He will meet with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark on Friday and has hinted immigration and trade will be on the agenda.

Jane Campion unveils next film.

New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion will direct a drama based on 19th century poet John Keats. Speaking at the Cannes International Film Festival, Campion said she was writing the screenplay for Bright Star, which follows the story of a three year romance between Keats and Fanny Browne. The relationship came to an untimely end when Keats' life was cut short at age 25 in 1821. "I'm still in the process of writing it, and we don't know yet when we're going into production," Campion told industry publication The Hollywood Reporter.

High hopes for tests of NZ Parkinson's drug.

A pioneering Parkinson's drug developed by New Zealand scientists will soon be tested on Kiwi patients. Researchers are recruiting 120 New Zealanders and Australians with early-stage Parkinson's disease to take part in a clinical trial of the drug, MitoQ. It is one of the first drugs to be developed, manufactured and tested in New Zealand. More than 8000 New Zealanders have Parkinson's disease and it affects four million people in the world, including boxer Muhammad Ali, New Zealand runner John Walker, and actor Michael J Fox. The condition is caused by degeneration of nerves in the brain that produce a chemical called dopamine. Lack of dopamine causes the tremors, stiffness, and muscle rigidity associated with Parkinson's. If MitoQ is successful, it would be the first drug to slow the progression of Parkinson's, rather than treating its symptoms.
Source: Dominion Post

Friday, May 26

Butcher fined for organic claims.

A West Auckland butcher has been fined for falsely claiming his meat was organic. Jason Arthars and the organic butchery he has since sold, Clark's Organic Butchery, have been fined a total of $10,000. Both admitted 11 charges of deliberately labelling products as certified organic and allergy free, when neither claim was true. Commerce Commission Fair Trading Director, Deborah Battell says Arthars has abused the trust of consumers and unfairly tainted all honest organic traders.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Sir Ed is NZ's most trusted person.

New Zealanders do not trust politicians but they love firefighters. Little has changed in the occupational rankings in the latest Reader's Digest trust survey. Firefighters are still the most trusted professionals, followed by ambulance officers, pilots, nurses and doctors. At the other end of the scale are politicians, car salesmen, telemarketers and psychics. As for the most trusted person - Sir Ed has made it to the top once again. More than 50 years after reaching Everest's summit, Sir Edmund Hillary remains wrapped in the hearts and minds of the nation. One survey respondent says she rates Sir Ed so highly because she sees him as the nation's father figure. She says he has done things for the good of others above his own needs. Sir Ed is followed on the most trusted list by Olympians Sarah Ulmer, the Evers-Swindell twins, Peter Snell and Hamish Carter. She may have been shown the door by TVNZ, but Judy Bailey still appears to be the surrogate mother of the nation. The former One News reader has ranked 18th on the list of the people New Zealanders most trust. She is the highest rating TV personality in the survey. John Campbell is the next best placed current affairs or news host in 29th place. Close Up's Susan Wood is well behind in 54th place, and Paul Holmes is between Theresa Gattung and Michael Cullen in 67th. Destiny Church founder Brian Tamaki is the least trusted person on the list, with Tariana Turia and twinkle-toed Rodney Hide close behind.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Blake memorial plans unveiled.

Plans for a scaled down memorial to Sir Peter Blake have been unveiled. The $10 million cost of the original memorial has been cut back to $8 million. It includes a new wing at the Maritime Museum on Auckland's Waterfront to house the interactive exhibition that will have as its centre piece NZL 32 Black Magic, the boat which won the America's Cup in 1995. The Government is contributing $2.5 million towards the project.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Unexpected trade surplus.

It appears that the worst may be over for the country's trade deficit with surprise April figures. There was a trade surplus of $80 million. Newstalk ZB Business correspondent Roger Kerr says people had been expecting a $200 million trade deficit. He says import volumes have decreased, which shows a softening of consumer demand in the economy.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Seal of approval for organic baby food.

A small west Auckland company Stages is attracting international interest as a leader in the manufacture of frozen organic baby food. It has been invited to enter the prestigious Sial D'or International Food Awards; winners will be announced next month. She says their "sweet sensations" product was nominated in the frozen dessert category up against 25 other countries. A previous winner of a Sial D'or award was New Zealand vodka manufacturer 42 Below. Chief Executive Dana Mitchell says an international supermarket chain based in France has also approached them to supply their stores.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

UK asked to reconsider VC.

A fresh attempt is being made to secure a Victoria Cross for World War Two soldier World War Two soldier Haane Manahi. Defence Minister Phil Goff has put the request to Buckingham Palace during his official visit to Europe for OECD and WTO talks. Haane Manahi served as a Lance-Sergeant with the Maori Battalion in North Africa and was recommended for a VC for his actions at Takrouna Ridge in 1943. He lead three men up a bluff, took out machine gun posts, and captured around 60 prisoners. He was eventually awarded a DCM. Phil Goff says there is compelling evidence of Haane Manahi's courage which is why the Queen is being asked to reconsider the case.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Court gets tough with internet fraud.

The harshest ever sentence for Internet fraud in New Zealand has been handed down to an Auckland teenager. 19-year-old Mark Hayes has been sentenced to two-years and 11-months following his conviction for fraud after accessing Trade Me members bank accounts. Trade Me spokesman, Mike O'Donnell, says fraudsters leave deep footprints on Trade Me and the company is committed to prosecuting them. He says this should serve as a reminder for people to never use a public computer to access personal information.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Northland braces itself for deluge.

Northland is bracing for downpours which have the potential to cause flooding. A MetService heavy rain warning has been issued for the region. Heavy falls are expected late this afternoon or early this evening and could bring 15 to 20mm of rain an hour. MetService says a string of northeasterly gales will also whip through the region.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

120 NZ troops likely for Timor.

New Zealand troops preparing for deployment in East Timor flew out of Christchurch just before 1pm today.
The Defence Force said the 42 troops and support staff would fly to Townsville, instead of Darwin as originally planned. A spokeswoman was unable to say why the troops were now heading to Townsville. The troops are due to be on the ground tomorrow. Prime Minister Helen Clark told Radio New Zealand this afternoon that the situation on the ground in East Timor was "confused". Up to 120 New Zealand troops could be deployed in East Timor in the next few days in a bid to prevent the fledgling nation descending into civil war, Miss Clark also said. But the Prime Minister said that in the next few days that was likely to be increased to a full 120-strong company. Australia yesterday sent 130 commandos to secure Dili's airport as fighting and gunbattles broke out on the streets of East Timor's capital.

Wednesday, May 24

Back online soon...

There has been a computer 'meltdown'.....Daily New Zealand News will return in 2-3 days.

Tuesday, May 23

Penguins appeal for boat.

The little blue penguins at Auckland Zoo are not about to sail away, but they would like a new dinghy. Zoo keepers are asking for a donation of a spare runabout which Henry, Ani, Lucy, Pluto, MacGonagal, and Coral can use as a shelter from the wind and rain. Senior keeper at Auckland Zoo, Bruce Ireland says an upturned dinghy makes the perfect shelter for the birds. He says they have an old flimsy one there at the moment but it is falling apart and a dinghy would look a lot smarter in their enclosure He says anyone willing to part with a small wooden dinghy should contact the zoo. Mr Ireland says if anyone has a little boat to spare, it would be gratefully received.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Booming Auckland suburb to get seven new schools.

By Simon O'Rourke
Education Minister Steve Maharey will today announce an outlay of "hundreds of millions of dollars" to construct seven new schools in the fast growing Flat Bush area of South Auckland. But the plan could be controversial, with hints that it will include "junior high schools" against the wishes of the community.New schools in the area are needed quickly. The number of residents in Flat Bush is set to explode over the next 15 years. The population is predicted to go from 3000 people to an estimated 40,000 by 2021.

National, Greens gang up on Labour.

A rare show of unity, as National and the Greens prevent the Government from easily amending the law to make errant MPs leave Parliament if they refuse to toe the party line. They have voted against initial attempts to change the Electoral Integrity Act, although the law is expected to be amended eventually with the support of New Zealand First and United Future. National's deputy leader Gerry Brownlee acknowledges that Labour will probably still get its way, but he remains convinced a law change is unnecessary. Mr Brownlee says MMP requires that MPs reflect the policies of the party they were elected to represent, but he says if they find themselves unable to do that, it is more than likely they will not be re-elected.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Troops stand by for East Timor.

Troops at Burnham Military Camp are on a 48-hour alert for possible deployment to East Timor after recent outbreaks of violence there. The heightened state of readiness was ordered ahead of trans-Tasman defence talks last weekend in Queenstown, where unrest in the newly independent nation was high on the agenda. Australia has put several ships and hundreds of troops on standby to intervene if asked and to evacuate its citizens from the tiny country, which borders Indonesia, should the situation deteriorate. New Zealand Defence Force spokesman Mike Shatford said a platoon-size group at Burnham was put on alert for fast deployment.
Source:The Press

London memorial to cost $4m.

The Government is set to spend more than $4 million on a New Zealand memorial to be unveiled by the Queen in London's Hyde Park on November 11, Remembrance Day. Plans are under way to send about 400 people to Britain for the unveiling ceremony. They will include 220 military personnel, Prime Minister Helen Clark, officials, media, war veterans and schoolchildren for what is being described as the biggest ceremonial event since the Return of the Unknown Warrior in 2004. The opening would be the biggest war memorial event New Zealand had ever put on overseas and one of the biggest events the country had put on in London. Mr Matthews said the memorial was more than a war memorial. The sculptures were designed to celebrate New Zealand's historical relationship with Britain.
Source:Dominion Post

Monday, May 22

Americans urged to visit NZ.

Tourism New Zealand has been in Los Angeles trying to convince Americans New Zealand is not as far away as they think. Regional Manager for North America Bruce La Hood says Americans have a perception that New Zealand is a long way away, that they need a lot of time to get here, and that it is expensive. He says in reality, it is an overnight flight out of the west coast of the US. Tourism New Zealand is urging US travel agents to tell their clients that New Zealand is an easy place to get to.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Nuclear power - no thanks, says PM.

Her Australian counterpart may be talking about nuclear power, but Helen Clark is having none of it. John Howard says his country should start tapping into its rich supplies of uranium, sooner rather than later. However Miss Clark says New Zealand does not need to follow suit. She says this country's electricity requirements are not big enough to make nuclear power worthwhile, even if concerns about safety could be allayed. The prime minister says New Zealand has plenty of alternatives, such as hydro, gas, coal and wind power.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZ tops Coro fan list.

More proof - if it is needed - that New Zealand is hooked on British soap Coronation Street. The search engine site Google reveals that the highest number of searches on the Internet for the words "Coronation Street" comes from New Plymouth. Second on the list comes Wellington, and third comes St John's in Canada. The Canadian city is, in fact, the only one in the top five which is NOT in New Zealand. Only three cities in the top ten are in the country of origin of "Coro".
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Visa scam quashed.

Tighter rules for guardians of international students are being welcomed by an education lobby group. The Government has cracked down on a visa scam involving some guardians, who use the international student policy to gain a work permit so their children's schooling is paid by the state. From today, restrictions will be put on the type of work permits granted to people who come here as guardians.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Very Kiwi sound for very British event.

A very un-British sound will be heard in a London suburb tonight when a conch shell rings out to officially open New Zealand's garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. Although the public will not see Tourism New Zealand's North Island bush and beach scene until tomorrow, the Queen will have a private viewing tonight. The judges will also make their decision on which of the gardens deserve a medal overnight.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Prince Charles sends greeting to Maori Queen.

Prince Charles has congratulated the Maori Queen on the 40th anniversary of her coronation. In a documentary made to honour Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, the Prince of Wales wore a special feathered cloak, or korowai, and referred to it during his address. "I well remember coming to Turangawaewae in 1994 and ... wearing this beautiful cloak, which was presented to Prince Philip on the 1953 visit, " Charles said. "It is a very special treasure, a taonga which makes the 12,000 miles between my place and yours seem like a very short distance indeed." The heir to the British throne said "our two families have enjoyed a wonderful friendship going back to 1953" when the Queen and Prince Philip visited the meeting house at Turangawaewae Marae.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Marriage rate stays steady.

The number of people tying the knot in New Zealand remained steady last year. Figures released by Statistics New Zealand show 20,500 people had marriages registered in 2005, in line with the average over the past decade. A general trend towards delaying marriage, a growth in de facto unions, and an increasing number of Kiwis living the single life has contributed to a drop in the number of couples tying the knot. The general marriage rate (marriages per 1000 unmarried adults) was 13.2 in 2005, down from 16.9 in 1995.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Kiwi gets ready to be spaced out.

From a modest Opawa home comes – the World's Fastest Kiwi. Mark Rocket, internet entrepreneur and father of one, is set to be the first New Zealander in space. When he takes off from the Mohave Desert, near Los Angeles, in 2008, he will go from zero to the speed of sound in less than eight seconds. He will blast straight up to 120km above the Earth, at three times the speed of sound, and spend about 10 minutes in space. Rocket has dreamed of space flight since the 1970s movie Star Wars captivated him. He made it his goal in 2000. Now it has become his passion. It has even led him to change his name (from what, he will not say). But it has not come without a cost – the fare for a ride on Virgin Galactic's eight-person space craft is $300,000. Rocket has cheerfully paid up and already received the fringe benefits of a visit to the International Space Development Conference and the rocket development factory in California.
Source:The Press

Christchurch varsity lands research centre.

A world-class research centre will be built in Christchurch, backed by nearly $20 million in Government and industry funding and equipped with one of the 10 most powerful computers on the planet. The University of Canterbury went public today with plans for the New Zealand ICT Innovation Centre, to open in 2009. ICT stands for information and communications technology. Experts based at the institute will look at projects ranging from astronomy and energy generation to the workings of the human body and spread of disease. University Vice-Chancellor Roy Sharp said the institute – which will be the only one of its kind in New Zealand – would bring top-end jobs to the region through commercialising academic research.

South Westland weather warning.

A severe weather warning has been issued for south Westland. Heavy rain was expected in the area from Sunday morning and is likely to continue until Monday morning. Over that period up to 120 millimetres of rain is expected to fall on the Westland ranges, south of Whataroa. People in the area, especially trampers, are warned to be aware of rapidly rising river levels. MetService says the front will then move up the West Coast on Monday with up to 150 millimetres of rain falling in Nelson by Tuesday morning.

Kiwi businessman helping US teens.

A New Zealand businessman living in New York is the driving force behind a US charity that aims to help America's most at risk teenagers. City At Peace uses drama, dance and music, to broaden the horizons of urban teenagers - some of which are from the toughest areas like Harlem, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. The charity is changing lives, with involved teens now more likely to stay in high school, and afterwards go on to university. And Kiwi Craig Park has made his own changes to the charity.
Source:One News

Ski industry gears up for better year.

The ski industry is hoping the early winter snow heralds a bumper season, following disappointment last year.
New Zealand's biggest skifields are just weeks away from opening. At Mt Hutt they are already ankle deep in snow, which is a welcome sight after a terrible season last year.
Source:One News

Marineland petition gains momentum.

A Napier City councillor says he has collected about 2,000 signatures on a petition aimed at keeping dolphins in Marineland. Public meetings are being held to gauge public support in Hawke's Bay for replacing Shona, the dolphin which died in April and Kelly, who is expected to die soon. Harry Lawson says the second public meeting, which was held on Sunday afternoon in Hastings, collected about 100 more signatures. He says the government has previously turned down Marineland's request for more dolphins and he wants to make sure that does not happen again. Lawson says Marineland is an important education and tourism facility for the area.

Sunday, May 21

Kiwi entrepreneur nets multi-million dollar Microsoft deal.

By Jared Savage
She worked colossal hours without pay. The office equipment didn't work properly. She stayed in ratbag hotels. But now 31-year-old Wellingtonian Claudia Batten has sold her software company to Microsoft. For up to US$400 million (NZ$643 million). Batten is now flying high among the ranks of the dotcom millionaires in a deal which dwarfs even the recent purchase of Trade Me. Four years ago, Batten founded Massive Inc with two expat Australians in New York, to develop software that downloads advertising into online video games - a world first. In car games, for example, advertising can be inserted on billboards in the background as cars drive past. Ads can also be placed in games on pizza boxes, TV screens, soft-drink cans and vending machines. Advertisers can change the ads around - slotting in a movie promotion one day, or a soft-drink ad the next. It's also geographically specific and can be sold around the globe.

Greens staunch on Kyoto.

The Green Party reckons New Zealand is in Kyoto to stay. Canada is reportedly threatening to quit the accord unless America and Australia sign up. It is also understood Canada is in favour of scrapping Kyoto and replacing it with a voluntary agreement. Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons believes the move is just a Canadian negotiating ploy to get America and Australia to join Kyoto. But she says if Canada were to pull out it would collapse the whole agreement.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Rugby-Canterbury Crusaders set for eighth appearance in finals.

The Crusaders stormed in to their eighth Super rugby final with a predictable 35-15 win over the Bulls at Jade Stadium on Saturday night. The win ensured an all-New Zealand Super 14 final after the Hurricanes scraped home against the Waratahs on Friday night. The Crusaders will be gunning for their sixth title in Christchurch next weekend, and on the strength of Saturday night's performance, you'd back the defending champs to take out the competition once more.
source:One Sport

More travellers arriving later.

The Tourism Industry Association says it's seeing more of an influx of international travellers during the late summer. Figures show a rise of nearly 10% in overseas visitor numbers from April 2005 to April this year. Tourism New Zealand says that's due to the Easter holidays and a strong late summer season. The Chief Executive of the Tourism Industry Association, Fiona Luhrs, says many tourists now realise New Zealand gets very busy during the peak summer period, and decide to travel during the shoulder seasons. Tourism New Zealand says the figures show big gains in travellers from the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Ferry master stood down over crossing.

Maritime New Zealand have stood down a master of the Interislander ferry Aratere after the initial findings of an investigation into a stormy crossing of the Cook Strait in which four people were injured. The master had made the decision to go ahead with the crossing in March that took eight hours rather than the normal three and saw the vessel battered with 10 metre swells. He is no longer allowed to sail as master of a ferry, but is allowed to work on board as a mate.

Controlling the junk mail dilemma.

Letterboxes around the country will look a lot slimmer from Monday. That's when a new code to control junk mail takes effect that means no more flyers, pamphlets or even the local rag if you don't want them. Households that clearly state junk mail is not welcome will have the chance to dob in the offenders. Fines for breaking householders' wishes will be as high as $20,000.
Source:One News

Appeal for anti-smacking bill to be ditched.

A family lobby group is asking Green MP Sue Bradford to withdraw her anti-smacking bill, after comments she made in an interview with Investigate magazine. Ms Bradford is trying to overturn Section 59 of the Crimes Act, which allows parents to use reasonable force. Family First director Bob McCoskrie says in the interview, Sue Bradford agreed parents who use smacking to discipline their children should not face prosecution. He says if that is what she thinks, her amendment should be withdrawn immediately. Bob McCoskrie says a blanket ban on physical force is not the answer to child abuse, and should be stopped before it goes through the costly and time consuming select committee process. He wants to see more time spent on other causes of abuse, such as domestic violence and drugs.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Defence talks finish.

Talks between Defence Ministers from New Zealand and Australia have finished in Queenstown this afternoon. Topping the agenda for Phil Goff and Brendan Nelson was political stability in Solomon Islands. Mr Goff says reports suggest continued calm in the country, and that could herald a reduction in New Zealand troop numbers there. He says he hopes up to 100 New Zealand defence personnel can return home once they are sure the area is stable. This was Dr Nelson's first visit to New Zealand since he was appointed to the Australian defence portfolio in January. Talks between the two nations' defence leaders are held each year.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Powerball winner hauls in $18 million.

The biggest Powerball jackpot win ever has gone to a ticket bought at Kaeo in Northland. The lucky holder of the ticket takes away almost $18 million. That is made up of just over $17,700,000 from winning Powerball first division, and just over $290,000 from also winning Lotto first division.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Saturday, May 20

Howard considers nuclear future.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has intensified speculation that his government is considering nuclear power generation, saying global warming and high oil prices are making it inevitable. The PM, who is currently in Canada, says the government may have to review its 18-month-old energy policy to take nuclear power into account. Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane is also backing the idea, saying the first Australian nuclear power plant could begin operating by 2020.
Source: NZPA

Tonga to axe 1000 jobs.

Tonga's new Prime Minister, Dr Feleti Sevele, says about a quarter of Tonga's civil service jobs will be axed.
On his first official visit to New Zealand, Dr Sevele told members of Auckland's Tongan community that the country was under tough economic pressure, TVNZ reported. He said trimming a thousand civil service jobs was a just the start of Government spending cuts. He wanted three years to improve the economy, and political change over time would see less power residing with the royal family.
Source: NZPA

Huge windfarm planned for Otago.

Meridian Energy will be holding public consultations with Otago communities next week over its plans to build one of the biggest wind farms in the Southern Hemisphere. The Lammermoor Range windfarm may have up to 176 turbines, which could generate up to 630 megwatts – enough to power every home in the South Island. Project Hayes, named in honour of Otago wind power pioneer Ernest Hayes, is expected to cost between $1.1 and $2 billion, and will be built in stages as power demands increase.
Source: NZPA

Friday, May 19

Rugby-Hurricanes win Super 14 semi-final.

The Hurricanes are through to the Rebel Sport Super 14 final, after beating the Waratahs 16-14 at Wellington Stadium tonight.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZ steers away from Fiji row.

The New Zealand Government is not being drawn into the tensions between the newly elected Fijian Government and the country's armed forces. The head of Fiji's military, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has indicated he will take steps if Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and his SDL party try to give amnesty to the 2000 Coup plotters. Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says that is a domestic matter for Fiji and not something on which New Zealand can express an opinion. He says it is not the Government's intention to involve itself in any way in the sovereign affairs of Fiji.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Police apologise for "gay" comment.

Police have apologised to a Christchurch man after a senior officer at a careers expo in the city told him his scarf was a "bit too gay". Canterbury's senior recruitment officer Kelvin McBride made the comment to Simon Calcinai on Sunday. Calcinai was shocked by the comment which he regards as inappropriate and unprofessional and says McBride has since apologised to him in an email.

Early warning system fails first test.

The country's first dedicated tsunami warning system's failed its first test. All 10 sirens in the western Bay of Plenty worked but many locals couldn't hear a thing. "We do see tsunamis as a major threat in the western Bay of Plenty and we're doing something about it," says Barry Low. The 10 second test was heard in Tauranga, Papamoa and Te Puke. Some heard it, but right next to the sea at Mount Maunganui, all there was, was silence. "I mean, this is on the coast, it should be perfectly clear here, shouldn't it?," one man says.
Source:One News

New system of electronic bail.

An electronic bail system will be introduced this year, after money was made available in the budget. The system will give courts another option besides remanding people in custody or freeing them on bail. The system is similar to home detention technology used after people have been convicted. The project is aimed at providing the court with an option to bail pre-trial remand prisoners on electronic monitoring. Under the scheme, due to begin in September, electronic bail will be granted only after a police assessment and a judge's OK. "Bail with electronic monitoring will apply to those who have been remanded in custody, who make subsequent application to be considered for electronic monitoring before their trial, and who obtain judicial approval to do so, " says National Manager of Police Prosecutions Service, Superintendent Graham Thomas.

Death rumour exaggerated.

An RSA north of Auckland has accidentally declared a war veteran dead before his time. Allan Dow walked into the Silverdale RSA on Anzac Day, to discover his name was on the honours board. The 83-year-old was listed as one of the King's Empire Veterans who had died. RSA Manager Kerry Wilkie says Mr Dow apparently thought it was quite a hoot, but his family did not find it quite so funny. She says it was obviously a case of mistaken identity. Mr Dow's name has now been replaced with that of the person who should have been on the board.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Student mag in cart for spoofing Mao.

The Race Relations Commissioner is calling on student magazines to be more responsible following protests against the lampooning of Chairman Mao in a publication. Angry Chinese students protested at Massey University on Wednesday after Mao was featured on the cover of the student newspaper Chaff. Commissioner Joris De Bres said although the use of Mao's image was clearly an attempt at humour, the context had to be considered. "In a context where there is discrimination against a lot of Asian people in New Zealand, you have to be careful you don't unwittingly or deliberately feed that."
Source: NZPA

New pneumonia study causes concern.

New studies showing Maori are three times more likely than non-Maori to be hospitalised with pneumonia have prompted calls for intervention. The studies, published in the latest New Zealand Medical Journal, were conducted at Waikato and Christchurch hospitals. They concluded overall pneumonia rates were 3.03 times higher among Maori. A population-based survey in Auckland found Maori and Pacific Island adults had increased rates of invasive pneumococcal disease. Maori children also had higher rates of invasive pneumococcal disease than Caucasian children. High rates of invasive pneumococcal disease have been reported in native Americans, African Americans, and indigenous Australians.

Thursday, May 18

Easter trading bill through first hurdle.

An attempt to change Easter trading laws has passed its first hurdle. National MP Jacqui Dean's Private Member's Bill passed its first reading last night. It aims to allow shops in tourist communities to open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The vote to send the Bill to Select Committee was 73 to 41 and Ms Dean believes the numbers show there is strong support for the changes she is proposing.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZ told to keep out of Fiji affairs.

Fiji's military chief is calling for the New Zealand Government to keep out of his nation's affairs. Frank Bainimarama claims New Zealand has been trying to get him replaced. He made the statement at a news conference in Fiji this morning. Radio Tarana Managing Director Robert Khan, who is in Fiji to cover this week's general election, says Commodore Bainimarama claims the action is in conjunction with the newly re-elected SDL Government. He says the military chief has made it clear to New Zealand he does not want them interfering in Fiji in any form.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Pacific community consulted over immigration.

The Government is to consult with the Pacific Island community in the lead up to its review of the Immigration Act. Immigration Minister David Cunliffe says its a chance for the Pacific community to contribute to the most comprehensive review of immigration laws since the present act was passed in 1987. He says the act guides and drives immigration policies and processes and has a huge impact on people from overseas who visit, study, work and live in New Zealand. Meetings with the Pacific community will take place in Auckland next Monday and in Wellington the Monday after.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Concern at DOC plans for Kaimanawa horses.

Animal rights groups are up in arms over the Department of Conservation's plans to go ahead with their annual Kaimanawa horse muster this weekend. The wild horses are rounded up each year by DOC staff to ensure their numbers do not exceed 500. However, Elder Jenks of the Kaimanawa wild horse welfare trust says this year DOC has made a mistake. Mr Jenks says DOC counted 530 horses but is planning to remove around 100. He says DOC wants to target particular zones during the muster instead of the area as a whole. He says it does not take much to work out that removing 100 horses will leave the population at well under the 500 mark.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Economy at slowest in 5 years.

The National Bank says economic activity for the first three months of the year slowed to its lowest quarterly level since 2002. Its regional trends survey says nationwide economic activity rose only 0.4 percent, slowing the annual rate to 1.6 percent. That is its lowest level in five years. National Bank economist Steve Edwards says things are still trucking along, but the survey confirms the economy is in a slowdown phase. Overall, eight of the 14 regions showed a rise in activity, with Otago showing the biggest increase for the quarter, up 1.5 percent. The Bay of Plenty saw the biggest fall, down 1.1 percent.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Shunned Zimbabwe judge gets refuge in NZ.

A former senior Zimbabwean judge who fled to Britain after a graft conviction earlier this year has been denied asylum by London but found refuge in New Zealand, a state daily said Wednesday. "Britain has denied asylum to fugitive former High Court judge Benjamin Paradza, who has found refuge in New Zealand," The Herald reported. "The United Nations Commission on Human Rights is believed to have facilitated Paradza's move to New Zealand from South Africa, where he had been hiding," the paper added. Paradza was arrested in February 2003 and became the first judge to be convicted in Zimbabwe in January on two counts of corruption. He failed to turn up for sentencing, prompting a fellow high court judge to issue an arrest warrant.

Found shipwreck may be Endeavour.

Captain James Cook's Endeavour, the 18th Century ship he sailed on his epic voyage to New Zealand, may be one of the four shipwrecks found off the coast of the US. The ship is among four from a British fleet used during the US Revolutionary War found off Rhode Island. Researchers with the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project say they believe the ships, and two others previously discovered, are part of a 13-vessel transport fleet. The fleet was intentionally sunk by the British in Newport Harbor in 1778 to keep French ships from landing to aid the Americans' drive for independence. The archaeologists say one of the 13 ships in the sunken British fleet was the Lord Sandwich, which records show was once the Endeavour. Captain Cook used the Endeavour to sail the Pacific Ocean, map New Zealand and survey the eastern coast of Australia in 1768-1771.

Thousands of Xtra users still offline.

Up to 3,000 Telecom internet customers are continuing to have problems getting online. Faults have been occurring intermittently on the Xtra network around New Zealand since Sunday. Telecom's server fault meant about 90,000 Xtra broadband and dial up customers weren't able to get online, and some have only just reconnected. Customers wanting to find out what has been going on have been struggling to get through on busy phone lines with some asking for compensation.
Source:RNZ/One News

Children's book wins overall NZ award.

Children's author Joy Cowley has taken out the New Zealand Post Book of the Year award for her novel 'Hunter'. The judges of the award singled out the book as a tour de force of fiction writing, with the potential to become a classic for young readers on the international stage. The award was presented by Prime Minister Helen Clark at the Beehive today.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Wednesday, May 17

Celebrations for Maori Queen.

The 40th anniversary of the coronation of the Maori Queen is expected to be celebrated by more than 30,000 people. The celebrations for Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu at the Turangawaewae marae in Ngaruawahia, just north of Hamilton, will last seven days. An advisor to the Maori Queen, Professor James Ritchie, says Dame Te Atairangikaahu has been particularly effective in tying together all tribes. He says the celebrations include a full programme of sports and cultural events as well as political and ceremonial occasions. Dame Te Atairangikaahu was elected in 1966, making her the sixth in her line and the first female monarch.

FSA mystified by Ukraine ban.

New Zealand food officials are mystified by reports that meat from this country has been banned from the Ukraine. The Ukraine Ministry of Agriculture is reported as saying a temporary ban has been imposed on our meat products because they fail to meet certification demands. That comes as news to the New Zealand Food Safety Authority, which is investigating the claims. Director of Market Access, Tony Zohrab says while nothing is known over these alleged bans, the Ukraine market has posed problems in the past. He says other exporters have been known to label their produce as being from New Zealand, when it is not.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Schoolkids tackle speeders.

Pupils at a Wairarapa school have launched their own campaign to get drivers to slow down. Children at Mauriceville School borrowed a speed gun from police and clocked one driver doing 78km/h in the 50km/h zone. They then got hold of a speed trailer which shows drivers their speed and, if over 55km/h, tells them to slow down. They have noted that trucks in particular are slowing down as a result.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

Slaughter of protected birds appals devoted DoC staff.

Opotiki Department of Conservation staff are devastated that protected native birds have been killed during the first week of the duck shooting season. Area manager Kevin Cannell said the Opotiki DoC office had received numerous calls from concerned locals after the grisly discovery of shot caspian terns, white-fronted terns and red bill gulls at Waiaua last week. "It's absolutely appalling," he said. "Staff here spend all their time protecting wildlife. The news about the birds is devastating."

Chef in pickle over English requirements.

By Angela Gregory
A Nepalese chef who has been working in New Zealand since 1997 is planning to go to Australia because he has been told his English is not up to scratch. Chefs are listed as a long-term skill shortage by the Immigration Service but Thanishor Kharal cannot meet the English standards required to be accepted as a permanent resident. Mr Kharal yesterday told the Herald, in reasonably clear English, he had given up on New Zealand because it was proving too difficult to be fully accepted into the country. While he has been able to renew work permits, he had hoped to make New Zealand his permanent home and bring over his Nepalese wife and two daughters aged 14 and 8. Mr Kharal has been advised his English is good enough for Australia, which has a lower threshold, and now plans to move there. His Australian immigration lawyer, Mark Tarrant, said that Australia had a lower mandatory English language requirement than New Zealand.

Team NZ beats Alinghi.

Team New Zealand has finished the latest pre America's Cup regatta in Valencia in third place. NZL84 has been beaten by Luna Rossa but has notched up a rare win over Alinghi on the final day of racing. In the first race Team New Zealand lost to the Italians by one minute and eight seconds, after trailing by just six seconds around the final mark. But they bounced back to beat the Cup holders by 16 seconds, although Alinghi has not yet launched its new boat. Oracle won the regatta ahead of Luna Rossa, Team New Zealand and Alinghi.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Teen a queen at game of chess.

Becoming a World Chess Federation women's grand master will occupy Sue Maroroa's mind as she flys to Turin, Italy, for the world junior chess Olympiad. The 15-year-old New Zealand secondary school chess champion from Otahuhu, who left for Italy yesterday, is one of the hottest young prospects in the country. At the world youth championships in France last year she earned a candidate master ranking from the WFC after recording seven draws, two wins and two losses. She returned home with a new perspective on the game, having discovered how serious she has to be if she wants to be up with the best. "Chess is a way of life for many of the top players," Sue says.
source: Manukau Courier

The lonely misery of living in Auckland.

Some of us south of the Bombay Hills may have suspected it all along, but it is now a world-recognised phenomenon – Aucklanders are a lonely and miserable lot. Google Trends, which works out how many searches have been made for particular terms on the Internet search engine, has found Aucklanders are more inclined to type in "misery" than people in any other city worldwide. Second in the misery stakes were people from Calgary, Canada. And when it comes to "lonely", Aucklanders are outdone only by the Irish and the Aussies – more particularly, the people of Dublin and Melbourne. Google Trends takes the number of searches for a given term coming from each city or region and divides it by the total number of Google searches from that same area., which touts itself as New Zealand's premier dating and friendship service, yesterday boasted 60,772 Auckland members and 20,000 lonely heart advertisements.
Source:Dominion Post

Big quake felt around country.

An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale that struck under the South Pacific Ocean last night was widely felt in the North Island and as far south as Christchurch. The quake - which struck at 10.39pm - was centred 290km southwest of Raoul Island and at a depth of 150km. Reports from Whakatane said the quake rolled for 30 seconds, while a Wanganui resident said the shaking lasted almost a minute,
Source: NZPA

Worker admits record fraud.

A Work and Income case manager swindled more than $100,000 from the agency by using insider knowledge to create a false identity for himself and claim several benefits over many years. The fraud – the largest internal fraud since the Ministry of Social Development was formed – was uncovered only when the bogus beneficiary's file was assigned to another case manager. In the Christchurch District Court yesterday, Nguha Benjamin Moses, 27, admitted seven counts of dishonestly using documents and one of forgery in which he obtained $102,475 in benefits.
Source:The Press

Oil giant in fight for gas prospect.

A huge gas and oil prospect off the bottom of the South Island is at stake in a David-and-Goliath court battle. ExxonMobil, the world's biggest oil company, is trying to get its hands on exploration rights in an area that may contain gas and oil worth up to $1285 billion. The exploration permit in the Great Southern Basin was held by industry minnow Bounty Oil, but Government agency Crown Minerals has revoked the permit. It wants to offer other blocks in the area for international tender. The court was also read a sworn statement from Bounty managing director Tom Fontaine, in which he considered the basin had reserves with a gross value of US$800 billion (NZ$1285 billion). New Zealand petroleum industry spokesman Mike Patrick said late last year that the Great South Basin made the North Sea look like a millpond. It was "seriously wild territory for the dedicated oil men".
Source:Dominion Post

7.5 magnitude quake NE of NZ.

A 7.5 magnitude earthquake has struck the Kermadec Islands, about 750 kilometres north-east of the North Island. It struck just before 20 to 11 New Zealand time, and was felt from the central North Island down to Canterbury. MetService Lead Forecaster Heath Gullery says that as of about 11:15pm, no tsunami warning had been issued.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Tuesday, May 16

Standoff over stay-away diplomat.

The Indian Government remains in an embarrassing position as its former top diplomat to New Zealand Harish Dogra remains in the country. Newstalk ZB political editor Barry Soper says the Government has been trying to forge closer links with India, which is emerging as an economic power house but Mr Dogra's refusal to go home is creating something of a standoff. The immigration authorities are in contact with Mr Dogra, and Minister David Cunliffe confirms he is still here. Mr Dogra's wife has said their safety could be at risk in India, which sacked Mr Dogra as high commissioner. Indian media reports say their government stripped him of his accreditation as High Commissioner to New Zealand in April, roughly six weeks after he was recalled following some complaints against him.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Fewer internet job ads.

For the first time in three years, there has been a drop in the number of jobs advertised on the internet. The latest ANZ Job Vacancy Rate figures show that for the March quarter, newspapers were the preferred medium for placing job vacancies. ANZ National Bank economist Steve Edwards says in that time the rate of newspaper job advertising rose 0.5 percent, while internet ads fell by 0.4 percent.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Concern about herbal medicines.

Products claiming to contain only herbal medicine may not be all they seem. Ministry of Health Medicines Safety Authority, Medsafe, has come across four products imported from Asia being sold as herbal medicine, but containing prescription medication for erectile dysfunction and weight loss. Senior medical advisor Stewart Jessamine says products advertised as Herbal Viagra contained prescription drugs Sildenafil and Tadalafil, while a herbal weight loss product contained prescription medicine Sibutramine. He says the prescription medications can cause serious health problems and should only be used under strict medical supervision.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Rolling Stone, Keith Richards recovering well.

Keith Richards is recovering well and reportedly ready to tour again as he recovers from brain surgery. Richards apparently fell out of a coconut tree while on holiday in Fiji after the Australia and New Zealand leg of the Stone's World Tour. The 62-year-old guitarist is recuperating in Auckland with wife Patti Hansen. An announcement of the rescheduled tour dates is expected soon.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Xtra service crashes.

Thousands of households were without internet services last night as the country's biggest internet service provider crashed. Customers of Telecom's Xtra subsidiary reported the network down about 9pm. By 9.50pm, a message on Xtra's helpline said technical difficulties might be preventing some customers from accessing or browsing the internet or using email services. The service was restored about 10.30pm.

Desert Rd remains closed as weather worsens.

The Desert Road remains closed today after heavy snow last night closed it for the second time this week. A police spokeswoman said it was not known when the road between Turangi and Waiouru could be reopened. Traffic is being diverted through the National Park. The MetService said on their website that a low was deepening east of the North Island and more snow was expected until midday today through the middle and east coast of the island.
Source: NZPA

$150m to boost police by 1000.

By Paula Oliver
Finance to recruit 1000 extra police will be announced today as Labour moves to fulfil its costly post-election deal with New Zealand First. The announcement, understood to be worth around $150 million over three years, will dwarf other pre-Budget spending announcements made by the Government so far. It is understood that about 400 extra officers will be budgeted for in the first year of the package, with the rest following in subsequent years. Labour committed to the introduction of 1000 police as part of its confidence and supply agreement with NZ First after the last election.

Monday, May 15

Doctors slam home-birth advice.

The call for all mothers-to-be in Britain to give birth at home are being labelled ludicrous and dangerous by doctors here. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists is taking issue with the British Government's comments. Spokesman Alec Ekeroma says, while it is safe for some women to deliver at home, others must go to hospitals. He says it is also important to note around 30 percent of women deemed low risk in pregnancy become high risk during labour and delivery.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

She magazine set to fold.

Contributors to She magazine have been told the publication is folding. The monthly women's magazine is part of the stable of titles including Woman's Day, published by ACP Magazines. Staff have been told the June issue of She, which is out now, is to be the title's last.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

School record website passes test.

A website giving parents access to their children's school records has attracted an endless stream of visitors to Auckland's Avondale College. Dubbed "Family Connection", the site provides wide-ranging information about the school and students' academic performance to parents. The site captured the public's attention at the beginning of the school year, prompting debate about what information parents should be able to access online. Avondale College principal Brent Lewis said everyone from Education Ministry professionals and fellow principals to IT specialists had visited the school to see how well the website was performing. Lewis said more than a quarter of the school's families were accessing the site. Some parents still thought it was "big brother stuff", but there had been no security problems and Lewis had received "huge amounts of positive feedback".
Source:Sunday Star Times

Another quake rattles Wellington.

A five magnitude quake has rattled the lower North Island this morning. There are no reports of damage or injuries following the shake, which struck at 5:32am. Seismologists say it was located 40 kilometres northwest of Porirua, at a depth of 60 kilometres. The earthquake is the second to be felt in the Wellington region in the last 24 hours. At 7.26 last night, a 3.8 magnitude quake was felt in the capital and Marlborough.

Anderton says agriculture must be top priority.

The primary sector must be the top priority if the country wants to increase incomes and living standards, says Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton. He told an agriculture industry training organisation function in Wellington last week that there was a common belief primary industries were being displaced by growth in other sectors. But agriculture had been growing faster than other parts of the economy in recent years.

Budget backing for Buy Kiwi-Made programme.

Nearly $12 million of taxpayers' money will be used to encourage them to buy New Zealand goods. Today Economic Development Minister Trevor Mallard and Green MP Sue Bradford - who is also the Government's spokeswoman on Buy Kiwi-Made - announced the $11.5m funding over the next three years as part of Thursday's budget. The Buy Kiwi-Made programme was part of the post-election cooperation agreement between Labour and the Greens. Ms Bradford said she hoped the programme would boost New Zealand businesses. "The Buy Kiwi-Made campaign will encourage Kiwis to buy locally made products, use local services and be local tourists."

Man jailed for fishing in reserve.

A Hawke's Bay man has found that pleading ignorance about the existence of a marine reserve, is no excuse for breaking the law. Damien Daly from Hastings has been sentenced to a month in prison for illegally taking 60 paua and a crayfish from the Te Angiangi marine reserve near Waipukurau. Kevin Smith from the Department of Conservation in Napier said a DOC ranger found three adults and two children collecting seafood inside the boundary of the reserve one weekend last month. He said they all claimed not to have seen a number of signs which clearly state the existence of the reserve.

Snow strikes central North Island.

Winter has started to flex its muscles.
The cold southwesterly airstream which brought snow to Otago and Southland yesterday is moving north, bringing snow to the central North Island and closing the Desert Road for a time earlier this morning. MetService says snow will fall down to 700 metres on the Central Plateau. Forecaster Mark Pascoe says things should clear throughout the day and a high later in the week will bring warmer weather. The Desert Road has reopened.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZers over taxed says think tank.

An independent think tank claims New Zealanders are paying 50 percent more tax than they did six years ago.
The Centre for Independent Studies says New Zealanders are over taxed and believes Thursday's Budget is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Government to significantly cut taxes. Policy analyst Phil Rennie says many people are paying more because they have crept into a higher tax bracket and the Government has not adjusted the tax threshold to inflation.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Sunday, May 14

Over 1/2 overweight.

More than half of New Zealand's adult population is overweight or obese, according to a new report from the Ministry of Health. 34% of New Zealanders over the age of 15 are overweight. Another 20% are considered obese. Health Minister Pete Hodgson says the report confirms the obesity epidemic is the most pressing public health challenge New Zealand has to deal with.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Foreign brides swamp refuges.

About 400 mail-order brides and women married for dowry money are seeking refuge each year after being abused and dumped by their husbands. Women's Refuge is calling for changes to immigration laws after being overrun with the cases. The women have no legal status in New Zealand because their husbands withdraw sponsorship for residency and their temporary permits expire. They do not qualify for Work and Income assistance. Most cannot return home where they are unwanted and face further violence. The women come from countries including China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Fiji.
Source:Sunday Star Times

Second body found after Foveaux Strait sinking.

Three survivors of last night's sinking in Foveaux Strait saved themselves by swimming to rocks. Nine people were plunged into the icy waters of the Strait, near Stewart Island. Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven understands the 50-foot wooden fishing boat capsized, and broke up. He says three men managed to swim to nearby rocks where they were rescued, two people have been found drowned, and four are still missing. A second body has been found following last night's sinking in Foveaux Strait. It is not known if it is that of a man, woman, or one of the two children on board the boat, which went down at about 6.30. Conditions in the Foveaux Strait are fairly rugged as searchers continue to hunt for the missing people lost in the icy waters.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Aid money lost in paradise.

By Jane Phare
Kiwi aid money given to Niueans after Cyclone Heta ripped through the island two years ago has been used to prop up the Government's overblown accounts. Niuean Treasury documents show an accounting nightmare of budget blowouts, overspending and more than $1 million missing from Donors' Funds, some of which has come from New Zealand. When Cyclone Heta virtually flattened parts of the atoll nation in January 2004, New Zealanders dug deep, adding millions of dollars to aid sent by the New Zealand Government and aid agencies. Donor funds from global aid organisations meant for specific projects collected in the Niuean Government's bank accounts, becoming a tempting remedy when the coffers ran dry. Niuean Treasury documents leaked to the Herald on Sunday describe the country's financial position as "critical".

Saturday, May 13

USA, Australia & NZ. Celebrity Cruises to take guests to the wonder down under.

Sightings of koala bears, kangaroos and kiwi birds await vacationers sailing with Celebrity Cruises next year. At a special event in New York today, the line's President Dan Hanrahan announced that Celebrity will sail for the first time in Australia and New Zealand beginning in 2007. Celebrity's Mercury will present six 14-night open-jaw sailings between Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia from December 2007 through March 2008. Among Celebrity's destinations "down under" are Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound, and Milford Sound, New Zealand, along with Melbourne, Newcastle, and Sydney, Australia, and Hobart, Tasmania.

PM prepares to open $9m library.

People in Whangarei are waiting to greet Prime Minister Helen Clark who is due to open the city's new $9 million library. It is the biggest civic building project there for 20 years and replaces a small historic building next door. There has already been a pre-dawn ceremony to bless the carved entrance poles - representing local cultures from Maori to Celtic, and Dalmatian Whangarei mayor Pamela Peters says Clark is expected to cut the ribbon later this morning.

McCaw named All Blacks captain.

Coach Graham Henry carried out the inevitable this morning when he anointed flanker Richie McCaw the new All Blacks rugby captain. In one of the more predictable rugby announcements of recent times, the outstanding Canterbury and Crusaders forward was named to replace Tana Umaga, who announced his retirement in January.
Source: NZPA

eBay rules that New Zealand not for sale.

AP - New Zealand is not for sale, despite somebody in Australia trying to offload the nation of 4 million to the highest online bidder. With a starting offer of just one cent, brisk bidding for the prime chunk of South Pacific real estate quickly boosted the price to $A3,000 before eBay pulled the plug on the auction this week. "Clearly New Zealand is not for sale," eBay Australia spokesman Daniel Feiler told the New Zealand Press Association, adding that 22 bids had been made before the company acted. The trader, who has not been identified but thought to be from Queensland, advertised NZ as having the "dodgiest America's Cup win ever ... and very ordinary weather".

Rugby-Crusaders trounce Brumbies.

The Crusaders beat the Brumbies 33-3 tonight to finish first in the Super 14 round-robin rugby competition. They will host one of the semifinals next week at Jade Stadium, Christchurch, where Corey Flynn, Campbell Johnstone and Tanerau Latimer scored a try each to lift them to victory tonight.

Population reaches 4.13 million.

The population of New Zealand has increased to 4.13 million in the past year, according to Statistics New Zealand (SNZ).The resident population increased by 40,900 (1 per cent) to 4,134,200 in year to the end of the March 2006. This increase compared with a rise of 38,900 (1 per cent) in the year to March 31 2005. The population growth this year was due to a larger natural increase (excess of births over deaths). Permanent and long-term arrivals exceeded departures by 9700 in the year to March 2006, slightly lower than the net migration gain of 10,000 in the March 2005 year. At March 31, 2006, half of New Zealand's female population was over the age of 36.6 years and half of the males were over the age of 34.8 years. The median age increased by 3.1 years for women and 2.8 years for men between 1996 and 2006.

Friday, May 12

Auckland Zoo tiger is dead.

Auckland Zoo's only tiger has died. It is understood Nisha the Sumatran tiger has been sick for some time.
Her death comes just months before a mate for her was due to arrive. Eighteen-month-old Oz from Ramat Gan Zoo in Tel Aviv was due to arrive in September.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Air NZ pioneers Dreamliner.

Air New Zealand has done a deal to become the launch customer for Boeing's newest jetliner. The airline has decided to opt for the 787-9 in place of the 787-8 model it had ordered previously. The Dreamliner will have a 280 seat capacity and be able to fly 13,000 kilometres without stopping. The new 787-9s will start being flown from late 2010.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZ firm makes bio-diesel from sewage in world first.

By Errol Kiong
A New Zealand company has successfully turned sewage into modern-day gold. Marlborough-based Aquaflow Bionomic yesterday announced it had produced its first sample of bio-diesel fuel from algae in sewage ponds. It is believed to be the world's first commercial production of bio-diesel from "wild" algae outside the laboratory - and the company expects to be producing at the rate of at least one million litres of the fuel each year from Blenheim by April.

Kiwi to lead international Rotary.

New Zealander Bill Boyd will take over the international presidency of Rotary next month. He will be figurehead for more than 1.2 million rotarians in 200 countries. Mr Boyd, former general manager of magazine publishers Gordon and Gotch and a 33-year Rotary member, will become only the second New Zealander to hold the position, and the first in almost 50 years.
Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd .

It's a hard road in the Deep South.

Workers at Cardrona skifield near Wanaka were caught in a heavy snowdrift yesterday as rain and snow swept across the country. Hail and thunderstorms are predicted in many areas today, with more snow in the lower South Island.

Christchurch under water after heavy rain.

Police are warning Christchurch motorists to take extra care this morning, with surface flooding in several parts of the city after 24 hours of heavy rain. The city's Heathcote River burst its banks at Eastern Tce and surface water was causing minor problems in central Christchurch and several suburbs after almost 40mm of rain overnight.
Source: NZPA

Help for separating parents.

Parents who decide to separate are being offered a $6 million helping hand to ensure their children cope as well as possible. The Government is committing the money to the How To Help Kids When You Separate Programme over the next three years. Courts Minister Rick Barker says the scheme designed to help separated or separating parents understand their children's needs and how to communicate with each other and their children. He says it is completely voluntary and available to up to 15,000 parents a year. The pilot programme is being run by the Auckland Courts Association.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

NZ gets energy tick of approval.

The International Energy Agency is giving a positive report on New Zealand's energy policy. Details of a 2006 review have been released. The report says given New Zealand's small population and isolation, its success with energy market liberalisation has been remarkable and the country should be proud of its energy policies.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Possum could have been dealt with better.

The principal of a Taranaki secondary high school where a possum was beaten to death in front of students is admitting there were better ways of dealing with the situation. The marsupial pest was found in the school gym and beaten to death using a hammer under the instruction of the PE teacher. Spotswood College Principal Graham McFayden says in hindsight, killing the possum with a hammer wasn't the best option. He says in future they'll call in the SPCA. Mr McFayden says the school's been having problems with possums for months.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Thursday, May 11

National Party 70 years old.

The National Party is celebrating its seventieth anniversary tonight. The party was established at a conference in Wellington in 1936 and many of its former leaders including Jim McLay and Jim Bolger, will be attending an event at Parliament. Other guests will include Dame Thea Muldoon, the wife of Sir Robert, and three founding members of the party.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Ukrainian fishermen protest.

A group of Ukrainian fishermen is protesting over unpaid wages at the Port of Lyttelton. The 27 crewmen are from the Malakhov Kurgan, which is operated by a joint venture between United Fisheries and a Ukrainian company. Fisherman Vadaliy Kondradev says there were 68 of them, however some went home as the Ukrainian company threatened their families with court action if they remained in New Zealand. He says he has been employed for four months and only been paid $1,000. The Department of Labour and the Maritime Union are working with the ship's owners in a bid to get a settlement so the men can return home to the Ukraine.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Fuel economy website launched.

A new internet site giving motorists up-to-date information on their vehicles' fuel consumption was unveiled at Parliament today. Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven said the website would help people make informed choices about the fuel efficiency and running costs of their cars, or ones they were thinking about buying. The Fuelsaver website allows people to choose the make of car they drive, add in their driving habits and other factors, and gives an estimate of weekly, monthly or annual fuel costs.
Source: NZPA
click HERE for Fuelsaver website

Government hopes Kiwis answer call of the catchline.

By Simon Collins
These slogans (click HERE for full story} are part of a $400,000 advertising campaign being launched by the Government in Australia today aimed at luring expat Kiwis home. The ads will run on radio, the back of buses, at train stops and on "mobilites", big illuminated posters that will be driven around on scooters at likely Kiwi gathering places such as the Hurricanes/Warratahs game in Sydney on Saturday. There will also be an email-based "viral campaign" aimed at getting people to pass on a video clip about New Zealand or a link to the website,
click HERE for New Zealand Now website.

Vegemite tops across the ditch.

Vegemite continues to be Australia's favourite brand. Advertising Agency George Patterson has surveyed Australians on more than 1200 products. Vegemite topped the list, followed by the ABC, Tim-Tams, Google, Cadbury and Coca-Cola. Names making the top 20 for the first time include Flake and Bunnings Warehouse. Sony PlayStation, iPod and Hotmail were receiving more notice than in previous surveys.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Bob Duff loses battle with cancer.

Former All Blacks captain and coach Bob Duff has passed away aged 80. Bob Duff played 11 tests for the All Blacks between 1951 and 56, captaining the side to the great 1956 series victory over the visiting Springboks. Duff was also a selector between 1971-1973 and the assistant manager and coach of the side that toured North America, the British Isles and France in 1972-73. The former Canterbury lock had fought a long battle with cancer.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Older mums on the increase in NZ.

The number of New Zealand women having children after their 45th birthday continues to rise. Last year 93 women aged 45 or over gave birth, compared with 50 in 2000. Fertility Associates spokesman Dr Richard Fisher said that between six and 10 of these would be from mothers using donor eggs.
Source:The Press

June Signals Start of NZ Ski Season.

Ski buffs can head to New Zealand beginning next month, with fields scheduling annual opening dates. Tourism New Zealand provides the following dates and links for agents whose clients have skiing on their minds: Coronet Peak opens June 10,; Cardrona Alpine Resort, June 23,; the Remarkables, June 24,; and Treble Cone, June 27,

Willow trees to fuel NZ.

A new bio fuel company hopes to have the country's first pilot plant producing ethanol for transport, running by next year. It is the first step in what is proposed as a commercial operation, producing ethanol from wood that could be blended with petrol to reduce New Zealand's reliance on oil imports. The company Biojoule is an offshoot of Genesis Research. The scientist-founder of Genesis Jim Watson, who is heading the bio fuel project, says the company is in the process of raising the $5 million needed to build the pilot plant.

Wednesday, May 10

Bad weather forecast.

Residents of the northern half of the North Island are being warned to brace themselves for thunderstorms and hail over the next 48 hours, while southerners should prepare for snow. A low pressure system will strengthen as it crosses the South Island tomorrow, bringing the wild weather. MetService forecaster Bob McDavitt says it is a sign that winter is on the way, particularly in Southland and Otago. as a cold southerly intensifies. Both Dunedin and Invercargill are expecting snow down to 500 metres tomorrow night.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Historian seeks lost colonial graves.

The South Taranaki District Council is to search for lost colonial war graves. Councillors voted to hire a historian to help seek the graves of 10 military settlers buried near the Patea River mouth in the late 1860s. Mayor Mary Bourke says new evidence, or confirmation that none can be found, will allow an informed decision to replace speculation that has divided Patea. The council will seek central government funds for the search which Bourke says could set a precedent for other communities with similar history. Councillors have voted by seven votes to three to hire the historian and to ask central government and other national agencies to pay for it. The settlers were killed or mortally wounded as the Nga Ruahine chief Riwha Titokowaru temporarily won back thousands of square kilometres in a brief campaign in 1867 - 1868.

Wellwishers flood Stones' website.

The eyes of Rolling Stones fans around the world are on New Zealand today. Guitarist Keith Richards is Ascot Hospital in Auckland recovering from brain surgery. On Monday, he had a craniotomy, which involves removing a part of the skull. Doctors are reported to fear for the 62-year-old's life and are worried about brain damage. Two of his children are said to be at the hospital. One of them, 21-year-old Theodora, is a model for fashion designer Karen Walker. A spokeswoman for the Rolling Stones Fan Club says the website has been flooded with messages from well-wishers. She says everyone is very worried, but no one believes he fell out of a coconut tree while he was holidaying in Fiji. At the time, officials said he was suffering from concussion following the fall, but the spokeswoman says most people think Richards had a blood clot all along.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Govt trumpets unemployment benefit figures.

The number of New Zealanders on the unemployment benefit has reached a 20 year low. Since Labour took office in 1999, the number of people receiving the benefit has dropped by more than 116,000. There are currently 44,549 people receiving an unemployment benefit.
Copyright 2006 Newstalk ZB News.

Kiwis conceived in wild released in forest.

Kiwis conceived in the wild were yesterday set free into the protected heart of a once mighty forest for the first time in a century. About 40 people gathered to witness the historic release of the North Island brown kiwis. They were introduced to the pest-proofed forest surrounding the wildlife centre at Pukaha Mount Bruce in the Wairarapa. The kiwis were all hand-reared since they were hatched in incubators late last year and another chick hatched in February will soon be released. Kaka and kokako are two other varieties of native birds that have also been successfully reintroduced into the forest through the project.


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