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Friday, June 30

Global college eyes remote Otago site.

By Karen Tay
Paradise Valley in Glenorchy may soon be home to a United World College, the international boarding school whose graduates include, among others, Cabinet minister David Cunliffe and the sons of Nelson Mandela. Glenorchy in Otago was chosen because it was a "sleepy little town", said Lucy Barnard, national selection co-ordinator for the college. The international college has approved plans for a New Zealand branch, and the committee has an agreement with Paradise Trust for land to build the school. The aim of United World schools, of which there are 10 around the world, was to "isolate" young people to give them "a sense of community", Ms Barnard said.

Overstayers arrested in Nelson.

Twenty-one overstayers from Vietnam and Thailand have been arrested in the Nelson region. The arrests came during a joint operation between the Nelson police and the Labour Department that targeted ship deserters and overstayers. Nineteen Vietnamese men and a Thai man and woman are now being detained under the Immigration Act for being unlawfully in New Zealand.

Young people sought for rural jobs.

Meat & Wool New Zealand has launched an initiative in secondary schools in a bid to coax more young people into jobs in the rural sector. The initiative includes farm experience days for students, industry school visits and teacher workshops to showcase the benefits of rural work. Meat & Wool New Zealand manager for skills and education, Alan Frazer, says the programme aims to improve the current lack of interest young people have in pursuing rural work.

Maori carvings for sale in Europe.

Efforts are underway to try to get some of New Zealand's most significant Maori carvings returned to the country. The carvings came from the meeting house Hinemihi, which sheltered the Tuhourangi people during the 1886 Tarawera eruption. Shortly after the eruption the carvings disappeared, but are now for sale in Europe. The chair of Te Arawa Trust Board in Rotorua, Anaru Rangiheuea, says they are very important to the Tuhourangi people. He says his people want the carvings back but the asking price is expected to be close to $2 million.

NZ to tighten up anti-terrorism act.

By Ruth Berry
The Terrorism Suppression Act is to be significantly revised to enable the Government to better implement United Nations counter-terrorism requirements, Helen Clark says. The plan to change the law was revealed yesterday, during a speech by the Prime Minister to the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law Conference. The act implements obligations passed unanimously by the UN Security Council following the September 11 attacks. It targets those who raise funds for terrorism, and provides for terrorists' property to be frozen. It also requires New Zealand to deny safe haven to terrorists and to ensure those engaged in acts of terror are brought to justice.

Skifields deep in snow for school holidays.

By Juliet Rowan
Skiers, snowboarders and school kids rejoice - skifields around the country are laden with snow for the beginning of the school holidays tomorrow. Fresh powder has fallen at skifields in the South Island this week and the MetService is predicting more snow both there and in the North Island next week.
(See sidebar for 'all fields' report)

Government to welcome more immigrants.

The number of immigrants accepted into the country is being raised to meet the need for more skilled workers, the Government said today. It will also start to recognise skills from applicants in India and China for the first time.
The total number of places available to immigrants will be at least 47,000 and up to 52,000 in the 2006-07 year. Applicants will still have to hold recognised qualifications and meet New Zealand registration requirements in their occupations.

School won't change Maori bus signs.

A Rotorua school is refusing to back down over the signage on its buses. Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Rotoiti has only the Maori word for school on the back of the vehicles. Land Transport New Zealand is worried about safety aspects, because some people do not know what kura means. It wants a school sign in English to be added. Rotoiti principal Hawea Vercoe says he is surprised by the huge interest generated by something that he believes is really a non-issue. "I felt that we were in the realms of the law, using an official language of the country and they are clearly obvious signs. But obviously people have come out from quarters with their views." Mr Vercoe says the word kura is staying on the buses.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Jin spotted at Motutapu again.

Motutapu Island seems to be the favourite holiday destination of Jin the otter. The Auckland Zoo escapee has been spotted at several beaches in the Hauraki Gulf after making a break more than two weeks ago. She was seen by a kayaker at Motutapu Island, near Rangitoto Island, yesterday evening. She has been spotted in the area once before. DOC area manager Bo Fraser says they will continue to search as long as the sightings keep coming in.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Mormon school closing.

One of New Zealand's largest private secondary schools is closing its doors. Church College, on the outskirts of Hamilton at Temple View, has announced a phased closing down with official closure scheduled for the end of the 2009 school year. Commissioner of the Mormon Church's educational system in Salt Lake City Elder Rolf Kerr says it is a very sad day for the church, but the decision has not been made lightly. Reasons for the closure include the increasing costs of keep the school afloat and the high standard of other schools in the area. Elder Kerr says Mormon students in the area will attend mainstream schools and their religious instruction will continue through early morning seminary classes. Seven hundred students are enrolled at Church College.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Eden Park plans unveiled today.

Plans for the redevelopment of Eden Park are being kept firmly under wraps until later today. The proposal has been in the pipeline since New Zealand was awarded hosting rights for the 2011 Rugby World Cup last November and will be unveiled this afternoon. A professional design team has been employed to work on the plans.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Tyre factory closing.

International tyre giant Goodyear has announced plans to close its Upper Hutt plant. The South Pacific Tyres factory has about 400 workers, and makes about two million passenger car tyres a year. Goodyear blames high costs and competition from cheaper imports.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Court urged to keep French spy tape secret.

A videotape of the French spies involved in bombing the Rainbow Warrior should never be publicly shown, their lawyer has told the Court of Appeal. Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur were involved in the 1985 bombing of the Greenpeace ship that killed photographer Fernando Pereira in Auckland harbour. They pleaded guilty to manslaughter in November 1985 and were sentenced to 10 years' jail. TVNZ had planned a documentary to mark the 20th anniversary last year and asked for closed circuit television tapes of the two pleading guilty. Mafart and Prieur have been fighting the release of the tapes, including the one minute and 22 seconds of them pleading, since Justice Simon France released it last year.
Source: Dominion Post

Gas-guzzler ban on agenda.

An import ban may be slapped on the worst gas-guzzling cars in an effort to fight global warming. Climate Change Issues Minister David Parker told a parliamentary select committee yesterday that transport was the easiest area to make progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Steps could include improving the efficiency of New Zealand's vehicle fleet, which has an average age of about 12 years. "Should we chop off the least efficient vehicles in each class as they come into New Zealand?" Mr Parker said.
Source: Dominion Post

Thursday, June 29

Greens urge checks on CIA overview of NZer's bank data.

The Government should be investigating whether bank transaction records of New Zealanders have been disclosed illegally to US intelligence agencies, says Green Party foreign affairs spokesman Keith Locke. Mr Locke said yesterday it appeared CIA agents and US Treasury officials were secretly monitoring financial transactions routed through SWIFT, an industry-owned co-operative that links 7800 financial institutions in more than 200 countries. "The Government should take urgent action to find out to what extent this involves the collection of information from bank accounts or transfers involving New Zealanders," he said.

Music download deal signed by NZ site.

Music download website digiRAMA has secured a ground-breaking deal with all four major record companies and The Radio Network. Managing director Shaun Davis, who set up the website with his brother Garth less than two years ago, said the deal means New Zealanders have access to virtually any song they can think of. He said people can hear a song on the radio, go on-line and download it in about a minute for a fee. It was a major coup to be the first New Zealand site to have a full catalogue of music and to beat bigger corporate rivals to do it, he said.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Major Telecom fault downs internet in Auckland region.

Around 8000 Telecom customers in Auckland were left without internet access yesterday after a hardware fault at the company's Mt Albert exchange. The ADSL(jetstream) fault occurred at around 4.05pm and affected around 5000 Xtra customers and 3000 wholesale ISP users, Telecom said. The fault affected the suburbs surrounding Mt Albert, as well as some corporate business customers.

Airline policy on men goes to human rights tribunal.

By Derek Cheng
An airline policy that prevents men from being seated next to unaccompanied children could pave the way for similar discriminatory policies to run rampant, says National's Wayne Mapp. Dr Mapp yesterday laid a claim with the Human Rights Review Tribunal, saying that Qantas and Air New Zealand's seating policy breached the Human Rights Act. He said the policy discriminated against men and implied they were dangerous. The seating policy drew criticism from the Green Party and the Human Rights Commission last year after several men were outraged at having to change seats because they were sitting next to unaccompanied children. But Dr Mapp said the policy, if not corrected, could open the door for discrimination in all aspects of life.

$980m Kupe oil and gas field confirmed.

Owners of the Kupe gas and oil field off the Taranaki coast have confirmed development of their estimated $980 million project will go ahead, with first production scheduled for mid-2009. Kupe was expected to produce around 20 petajoules (PJ) of gas a year, about 15 per cent of this country's current annual demand, the joint venture said today. It will also produce light oil condensate and LPG, commencing at 1.7 million barrels a year and 90,000 tonnes a year, respectively.

Kiwi takes a dive.

The New Zealand dollar has slipped under the 60 US cent mark in overnight trading. International markets have been digesting yesterday's worse-than-expected trade figures. At the moment the kiwi is worth 59.55 US cents. The trade deficit for May reached $104 million, an all-time high for the month. Imports for the month were up 24.3 percent and experts were 24 percent, compared with May last year.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Big sound stage for westies.

New Zealand's largest film studio and sound stage will be developed in west Auckland. The 2,000 square metre complex is a $7 million joint venture between Waitakere City Council and the Tony Tay Group and will be built on land at the existing Henderson Valley Studios, where "The Chronicles of Narnia" was filmed. The project is also getting $1 million from the Ministry of Economic Development. Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey says the studios will be as good as anything in the world and will make west Auckland even more attractive to overseas filmmakers.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Disappointing results to vitamin trial.

Vitamin therapy aimed at staving off dementia in older people does not work, according to a new clinical trial. The major Otago University study found volunteers who took vitamins over two years performed no better in cognitive tests than those who had taken placebos. The results of the study have been published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Previous international studies have suggested high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine is related to cognitive performance and it was hoped that lowering those levels using vitamins may provide the key to fighting such decline.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Winter power consumption breaks another record.

Energy-hungry New Zealanders used a record amount of power on Tuesday, breaking a record set only eight days previously. Transpower said demand was 6676 megawatts between 5.30pm and 6pm on Tuesday - the largest amount ever used. The previous high of 6630mw was recorded on June 19. Despite the high usage, Transpower said there would be enough power to weather winter - as long as all major generators remain on line.

Anglican church in NZ plays down talk of split.

Suggestions of a looming split in the worldwide Anglican communion which could leave the church in New Zealand with a lesser standing are wrong, says a co-presiding bishop of the church in New Zealand. "Suggestions that New Zealand's Anglican church might find itself on the outer with the Archbishop of Canterbury (are) hard to imagine," said Archbishop David Moxon of Hamilton - one of three bishops sharing the primacy of the Anglican Church in New Zealand and Polynesia. He was speaking after the leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans was reported as indicating the worldwide church might have to break up amid a bitter row over the consecration of gay bishops.

Wednesday, June 28

Kiwis more patriotic than Poms, less than Aussies.

New Zealanders are the world's ninth-most patriotic people, according to a survey. The United States, where Stars and Stripes flags are commonplace in back gardens, politicians regularly play the pariotism card and anti-terrorism legislation is even called the Patriot Act , unsurprisingly topped the poll. It was closely followed by Venezuela in the survey by the National Opinion Research Centre at the University of Chicago.
Australia came in fifth in the study of 34 democracies.
Top 10 rankings:
1. United States
2. Venezuela
3. Ireland
4. South Africa
5. Australia
6. Canada
7. Philippines
8. Austria
10. Chile

New weapons for the Army.

The Army has some new gear to use. It has just taken delivery of a new weapons system. The consignment includes 24 Javelin medium-range anti-armour weapons. It is part of a $26 million Army modernisation project set up by the government in 2001. Defence Minister Phil Goff describes the Javelin system as state-of-the-art, and capable of destroying an armoured vehicle from 2500 metres.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Self-employed paid parental leave begins.

Paid parental leave for the self-employed starts this weekend, and there are indications the scheme could be in for a few tweaks in the future. From July 1, around 2,000 families will be eligible for the payment of up to $372 a week. The aim is to help self-employed parents look after newborn or adopted children. Labour Minister Ruth Dyson says the government would like to extend eligibility beyond the current 14 weeks, but says that is something tha will have to be looked at.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Auckland gives $2 million to memorial.

Five years after he was murdered by pirates in Brazil, there is finally wind in the sails of plans for a Sir Peter Blake memorial. Auckland City has announced it will stump up $2 million for the redesigned project. Plans for a $10 million ship-in-a-bottle tribute to the sailing legend were scrapped, after being likened to a glass coffin. The $8 million memorial will be centred in the National Maritime Museum on Auckland's waterfront. It will feature an extension to the Hall of Yachting honouring Sir Peter.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Seeking townies to go country.

The country is going to the towns to recruit more young people into rural jobs. A shortage of workers to fill jobs in agriculture has resulted in a recruitment initiative by Meat & Wool New Zealand targeting high-school students. What is emerging from the farm-experience days and school visits is the widening gap between country and city children and their understanding of farm life. Meat & Wool programme manager Jo Jensen said it was hoped Outstanding in the Field events, such as field days, would bridge the knowledge gap between farm children and city youngsters, so that more school leavers were aware of the career opportunities in agriculture.
Source:The Press

Passport change could affect 52,000.

Up to 52,000 New Zealanders could have valid passports that will not allow them to enter the United States, even as transit passengers. This could leave them stranded in another country temporarily. When the US imposed its machine-readable barcode requirement on October 26, 2004, 4 percent of New Zealanders had the older-style passports or ones that had been issued overseas where the bar-coding machines were not available. Since then, the number of non-machine-readable passports had been reduced to under 2 percent, either by expiry or voluntary upgrades. The older passports have numbers beginning with the letters J or M.
source:Manawatu Standard

World's first online possum help.

Pest control operators looking for help in tackling the possum, New Zealand's number one pest, can now get advice directly from experts. Landcare Research and Massey University scientists have developed the world's first online system for managing the control of a pest mammal, using possums as the target. It is part of the ongoing war that the Animal Health Board is waging against possums, as spreaders of the cattle and deer disease, Bovine Tuberculosis. Landcare scientist Bruce Warburton, who is leading the project, says the service is free and there has been good feedback from operators who have tested it.

Free phones for quitting smokers.

Cellphone giveaways are to be used to encourage more young people to give up smoking. The Health Research Council has allocated $1.5 million to Auckland University researchers to design a stop smoking programme of video and text messaging aimed at 18- to 24-year-olds. The Quitline service says that group has become the most eager to stop. Up to 1,300 young people will be recruited to take part in the programme, with 200 getting a free upgrade to a video phone.

Otago honeymoon for Nicole?

There is speculation Australian actress Nicole Kidman and her New Zealand-born husband, country singer Keith Urban are honeymooning in Central Otago, after their celebrity wedding in Sydney on Sunday. There are reports that the happy couple, or at least a pair who look like them, shared a helicopter from Queenstown yesterday with a man heading off on a hunting trip. The hunter was dropped off and the couple flew on to an unknown destination, turning down a request for a photo.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Oscar winner in Wellington.

Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington is in Wellington and believed to be on the prowl for film locations.
Though speculation has linked Washington to Peter Jackson's Halo project, the Kiwi director's office is playing down the claims. A Jackson spokesman said Washington was not in town for any project the director was working on. But he added: "We get a lot of high-profile visitors in this neck of the woods who'd like to see what we do and how we do it."
Source: Dominion Post

Tuesday, June 27

Dancing all the way to the bank.

Lorraine Downes and Aaron Gilmore may have been crowned winners of Dancing with the Stars, but the real winner seems to be TV One. About 1.2 million viewers aged over 5 tuned in to the final on Sunday night. Each episode attracted an average of 800,000 viewers, compared with 740,000 last year - up 9.5 per cent. TVNZ says it will be two months before the amount earned by contestants' charities is known.
Copyright © 2006, APN Holdings NZ Ltd.

Rugby-Thorne back in ABs side.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry and his selectors have named their 30-strong squad to compete in the Tri Nations, including a return of Canterbury's Reuben Thorne. The former All Blacks captain comes in ahead of Jerome Kaino, Craig Newby, Marty Holah and the injured Troy Flavell (shoulder) from the previous squads this year with Henry saying no one had shown better form in the matches against Ireland and Argentina than Thorne showed in helping the Crusaders win the Super 14. The veteran blindside flanker is the only player from outside the first three test squads to make the Tri-Nations 30 and was said to be very excited at his recall after playing his last test in the 2003 World Cup.
source:One Sport
click HERE for full story and team

Fuzzy break for local band.

New Zealand rock group 'The Have' will soon be beaming into homes around the world. American music website has selected the single "The Fuzz" to be part of its advertising campaign. The Have drummer Mike de Marie says it is not just about the money, but the exposure the song will get. He hopes it will lead people to the band and that there will be more downloading of the single from the website.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

US interns help kiwi businesses.

Kiwi businesses are taking advantage of a scheme that allows them to 'borrow' American MBA students. The scheme brings teams of students from the prestigious Entrepreneurship Centre at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to New Zealand for intensive three-week internships. Run by the Foundation for Research Science and Technology, it helps local businesses gain insights into how to get into one of the world's biggest markets.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Insurers put snow damage at $35m.

Insurers have raised their estimate of the cost of the South Island snowstorms from $5 million to $35 million as the Government promised more aid for farmers. Insurance Council chief executive Chris Ryan said: "It's possibly the biggest claim for a snowstorm in two decades." The Government announced yesterday that it would give more help to snow-bound Canterbury farmers and communities amid growing concerns of long-term economic crisis. About 150 households faced a 15th day without power yesterday.

Jin the otter back on mainland.

Jin the wayward otter is back on the mainland after weaving her way back through a busy shipping channel in the Hauraki Gulf. The short-clawed Asiatic otter fled from Auckland Zoo 12 days ago and after being spotted on Rangitoto Island on Sunday, was seen last night on Narrowneck Beach, a short distance from Devonport. Jin disappeared from the zoo during alterations and swam across the harbour to Devonport on the North Shore before being spotted in Devonport and then heading to Rangitoto, about 15km from the zoo. Jin could be spooked if someone tried to catch her and could bite, Ms Healy said. She said anyone who saw her should call the zoo immediately on 09-360-3800 or 027-291-9773.

Kiwi soldier fires first shot in East Timor.

A kiwi soldier in East Timor had to fire a warning shot to stop a group armed with machetes harassing locals, Defence Minister Phil Goff said today. He also revealed that the initial platoon of New Zealand Defence Force troops sent to East Timor after the recent civil unrest would be replaced next week. Mr Goff said the warning shot was fired during a patrol near Becora last week to disperse a 30-strong group armed with machetes who were "harassing other locals". "After repeated efforts by New Zealand soldiers to disarm and disperse the crowd were unsuccessful, the warning shot was fired."

Boost to get qualified early childhood teachers.

Government funding of $30 million to boost numbers of qualified early childhood teachers kicks in next month. On a visit to the Childspace early childhood centre in Karori, Wellington, today Prime Minister Helen Clark and Education Minister Steve Maharey said the funding over the next four years was aimed at raising quality in early childhood teaching. The increase from July 1 would allow early childhood centres to employ more qualified teachers. Funding rates for all-day services would increase by up to 13 per cent, while rates for session-based services would increase by up to 11 per cent. Playcentres would also get a 9 per cent boost to their funding. Mr Maharey said this would help to reduce the time volunteers need to spend on administration. From July next year there would be 20 hours of free early childhood education for three and four year-olds.

Police to trial non-111 service.

Police yesterday unveiled plans to set up a national non-emergency police call service. Members of a police project team outlined plans for the new service to be trialled in Auckland and Bay of Plenty in November. The trial would take non-emergency calls coming to the communications centres' general queue from the Auckland City and Bay of Plenty police districts. In February police said they were looking at setting up a non-emergency phone number for public use to reduce pressure on the current 111 system.

Job scheme 'a success' – but no one's keeping count.

Businesses are receiving up to $17,000 from taxpayers for each beneficiary they employ, but Work and Income cannot say how many are kept on after the 12-month subsidy ends. The Job Plus scheme has subsidised the wages of 123,000 beneficiaries working as labourers, restaurant staff, builders, salespeople and machinery operators since it began in 1998. The scheme provides up to $214 a week for every participant. Despite record low levels of unemployment last year, more than 10,900 employers received subsidised workers, compared with 8787 in 1998. Job Plus, which has a maximum subsidy period of one year but no cap on numbers, is not monitored to see whether employers keep on staff when the subsidy ends.
Source: Dominion Post

Pacific Islanders call for visa revamp.

Thousands of Pacific Islanders are signing up in a mass protest against New Zealand's immigration law. They say the current immigration laws are a failure and are backing a proposal for dramatic changes. At the top of the list are work visas. At the moment a job offer is needed in order to get a visa, but some Pacific Islanders have found that potential employers are put off by the process required by the government in order to hire a person. Pacific islanders are proposing that the government to offer a twelve month visa. They say there would be necessary criteria they would have to meet such as medical insurance and police clearance - as well as no access to benefits and immediate deportation if visa holders break the law.
Source:One News

Monday, June 26

Jockey fights for life.

Former top New Zealand jockey Shane Dye is fighting for his life in a Hong Kong hospital after a fall in a race at the weekend. Dye has undergone brain surgery. Dye has ridden 90 group One winners during his career. He has been based in Hong Kong for the past 6 years and during his years in Australasia, he won every major race.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Princess Royal heads to NZ.

Another royal visit is on the cards. Princess Anne is visiting next month. Prime Minister Helen Clark says the Princess Royal will be in New Zealand for four days to take part in the closing sessions of the 2006 Emerging Pacific Leaders dialogue. Miss Clark says Princess Anne will also be participating in events with organisations she has taken a personal interest in over the years, such as Save The Children and Riding For the Disabled.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

More snow storms on the way.

By Jarrod Booker
New Zealand has not seen the last of the severe weather. Fresh storms are forecast to bring more snow to both islands this week. The MetService is expecting more falls down to 700m in the east coast region of the North Island today, and snow is forecast later in the week for the South Island. A cold front is forecast by the MetService to move up the South Island on Thursday, bringing snow to low levels in Southland, Otago and Canterbury.

Auckland and Wellington still cheap.

Auckland and Wellington are reclaiming their status as two of the world's cheapest cities to live in. After skyrocketing to rankings of 69th and 76th most expensive last year, our biggest cities are now at 100th and 105th place respectively. In 2002 Auckland was the 140th cheapest, and Wellington 142nd out of the 144 cities surveyed each year by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. It is attributing the drop in the relative international cost of living in Auckland and Wellington to the significant devaluation in the Kiwi against the US Dollar. The world's most expensive city is Moscow, followed by Seoul and Tokyo.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Victoria Cross awarded to Kiwi to be sold.

A Victoria Cross posthumously awarded to a New Zealander for bravery at Gallipoli will be sold by auction in Sydney next month. Captain Alfred John Shout, born in Wellington in 1882, emigrated to Australia in 1905, and fought with the Australian Imperial Force at Gallipoli. Two days after landing at Anzac Cove in April 1915, he led a bayonet charge into continual machinegun fire from the Turks. For his actions he was awarded the Military Cross - which is also being sold - and promoted to captain. His grandson was selling the VC and other medals because he has a serious medical condition, and to provide for his children. The VC, which will celebrate its 150th anniversary this year, is the highest award for acts of bravery in wartime, irrespective of rank.

Rugby-O'Driscoll backs Wallabies over All Blacks.

Irish rugby captain Brian O'Driscoll has set the scene for a classic Bledisloe Cup rugby test in Christchurch on July 8, stating he believes the Wallabies can beat the All Blacks. "I think you just have to match New Zealand with muscle power, which the Aussies clearly can, and I'm sure they will be over to turn over the All Blacks," O'Driscoll said after the Wallabies beat his side, 37-15, at Perth on Saturday night. The Wallabies had a dreadful year under coach Eddie Jones last year, but have impressed with their wins under his successor John Connolly against England and Ireland this winter. Ireland lost twice to the All Blacks this month before playing Australia, but the margins against New Zealand were 11 and eight points, while against Australia it was 22.

Fish farm folds with nearly $8m debts.

A rescue mission has been launched to stop 20 tonnes of live kingfish becoming crayfish bait after a Far North fish farm folded with debts amounting to millions of dollars. The Parengarenga Fish Farm was set up by the Paerengarenga Incorporation Society two years and had been described as a prime example of Maori economic development in the north. However, the farm, just south of North Cape, failed to meet production expectations and folded with debts of $7.6m. Incorporation chairman Winiata Brown was reported to have told shareholders the venture did not attract enough investors. He said consultants failed to find investors and withdrew from the project. Now the Recreational Fishing Council wants to buy the 20 tonnes of large and small kingfish held at the fish farm and release them into the wild.

Alpers leads anti-gun team to New York conference,

By Simon O'Rourke
Aucklander Phil Alpers will lead a New Zealand delegation in New York this week to "strongly support" an arms trade treaty being discussed at a United Nations conference. When the conference opens today Mr Alpers - a foundation member of a 700-strong network called the International Action Network for Small Arms - will help present a petition to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Called the Million Faces petition, it consists of 1 million photos of people around the world calling for a halt to the proliferation of firearms. There are 12,000 New Zealand faces on the petition, which was compiled with the help of Amnesty International and Oxfam.

Pair plan Sydney to Auckland by kayak.

Two Sydney men hope to become the first to kayak from Sydney to Auckland. James Castrission, 24 and Justin Jones, 23, will attempt the crossing in December, the Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday. The Sydney-Auckland crossing is about 400km shorter than their 2600km kayak trip down the Murray River five years ago. Money raised will be donated to the Sydney Children's Hospital.
Copyright © 2006, APN Holdings NZ Ltd.

Scouts trapped near lake after snow, slips.

Snow has trapped trampers, including two groups of scouts from overseas, on the shores of a Hawkes Bay lake. Slips have closed State Highway 38 and heavy snow on Thursday night damaged lines to Aniwaniwa and Kaitawa, which has been without power since Thursday night. Department of Conservation programme manager Dave King said the trampers included two groups of scouts from the United States and Australia, who set off on the Great Walk circuit of the lake on Thursday.

EC targets wine "lake".

The European Commission is taking steps against the threat from wines produced in countries such as New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. In a move likely to cost nearly $5 billion, more than ten per cent of Europe's vines will be pulled out over the next five years to reduce the region's wine glut. The EU says it has also made mistakes in its subsidy scheme for winemakers and in marketing the finished product.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

NZ helps with shutdown of soviet-era nuclear reactor.

New Zealand is contributing $500,000 to a United States-led project to shut down one of Russia's last Soviet-era nuclear reactors. New Zealand and the US will today sign a memorandum of understanding which will result in both countries helping Russia permanently shut down plutonium-producing nuclear reactor at Zheleznogorsk. US ambassador William McCormick said both New Zealand and the US recognised that the three remaining plutonium production reactors in Russia constituted a proliferation threat. Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Phil Goff said the Zheleznogorsk reactor was old and produced enough plutonium as a by-product to create one nuclear weapon a week.

Beatles photo mystery solved. (See story Sat 24th)

It seems the answer to Richard Woodd's Beatles magical mystery tour has been found. The former Dominion journalist has for years wondered who took a picture of the band in Wellington during its 1964 New Zealand tour. Saturday's edition of The Dominion Post featured the photo of the Fab Four, which spurred several people to put forward answers. Former Dominion staff photographer Barry Durrant said the photo looked like the work of his mate Morris Hill, who was a photographer for the New Zealand Woman's Weekly and Auckland Star. Mr Hill was known to have been close friends with a few of the band's promoters and was given an exclusive photo-shoot with the pop stars when they stayed at what was then Wellington's top hotel, the Hotel St George in Willis St.
Source: Dominion Post

NZ travellers go for museums more than beaches - poll.

Exploring historic Greek ruins, taking in the Louvre in Paris or discovering the French canals are more likely to be on New Zealand travellers' itinerary than beaches and golf courses, according to a recent survey. The United Travel poll of nearly 11,500 people showed 35 per cent were lured to destinations rich in culture, compared with 24 per cent of respondents who just want to relax in the sun. The survey found that New Zealand travellers fall into four different groups that describes travel personalities - culturalists, connoisseurs, unwinders and adventurers. Culturalists are interested in visiting historical sites, art galleries and museums and most head to Europe.

Sunday, June 25

New Zealand worried over N Korea missile.

New Zealand's ambassador to North Korea on Saturday expressed grave concerns over Pyongyang’s reported plans for a long-range missile test. Jane Coombs added Pyongyang wouldn't confirm or deny its intentions. Coombs was in Beijing after a four-day trip to Pyongyang to present her credentials for her new post. She said during her visit she met North Korea's nominal Head of State Kim Yong Nam and expressed her country's "grave concern" over the escalating missile test crisis.

NZ firefighter tries to sell 9/11 relics.

By David Fisher
A Kiwi fireman who was given mementoes from the destroyed World Trade Centre by a friend in a New York fire brigade offered them for sale on Trade Me. Waikato firefighter Paul Single had listed the terrorist attack relics - which include a security pass used by one of the Twin Towers' workers - on the website for $1500 but yesterday he said he would de-list the auction. "There were no feelings of malice," he said. Mr Single said he came across the items "in a moment of tidying up" and thought "they might be worth it to someone else". Last night the auction was condemned by the National MP with responsibility for firefighters, Sandra Goudie. She urged Mr Single to pull the sale and donate the items to a museum in Waikato at which visitors could pay their respects to the 2986 people who died on September 11, 2001.

Yachting-Team NZ has two more wins.

Another two wins for Team New Zealand at the latest pre-America's Cup regatta off Valencia. The kiwi boat has edged out Luna Rossa by 11 seconds, before beating Areva Challenge by 37 seconds. Team New Zealand and Alinghi are now the only unbeaten syndicates after the first three days of racing.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Zoo hires out its big cats for parties.

Critics say Wellington Zoo is making a fast buck from its cheetahs at the expense of animal welfare and safety, reports Emily Watt. Looking for that extra something to make your party memorable? Wellington Zoo is hiring out its cheetahs for functions and events. Some animal experts are appalled at the practice, and say it is unfair on the animals and puts people at risk. Others say it provides valuable stimulation for the creatures. For $2500, keepers will bring the zoo's two juvenile cheetahs, Charlie and Delta, to an event, where guests can pat them and talk to their trainers. The zoo has been running the scheme since late last year and so far the cheetahs have been to private functions, a pet store opening, university lectures, and an A&P show.
source:Sunday Star Times

Weather turns from ice to nice.

Mother Nature looks set to give New Zealand a break this week. The country has been in the grips of the coldest June for 15 years, but MetService meteorologist Bob McDavitt said sunny weather should kickstart a thaw as an anti-cyclone, followed by a northerly, is due to move across most of the country this week. "When the northerly comes, the snow will thaw," he said.
Most previously closed North Island roads reopened yesterday, but police were still urging motorists to take care and drive to the conditions. In the eastern North Island, SH38 between Tuai and Waikaremoana remained closed and extreme care was needed on SH35 between Ruatoria and Te Puia Springs and Hicks Bay, where landslips were causing delays. All roads were open in the South Island but the AA was urging people to take extreme care and to expect delays on several roads.
source:Sunday Star Times

Otter search called off.

She may have left home for good. That is one of the possibilities why Jin the otter has not been seen for two days. Auckland Zoo's Maria Finnegan says if Jin is starting to feel comfortable, she might be busy setting up her own territory. She says if members of the public see Jin, they should call the zoo immediately. Maria Finnegan says the ground search has been called off until they get a new sighting, otherwise it is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Rugby-All Blacks hang on against Pumas.

By Daryl Fenemor
The All Blacks have just managed to maintain their unbeaten record against Argentina after battling to a 25-19 win at Velez Sarfield Stadium, Buenos Aires on Sunday. Argentina scored a try in the first half and four penalties to Federico Todeschini kept them in the match with the All Blacks having tries to Leon MacDonald, Dan Carter and Scott Hamilton. The All Blacks name their 30-man squad for the Tri-Nations on Tuesday with their first match in that competition against Australia in Christchurch on July 8.
source:One Sport

Saturday, June 24

Magical mystery of Kiwi tour photo.

Won't you please, please help me . . . those famous words from the Fab Four have been uppermost in Richard Woodd's mind for longer than he cares to remember. Now, almost 42 years after the Beatles' frenzied arrival in Wellington as part of a concert tour, the words have taken on a new urgency. Mr Woodd, a former Wellingtonian now working in New Plymouth, is desperate for help to identify who took this rare colour photo of the Beatles relaxing. He believes it has never been published and he has spent nearly a decade seeking the person who snapped the group hamming it up for the camera at Wellington's Hotel St George. Mr Woodd acquired it after a cleanout of a photographic studio in the late 1990s. "The print is probably off a 2x2-inch negative taken with a Rolleiflex or Hasselblad. It's the best photograph of the Beatles I have ever seen. "Judging by their wristwatches, it was taken at 7.30pm in a room at the St George (note the curtains)." Ringo, Paul and George are wearing New Zealand schoolboy caps, possibly from a Wellington school. John is wearing a mortarboard. Mr Woodd has searched the Internet, advertised in various media and tracked down photographer Vic McLennan, who was among the media corps parked up at the hotel waiting for the band to arrive. "He told me very few photographers would have been allowed into their suite . . . and that most photographers were shooting with black and white film suggesting it could have been taken by someone in the tour party or from overseas.
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Chinese movie could be shot in NZ.

A Chinese movie could be shot in New Zealand next year. Chinese film makers have approached a Wellington business delegation visiting China at the moment. Delegation leader Michael Stephens says a number of Chinese film makers are looking at film co-productions with New Zealand companies. He is hoping at least one project worth around $10 million, will go ahead next year. He says other Chinese film companies are looking at Wellington to complete post production work on their movies.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Ministry says rules clear for immigrants.

The Ministry of Health is defending its treatment of a South African immigrant who is dying of cancer. Forty-year-old Anita Lategin has aggressive stomach cancer, but does not qualify for public care as she is 56 days shy of the two-year residency eligibility period. She is asking officials to bend the rules, but the Health Ministry says when people come into the country they are clearly informed of their access to publicly funded treatment. It says immigrants even have to sign a declaration showing they understand the rules.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Deal could save capital's trolley buses.

A deal has been reached which could save Wellington's trolley buses. The Regional Council, along with Land Transport New Zealand and bus operator Stagecoach have agreed on a plan which will see Land Transport funding 50 percent of the cost of running the capital's trolley buses and upgrading the overhead wires. The deal opens the door to a scheme to refurbish the buses, increasing their capacity from 40 to 51 seats. The overhead wiring upgrade will include new poles, designed to reduce cases of "dewiring" by about half, thereby improving the efficiency of the service.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Hunt on for major Taupo gold deposit.

Test drilling is under way in areas north of Taupo in a bid to find a major gold deposit. The tests are being undertaken by a New Zealand geologist and company using hi-tech equipment to search the geothermal areas near Atiamuri. Simon Henderson from Glass Earth Ltd says he has no doubt there is commercially attractive deposits of gold in the Central Plateau area. New Zealand scientists have known for decades that gold could be found in geo-thermal areas, which was confirmed by a discovery at Ohakuri in the mid1980s, Mr Henderson says.
source:Taupo Times

Clark vows to aid SI victims of snowstorm.

The Government will urgently address welfare issues raised by the central South Island snowstorm and promises to have a top-level word to Telecom about communication problems. Prime Minister Helen Clark has called in help after hearing in Ashburton yesterday that some snow-bound families were at breaking point. Clark and Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton attended a snow debriefing in Ashburton before visiting the O'Connor family inland from Fairlie and talking to lines workers. The Government is working urgently on setting up a one-stop shop helpline to address concerns of families who have spent many days without power, phone or contact with the outside world.
Source:The Press

Power plan makes waves.

Power companies are investigating an ambitious project to place underwater turbines in Cook Strait as an answer to New Zealand's electricity shortage. Scientists behind the idea say harnessing the tidal currents could meet the entire country's electricity needs. State-owned power companies Meridian Energy and Transpower are also included in the project's development. In what would be a multibillion-dollar scheme, up to 7000 turbines would be anchored to the sea floor and float about 40 metres below the surface. With a brutal early winter and record power use, New Zealand's ability to generate enough electricity has emerged as a national concern. The project's leaders, Christchurch scientists David Beach and Chris Bathurst, believe the tidal currents could be harnessed to generate enough electricity for the whole country. The scientists, the founding directors of Neptune Power, are investigating the placing of the submerged turbines in an area stretching over 200 square kilometres of Cook Strait, from its northern fringes close to the Marlborough Sounds to further south between Wellington and Cloudy Bay.
Source: Dominion Post

Friday, June 23

Europe encouraged to raise Pacific profile.

European nations are to be encouraged to take a more proactive role in the Pacific. That is the key aim of Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters as he heads to the northern hemisphere tomorrow for a two-week, five-country trip. He says the attention the European Union pays to the Pacific is valued, but he will be encouraging the four EU member states he visits to continue contributing to the region. Mr Peters says there has been a sudden renewed interest in the Pacific and there are indications the EU will work with us on aid and development.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

ZImbabwean judge thanks NZ.

Former Zimbabwean High Court judge, Benjamin Paradza is thankful for the support he has received in New Zealand. Mr Paradza, his wife and three children fled their homeland after he was charged with corruption. He has now become a fellow of Victoria University's Institute of Policy Studies. Mr Paradza is full of praise for the New Zealand Government and people that have noted his plight. He says it is not easy for a family to change to a new way of life but people here have been doing their level best to assist them. Mr Paradza fled Zimbabwe earlier this year he acquitted an opposition politician and was then himself charged with corruption and perverting the course of justice.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Second harbour bridge for Tauranga.

Transit has announced moves towards construction of a second harbour bridge for Tauranga - along with a major flyover approaching it. Transit is calling for tenders immediately for the second stage of the Harbour Link Project. That includes a duplicate bridge and four lane flyover connecting it to the expressway, Takitimu Drive.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Record breaking yacht on show in Auckland.

One of the world's most famous yachts is sailing on Auckland Harbour this afternoon as it prepares to leave the country. The Gypsy Moth Four has been in Auckland for the past month being repaired, after it was badly damaged near Tahiti when it collided with a reef. Solo round-the-world yachtsman Sir Francis Chichester was on board her 40 years ago for the first singe-handed circumnavigation of the world. Gypsy Moth crew spokesman Bob Bradfield says today's sailing is a show of respect for the work done to get the vessel seaworthy again.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Boost for soprano's London study.

Former Napier mezzo-soprano Madeleine Pierard has received a $15,000 boost to her study fund for post-graduate training in London. The Wellington-based 2005 Lexus Song Quest winner was this week awarded the Jack McGill Music Scholarship, worth $15,000. Pierard, 24, returns to Napier to start rehearsals for Opera Hawke's Bay's production of Die Fledermaus next month. She is due to leave New Zealand in September to begin studying for a Masters in voice at London's Royal College of Music (RCM). The college's head of vocal studies, Dr Neil Mackie, has described her as a "major talent".
source: Hawkes Bay Today

Space station dumps its garbage off NZ coast.

The international crew on International Space Station is looking forward to their next shipment of fresh vegetables and fruit and parcels from their families at the weekend. To make room for the goodies –plus about 2.5 tonnes of other food water, fuel and equipment – they have dropped off the garbage, literally. ISS mission Pavel Vinogradov and his American companion Jeffrey Williams packed up all their trash in the previous supply craft, Progress M-55, and dumped it. . . on New Zealand's doorstep. The cargo spaceship – loaded with a tonne of garbage from the ISS – was undocked from the Pirs module and "de-orbited" with the debris that did not burn in the atmosphere plunging into the sea 3900km southeast of New Zealand, Itar-Tass reported.

Weather causes road chaos.

State Highway Two from Gisborne to Opotiki remains closed as contractors work to clear snow and ice that is making the road too dangerous for vehicles. There have been snow falls near Matawai and inland from Gisborne. Half-a-dozen heavy trucks had to be led out by a grader earlier this morning. Officials are inspecting the road every half-hour to see if it is safe, but at this stage it is too dangerous to reopen it. The snow has turned to rain and there is a lot of surface flooding along the East Coast Road.

Museum to exhibit stranded whale.

A minke whale which stranded on Northland's Ninety Mile Beach yesterday could not be saved but will be taken to Te Papa Museum in Wellington for display. The Department of Conservation (DOC) was informed of the stranding of the juvenile female minke but the whale was in poor condition and had to be put down. Te Papa's existing minke whale is on loan to Auckland Museum so the whale is to be taken to Te Papa for an educational exhibition.

NZ boy in England soccer shirt attacked in Scotland.

By Kent Atkinson
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has condemned a racist attack in Edinburgh on a seven-year-old New Zealand boy, who was punched because the boy was wearing an England soccer shirt. Mr Blair said the assaults were "appalling and totally unjustifiable", and that they "besmirched the reputation of the Tartan Army". The assaults were also condemned by the Scottish National Party and the First Minister of Scotland, Jack McConnell. Lothian and Borders police said the incident was "cowardly and pathetic".

Free accommodation offered after 11 days without power.

Timaru District Council today offered free motel accommodation to South Canterbury people who have been without electricity 11 days after a snow storm. Timaru Mayor Janie Annear announced the offer this morning. She said: "We understand you will be getting to the end of your patience now after 11 days without power and the council would like to offer you a chance for a break by putting you up in motels at our expense, or providing any other help we can, such as generators." A fresh cold blast today brought more snow to Canterbury and spread to the central North Island and Hawkes Bay.

Rugby-Colts downed by SA.

The New Zealand Colts are out of contention for the Under 21 rugby world championship title after going down 40-23 to defending champions South Africa in their semi-final in France. The South Africans scored four tries to two. New Zealand coach Greg Cooper says it is very disappointing as they led for part of the match and lapses of concentration cost them at crucial times.

Yachting-Team NZ prepare for vital regatta.

Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton has highlighted the importance of the last pre-Americas Cup regatta, which gets underway in Valencia on Thursday night. This is the last outing for all the syndicates in an organised event before the Challenger series starts in April and it is vital for the New Zealanders as they look to continue the development of their new boat NZL 84. Dalton says since the last regatta their focus has been on team work and they all realise the importance of this event. Team New Zealand will race China and Italy's +39 first up.

Police review fitness criteria.

Police are considering lowering fitness requirements in a bid to find more than 2200 staff needed to meet recruitment targets and to counter growing attrition levels. Police Commissioner Howard Broad yesterday confirmed that police were reviewing the standards required for entry to the force as part of a recruitment drive to meet the Government's promise to New Zealand First to provide an extra 1000 officers over the next three years. The deal was a key part of Labour's post-election negotiations with New Zealand First.
Source:The Press

Cullen urges better saving.

New Zealanders are being urged to improve their savings habits. The plea comes from the Minister of Finance, Michael Cullen, as the country's current account deficit blows out to greater than nine percent of GDP. The country is now in the red to the tune of $14.5 billion.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Movie to be made about Upham.

The life of one of New Zealand's most notable war heroes is being made into a movie. Captain Charles Upham is the only combatant soldier to win the Victoria Cross twice for his efforts in the Second World War. A film about his life will be made in New Zealand, and Weta Workshops will make the costumes. Producers aim to start filming in 2007 and release the movie in 2008. They expect to cast a range of talented New Zealand, Australian and English actors and are already targeting at least two A- list stars to play Charles Upham and his wife.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Thursday, June 22

Hawke's Bay set to feel winter chill.

More rain and snow is forecast for the Hawke's Bay and Gisborne today. A deep low moving slowly across the country is bringing strong south-easterly winds. MetService forecaster Ramon Oosterkamp says the result will be up to 130 millimetres of rain south of Napier until early tomorrow morning. Similar amounts are expected north of Napier, while heavy rain is expected in Gisborne early tomorrow. Mr Oosterkamp says heavy snow is also expected, with up to 50 centimetres forecast south of Napier above 600 metres. Similar amounts should fall north of the city.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Otter spotted at Stanley Bay.

There has been another sighting of Auckland Zoo's elusive escaped otter. Jin the otter escaped from Auckland Zoo last Tuesday and is believed to have swum across Auckland Harbour to the North Shore suburb of Devonport. Navy boats checked the shoreline and police searched the streets of Devonport on Wednesday but to no avail. But on Thursday morning she was spotted in Stanley Bay. Zoo curator, Maria Finnegan, is urging people to be vigilant and ring the zoo if they hear or see anything. Jin, is not dangerous and will not approach people, but zoo staff say it is important members of the public do not try and chase or capture her themselves. If people do see her, they should call the main Zoo line (360 3800). If it is after hours, people should call 027 291 9773.
Source:RNZ/TVNZ Interactive

North Island schools forced to close.

Some central North Island schools have been forced to close because of wintry weather hitting the country. Many roads are shut because of snowfalls, making school bus runs impossible. The prinicipal of Taihape Area School, Boyce Davey, says they closed for the day because of the large numbers of students and teachers who were stranded. He says many of the buses that pick up students could not reach the school, so town based students were sent home.

Clapton concert a sellout in four hours.

Mission Concert devotees took just four hours to snap up the 25,000 tickets for Eric Clapton's show. All tickets for the open-air winery concert on January 27 had gone by 4pm yesterday. Promoter Garry Craft said demand for guitar legend Clapton had outstripped that for Rod Stewart's 2005 concert. "It's been extraordinary," he said. "Pretty much everyone in New Zealand wants to buy a ticket to Eric Clapton. "Tickets went on sale at noon, rather than 9am as usual. I didn't hear of anyone camping out overnight – you wouldn't in this weather – but I did assist one person who rang from a snowbound part of the South Island."
Source: Dominion Post

650 Kiwis a week lost to Australia.

Australia's improved personal tax rates are costing New Zealand 650 people a week, and policies here are leading New Zealand down an economic cul-de-sac, National says. Speaking after the publication of new migration figures, National's finance spokesman John Key accused Labour of ignoring Australia's assault on New Zealand's workforce through tax cuts. Statistics New Zealand figures out yesterday showed that New Zealand gained about 10,000 more people than it lost in the year to May, 16 per cent more than the previous May year. But the number of New Zealanders leaving to live in Australia continues to rise, with 20,400 more leaving to live there than arriving; up from 18,800 in the year till May last year, and 11,900 in the May 2004 year.
Source: Dominion Post

Petrol price fall 'may not last'.

Motorists yesterday won their first fuel price cut since February after jostling by oil companies ended with a reduction of 4c a litre for petrol and diesel. However, Caltex warned the price reduction may not last. Shell began the day by lopping 3c off what had been record prices since April. It was followed by Caltex before BP leap-frogged them with a 4c reduction. Shell, Caltex and Mobil soon matched BP, setting prices at $1.669 at litre for 91-octane petrol, $1.719 for 95-octane, and $1.239 for diesel.
Copyright © 2006, APN Holdings NZ Ltd.

Hamilton confident race will go ahead.

Hamilton is confident it will get resource consent to hold the V8 Supercar race in 2008. The circuit for the event has been confirmed, with five streets in Frankton involved. The pit lane - to be built on Mill Street - affects a bowling and tennis club and one house will need to be moved. "People have been more than willing to co-operate and negotiate with council because whilst it may have some disruption to them, they recognise the value of the event to the city is far greater," says Hamilton Mayor Michael Redman.
Source:One News

Police call for more interpreters.

Police in Tauranga say a lack of interpreters is a major problem that is costing valuable time in investigations involving non-english speakers. In a recent case, it took the police three days to find an Indonesian speaker to help an investigation about a man who was taken to hospital with severe head injuries Police say it was only after the Indonesian embassy flew in one of its own staff members from Wellington that progress was made on the case. They say the three days it took to find an interpreter could have been better spent on other investigations.

Wednesday, June 21

Navy should monitor Japanese whaling.

The Greens are lobbying for our Navy to take a more proactive role in monitoring Japanese whaling. The party is asking for a frigate to be sent to observe the Southern Ocean whale hunt to serve as a watchdog. MP Metiria Turei says the navy's presence would serve as a restraint, and a neutral witness to incidents like last year's ramming episode involving a Greenpeace vessel.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

More storms track toward NZ's South Island.

Civil defence authorities in New Zealand have warned snowbound South Island communities to prepare for another severe storm. About 800 homes in the Canterbury region are facing their 10th day without power as a result of the heaviest snow dump in 50 years. Weather forecasters predict the worst-affected areas of the South Island might be in for another 15 to 20 centimetres of snow due to a cold front that is sweeping over the country. Civil defence has issued an extreme weather warning and urged householders to make sure they have adequate emergency supplies ahead of the storm. Power companies say it could be another week before all remote rural communities have their electricity and phones reconnected.

Thousands culled from waiting lists.

Health officials have indicated that up to 16,000 more patients face being culled from hospital waiting lists.
The revelation has come at a Parliamentary select committee. Ministry of Health spokeswoman Brenda Wills says the deadline for wiping hospital waiting lists was the end of June but she says the Ministry has agreed to shift that deadline by three months because of the junior doctors' strike. Ms Wills says that unless DHBs can provide more services, more patients will be returned to GPs if that is what's required.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Two weeks left for free flu jabs.

New Zealanders at high-risk from the flu have just two weeks left to get a free immunisation. The first cases of seasonal flu for 2006 have been identified, confirming the strain currently striking people down is covered by this year's vaccine. Influenza Strategy Group spokesman, Lance Jennings, says immunisation is proving more popular than ever this year. Five percent more doses have been distributed to surgeries and clinics than in the entire 2005 season. People aged 65 or older, or those with long term health conditions, can get the jab free until the end of June.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Air NZ returns to Oamaru.

Air New Zealand is adding the North Otago town of Oamaru to its destination list after an absence of 17 years. The new service from Christchurch will begin on August 7, being operated by Air NZ link carrier Eagle Air using a chartered J32 19-seater turbo-prop aircraft. Six return flights a week will be operated initially, with one return trip daily from Monday to Friday during peak morning and evening times, and a Friday night departure from Oamaru with a return flight on Sunday.

Keep left arrows for vehicles wanted.

A Nelson family is calling for all rental vehicles to be fitted with keep left arrows to stop foreign visitors driving on the wrong side of the road. The call follows the death of Nelson man Kylie Beard, whose vehicle was hit by a rental car driven by an American tourist who veered onto the wrong side. Beard's partner, Sheree Friend, was injured. Her mother, Margaret Friend, says rental companies used the signs on a voluntary basis five years ago, but they need to be made a legal requirement.

Auckland stars in survey of politeness.

By Angela Gregory
Small businesses in Auckland have come out tops in a global survey of politeness. The Reader's Digest global courtesy survey of 35 cities around the world showed a 100 per cent strike rate in a selection of small shops in Auckland that thanked customers for making their purchase. The global average was 75 per cent. In the overall courtesy ratings, including for holding doors open and helping someone pick up dropped papers, Auckland finished seventh out of the 35 cities. Sydney came in a distant 23rd.
1. New York.
2. Zurich.
3. Toronto.
4= Berlin, Zagreb, Sao Paulo.
7= Auckland, Warsaw.
9. Mexico City.
10. Stockholm.

Breakthrough in battle against diabetes.

By Martin Johnston
Doctors have made a breakthrough in dealing with one of New Zealand's fastest-growing diseases, spawned in part by the obesity epidemic. New techniques at the Starship children's hospital will help manage Type 2 diabetes, reducing the risk of child sufferers developing kidney failure and blindness as young adults. A two-year trial programme to manage the disease has been permanently adopted after proving a success. The Auckland-wide trial included running a clinic in South Auckland; phone consultations after patients sent in blood test results by computer; a 24-hour telephone helpline to avoid medical emergencies; insulin pumps replacing injections for many Type 1 patients; diabetes screening in some schools; and camps to encourage Type 2 patients to eat well and exercise.

Travel advisories for Middle East and PNG stepped up.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has beefed up its travel advisories for Israel, the occupied Palestinian Territories, and Papua New Guinea. It has warned of "extreme risk" to security for travellers entering the West Bank and Gaza, as they may get caught up in acts of terrorism and retaliatory military violence. It advises against all travel. It also warned that the law and order situation in Papua New Guinea continued to pose risks to travellers. "We reiterate that New Zealanders in Papua New Guinea should exercise a high level of personal security and vigilance at all times, especially in public places and areas frequented by foreigners."

Auckland zoo hunts for missing otter.

An otter has made a slippery exit from its Auckland Zoo enclosure. The four-year-old female, named Gin, was last seen in Stanley Point Road in Devonport yesterday evening. Zoo curator Maria Finnigan says the otter was carried from the Meola Creek area on the outgoing tide last week. She says while otters are good swimmers, staff are stunned at the distance she has travelled.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Kiwi social workers lured abroad by UK firms.

British companies are offering up to $110,000 to lure Kiwi social workers overseas at a time when the profession here is facing a workforce crisis. A spokeswoman for Wellington- based recruitment company Match Group, which is recruiting social workers for British employers, said there was a huge demand for workers and they were trying to draft as many qualified New Zealanders as possible. The company, offering salaries of between $75,000 and $97,000 a year, a car-lease scheme, subsidised rental accommodation, 31 days leave and a relocation incentive of $14,000, is one of several recruiters trying to attract New Zealand social workers.
Source:The Press

Tuesday, June 20

Another snow warning.

Civil Defence is warning Cantabrians that more snow may be on the way, and to make sure they are prepared. MetService is predicting a cold front will bring snow down to 100-metres above sea level on the Canterbury plains tomorrow, and areas above 300-metres could get around 10 to 15 centimetres.. Canterbury Civil Defence emergency management planner Jon Mitchell is advising people to listen to weather forecasts, especially before travelling on the road, to keep in touch with people who may need help, and stock up on food and water.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Last ditch attempt to amend microchip law.

There has been a last ditch attempt to get dog microchipping laws amended before the legislation passes its final stages tonight. A petition with more than six and a half thousand farmer signatures has been presented to Parliament by farmers wanting their working dogs exempted. United Future is siding with farmers, but not the Greens, who want only dangerous dogs microchipped. The squabbling between United Future and the Greens means the legislation is likely to pass and all newly registered dogs will have to be chipped from July.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

418 women in prison.

The female prison population is soaring, with a 75 per cent increase in the number of women behind bars in the past five years.
Figures released to The Press by the Corrections Department show there are 418 women in New Zealand jails, more than double the number 10 years ago, when there were 191 female prisoners. The Canterbury police district commander, Superintendent Sandra Manderson, said she had noticed a shift in crime committed by women. "We have had quite a number of women involved with violence. Previously, many were involved in fraud, but now there is a bit of violence," she said. Maori and Pacific Island women were generally over- represented in violent crimes committed by women, she said.
Source:The Press

Concerns over immigration review.

The Human Rights Commission says New Zealand could breach international human rights treaties it has signed if the government goes ahead with immigration changes. The aim is to modernise the Immigration Act and the changes are part of a wide-ranging review put out for public consultation earlier this year. The Human Rights Commission has identified a number of proposed changes which could breach international treaties, such as excluding people not of an acceptable standard of health. Key proposals include changes to the visa system, officials being given more power to make decisions on immigrants and tightening of the rules around appeals by asylum seekers. Under the proposals, asylum seekers would only get one claim for refugee status and one appeal.
Source:RNZ/TVNZ Interactive

The Bill comes to Godzone.

Close to one hundred police officers from the UK will join New Zealand's police force from tomorrow. The officers will graduate from the Police College in Porirua and will then be sent around the country. One of them, Richard Corbridge, is from London, and served 23 years as a Detective Sergeant for the Metropolitan Police. He says he is looking forward to getting started, and has been impressed with the professionalism shown by New Zealand police.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Solomons whaling decision surprise.

Solomon Islands officials are ducking for cover over the startling actions of their Fisheries Minister at the International Whaling Commission. The minister appears to have defied instructions to abstain, and has voted with Japan to take commercial whaling one step closer to reality. New Zealand's High Commissioner in Honiara, Brian Sanders says he and his Australian colleagues have been trying to get answers from the Fisheries ministry, without success. They are planning a joint approach on the minister's return to find out why it appears he acted against instructions from his own cabinet.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

GPs welcome subsidy deal.

General practitioners are welcoming news that the doctors' subsidy row has been resolved once and for all. Over the past five days, DHBs and PHOs have managed to successfully negotiate the roll-out of Government subsidies for patients aged between 45 and 64. The subsidy, worth around $27 a visit, will be rolled out from July 1. Leader of the GPs' forum, Peter Foley says there has been sensible compromise from both sides.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Monday, June 19

Air NZ announces flights to Shanghai.

Air New Zealand has announced it will commence non-stop flights to Shanghai on 6 November 2006, with tickets now on sale. The direct route from Auckland to mainland China is the first for New Zealand. The 11 hour 46 minute journey will be offered three times a week.

Rotorua plunged into darkness.

An explosion at a Transpower substation in Rotorua has left the city in the dark. The power went off at just before one o'clock and has left brought the CBD to a standstill, with many shops having to close their doors. Unison Network Bill Hewitt spokesman says they are still unsure about the extent of the damage, but he believes power should be restored by mid-afternoon.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Radio NZ puts more podcasts on its website.

Radio New Zealand is making more of its programmes available in the form of podcasts as their popularity surges past 10,000 downloads a day. Starting today, the broadcaster is adding segments from Nine to Noon, Afternoons with Jim Mora, The Arts on Sunday and Sunday Morning with Chris Laidlaw to its existing podcasts. Some content, such as music, will be left out because of copyright. Since Radio New Zealand began podcasting in February, more than 400,000 podcasts have been downloaded from its website. Podcasts include Saturday Morning with Kim Hill, This Way Up, Our Changing World, and Concert FM's Upbeat. The site provides more original material in the form of real-time streaming audio. There's also been a lot of interest in Radio New Zealand's live streaming of Parliament, particularly from New Zealand's foreign affairs posts.
Source: Dominion Post

Civil Defence rejects PM's storm response criticism.

Canterbury Civil Defence staff have rejected claims that declaring a state of emergency would have made any difference to how local authorities responded to the snow storms in the region last week. Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that help would have got to the storm and snow-battered south faster if a state of emergency had been declared. Miss Clark, speaking on TV One's Breakfast, said if a state of emergency were declared, assistance would have been triggered immediately. "They (Canterbury Civil Defence) did not declare a state of emergency, they were managing it as they saw fit. Now I could see there were some issues and central government help really did need to be picked up and frankly I think the military offer could have been picked up a couple of days earlier."

Neil Finn shifts base to Britain.

SYDNEY - New Zealand music legend Neil Finn is shifting his family to Britain after his teenage son was accepted into a prestigious Welsh college. Finn, who has just completed a farewell Australian tour with Split Enz, told guests at a Sydney show after-party of the planned move from their Auckland base, the Sun Herald reported. While they will keep their house in Auckland, Finn and wife Sharon decided on a move to Britain when son Elroy, 16, was accepted into Atlantic College.

Spirit of partnership as NZ and Singapore sign thriller deal.

By Wayne Thompson
New Zealand film-makers have gained a new ally with the signing of a deal to cooperatively produce feature films with a Singapore company. Eyeworks Touchdown and Singapore-based MediaCorp Raintree Pictures are to co-produce two films, which will be psychological thrillers. Prime Minister Helen Clark and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attended the signing in Auckland yesterday of the deal for the first films to be made under the countries' two-year-old Audio Visual Agreement.

Second push for Maori to choose electoral roll.

A second push to encourage Maori to choose which electoral roll to be on has begun. Maori are being reminded to make a choice now about the type of electoral roll they enrol on for the next two Parliamentary elections. Electoral Enrolment Centre National Manager Murray Wicks said orange postcards had gone out to advise Maori they could choose to be on the general or Maori roll. He said enrolment forms were available at Postshops and by free-texting 3676 with a name and address. The 2006 Maori Electoral Option campaign ends in August.

Greens urge restrictions on foreigners buying property.

A crackdown on the number of foreigners investing in New Zealand property would help drive house prices down, the Greens have said. The party's new leader, Dr Russel Norman, said he would urge Helen Clark to learn from her Singaporean counterpart when he visits the Beehive today. He said Singapore had restrictions on non-residents buying land and there was no reason why New Zealand should not do the same. Dr Norman said wages should be high enough and house prices low enough that everyone working full time should be able to buy a home. He said reserving land ownership for New Zealanders would take the pressure off the overcooked housing market.

Strike cover doctors get $200 an hour.

By Martin Johnston
Senior doctors are being paid $200 an hour - more than triple their average hourly rate - for working weeknights and at the weekend during the junior doctors' national strike. District health boards agreed to the rate with the senior doctors' union solely for this five-day strike. Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell yesterday confirmed the $200-an-hour payment to senior doctors working week-nights or weekends when they would not normally do so. If on call but not at work, they received $75 an hour. On strike weekdays, specialists qualified for up to $400 a day extra if the strike increased the intensity of their normal work.

SH1 & SH4 closed.

The cold snap has closed state highways across the central North Island. Desert Road is now closed - sow and icy conditions have taken a firm hold of State Highway 1 between Rangipo and Waiouru. The weather has also taken control of State Highway 4, between National Park and Raetihi: it too is now closed. In Taranaki, Transit is advising drivers to take extreme care on State Highway 3 between Stratford and Inglewood.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Party-goers dance till dawn.

Over 500 people gathered on Godley Head near Christchurch on Saturday night for the eighth annual Winter Soulstice Dance Party. Party-goers were treated to a variety of Christchurch artists ranging from drum and bass acts to hip hop. Organiser Marcus Puentener said the event, which ran from 8pm Saturday until 10am yesterday, went smoothly, and the weather stayed clear for most of it. Set around World War 2 bunkers on a Department of Conservation site, the event has been running since 1998.
Source:The Press

Clapton to headline Mission Estate concert.

Some of rock's best-known guitar solos will ring out across Hawke's Bay in January as Eric Clapton headlines the annual Mission Estate concert. Clapton's 2006-07 world tour starts in Europe next month and takes in North America before heading down-under. Clapton is touring with the Robert Cray Band in support, but it is not known whether that act will also play. Mission Estate chief executive Peter Holley would not confirm Clapton's booking, saying only: "There's a lot of rumours going around." The official announcement of the January 27 concert will be made today at 1pm.
Source: Dominion Post

Sunday, June 18

Driving tests for older drivers to be abolished.

The Government today confirmed a key election pledge – the scrapping of the mandatory driving test for older drivers every two years. Drivers had been required to pass a medical test at age 75 and 80, and pass an on-road driving test every two years past the age of 80. But Prime Minister Helen Clark and two of her ministers announced today that from December 4, the on-road driving test will be abolished and drivers will only need a medical certificate to renew their licence. Under the new system drivers will be required to get a medical certificate at age 75, 80, 82 and every two years after that, showing they are fit to drive.

Anger as big freeze worsens.

By Jo McCarroll and Martha McKenzie-Minifie
South Island residents still without power were angry yesterday at the slow response to their plight. As the big freeze entered its sixth day, thousands were still without electricity - some without water or telephones - with many facing weeks before lines are fixed. "People could have died out here and no one would have known," said Graeme Hunter from Waipopo, a small community near Timaru. " ... we didn't hear from anyone outside the area until the Red Cross got here on Thursday. And now we've been told the power could be off for another three weeks. In rural areas, you expect a power cut for a day or two in the winter, but to me it seems ridiculous in this day and age that it will take three weeks to get things running again." MetService predicted more wintry blasts for the South Island today, which could bring snow as low as 300m in Canterbury. Thunderstorms and hail were forecast for the North Island, a repeat of yesterday's weather when lightning struck North Shore Hospital, cutting off power and forcing it to use a back-up generator.

Saturday, June 17

Rugby-Win for the All Blacks 27-17 over Ireland.

The All Blacks have survived a tight tussle with the Irish at Eden Park. They have come away 27-17 winners in a rain-drenched performance under lights in Auckland. It completes a two-nil series win for the New Zealanders over the touring Irish. They won the match 34-23 in Hamilton last weekend.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Rugby-Maori play Scotland 'A' in final

An unchanged Maori rugby team has been named for tomorrow morning's Churchill Cup final against Scotland "A" in Edmonton, Canada. The same 15 which beat Ireland "A" takes to the field. There is one change on the bench, where Southland's Pehi Te Whare replaces Wellington's Corey Jane. The match kicks off at 8.30am tomorrow our time.
© 2006 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Waitomo wind farm given green light.

Local authorities in Waikato have given the go-ahead for a 22-turbine wind farm in Waitomo. They have approved resource consent for the farm near Taharoa, on the southern edge of Kawhia Harbour, on the West Cost of the North Island. The Waikato Regional Council says while the proposal by Ventus Energy requires significant earthworks in a steep area, adverse environmental impacts can be avoided if the site is designed and built carefully.

Singapore PM arrives for visit.

Singapore's Prime Minister arrives on Saturday for a five-day visit and bi-lateral talks. Lee Hsien Loong gets to Auckland on Saturday afternoon and is due to attend the All Blacks versus Ireland game at Eden Park on Saturday night with the Prime Minister, Helen Clark. A free trade agreement with Singapore came into force in 2001 and it is now New Zealand's eighth largest trading partner.

How Bizarre: From Otara Millionaire to bankrupt.

By Simon Collins
His song How Bizarre was the biggest-selling New Zealand record ever, lifting Pauly Fuemana far from his Otara roots. Between 1995 and 2000, his ironically named Otara Millionaires Club (OMC) label lived up to its billing - selling almost 4 million records worldwide and earning him, by one estimate, about $1.5 million. But 10 days ago, he was judged bankrupt. His house on the North Shore and other assets have been sold, and Official Assignee David Harte is looking into how his continuing royalties can be used to repay his personal creditors.

Overdue sloop found, heading to Whangarei.

A sloop from Australia which had been missing for several days in the Tasman Sea has been found. The eight-metre yacht Beastie, crewed by a father and son, was three days overdue on a crossing from Gladstone, Queensland, to Nelson. The skipper radioed in their position this morning after the Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCC) had appealed for vessels in the area to notify them of any sightings, National Radio reported today.

Friday, June 16

NZers in trouble overseas prompts safety campaign.

More and more New Zealanders are finding themselves in trouble abroad, prompting a campaign aimed at making travellers better prepared. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said requests for help from New Zealanders overseas almost trebled over the six years to June 30, 2005 – rising from 2500 to 7000. Foreign Minister Winston Peters said many were caught up in unforseeable events such as natural disasters, but for others it was a simple case of insufficient planning. Useful information was contained on a new website The website also linked to a new registration database, which allowed people to register their travel details so they could be quickly contacted in case of an emergency.

Planned aquarium creates a storm.

A proposed multi-million dollar aquarium is meant to be a focal point for Wellington's south coast, but instead it is dividing a community. It is agreed that the proposal is a good idea, but locals say they don't want it on their doorstep. Wellington's Te Raukaihau Point is a wild piece of New Zealand's coastline, but plans to build the $20 million aquarium there has angered local residents. "When this aquarium is built it's going to suburbanise," says local resident Coral Hyam. The proposed aquarium will have a large carpark, cafe and restaurant, and part of it will go underground. The plan is to use it for educational tours for schools as well as an attraction for the public.
Source:One News

Sanctuary supporters vow to fight.

Two Wellington MPs from opposite sides of parliament are vowing to keep the pressure on the government over its decision to deny funding to the city's Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. Cabinet recently knocked back a request for a $6 million grant towards a proposed visitors centre at the sanctuary. Wellington Central Labour MP, Marian Hobbs, has found herself at odds with party colleagues over the issue. On Thursday, she visibly swore in parliament as a government minister defended the decision to deny the sanctuary funding. Hobbs later backed away from her outburst, but she says she is committed to pursuing the matter, although not in the public eye.

Have a banana, mate.

New Zealand has ended a decade-old ban on importing Australian bananas, restoring Australia's sole export market for the fruit. The ban had been in place since a 1995 outbreak of papaya fruit fly. The outbreak was eradicated in 1999, but New Zealand maintained the ban because it was believed green bananas acted as a host for the flies. Australian Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran said recent research showed that was not the case.
Copyright © 2006, APN Holdings NZ Ltd.

Meningitis in retreat after mass vaccination, says ministry.

The national immunisation programme to attack New Zealand's meningococcal B epidemic has slashed cases of the disease. South Auckland hospitals say it is now rare for children to turn up with the disease, compared with the three or four cases turning up every week a few years ago. Ministry of Health figures show that between 2003 and last year, the number of cases of the epidemic strain in Auckland and Northland fell 76 per cent. Vaccination began in July 2004.

Drunk yachtie 'threw wife overboard'.

An inebriated yachtie allegedly threw his wife overboard near Paihia in the Bay of Islands when she complained about his drinking. Kawakawa police Senior Constable Pat Davies said the two, aged 56 and 49, had moored their boat off Paihia but had begun arguing at about 2am. "The wife told the husband that he had had enough to drink. He didn't think so and started throwing her stuff off the boat. He told her, 'You're next', and threw her off the boat," Mr Davies said. While in the water, the woman had reportedly heard her partner laughing on deck. She had climbed into a dinghy at the end of the catamaran and rowed to shore where she saw a policeman.
She stayed elsewhere for the night.

Mideast visa-free status reviewed.

By Ruth Berry
The Government is reviewing the visa-free status of Middle Eastern countries amid increased concerns about security threats from the region. Immigration Minister David Cunliffe revealed the rethink during a select committee yesterday, where he was grilled about how deported pilot Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali was able to get into the country. Ali was born in Yemeni, but was a resident of Saudi Arabia and was deported there on May 30 because of his links to the September 11 terrorists. He entered New Zealand on a student visa and did not come through the visa-free arrangement. But when asked about the robustness of immigration procedures, Mr Cunliffe told Parliament's foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee yesterday "there was a wave of making countries visa-free in the 1990s which include a number of Arab countries, which I think I'm prepared to say we're having a bit of a look at in the new security environment".
A total of 53 countries have the visa-free status.

Lock up your grannies, NZ's rock veterans go on tour.

New Zealand rock stars from the 1950s to the 1980s are to dust off their blue suede slippers for a nationwide tour. Johnny Devlin and The Tornadoes, Ray Columbus, Sharon O'Neill, Shane, Larry Morris and Tom Sharplin will play the Best of the Best tour. They will set out on an 11-event tour in Timaru on August 10. "Together they've had more hits than a heavyweight boxer - they are the heavyweights of New Zealand's rock music scene and they're celebrating 50 years of rock'n' roll," pre-tour billing stated. Promoter Ian Magan of Pacific Entertainment said the special show would celebrate the 50th anniversary of rock'n' roll in New Zealand.

Lights start coming back on in Canterbury.

Power supplies are slowly coming back to inland Canterbury as Civil Defence musters the help of the army to help reach people still cut off by heavy snow. Last night power company Orion reported that around 1000 customers had been reconnected, leaving another 1000 to get through the night in the dark. Spokesman Rob Jamieson says customers in high country areas near Arthur's Pass and Castle Hill have now had their power supplies restored and they are working hard on other areas. He says they still have quite a lot of work to do around Springfield and the top of the Rakaia River. And for one community north of Timaru, it will be weeks until its power is restored.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Ethics of striking doctors questioned.

Junior doctors are being accused of eroding 2000 years of ethics by striking. A five-day stopwork by 2500 junior doctors is in its second day. A group of about 20 doctors including the New Zealand president of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians has written a letter to the Press newspaper highlighting their concerns. They say the strike is undermining the ethical standards that have evolved since the time of Hippocrates and have concerns this lesser standard will be incorporated into doctors ethics in the future. They have also slammed the New Zealand Medical Association and the country's educational facilities who are supposed to install ethics in junior doctors for not commenting on this.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Digital TV plans called a subsidy.

A subsidy for TV broadcasters is how the Greens see plans for digital television. The Government has unveiled a $75 million plan which will see digital TV phased in across the country over the next six to 10 years. Green Party Broadcasting spokeswoman Sue Kedgley says broadcasters are effectively being subsidised by allowing them free access to digital channels for the transition period.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Cheaper doctors' visits could be announced today.

Forty five to 64-year-olds should know today if they will be getting cheaper doctors' visits from next month.
GPs have been unhappy that the subsidies come with a condition that they agree to have their fees regulated. A final formal negotiation meeting between DHBs and PHOs began yesterday at the doctors' request. GPs forum head Dr Peter Foley says after eight hours of talks yesterday, progress has been made by both sides.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

F&P buys into European cookware market.

Fisher and Paykel Appliances is spending more than $150 million buying into the European market. It has bought Italian cookware maker Elba. The firm makes free-standing cookers and built-in ovens and cooktops. F&P hopes earnings from Europe will outstrip Australasia within five years.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Te Papa (National Museum) fails in bid to buy kiwi.

Two silver kiwi given by New Zealand as a wedding gift to Princess Margaret appear destined for an overseas collector after Te Papa failed to buy them at auction. The two kiwi sold for E36,000 ($NZ106,000) – more than 40 times their valuation – at a London auction. Te Papa spokesman Paul Brewer would not say how much the museum bid but the sum was significantly less than the sale price.

Thursday, June 15

Abortion rate drops for second year.

The number of abortions has dropped for the second year in a row, Statistics New Zealand said today. There were 17,530 induced abortions in 2005, down 3.7 per cent from 2004. The abortion rate was 19.7 abortions per 1000 women, down from 20.5 in 2004. Women aged 20 to 24 had the highest rate of 37 abortions per 1000 women. The average age of a woman having an abortion was 25.

Kiwi chicks have bumper season.

It has been a bumper breeding season for captive kiwi. A hundred and thirty-five chicks have been successfully hatched and reared over the last year, up from just over 100 last year. The Conservation Department says despite the success, New Zealand's national icon is still under threat. National kiwi coordinator Paul Jansen says in unmanaged areas the kiwi population declines by 6 percent a year.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Testing demanded for primary schools.

There is a drive to get the education system in line with overseas countries. It comes as a Parliamentary Select Committee begins an inquiry into why 20 percent of students are failing within the school system. National's education spokesman Bill English says New Zealand is one of the few countries that doesn't have national standards for judging if primary students can read, write, or do maths.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Army mobilised to help in Canterbury.

Civil Defence is mobilising the army to help out Canterbury which is struggling to get power back to inland communities and farms. A couple of thousand Cantabrians are still without power and telecommunications this morning and there is growing concern that some isolated people are running out of food and water. The situation has been made worse by the prediction of another snow storm, expected to hit the province on Sunday.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

MPs vote to open up Easter Sunday trading.

Parliament has opened the door to the relaxing of Easter shop trading hours. MPs have voted 80 to 38 to allow a private member's bill from Rotorua's Steve Chadwick to proceed. It would permit trading on Easter Sunday, present laws only allow shops in some areas to open. The proposed legislation would allow councils to ask their communities if they want to trade.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

Digital platfrom to be announced by Government.

The Government will unveil plans for free digital television later today. Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey will reveal details of what will be called Freeview. TVNZ, Canwest and other broadcasters will make their channels available for free. However users will have to pay for a set-top box separate to their Sky decoder. They will also probably have to install a new aerial or satellite dish. The new service is expected to be available some time next year.
© 2006 Newstalk ZB News

NZ's royal wedding gift fetches nearly $108,000.

A pair of silver kiwi - New Zealand's wedding gift to Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon - fetched £36,000 ($NZ107,800) at auction in London overnight. Auctioneers Christie's had estimated the kiwi, designed by Professor John Simpson of the Canterbury University arts school, would sell for up to £900. Christie's spokeswoman Christina Freyberg declined to say who had bought the kiwi, citing company policy, but confirmed the proceeds from the kiwi's sale would go to charity. The New Zealand Government had raised concerns with Buckingham Palace when it learned that the wedding present, given to the royal couple when they married in 1960, was going up for auction with another 46 state gifts. The late Princess Margaret's children, Lord Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto, said the sale of her jewellery, furniture and other possessions was to pay off inheritance taxes of more than £3 million.

Treaty claim deadline creeps into law.

An end to the Treaty settlement process is a symbolic step closer after the Government quietly introduced legislation setting a 2008 deadline for lodging historical claims. In a sign of sensitivity within Labour's ranks about the issue, the deadline was slipped into omnibus legislation tabled in Parliament this week without fanfare. A furious National yesterday questioned the Government's motives in "hiding" the deadline in legislation that contained other changes unacceptable to the Opposition, including a clause retrospectively validating hundreds of Maori Land Court decisions that may otherwise be tossed out.
Source: Dominion Post

Wednesday, June 14

Southerners face third powerless day.

Civil defence workers are trying to get into isolated areas of Canterbury to establish how many people remain cut off following the snow storm there. Phone services are down for more than 3,000 people in rural hill areas of south Canterbury and thousands in central and southern areas remain without power. Canterbury's emergency management planner, Jon Mitchell, says Civil Defence teams are using four wheel drive vehicles to reach people they haven't been able to contact. He says efforts are being co-ordinated with farmers, who are using helicopters to identify the worst hit areas. Between 4,000 and 5,000 Canterbury residents began their third day without electricity on Wednesday.

Speed dating challenge attracts plenty of interest.

Organisers of a "speed-dating" challenge involving three-minute dates say they have been swamped with over 700 applications for only 200 places. The Colgate Max Fresh challenge involves 50 males and 50 females meeting each other for three minutes at venues in both Auckland and Christchurch on June 22. If one takes an instant shine to the other they put a tick next to their name on a card, which is analysed at the end of the night. Those at each venue with the most ticks win trips to Vanuatu.

Nuclear bunker built in Christchurch.

A Japanese man has built an underground bunker, capable of withstanding a nuclear strike, in the garden of his Christchurch home. Despite not living in the Avonhead house, Reiitsu Anamizu has built a 44sq m concrete bunker with armoured blast-proof doors designed to Swiss Civil Defence standards – thought to be some of the toughest in the world. Resource consent was granted last year after the city council advised Anamizu's agents that it would be needed because the building exceeded the council's 9m length limit. Agents and lawyers who completed the resource consent on behalf of Anamizu last year said they did not know if he intended to live in the house. They had not been in contact with him for some time.
Source:The Press


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