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

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Thursday, January 31

NZ scientists create tear-free onions

A tiresome kitchen chore is set to become a cook's delight thanks to ground-breaking work by New Zealand scientists on the onion. They have sliced and diced to the vegetable's genetic core and its cut out the all-annoying tear factor. But six years of research may put an end to the tears. "What we have here is onions, which when you cut them they won't make you cry," says Colin Eady, a senior scientist. Lincoln scientists working with a team in Japan believe they have cracked the genetic code, switching off the enzyme onions produce to make people cry.
Source:One News

3-week-old meerkats play at Auckland Zoo

Three meerkat kittens came out to play at Auckland Zoo this afternoon. The three-week-old meerkats are the first to be born in New Zealand. Today they ventured out of the den to explore their enclosure under the watchful eye of both parents. They are so small that their gender cannot yet be determined. When Umi the mother is not breast-feeding, she is satisfying her own voracious appetite while the father, Mbembe, does the babysitting. The newborns are yet to be named.
Copyright © TVWorks Limited

Royal Commission into global warming sought

There are calls for the New Zealand and Australian governments to set up a Royal Commission inquiry into global warming. A group made up of scientists and members of the New Zealand's Climate Science Coalition and the Australian Carbon Sense Coalition are alarmed at plans by both governments to introduce carbon taxes. New Zealand Climate Coalition secretary, Terry Dunleavy, says no one can deny climate change, but what he and fellow supporters are questioning is the cause of global warming. He says there is no valid, verifiable scientific proof that excessive carbon levels are to blame. Mr Dunleavy says an independent inquiry is needed to establish if there is any scientific fact to claims of carbon dioxide emissions having a negative effect. He fears unnecessary carbon taxes could decimate the main industries such as agriculture and mining.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Aging rockers Duran Duran coming back to Auckland

Poster boys Duran Duran are coming to New Zealand for a one-night-only performance in Auckland. They will play Vector Arena on March 26. The band broke out in 1981 and had a smash hit with Girls on Film
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

300 doctors leave for Australia each year

Nearly 300 New Zealand doctors a year move to Australia, the New Zealand Resident Doctors' Association (NZRDA) says. NZRDA general secretary Deborah Powell said 279 doctors left in 2006 and 253 in 2005 and those figures did not include New Zealand doctors working temporarily in Australia so was "the tip of the iceberg". Because New Zealand graduates approximately 300 doctors a year, these statistics suggest that we are exporting as many as we are qualifying," Dr Powell said. "We are obviously not offering suitable remuneration to keep doctors here and what is being offered in Australia is too attractive for our young doctors, with big student debts, to ignore." Dr Powell said a fifth year registrar in New South Wales earned around $102,800 a year, while the same registrar would earn just $66,200 in New Zealand.

Thais block 'human zoo' refugees from moving to NZ

A United Nations official is accusing Thai authorities of barring a group of 20 Burmese refugees from resettling in New Zealand because they are a "human zoo" tourist attraction in a remote area of Thailand. Foreign tourists visiting villages in Mae Hong Son, near the border with Myanmar, pay to see and photograph Padaung women who from the age of five wear brass coiled rings around their necks to give them a giraffe-like appearance. But the BBC has quoted a UN High Commissioner for Refugees regional spokeswoman, Kitty McKinsey, as saying Thai authorities have refused to allow 20 Padaung to leave the country, despite firm offers to resettle them in New Zealand and Finland. "The Thai authorities are treating them in a special way," she told the BBC, pointing out that some 20,000 other Burmese refugees had recently been allowed to move to third countries. One of the Padaung women, Zember, 23, has removed her neck rings in protest after being told two years ago she and her family had been accepted for resettlement, only to be prevented from leaving Thailand.

Warm, late summer for NZ

Summer is expected to stick around this year with hot, dry conditions through to April. Niwa's National Climate Centre's Jim Salinger said it would be a bonus for sun worshippers, but a problem for farmers who are battling extremely dry soil conditions. He said most of the central and upper North Island and parts of Marlborough, Canterbury and Southland were in need of a few days steady rain to revive pastures and boost rivers.

Pumpkins, Queens to tour NZ

Reformed alternative rock act the Smashing Pumpkins have joined forces with Queens of the Stone Age for a three-date New Zealand tour in March. The bands will play Wellington's TSB Arena on March 20, Auckland's Vector Arena on March 22 and Christchurch's Westpac Arena on March 24. Both acts will head to Australia after their New Zealand tour to perform four dates at the V Festival.

Rare red panda cub birth at Wellington Zoo

The endangered red panda cub was born to proud parents Isha and Amy just after Christmas. The pandas are only fertile one day a year, so it's a rare and exciting birth, said keeper Paul Horton. "Red panda cubs are fairly fragile and one of Amy's cubs was small and did not survive. The other is still going strong though, and it's holed up with its mother in a nest box in the panda enclosure." Red pandas are a mysterious and rare breed originating from mountainous parts of Asia. Only 2500 exist around the world. The cub won't be on display for at least another month to let the mother and cub grow strong.

Canterbury university to axe jobs, courses

American studies, along with the theatre and film programmes, will be axed at Canterbury University under cuts proposed for its College of Arts. A document released yesterday proposes cutting the number of schools within the college from 12 to eight. American studies and theatre and film studies, which are not considered to be core programmes, would be dropped at the end of this year, with the loss of 13.5 full-time equivalent academics and eight general staff. The suggested cuts would save the $2.5 million annually that the college needs to stay financially viable.

Wednesday, January 30

Australia to apologize to Aborigines

CANBERRA, Australia - Australia will issue its first formal apology to the country's indigenous people next month, a senior minister said Wednesday, a milestone that could ease tensions with a minority once subjected to policies including the removal of mixed-blood children from families on the premise that their race was doomed. The Feb. 13 apology to the so-called "stolen generation" of Aborigines will be the first item of business for the new Parliament, Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, whose Labor Party won November elections, had promised to push for an apology, which has been debated in Australia for years. "The apology will be made on behalf of the Australian government and does not attribute guilt to the current generation of Australian people," Macklin said in a statement.

Tonga leader urges higher US profile in the Pacific

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 30, 2008) – Tonga's prime minister wants the United States to play a greater role in the South Pacific. Doctor Fred Sevele has just returned from a visit to the United States, where he visited the Commander of the US Pacific Command in Honolulu, Admiral Timothy Keating. Dr Sevele has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program he would like the United States to boost its diplomatic and aid presence in the South Pacific. "The United States has been a friend of Tonga for years...of course, they were in Tonga during World War Two, and our older people still remember them as our protector, as our defender as they did in other parts of the Pacific," he said. The visit comes amid renewed interest from China and Taiwan in the Pacific region, with visits from senior figures and aid money turning the region into a diplomatic and political battleground.

Too many checks make online bank customers uneasy

Bank customers are made uneasy by multiple online security checks, according to a new study. The research suggests complex log-in systems are safer, but may make customers think a bank's security is lax. Though it is common for New Zealand banks to require only two log-in steps, those throughout Asia often require up to eight. Massey University's consumer testing of 100 people found the more security checks in place, the less safe customers feel about their online banking.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Jobs to go at Postie Plus in Westport

Retailer Postie Plus has confirmed it will close its Westport warehouse distribution operation, with the loss of 33 jobs. The company moved most of its West Coast business to Christchurch last year, and says it will save $2 million over three years by completing the relocation from Westport. Postie Plus says it carefully considered the move after receiving a petition from the local community and an offer to build a new warehouse. However, it says freight costs and other benefits of moving south means it is no longer viable to remain in Westport. Another 32 jobs will be lost in the region when the Coastpine sawmill in Reefton closes. Buller District Mayor Pat McManus says no redundancies are good, but the employment market is very buoyant.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Cannabis lung cancer risk equal to 20 cigarettes

New Zealand scientists have found that smoking one joint of cannabis has the same lung cancer risk as smoking a pack of cigarettes. The study by the Medical Research Institute suggests that cannabis smoke contains twice as many cancer-causing chemicals as that from ordinary tobacco cigarettes. Its says the risk is aggravated by the way most joints are smoked, usually without an adequate filter and often right to the tip. The institute's director, Professor Richard Beasley, says the study also found that people who start smoking cannabis from a younger age are at more risk of lung cancer than those who start later in life.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Artifacts stolen from archeological dig

Thieves have stolen artifacts from an archeological dig at a locked site in central Auckland. The items were taken from the Chatham Building in Pitt St after the thieves illegally excavated an old well. It is believed they got away with a large haul. Items left behind include bits of leather shoes, ceramics and ornaments dating to the pre-1900s. The Historic Places Trust is calling it a crime against archaeology and theft of our cultural heritage.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Fiji Chiefs call for ban on kava,alcohol (solving social issues the Fijian way)

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Jan. 28, 2008)
Chiefs in central Fiji have placed a ban on the drinking of kava and alcohol for the next three years so their people can have more time for sex. According to the Fiji Times, the Lomaiviti Provincial Council’s ban, which begins this month, also prohibits the smoking of cigarettes for the latter two weeks of every month. Lomaiviti Provincial Council chairman Ratu Jolame Lewanavanua told the daily newspaper, the council made the decision out of concern for the low number of children at the 15 schools in the province, particularly for classes one and two. Apart from urban drift and schools being close to each other for certain villages, the council noted that the main reason for the decline was that couples were not conceiving. Ratu Jolame said married and single men spent too much time drinking ‘yaqona’ [kava] and went straight to sleep when they got home. He said the council hoped the ban would help improve the daily, spiritual, educational and financial life of people in the province and see more children being born in the three-year period. The Fiji Times reported, the council may also consider encouraging less use of condoms in the province to boost population growth in the villages. According to the Ministry of Health Director Public Health Dr. Timaima Tuiketei, condom use in the province increased steadily from 18.35 percent in 2004 to 41.1 percent in 2005 to 47.3 percent in 2006, the report said.
Copyright © 2007 FijiTV

Anderton to visit drought-hit farms

Farmers in drought stricken areas of New Zealand are welcoming a visit from the government. Many farmers on the east coast of both islands and a number of other parts of the country are reportedly worried about the situation. Some of the lowest rainfall on record was recorded in winter 2007 on the east coast of the North Island, which has been followed by a hot, dry summer. Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton is planning a visit to a number of regions around the country as drought sets in.
Source: Newstalk ZB/One News

Luxury lodge to close

One of New Zealand's most luxurious resorts - The Lodge at Paratiho Farms -- is to close its doors at the end of March. Owned by wealthy Americans Sally Hunt and her late husband Robert, it was placed on the market in September for sale as a going concern or as a private home. The lodge, an 809ha farm, chattels and some of the art collection housed there are for sale for $22 million. Sales and marketing manager Victoria Bruce-Miller told the Nelson Mail the stresses and the strains of owning and running the lodge were getting too much for Mrs Hunt who is now 76-years-old. About 35 staff would be offered redundancy when the lodge, at Ngatimoti, south west of Motueka, closed on March 31. Opened in 1999 , the Lodge at Paratiho Farms has been consistently rated as one of the world's finest lodges.

Britain honours land girls with badge

Britain is to issue a badge for all surviving Women's Land Army and Timber Corp survivors, a number of whom migrated to New Zealand, who worked on the home front in World Wars I and II to provide food and timber for the country. Applicants will need to supply date of birth, approximate dates of service in the Women's Land Army or Women's Timber Corps and the location at which they were stationed. Details can be found at

Does the taxman owe you money?

Instead of handing money to the taxman this year, the taxman may be handing money to you. The IRD has posted the names of 12,000 groups and individuals with unclaimed money owing to them, on its website. The money's not unpaid tax refunds, but funds from insurance companies or unpresented cheques and wages that hasn't been touched for six years. Some of the 100,000 unclaimed amounts involve as much as $18,000 - and the total is more than $41 million. IRD Acting deputy commissioner Heather Daily they'll be double-checking people's identity before handing over the cash.
Copyright © TVWorks Limited

Six killed in Fiji cyclone

The death toll in Fiji from Tropical Cyclone Gene is reported to be as high as six. There have been widespread power and water outages throughout the country, and people are going without basic services in parts of both Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. The cyclone's destructive winds, gusting up to 150 kilometres an hour, have destroyed buildings in some areas. The worst affected regions appear to be Labasa, in Vanua Levu's north, and other communities in the island's southwest.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Labour will lift school leaving age to 18

Prime Minister Helen Clark says young people will be required to stay in school or another form of education or training until the age of 18. Miss Clark is in the midst of outlining details of the new policy in her first major speech of election year in Auckland. She says a low skills base stops New Zealand from growing the value of the economy and lifting living standards to their full potential. Miss Clark is also announcing a new Youth Apprenticeship, which will allow students to work towards trades and industry qualifications while still at school.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Tuesday, January 29

Warning after boy drowns at Napier

Napier police are warning people not to swim at Marine Parade after the notorious stretch of water claimed the life of a five-year-old boy. Police say the boy was playing at the water's edge when a large wave swamped him and dragged him out. His distraught mother sat helplessly as ambulance workers tried unsuccessfully to revive him.
Source:One News

Air Force to keep eye on Japanese whalers

Prime Minister Helen Clark says the Air Force will monitor and photograph any activity by Japanese whalers in New Zealand's Antarctic waters. The Government last week released photographs taken from an Orion flight showing the whalers were moving toward the Ross Sea. Miss Clark says the Air Force makes regular flights to the Ross Sea - an area of New Zealand's search and rescue responsibility. "The instruction from the Government to the Air Force is that if they have any inkling that the Japanese whaling fleet is in the vicinity, they are to photograph it and we will release the photographic evidence, as we did last week." Miss Clark says New Zealand has been a vocal critic of Japan's whaling in the Southern Ocean. Japan intends to kill 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales in the Southern Ocean this summer, despite international criticism.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

World Buskers' Festival may need new home

New Zealand may lose the World Buskers' Festival. This year the ten day Christchurch-based festival only broke even, despite drawing in bigger crowds. Organiser Jodi Wright wants to be able to secure enough funding to grow the festival next year. She is not confident she will be able to do that in Christchurch, or even New Zealand. Ms Wright says she has not thought about an alternative, but would prefer to keep the event in Christchurch if possible.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Tropical Cyclone Gene now moving to Vanuatu

Tropical Cyclone Gene flatten houses and brought down powerlines overnight on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu. Tropical cyclone Gene is now heading west of Fiji, and is likely to hit Vanuatu. Fiji’s metservice says at the moment the storm is 100-kilometres to the west of Nadi. It says Gene has become slow moving, and is expected to gradually turn and move towards Vanuatu.
© RNZI 2004

Union says class sizes still too big

The Post Primary Teachers Association says secondary students are returning to large classes again this year despite a government promise to reduce numbers to a maximum of 25 students. Union president Robin Duff says under the secondary teachers' collective agreement, the government has given a guarantee to make class sizes smaller, but he claims it is not moving fast enough. He says many schools will be opening next week with class sizes larger than 25 and there will be funding implications which need to be included in the budgets that are about to be set for the coming year.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Asian buyers snapping up Karaka horses

Hong Kong buyers are out in force at the Karaka national yearling sales south of Auckland. New Zealand Blood Stock Manager Petrea Vela says they usually buy 10 or so horses but snapped up 13 on the first day. She says organisers have been blown away with sales, with one horse going for $900,000. Ms Vela says the magical seven figure sale has not been reached yet, but there are strong lots going again today. Forty-seven offspring of Sir Patrick Hogan's star sire Zabeel are up for sale this year.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Medsafe approves 2nd vaccine against cervical cancer

A second vaccine against cervical cancer has been approved for use by the Medicines Safety Authority. Gardasil, made by the drug company Merck, has been available privately to women for just over a year, and it'll be joined by Cervarix. Radio New Zealand's health correspondent says 60 women die each year in New Zealand from cervical cancer, caused by the human papilloma virus, HPV. Gardasil and Cervarix both protect against the two types of HPV responsible for more than 70% of cervical cancers. GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Cervarix, says it's just received Medsafe approval for the vaccine for women aged between 10 and 45 years, but has given no indication what it'll cost.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Temporary permit granted for witness to testify in illegal work case

A Vietnamese ship jumper has told the Napier District Court that he's been given permission to temporarily live and work in New Zealand, in return for giving evidence in a number of cases. Depositions are being heard against four Hawke's Bay businessmen who jointly face over 100 charges under the Immigration Act. They are charged with aiding and abetting people to remain in New Zealand unlawfully and that they did it for material benefit. The witness, Van Hoa Bui, says he was arrested in February 2006 for working illegally on orchards and deported to Vietnam. Early last year, an immigration officer asked him to return to New Zealand and give evidence in court. Since arriving last March, he's been able to live and work in the Nelson region and send money back to his family.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Trans Tasman bridge to bridge rowing challenge announced

A New Zealand team has challenged Australia to a rowing race across the Tasman using the harbour bridges of Sydney and Auckland as the start and finish lines. The challenge was announced by Rob Hamill, winner of the inaugural Atlantic Rowing Race in 1997. The race is scheduled for March 2009. A four person New Zealand team is aiming to use a 10 metre boat. If the weather conditions are right, Hamill says it should take the participants between two and three weeks to complete the race.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Key says Army could provide residential training for young criminals

National Party leader John Key is proposing tougher sentences for young offenders, including three months training at an Army base. In a "state of the nation" speech in Ellerslie on Tuesday, Mr Key said National would fund fresh start programmes for teenage offenders. He said the programmes would last up to a year, including three months of residential training. The Army could work with others to provide these programmes. Mr Key said it would be compulsory for the offender to participate when a fresh start sentence is imposed. It could be based on a limited service volunteers scheme already run by the Army at the Burnham Army Base for unemployed young people
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Man drowns saving children at Northland beach

A man has drowned at a Northland beach while saving a group of children caught in a rip. The 67-year-old Christchurch man swam in to help a group of children who got into trouble at Matapouri Bay, northeast of Whangarei, at around 5pm yesterday. The man got the children to safety, but he then got into trouble himself.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Price of steel leaps

A 25 percent jump in the cost of scrap metal in the last month has led Pacific Steel to increase the price of all its steel reinforcing and wire products by 12 percent. The unprecedented price rise is being attributed to booming demand for steel in India and China, a revival of demand in South-East Asia, and a tightening of the supply of scrap metal from large sources such as Russia. Pacific Steel says its products are made entirely from New Zealand-sourced recycled scrap metal, but the price is set by the international market.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Catnapper may be on the loose in Wellington

A cat burglar may be on the prowl in the Wellington suburb of Brooklyn, where five pedigree felines are missing. Ann Rolinson from Brooklyn's Central Vet Hospital says the missing cats included Siamese, Balinese and British Blues. She says a lot of people are finding new homes for their pets through websites like Trade Me, and thieves may be using them as well. Ms Rolinson says some of the cats are very valuable, with a Siamese fetching up to $400 - $500 and some of the others breeds even more.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Full speed ahead for Cook Strait ferries

The Environment Court has given the thumbs up to new speed guidelines for Cook Strait ferries in the Marlborough Sounds, but granted exemption to three older ships. The guidelines follow concerns about wake from the ferries endangering small boats and causing damage to the seabed, beaches and wharfs. The court upheld Marlborough District Council's proposal that any operator wanting to sail a ship over 500 gross metric tonnes in excess of 15 knots had to apply for resource consent so its bow waves could be tested against an environmental impact formula.

Monday, January 28

Helen Clark named "Champion of the Earth"

Helen Clark has been named a Champion of the Earth by the United Nations. She is one of six people from around the world to receive the recognition from the UN's Environmental Programme. The UN says Helen Clark has received the award because of her efforts to adapt to the global impact of climate change. It says the six recipients have spearheaded outstanding initiatives in many different areas, including environmental policy with a focus on sustainable development. Previous winners of the UN's Champion of the Earth include former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and former US vice-president, Al Gore.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Tropical Cyclone Gene heads for Fiji

A depression that is looming near Fiji has just been declared a tropical cyclone and named Gene by the Nadi Weather Office. People living in low lying areas are being warned to take precaution as heavy rainfall is predicted for today, which could cause flash flooding. Duty Weather forecasters say the category 1 tropical cyclone was located 20km West-North-West of Cikobia earier this morning. The system is moving South-West at 15 kilometres per hour.
© RNZI 2004

Uruguay farming investor lists on NZX 50

The newly-listed New Zealand Farming Systems Uruguay has been promoted to the main board of the New Zealand stock exchange. The company listed on 18 December and its market value of $340 million was high enough to allow it to take a place on the NZX 50 on Friday. New Zealand Farming Systems Uruguay owns 30,980 hectares of farmland there and intends to boost its holdings to 50,000 hectares. The company is a subsidiary of PGG Wrightson, which began investing in Uruguay six years ago.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Foreign Affairs Minister to visit Antarctica

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters travels to Antarctica on Tuesday for a three-day visit. He will visit the New Zealand research station Scott Base, historic explorer huts, the Mount Erebus crash site, and the US base at McMurdo. Mr Peters will also unveil a plaque to commemorate the Antarctic Drilling project, which recovered sediment and rock cores from McMurdo Sound.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Court hearing begins on illegal worker charges

A depositions hearing has started in the Napier District Court for four businessmen who jointly face 100 charges under the Immigration Act. They're charged with aiding and abetting people to remain unlawfully in New Zealand. Police arrested the men, three of whom are described as company directors, in December 2006 following an extensive Department of Labour operation in Hawke's Bay and Nelson-Marlborough. The operation gathered information on employers suspected of assisting people from overseas to work illegally on orchards and vineyards between September 2004 and December 2006.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Nauru fisherman survive 11 days at seas after engine fails

Three fishermen from Nauru, who survived 11-days at sea after their engine broke down on a day trip, are finally preparing to fly home from the Marshalls. The group had gone out for a fishing trip in their small 14-foot aluminum boat when a strong current whisked them away and their engine failed. It wasn’t until January 13 that they were rescued by a Taiwanese purse seiner fishing near Papua New Guinea after drifting close to 1,600 kilometres southwest of Nauru.
© RNZI 2004

Hydro lakes drying up

A South Island hydrologist says crucial hydro lakes are running low and a few bouts of heavy rainfall is needed to avoid power supply problems over the winter. Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki are at their lowest points since the 1992 power crisis. But Rain Effects hydrologist Dave Stewart two or three decent storms between now and the end of March would bring about a marked improvement. The South Island lakes need to rise by between two and four metres before the beginning of May for the situation to totally ease.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Flying robot to track whales off Australia

A flying robot is to join the fight to save the world's whales by taking part in an aerial survey to count humpbacks off Australia. The remote-controlled drone will patrol waters off Australia's North Stradbroke Island, taking pictures scientists hope will enable them to count the migrating whales, Sydney's Sun-Herald newspaper said. Scientists hope using the five-metre (16-foot) wingspan drone will result in a more accurate estimate of the animals' numbers and help convince Japan to stop its annual whale hunt. Humpbacks form the backbone of a lucrative whale-watching industry in Australia and New Zealand.

Older bus drivers fill shortage

A national shortage of bus drivers is forcing companies to lure older drivers back behind the wheel. A 75-year-old started back on the job in Dunedin this week. For most people, turning 65 means it's time to put your feet up. Instead, 75-year-old Clive Purvis has just started a new job. Purvis is the oldest of more than a dozen bus drivers past the official retirement age at Dunedin Passenger Transport. And the company says without them it would collapse because it's so hard to recruit younger drivers. "It has been a nationwide issue, says Phil Boel of Dunedin Passenger Transport.
Source:One News

Minto rejects South African award

Veteran anti-apartheid campaigner John Minto has rejected a nomination for a prestigious South African award for foreigners, because he is "dismayed" about conditions in the country. Minto was nominated for a Companion of O R Tambo Award by a South African government official, but asked for the bid to be withdrawn. "(South Africa) was the democratic country with so much hope and I think for so many people it's been the deepest of disappointments, and certainly it has been for me," Minto told The Press. In an open letter to South African President Thabo Mbeki, Minto blasted the African National Congress government, which he said had "sidelined" social and economic rights. "When we protested and marched into police batons and barbed wire here in the struggle against apartheid, we were not fighting for a small black elite to become millionaires," Minto wrote.

Job prospects on West Coast

West Coast leaders are divided about the impact business closures will have on people's employment prospects. The Coastpine sawmill in Reefton will close in two months with the loss of 32 jobs. And an announcement is expected on Monday from Postie Plus on whether a distribution centre will leave the district, taking a further 33 jobs. Buller Mayor Pat McManus says says any job losses are a concern, but the district has almost 0% unemployment. But West Coast Development Trust spokesperson Frank Dooley says those who lose their jobs will not automatically walk into a new one. Mr McManus says a new supermarket has just opened which is employing more than 100 people and the tourism season is in full swing with the temporary jobs that brings. He also says coal and gold mining operations are currently looking for workers.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Out-of-pocket investors band together

Investors who have lost money in finance company collapses have banded together to hold a series of meetings throughout the country. The group Exposing Unacceptable Financial Activities is holding a road show talking with burnt investors. The first meeting over a two week period is being held in Orewa on the Hibiscus Coast today and the last will be in Invercargill on February 8. Coordinator Suzanne Edmonds says investors have been treated very shabbily. She says financial advisors are ignoring their clients, receivers do not keep in regular contact and generally investors feel isolated with nowhere to turn.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

New teachers not up to scratch - survey

Most teachers short-listed for positions in Auckland primary schools are not up to scratch, a survey has found. Heads of schools rated 73 per cent of short-listed applicants in November and December as "very poor" or "poor", Auckland Primary Principals' Association staffing survey found. Just under half of the applicants were teachers with less than two years' experience and needed mentoring and a third were applying from overseas. Association president Ken Pemberton said the teacher supply crisis was the worst in about 15 years.

$40m wind farm proposed near Dunedin

The company behind a proposed $40 million wind farm near Dunedin will decide in six months whether to pursue the project. Windpower Maungatua, part-owned by listed company New Zealand Windfarms, wants to build a 40-turbine wind farm close to Mount Maungatua, near the Taieri Plain south of Dunedin, with a 20 megawatt (MW) capacity. New Zealand Windfarms chief executive Chris Freear said wind data collected from a 50m mast at the site over the next six months would give the company enough quality information to make a decision. State power company Meridian Energy's $100m, 29-turbine White Hill farm, near Mossburn, was opened by Prime Minister Helen Clark in June. Meridian also has consent to build a $1.5 billion, 176-turbine farm, called Project Hayes, on Central Otago's Lammermoor Range, 70km north-west of Dunedin. The consent decision has been appealed to the Environment Court. TrustPower's planned $400m, 100-turbine farm north of Lake Mahinerangi, 50km west of Dunedin, has also been appealed to the court.
Source:The Press

Sunday, January 27

Anglers enjoying best salmon season in years

South Island anglers are grabbing their rods and heading to the nearest river in droves, with word that this is one of the best salmon seasons in a decade. Local fishermen say fish are in fine condition, with 10 kilogram specimens in good supply. The word is the Rangitata, Rakaia and Waitaki Rivers are all running, with hundreds of salmon being caught.

Travellers warned to halt automatic bank payments

The Banking Ombudsman says forgotten automatic payments are causing more people to be tagged with a bad credit rating. Liz Brown says some people who leave to travel overseas assume their bank account is in the clear, but return to find payments or direct debit charges are still being applied. She says travellers who do not leave forwarding addresses can have debts passed from banks to collection agencies, which in turn add charges and register the person as having a poor credit history. Ms Brown says anyone travelling overseas for a length of time should close their account.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

NZ documentary wins Sundance prize for editing

A New Zealand-made film has won a prize at the prestigious Sundance Film Awards in the United States. The Auckland documentary-maker Pietra Brettkelly's film The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins took out the top award for editing. The documentary looks at artist Vanessa Beecroft's attempt to adopt twins Madit and Mongor Akot from Sudan.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Long walk for activists

Activists from the Save Happy Valley Coalition are gearing up to march against climate change. They will be walking from Auckland's Sky Tower to the West Coast of the South Island, leaving at 10 on Monday morning. Spokeswoman Heather Simpson's expecting the protest to take more than three months. She says speakers will be highlighting the threat to Happy Valley by the state-owned enterprise Solid Energy. The coalition is angry Solid Energy is building an open-cast mine in the area.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Aquatica benefits from weather

Tens of thousands of Aucklanders are making the most of good weather at the Aquatica08 Harbour Festival. The event celebrates Auckland's sailing heritage and is timed to coincide with Auckland Anniversary Day tomorrow. Organiser Dave Stewart says about 45,000 people have shown up to see a series of free concerts, buskers and street performers. Tonight's headline act is Hello Sailor; sixties British pop group the Searchers will be onstage tomorrow.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Referendum looms on smacking law

By RUTH LAUGESEN - Sunday Star Times
The rancorous smacking debate is set to be reopened this year, with an election day referendum looking increasingly likely. Anti-smacking campaigners are closing in on the number of signatures they need to force the referendum. Family First director Bob McCoskrie said activists have gained 273,000 of the 300,000 signatures needed to trigger a Citizens Initiated Referendum. Activists, including Christians, libertarians and Act supporters, were working hard to get the remaining 30,000 signatures by the March 1 deadline. Using physical force to discipline children became a criminal offence last June after a long and difficult campaign led by Green MP Sue Bradford with Labour's support.

Special birthday celebration held for albatross colony milestone

A special celebration has been held at Otago Peninsula’s Royal Albatross Colony, despite the guest of honour being 8,000 kilometres away. The birthday party was for Toroa, the colony’s 500th royal albatross chick, who hatched at the Taiaroa Head a year ago. Toroa left the Otago Peninsula last September and is now feeding off the coast of Chile. He is one of three young albatross currently being tracked through small satellite transmitters attached to their backs. It is hoped the tracking information will help with providing further protection for the endangered birds.
Copyright © TVWorks Limited

East coast weather warning

An intense tropical cyclone's set to wreak havoc over the next few days along the east coast of New Zealand. The second in just days, the storm is currently a few hundred kilometres off East Cape and is gathering strength. Weather Analyst Philip Duncan says the deep low will create some big seas and dangerous rip tides. He says beaches from East Cape to Banks Peninsula are likely to have dangerous rips and beach goers should take extreme care.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Massey survey names New Zealand's best websites

ASB Bank has been voted New Zealand's number one website in a Massey University survey. The survey, thought to be the first quantitative analysis of the nation's top 50 websites, used 12 internationally-recognised criteria to assess their user-friendliness. ASB Bank was the top performer, scoring 11 out 12. Arch rival phone companies Telecom and Vodafone were second-equal with 10 points each. Fourth-equal with 9.5 points were Trade Me and the University of Otago. Study co-author College of Business associate professor Dennis Viehland said page design and usability were the most important areas to get right.
Fairfax New Zealand Limited 2006.

Former Olympic champ Rob Waddell wins single sculls final

Former Olympic champ, Rob Waddell has again beaten three time world rowing champ, Mahe Drysdale. Waddell beat Drysdale by nearly a second to win the premier single sculls final at the Cambridge Town Cup regatta on Lake Karapiro. Both are rivals for the single sculls berth at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Only one crew can be entered at world championships and the Olympic Games. Both have won three consecutive world championship titles. Waddell also won a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Principal told to hire form-filling consultants

An Otago school principal is flabbergasted the Education Ministry suggested he should pay a consultant, to help him fill out Ministry forms. Nathan Parker is the head of Warrington School near Dunedin where a piece of carpet worth around $2,500 had to be replaced. Mr Parker filled in seven pages of paperwork to get the money back from the ministry, but he says the Ministry got back to him asking for another seven pages of paperwork. He says officials also advised him the forms were tricky and he should hire a consultant to help fill them out.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Samoa warns workers in NZ after alcohol incident

The Samoan Government has issued a warning to Samoans working under the New Zealand government's seasonal scheme after another alcohol related incident. The prime minister's office says anyone stepping out of line will come home. The warning comes after three seasonal workers were sent home last week for "drunken related behaviour". The minstry says the workers were brought home after reports from their employers indicated they were drunk and got into a fight. The seasonal working scheme allows people from various South Pacific countries to work in New Zealand for a short term.

Sawmill to close

The closure of a West Coast sawmill - with the loss of 32 jobs - is being blamed on low timber prices on the international market. The Coastpine sawmill in Reefton will stay open until for a further two months in an to attempt to dispose of the remainder of its stock and pay creditors. A company director, Stephen Hunt, says the whole West Coast timber industry is experiencing difficulties because of low timber prices.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Saturday, January 26

Police issue dangerous sea warning

Dangerous seas have prompted police to issue a warning to swimmers at east coast Coromandel beaches. Whitianga police said today they were concerned at the number of people reported to be getting into difficulties while swimming at the beaches in the present dangerous conditions. Senior Constable Callum McGillivray said he was aware of at least three incidents where people have been rescued from rips at Hahei and that similar conditions existed at all the east coast beaches and were worsening. "Swells of at least 2.5 metres are generating large waves and sweeping, unpredictable rips all along the coast," he said.

"Spy base" protest

The Green Party expects up to 100 people to take part in a protest calling for the closure of the of the Waihopai "spy base" near Blenhiem. The facility is home to the Government Communications Security Bureau and is responsible for collecting intelligence signals. But opponents claim it is part of an international eavesdropping network, feeding data to intelligence agencies in the US and elsewhere, going far beyond its publicly stated remit. Green MP Keith Locke says today's protest aims to show the government that New Zealanders do not trust its assurances about the base's purpose. He says the taxpayer is spending $40 million a year on Waihopai without knowing what really goes on there. Mr Locke claims the base directly involves New Zealand in America's wars.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Christian music festival off to scorching start

New Zealand's largest Christian music festival got off to a scorching start on Saturday, with thousands of music fans braving hot weather to celebrate their faith and music. At the annual Parachute Festival near Hamilton, 170 bands are taking part on nine stages. More than 15,000 people are staying on site. This year's line-up boasts San-Diego band Switchfoot, who will play alongside New Zealand artists including Adeaze, All Left Out and the 2007 Tui Award winner Rapture Ruckus.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Pub saved ahead of Joe Cocker concert

Volunteer firefighters were quick to extinguish a blaze at Waipara Hotel, north of Christchurch, keeping the pub open for business and ready for the influx of people arriving to see Joe Cocker in concert at a nearby winery tonight. Southern Fire communications said units from two stations were sent at about 9am. "When they got there the back of the building was well involved and it spread to the roof area." With four pumps on site by the time it was out, firefighters said the damage was minimal. Cocker is appearing tonight at a concert at Mudhouse Winery in Waipara.
Copyright © TVWorks Limited

Japanese whalers warned

The Prime Minister is warning Japan of the risks its whaling fleet is taking working in the Southern Ocean. An Air Force patrol aircraft has photographed the vessels entering New Zealand-controlled waters off Antarctica. It is understood they have now left, after earlier agreeing to hunt in Australian waters only.
© 2008 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Dabbling in backyard rocket science

An Auckland plasterer has shown you don't have to be a rocket scientist to dabble in a bit of rocket science. Phil Vukovich has built a 2.4 metre rocket in the shed of his North Shore City home and will blast it into the sky in the hopes of beating the current New Zealand altitude record for a rocket. Vukovich says at its peak the rocket will be pushing half a tonne of thrust, propelling the 30 kilogram rocket at nearly two thousand kilometres an hour. The record attempt is planned for some time during March. Vukovich says everything he needed to know to build the rocket was on the internet.
Source: Newstalk ZB

Bowls-Gold for NZ men's four

The New Zealand men's four has won the Black Jack's third gold medal at the World Championships in Christchurch. The fours dominated previously unbeaten Australia 20-10 in the final. Skip Gary Lawson says Australia was the best team all week but his four decided to play them at their game today and it worked. The women's pairs final is underway with New Zealand's Val Smith and Jo Edwards against England.
© 2008 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Big turnaround for Greens in polls

The Green Party has shot up in the latest political opinion poll while gap between National and Labour is narrowing. Today's Herald-Digipoll shows the Greens at 9.1 percent support after failing to even reach the five percent threshold in previous polls. New Zealand First has 2.8 percent, the Maori Party one percent and Act 0.7 percent. National is still well out in front, with 47.5 percent, down 3.8 percent from its highest-ever rating in the poll before Christmas. Labour is steady on 38.7 percent.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Friday, January 25

NZ economy set to survive global turmoil - Bollard

The Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard has told a Canterbury business audience the New Zealand economy is well placed to withstand the current financial market turbulence. Dr Bollard was speaking as global markets are in a state of flux because of fears the United States is headed towards recession. He told his audience of more than 200 that New Zealand's monetary system can keep inflation in check in the face of higher energy prices and a deteriorating economic outlook. Dr Bollard gave an indication New Zealand is unlikely to be greatly affected by a recession in the US because the economy also relies on trading with Australia, Asia and Europe.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Tramper rescued in Fiordland

A 28 year old tramper has been winched to safety from Fiordland National Park. The tramper suffered a seizure in the park late on Thursday. A search and rescue was launched early on Friday morning after his emergency locator beacon was activated late on Thursday, and the tramper was successfully rescued by Rescue Coordination Centre (RCCNZ). The beacon was traced to the northern end of Lake Hauroko, Fiordland, where the man had been tramping with a female friend. A helicopter was sent to the remote area and winched the man to safety on early Friday morning.
Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB

Bondi Beach gets heritage status

Sydney's Bondi Beach has been added to Australia's National Heritage List. Announcing the move at Bondi, the Environment, Heritage and Arts Minister Peter Garrett said the picturesque surf beach was a symbol for Australia around the world. It joins a list including the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Sydney Opera House on the heritage register. The listing protects 65 hectares including the beach, parks, cliffs and ocean under Australian environment law.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Tougher fines for illegal use of disabled parks

Tougher penalties for drivers who illegally park in disabled parking places are to come into force later this year. The Government says the fine will more than triple from $40 to $150. The Parking Association, which represents many private car park operators and shopping centres, says the current fine does not reflect the seriousness of the offence.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Ministry shake-up aims to benefit Pacific community

The Ministry of Pacific Affairs shake-up is complete, with a number of positions gone and new jobs created to help it get closer to the community. A series of consultations last year saw the ministry criticised by many community leaders, who see it as remote but critical for Pacific people. The ministry's chief executive, Colin Tukuitonga, says there may be some redundancies and 10 people have already left. At present, there is a staff of 45. Dr Tukuitonga says the ministry must be closer to the community to be effective and new positions have been created in Auckland where most Pacific people live. He hopes the new-look ministry is able to create both policies and strategies that it can then pass onto bigger government agencies to help Pacific Islanders.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Ministry considers free TV list

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is looking at ways of ensuring free public access to television coverage of events it considers important. A consultation paper on Broadcasting and new Digital Media is seeking views on the future of New Zealand's broadcasting standards. One of the main discussion points is the free availability of content on television such as major sports and cultural events. The ministry is considering whether it should draw up a list of events which are believed too important to be broadcast exclusively on pay TV.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Clark to meet new Solomons PM

Helen Clark will this afternoon meet with the new Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands. Derek Sikua is in New Zealand for a three day visit, just a month after becoming Prime Minister. Helen Clark says it is significant that Dr Sikua has chosen New Zealand as part of his first official visit offshore. The Government gives $31 million a year to the Solomons, making the country New Zealand's largest bilateral aid partner.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Parachute festival underway

The Parachute 08 Christian music festival is underway at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton, today with a few new attractions. Two new stages are catering for fans of hip hop, Pasifika flavour and the New Zealand indie scene. The four day annual event is expected to attract around 30,000 people and CEO of Parachute Music Mark de Jong says it is generally a well-behaved crowd. "People like the fact that is an alcohol-free site and there's a sense of it being reasonably peaceful even although there are thousands of people in the hot sun listening to all kinds of bands."
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Govt looks at Japan's freight, not Australia's

Transport Minister Annette King says New Zealand's freight costs should not be compared to Australia's. A Road Transport Forum report shows businesses and consumers in New Zealand pay 40 percent more than in Victoria and 35 percent more than in Tasmania. The forum says if trucks were allowed to carry heavier loads it would reduce costs. Transport Minister Annette King says it is not a valid comparison. Mrs King says the Government is looking at the examples of countries like Japan when it comes to transporting freight. She says the Japanese carry twice as much freight by sea and the drive in New Zealand is to duplicate that. Mrs King says the Government also wants to make better use of the rail system in its efforts to get trucks off the road.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Kiwisaver fees calculator launched

The complicated task of working out which KiwiSaver fund to choose has become a little easier. People can now compare the fees being charged by fund providers with the Retirement Commission's launch of a KiwiSaver fees calculator. Commissioner Diana Crossan says fees vary considerably as the providers offer different services. She wants to make sure investors considering joining KiwiSaver have as much information as possible. Ms Crossan says it is useful for people to have transparency in all parts of the retirement savings scheme. The calculator is available at

Kiwi soldier injured in Afghanistan

A Kiwi soldier has been injured in a helicopter accident in Afghanistan but the crash was not the result of enemy fire, according to the New Zealand Defence Force. The soldier, a member of the New Zealand peacekeeping force stationed in the troubled country, received minor injuries in the helicpoter crash, Captain Zac Prendergast said.
Fairfax New Zealand Limited 2006.

Air NZ to slash fares

Air New Zealand said today it would cut domestic air fares by up to 30 per cent to stimulate demand. The changes, effective today for travel from February 23, would reduce lead-in Smart Saver fares by between 9 per cent and 27 per cent on around 40 domestic routes, and cut top end fares by 20 per cent to 30 per cent on some regional routes popular with business customers, Air NZ chief executive Rob Fyfe said. Domestic main trunk fares would fall by 15 per cent at the top end.

Students march over debt problem

As student protesters descended on Parliament this afternoon the Government said it might increase allowances in the next budget. Tertiary students marched through central Wellington this afternoon to highlight issues and results of a study that found the average student debt was nearly $30,000. Earlier in the day Tertiary Education Minister Pete Hodgson, who also spoke at the students national conference held in Wellington today, said the Government would consider increasing allowances in the next budget.
As student protesters descended on Parliament this afternoon the Government said it might increase allowances in the next budget.

Thursday, January 24

Library closed by burst water main

Auckland's central city library is closed after a water main burst and flooded sections of the building. The Auckland City Council says no books have been damaged. However both the electrical wiring and the water supply has been affected, forcing the building's closure for health and safety reasons. It is not known how long the library will remain closed.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

British midwives relieve shortage

Almost a third of the midwives registered in New Zealand last year came from Britain, latest statistics show. Of the 192 new midwives registered in 2007, 62 (32 per cent) were from Britain, according to latest Midwifery Council figures. Midwifery services are in crisis in Auckland and Wellington and the situation in Christchurch is worsening, with some women unable to engage a midwife. Because of the dire shortage of midwives in Auckland, one health board is paying nurses up to $700 for a casual fill-in shift to ensure safe staffing levels on maternity wards, says the Maternity Services Consumer Council.
Source:The Press

Chch airport second in the world to go carbon neutral

Christchurch International Airport has gone carbon neutral, making it the second airport company in the world to do so after Stockholm's LVF. Chief executive Rene Bakx today announced that after much measuring, managing, mitigating and reducing, the airport had received its carboNZero certificate from Landcare Research. To get certified a business must measure its emissions, develop a plan to reduce them and purchase carbon credits to offset any remaining emissions. To remain certified it then faces annual reviews to ensure the plan is being followed.

Sounds closes more stores

One of the New Zealand's largest music retailers, Sounds, has closed more stores amid news some of its creditors will not get any of the $31 million owed to them. Financial woes have forced Sounds to close 30 shops, leaving only six open. Parent company Icon Digital Entertainment has also shut down three games plus gaming stores. Administrators are now recommending the company go into liquidation, and a final decision is expected at a creditors meeting next week.
Source: ONE News

Government closely monitoring drought

Prime Minister Helen Clark says The Government and the Ministry of Agriculture are closely monitoring the drought in parts of the country where it could cause problems. MAF is saying that if there was substantial rain in the very near future, many of the current issues facing the farmers will be alleviated, but if there isn't then clearly there's potential for some rather large scale problems. Areas of high concern were in the upper Clutha, Lindis, McKenzie Basin, small pockets in central Otago, pockets in north Canterbury and Wairarapa. Areas of medium concern, where the situation was continuing to worsen, included parts of the Manawatu, central and southern Hawke's Bay, the remainder of central and east Otago, Nelson, Marlborough and Coromandel.
Copyright © TVWorks Limited

Solomons PM on first official visit to NZ

The new prime minister of Solomon Islands is due arrive in New Zealand on Thursday. Derek Sikua became leader of the Pacific nation last month. His first official visit included stops in Australia and Papua New Guinea. In Canberra, Mr Sikua met with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in an attempt to mend diplomatic relations. The relationship soured under the leadership of the former Solomons prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, who expelled Australia's High Commissioner last year. Mr Sikua has pledged full support for the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission in his country. He says the previous Solomons government worked hard to undermine the work of the Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI), which includes a New Zealand contingent of almost 100 police and Defence Force personnel.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Film industry explosives stored in Queenstown gardens

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is shocked a film company stored tonnes of explosives in the town's gardens despite being told it could not do so. Enough explosives to destroy several buildings were stored in a building in the gardens. Approval was given to Fox Studios to use Queensland's Fun Centre to store vehicles while it films the latest X-Men movie. But the company also used the building to store explosives, which its lease with the council did not allow. Fox Studios obtained permission from the Department of Labour but did not tell a test certifier it was not allowed to store the items at the building. The council's chief executive, Duncan Field, says he is disappointed the film company chose to ignore its instructions. The council has ordered that the items be removed.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Mining industry hard hit by floods

Residents of Emerald, in central Queensland, are desperate to return to their homes now that floodwaters have stabilised in the area. It could be a few days before all those evacuated can reenter their properties as water levels slowly fall. The mining industry is also counting the cost. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says many companies will be shut for months after their pits were flooded. The flooding has seen more than two-thirds of Queensland go under water, and could cost the state at least $100 million.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

NZ seventh in environmental index, Australia 46th

New Zealand ranks seventh in an environmental performance index released ahead of the World Economic Forum, an annual talkfest that attracts the most influential people in the world. Switzerland scored top marks among 149 countries measured in six environmental areas including air pollution, water quality and how they control industrial pollution, according to the 2008 Environmental Performance Index. Sweden came second in the ranking, compiled by environmental experts at Yale University and Columbia University, followed by Norway, Finland and Costa Rica.

Firm that upset Erin Brockovich draws fire

By Maggie McNaughton
The New Zealand electrical retailer that enraged American campaigner Erin Brockovich by comparing women to fridges has been slammed for another cheeky ad encouraging people to get into debt. A Bond and Bond advertisement urging people to increase New Zealand's level of personal debt has been ruled socially irresponsible by the Advertising Standards Authority. The flyer offered various "killer deals" with a message saying: "NZ has the 3rd highest level of personal debt, help us get to No. 1."
©2008, APN Holdings NZ Limited

Kiwi finalist in international innovation award

A New Zealander's do-it-yourself attitude has landed him as a finalist in this year's Saatchi & Saatchi World Changing Ideas Award. Aucklander Ray Avery, a 57-year-old self-made millionaire and scientist, is the first New Zealand finalist in the awards in 10 years. He has invented a device called Acuset, which ensures the accurate administration of medicine. The equipment has the potential to save millions of lives and improve the quality of clinical care. The intravenous flow controller allows flow rates of medicine to be set -- it is especially useful for people regulating their own medicine.

Wednesday, January 23

Mark Todd back in the saddle

World Championship and Olympic gold medallist Mark Todd is coming out of retirement and wants to represent New Zealand at the Beijing Olympics this year. Olympic gold medallist Blyth Tait, who is now the Eventing New Zealand High Performance Director, says Todd's decision is 'very gusty'. He says it will be a race against the clock to be prepared in time, but Todd knows what it takes and he has the experience, talent and ability. Todd won two gold, a silver and two bronze Olympic medals in a distinguished career. He won gold medals as a member of the New Zealand team at the world championships in 1990 and 1998, and he won the Badminton Horse Trials three times and the Burghley three-day trials on five occasions. The International Equestrian Federation voted him Rider of the 20th Century, and his partnership with Charisma is part of New Zealand sporting folklore.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

NZ can handle global volatility - PM

New Zealand is in a stronger position than many economies to deal with international market volatility, Prime Minister Helen Clark says. The New Zealand sharemarket opened with a lift today after the United States slashed a key interest rate overnight, and Miss Clark said it had reacted "quite positively" to the latest offshore developments. Miss Clark said there had been several years of good growth, low unemployment and skill shortages -- many of the issues and challenges that were the opposite of a recession. "New Zealand is in a stronger position than many economies to deal with international market volatility."

Queenstown wants Monopoly

Destination Queenstown is urging Kiwis to help get New Zealand on the first ever worldwide Monopoly board. The Central Otago resort town is one of 68 contenders vying for one of just 20 spots in the new edition of the game. Queenstown is the only New Zealand location chosen to be a contender and is up against the likes of London, Paris and New York. Destination Queenstown CEO David Kennedy says there needs to be a special effort of New Zealanders getting behind the bid and vote. The town is currently sitting in 35th place out of 60. Online voting begins today on the Monopoly website and runs until the end of February.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

MP calls for sunbed bans

By KATIE WYLIE - The Press
MP Sue Kedgley wants people with fair skin and those under 18 banned from using sunbeds in the wake of an Australian study on skin cancer. One session on a sunbed can increase the risk of skin cancer by 22 per cent, the study has found. The Green Party is now touting the results as evidence that the industry needs tough regulation. The Queensland Institute of Medical Research report found that using a sunbed once boosted the risk of melanoma by 22 per cent. People aged under 35 who used sunbeds increased the risk of developing melanoma by 98 per cent.

Whales die in Golden Bay

More than a dozen whales have died after two pods became stranded in Golden Bay near Nelson. The Department of Conservation says six whales beached at Farewell Spit this morning and three died, but the rest made it back to sea. Further along the spit, 12 of a group of 24 whales died and DOC is concerned about the surviving animals.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Poet Hone Tuwhare laid to rest

One of New Zealand's most respected poets has been buried next to his mother at the Wharepaepae urupa in Kaikohe. Hone Tuwhare passed away last week at a Dunedin rest home, aged 85. He won national and international acclaim for his work, and his 1964 collection of poems, No Ordinary Sun, was the first book by a Maori poet to be published in English. The literary giant was also named as Te Mata Poet Laureate in 1999, and received two Montana Book Awards.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

First Cabinet meeting of year

The Government returns to business as usual Wednesday, with the first Cabinet meeting of the year. Prime Minister Helen Clark says her message to ministers is to be "relentlessly positive" about the Government's record and what it has to offer. However, Radio New Zealand's political staff say with Labour trailing the National Party by more than 10% in the polls, government MPs know they face an uphill struggle if they are to win a fourth term.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Medsafe to investigate HRT claims

The medicines safety authority, Medsafe, is to investigate whether some pharmacies are making over-blown claims about the benefits of a form of hormone replacement therapy. It follows a warning by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States that some claims by pharmaceutical firms producing so-called natural or compounded HRT drugs are misleading. Medsafe says it has already begun looking into the situation in New Zealand. Menopause specialist Dr Beverley Lawton says compounded Hormone Replacement Therapy is no different to conventional HRT, and women who suffer significantly from menopause would be better off on conventional HRT. A women's health advocate, Lynda Williams, says all HRT is risky and avoiding drugs is best if possible.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Auckland Vatican exhibition canned

Auckland War Memorial Museum has cancelled its planned Vatican exhibition after key artworks were withdrawn from the travelling display. The pieces include a copy of Michelangelo's Pieta and works by Bernini. Museum Director Dr Vanda Vitali was not happy with the amended content and believes visitors to the exhibition would have been shortchanged. She says there was not time to renegotiate and Sydney's Australian Museum has also cancelled the exhibit. Vitali says although it is not uncommon for exhibit plans to be unsuccessful, the Auckland Museum is extremely disappointed.
Source: Newstalk ZB

Chaos and screams as cyclone hits cruise ship

By Beck Vass
Cruise ship Pacific Star is again the subject of passenger complaints after being battered by the high seas and winds of Cyclone Funa which smashed glasses, moved fridges and left five passengers injured. "It was chaos, people were screaming," Auckland woman Marilyn Farr said of her eight-day cruise to Vanuatu which returned to Auckland a day late yesterday. She said she was upset the company running the cruises, P&O, knew about Cyclone Funa and continued sailing into it, becoming caught in the worst of the storm on Sunday night. In July, passengers on the Pacific Star described a holiday in hell after a trip from Auckland to Vanuatu in which the ship got caught up in another storm.
©2007, APN Holdings NZ Limited

Partial eclipse of sun on February 7

The sun will look like it has had a bite taken out of it on February 7. Graham Murray from the Stardome Observatory in Auckland said a partial eclipse would be visible from all parts of New Zealand. In Auckland the partial eclipse would start at 4.48pm when the sun was half way up the sky in the west and finish at 6.51pm. Mr Murray said times would be similar for the rest of New Zealand. At the time of maximum eclipse, which in Christchurch would be 5.37pm, the city would see only 53 per cent of the sun's surface.

Tuesday, January 22

Wind cuts power in Lower North Island

Severe weather has knocked out power to much of the lower North Island. Around 5,000 PowerCo customers in Taranaki, Wanganui, Rangitikei, Manawatu and Wairarapa have been affected. It comes after a day of strong winds which MetService says reached up to 130 kilometres an hour in some areas. As many as 16,000 homes have had their power disrupted during the day.
Source: Newstalk ZB

Australian state compensates 'stolen' Aborigines

HOBART, Australia, (AFP) - An Australian state Tuesday approved millions of dollars in compensation for members of the "stolen generation" of Aborigines just weeks after the federal government rejected similar demands. Tasmania's state Premier Paul Lennon said a total of 106 claimants would share in up to five million dollars (4.38 million US) set aside for indigenous children forcibly taken from their parents. "No amount of money can make up for Aboriginal children being removed from their families simply on the basis of race," Lennon told reporters in Hobart. Thousands of Aboriginal children were taken from their parents as children over four decades up to the 1970s and put into institutions or foster care with white families as part of an attempt to force assimilation. Two weeks ago the Australian government rejected Aboriginal demands for hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for victims of what became known as the "stolen generation".

NZ stock market defies global gloom

The New Zealand stock market staged a remarkable comeback on Tuesday afternoon, while markets around the world continued to suffer big losses. The New Zealand stock market managed to shrug off one of the the worst days on global share markets in recent years, despite its record 14th consecutive session of losses. While the losses have been much heavier in Australia and Asian countries, New Zealand's share market has fallen every day this year. The market has shed nearly $4 billion, almost 10% of its value. The NZ dollar rebounded from three-month lows against the US dollar hit earlier on Tuesday.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Dairy farm prices reach new record

A huge rise in forecasts for milk payouts has driven sale prices for dairy farms to new heights. Latest figures from the Real Estate Institute show the median dairy farm price topped $3.5 million last month. That's a rise of $220,000 compared with the previous three months and more than $1m above the median price a year ago. The national median sale price for all farms also rose last month, to more than $1.6m, with strong demand for finishing and grazing properties, along with dairy farms. The number of farms sold also increased, with more than 750 farms changing hands in the past quarter.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Prime Minister's tribute to Sir Ed

Prime Minister Helen Clark has paid tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary at his funeral at St Mary's church in Auckland. She told the family members, friends and dignitaries to the church, in a message that was also broadcast to the nation and the world, that the ascent of Everest was one of the defining moments of the 20th Century. "Sir Ed's achievement on that day cannot be underestimated. He went to a height, and a place, no man had gone before." Miss Clark said his attitude to succeed, his can-do pragmatism and his humility endeared Sir Ed to New Zealand and made him an inspiration and role model for generations. The Prime Minister's voice strained with emotion as she finished with "Sir Edmund Hillary's extraordinary life has been an inspiration to our small nation, and to so may beyond our shores too. As individuals we may not be able to match Sir Ed's abilities or strength, but surely we can all strive to match his humanity and compassion for others. His values were strong, they are timeless and they will endure.
May Sir Edmund Hillary rest in peace."

Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

More tickets to Rod Stewart on sale

A limited number of new tickets are on sale today for Rod Stewart's sold out concerts at Auckland's Vector Arena. Promoters say they have been freed up by stage configuration and refined production requirements. The tickets for the February 18 and 19 shows are available from Ticketmaster.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Paragliders 'buzz' tourist train journey

By TOM CARDY - The Dominion Post
The Civil Aviation Authority will investigate the "very unsafe" actions of two paragliders who stunned passengers on the Kingston Flyer by gliding alongside the train. Gisborne couple Alastair and Anna Marie Holmes, along with other tourists, could not believe their eyes when two paragliders appeared above the train on January 9 during its half-hour morning journey from Kingston, near Lake Wakatipu in Central Otago. The two motorised paragliders dived and buzzed the train for several minutes.

Motor group buys into NZ tourism industry

One of Australia's largest motoring groups has made purchases totalling $20 million in the New Zealand tourism industry. NRMA Motoring and Services has bought Thrifty Car Rental New Zealand, a hotel in Palmerston North, and the Adventureworld wholesale travel business. It recently diversified its businesses across Australia, buying 12 Travelodge Hotels, the Treasure Island resort on the Gold Coast, Thrifty Australia and Adventureworld Australia. NRMA has two million members in Australia and says it will promote New Zealand as a holiday destination to them.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Evacuee numbers swell in flood-hit Queensland

Evacuations were continuing in central Queensland on Monday night as residents there braced for major flooding. More than a thousand people have fled their homes in the town of Emerald, which was declared a disaster zone after heavy rain across Queensland's interior. A major road has been closed and a shopping centre evacuated. Further south, four New Zealand flood response experts were waiting to see if their flood protection system would hold in the town of Charleville. They have been helping local emergency management install a Geodesign Flood Barrier System, which is a steel or pallet barrier system that can be quickly erected and is more effective than traditional sand bagging.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Google founder buys into vineyard

By BRITTON BROUN - The Dominion Post
One of the mega-rich co-founders of Internet search engine Google plans to buy into a boutique Wairarapa vineyard. Mebus Estate owner Michael Mebus was tight-lipped yesterday but confirmed one of the two Google creators, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, planned to invest in the winery. "I'm not going to tell you who. There are still regulations to work through but they should be finalised in a few months," he said. The deal would have to be scrutinised by the Overseas Investment Office before it could go ahead.

Monday, January 21

Australia eases visa restrictions on Solomons parliamentarians

The Australian department of foreign affairs is lifting visa restrictions for Solomon Islands members of parliament who seek to travel to or transit through Australia. In a statement, is says it looks forward to working closely with the new Solomon Islands Government under Prime Minister Derek Sikua’s leadership and sees the opportunity for a fresh start to the relationship. The statement says the removal of visa restrictions demonstrates Australia’s commitment to a fresh start and to the strengthening of the relationship with the Solomon Islands. They were imposed in 2006 after Solomon Islands expelled the Australian high commissioner.
© RNZI 2004

Tokelau’s new ulu seeks fresh talks with New Zealand

Tokelau’s incoming head of government for 2008 says the priority for this year is to meet New Zealand government officials. Elections were held over the weekend to choose the faipule or leader and village mayor for each of Tokelau’s three atolls, and members of Tokelau’s General Fono (Parliament). Pio Tuia was elected as the local leader of Nukunonu atoll, and will be sworn in next month as the ulu or head of government for this year. Pio Tuia says talks will centre on NZAID, infrastructure support and ongoing negotiations for a new boat to service the atolls. In two referendums in the past two years, Tokelauans voted to retain the current relationship with New Zealand.
© RNZI 2004

Accused plotter back in hospital in Fiji

A New Zealander accused of plotting to kill Fiji's interim prime minister and two key cabinet ministers has been readmitted to a private hospital in Suva. Earlier this month, businessman Ballu Khan was released from hospital where he was recovering from injuries sustained during his arrest on 3 November. Mr Khan has been charged with three counts of conspiracy to kill Commodore Frank Bainimarama, but is on bail. Lawyer Peter Williams QC says his client had to seek medical care again because he was in terrible pain, particularly in his lower back and his abdomen.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

NZ gets Cuba embassy after Aussie snub

By PAUL MULROONEY - The Dominion Post
Cuba's man in Wellington says the capital was chosen ahead of Canberra for an embassy because of the Castro regime's frustration with Australia's pro-American stance. With Cubans today voting in an election that could lead to Fidel Castro resuming complete power from his brother Raul, ambassador Jose Luis Robaina Garcia has expressed confidence in Cuba's one-party rule, gratitude toward New Zealand, and uncertainty about future relations with Australia. The embassy, established late last year, is the communist state's first in New Zealand.

Two quakes in South Island

Two earthquakes have been recorded in the South Island. The first was magnitude 3.4 at 6.47am on Monday, 10km north-east of Hanmer Springs, at a depth of 7km. The second was in Fiordland at 7.41am. It had a magnitude of 5.3 and was centred 80km north-west of Te Anau, at a depth of 20km.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Farm pay rates catch up with other sectors

Farm workers were once regarded as being poorly paid. But Federated Farmers says its latest remuneration survey, released with Rabobank, shows wages and conditions for workers on dairy, sheep, beef and arable farms have caught up with other sectors. The survey shows there's been a steady increase in farm pay rates in the past five years. The survey covers pay rates and employment packages for employees on dairy, sheep, beef and arable farms. Federation president Charlie Pedersen says farmers are no longer the poor cousins.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Canada goose cooked say farmers

Wairarapa farmers are putting Canada goose on the menu to try to combat the surging population of the bird in the district. Federated Farmers held a barbeque, with the theme "it's time the goose was cooked" near Masterton last week to publicise the problems growing goose numbers are creating for agriculture and the environment. Farmers say Canada geese are chronic polluters of pasture and lakes and two of the birds can eat as much grass in a day as a single sheep. Federated Farmers wants the bird to be tagged a pest, which would allow more effective culling techniques.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Rise in electricity prices predicted

A power industry analyst predicts we may be soon paying more for electricity because of problems with one of the two Cook Strait cables. Transpower has shut down the oldest of the cables that take electricity from the South Island hydro fields to the North Island. Transpower discovered the cable and associated infranstructure will cost $450 million to repair, and is too risky to insure. Electricity consultant Molly Melhuish believes Transpower will still be able to supply the North Island's needs, but the power might cost more.
Copyright © TVWorks Limited

Formal talks end on free trade with China

New Zealand Trade Minister Phil Goff says formal talks have now ended on a free trade deal with China. He says all outstanding issues have been resolved after 15 rounds of negotiations. The proposed deal would see China phase out tariffs on New Zealand's agriculture products while New Zealand removes its remaining tariffs on Chinese textiles and footwear. Mr Goff says negotiators will now work their way through about 1000 pages of text before the deal goes to Cabinet for approval.
Copyright © TVWorks Limited

Volatile time seen ahead for NZ sharemarket

The New Zealand stock market reopens on Monday after shedding nearly $4 billion in value during the past 12 trading days. The NZX is the first market in the world to open this week and investors will be keen to see the impact of government proposals in the United States to try and boost its economy. The Australian 200 lost more than $A80b over the course of last week - its worst losing streak in 17 years. The Australian 200 Index was down 49 points to 5747.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Sunday, January 20

NZ hosts annual Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum

More than 400 Parliamentarians from 27 countries are in New Zealand for an annual Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum. The forum begins in Auckland on Sunday, presided over by the Speaker of the House, Margaret Wilson. She says it's an opportunity for delegates to share knowledge on issues of global and regional concern. It's the first time New Zealand has hosted the event. Topics include the Korean peninsula, the Middle East peace process, the relationship between civilisations, cluster munitions, climate change and energy security.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Annual Ratana festival set for big crowd

The population of Ratana (Church) Pa will swell from 450 to around 30,000, as it prepares for the annual Ratana festival. This year the festival will run from Tuesday, January 22, to Friday, January 25. Politicians from across the spectrum will attend, including Prime Minister Helen Clark, Opposition leader John Key, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. The Maori King, Kingi Tuheitia, will also attend the celebrations.
©2007, APN Holdings NZ Limited

Remains to be sent to Te Papa

A collection of Maori remains that have been in a Scottish museum's archives for more than 100 years are to be sent to New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa. The National Museum of Scotland's move is in line with a British law, requiring institutions to send back remains to indigenous communities around the world. A year ago nine tattooed heads from a collection at the University of Aberdeen were handed over to a New Zealand delegation.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

NZ's best summer in nearly 10 years

By ESTHER HOWARD - Sunday Star Times
It's official it's New Zealand's best summer in nearly a decade. Niwa climate scientist Jim Salinger says the last time it was this dry and settled was during the summer of 1998-1999 - also one of the warmest years on the planet last century. The longest hot dry spell this summer has been in the east of the South Island which has had temperatures of at least 30C on all but two days from December 30. This beats the 2004-2005 summer when most areas had a 10-day stretch of at least 30C. The end of the golden weather bringing relief to farmers is expected today in the North Island as Cyclone Funa brings moist air from the tropics. MetService weather ambassador Bob McDavitt said the cyclone was likely to bring persistent and intense rain to much of the North Island and into Nelson tomorrow.

Saturday, January 19

Cyclone weather alert

A cyclone currently off the coast of Fiji is about to make its presence felt here in New Zealand . Cyclone Funa is expected to move between Norfolk Island and Northland tomorrow. MetService weather ambassador Bob McDavitt says the system will bring some very moist air from the tropics. He says there will be widespread wind and rain on Tuesday spreading across much of the North Island and into Nelson.

Anglican Church lobbies against Easter trading

Anglican Church leaders are lobbying hard against allowing more shops to open on Easter Sunday, arguing that "enough is enough where the continued intrusion of the market into our lives is concerned". Anglican Archbishops Brown Turei and David Moxon and the Church's Social Justice Commissioner Anthony Dancer said business lobbyists who continued to press for more Easter Sunday trading need to be challenged. "Easter, and particularly Easter Sunday, is the time in which we celebrate the God who gives us life. It's not a time for indulging ourselves in the marketplace," they said. "Easter, and particularly Easter Sunday, is a time during which shops should remain closed."

Eggs thrown at protesters

A protest outside a battery hen farm in Foxton has turned nasty. Activist Mark Eden is leading a small band of protestors outside Turks poultry farm today, and says workers have made it plain they're not welcome. He says they have had dozens of eggs and even a piece of wood thrown at them. Mr Eden says police were called but no arrests were made. Mr Eden is facing a possible jail term for breaking into Turks poultry to remove 20 battery hens in November 2006.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Gold for Val Smith

New Zealand's Val Smith has won gold at the World Bowls Championships at the Burnside Bowling Club in Christchurch. Smith has won the women's singles final 21-13 over England's Ellen Faulkner. The Nelson bowler had trailed 8-2 early before taking control of the match. Smith adds to the gold already won in the men's doubles yesterday.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

ChildFund launches emergency appeal for Kenya

ChildFund has set up an emergency appeal to help those caught up in Kenya's post-election turmoil. The December 27 election saw President Mwai Kibaki re-elected and has since seen at least 650 people killed, and a quarter of a million displaced. ChildFund New Zealand programmes co-ordinator Sarah Walker says the situation is constantly changing, but has already affected an estimated 2,500 children.
Copyright © TVWorks Limited

Breeding of rare birds reported on Mana Island

A rare species of bird has surprised conservationists by breeding on Mana Island, north west of Wellington. The Shore plover is a wading bird that usually does not breed until it's at least two years old. The Department of Conservation says eggs from a pair of the birds less than a year old hatched on the island this week. It says the successful breeding of such a young pair is encouraging for the species and suggests the island is a very good habitat for the birds.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Budgeting advice on offer at Pak'n Save

The Retirement Commissioner admits she has been surprised at the number of people who have no idea how to manage their finances. Diana Crossan has been trying a new approach to reach people needing budgeting advice, by having staff hand out information at Pak'n Save supermarkets. She says they have had an overwhelming response from people asking for help, with the numbers running well into the thousands. Diana Crossan will be continuing the campaign at Auckland's Mt Albert and Manukau Pak'n Save supermarkets today.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

TVNZ gets Commonwealth 2010 rights

Television NZ has secured comprehensive broadcast rights for coverage of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010. The Games run from October 3 to 14.
Copyright ©2008, APN Holdings NZ Limited

Friday, January 18

Pine forest fire in Marlborough

Strong winds have been hindering firefighters' efforts to put out a massive forest fire in Marlborough. Helicopters and fire crews have been battling the blaze in Para Valley that had burnt more than 40 hectares by Friday night. The fire was sparked by lightning on Thursday night and forced the evacuation of houses on the outskirts of Blenheim.
Source:One News

Cyclone Funa heads for Fiji

Cyclone Funa has developed storm-force winds and is travelling at 55 nautical miles per hour, heading straight for the western part of the Fiji Group, the Nadi Weather Office said at 9pm yesterday. It is expected to intensify into a Category 3 hurricane today and will pick up speed. "At 9pm today (yesterday), the Category Two Tropical Cyclone had its centre located about 820km west-northwest of Nadi and was moving eastwards at 20km per hour," said forecaster Alipate Waqaicelua.
Copyright © 2004 - 2007, Fiji Times Limited.

Hampers 'a waste of money'

A South Auckland budget advisor is urging clients to leave the Chrisco Christmas hamper club, in favour of alternatives. Mangere Budgeting and Family Support Services has filed a complaint with the Commerce Commission, claiming Chrisco comes with hidden costs. Spokesman Darryl Evans says it is a great idea for people to put cash aside to cover the expensive festive season, but recommends the Pak 'n Save deal or Aotearoa club. He says these packages are cheaper, and people can pick their own food. He says the hampers are a waste of money, and are filled with useless goods.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

Animal rights activists 'rescue' more hens before court

Animal welfare activists in Canterbury say they have rescued 31 battery hens as an act of solidarity with a Wellington activist due to appear in Wellington District Court tomorrow. Mark Eden was charged after a raid on a Foxton poultry farm in November 2006. Christchurch Open Rescue released a statement tonight, saying they had rescued 31 young hens from a life of caged misery. "The action was carried out in solidarity with Mark Eden, an Open Rescue member in Wellington who is currently facing charges for his role in a rescue at a Foxton farm," the group said.
Copyright © TVWorks Limited

Warning against dosing young children with cough medicine

The government's drug safety arm, Medsafe, is warning parents against giving cough medicine to children under two years old. This follows a review of deaths and side effects in toddlers who suffered accidental overdoses in the United States. Medsafe estimates more than 100 types of cough and cold medicines are available in New Zealand and there have been no reported deaths in this country due to children taking the treatments. However, Medsafe's interim manager, Dr Stuart Jessamine, says the National Poisons Centre has received calls about accidental overdoses in toddlers under two.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

NZ sharemarket in freefall

The New Zealand sharemarket has entered a tailspin, dropping 2.1% in morning trade in its 12th consecutive day of losses. At 12pm, the market was down 78 points to 3652. The drop extends the NZX's losses to almost 6% for this week alone. World stockmarkets slid for a third straight day on Thursday as more weak U.S. economic data fanned fears of a recession.
© 2008 Radio New Zealand

Steel prices set to rocket

New Zealand steel manufacturer Pacific Steel is warning the price of steel and wire products are about to jump considerably, due to a rapid escalation in the cost of scrap metal. The international price has rocketed from $US380 a tonne just before Christmas to $US480 dollars a tonne this week. While Pacific Steel's products are made entirely from New Zealand recycled scrap, the company says the price is set by the international market. General Manager John Beveridge says he has never seen such a boom and puts it down huge demand from India and China.
Copyright 2002 - 2008. TelstraClear Ltd

NZ's best and worst paid professions

Doctors were the highest paid profession in 2007 and Wellington the best paid location according to figures just released by Trade Me Jobs. Meanwhile Wanganui is the toughest place to recruit people. "While doctors were the highest paid profession with an average salary of $123,850, IT jobs took the next three positions with technology architects, IT sales people and IT project managers all being paid on average over $100,000. Project managers in construction rounded out the top five paid professions". By contrast kitchen hands, data entry staff, waiters, cleaners and caregivers were the five worst paid professions.

Bainimarama moves to rid Fiji of 'coup culture'

Fiji is to review the military's role in public life as part of a bid to end the country's notorious coup culture. Military chief Frank Bainimarama, who toppled elected prime minister Laisenia Qarase in 2006, has suggested setting up a working group to address the issue. He says Fiji is being widely described as having a coup culture and must rid itself of this reputation. His coup was the fourth since 1987. Critics say the military, which numbers about 3,500 personnel, is too large for the South Pacific nation and wields excessive political power.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Thursday, January 17

NZ's only Rastafarian politician quitting parliament

New Zealand's first and only Rastafarian member of parliament, Nandor Tanczos, of the Green Party, announced Thursday that he was quitting politics. The country's most colourful lawmaker, Tanczos, 41, tied up his knee-length dreadlocks to use a skateboard to get to parliament and admitted smoking marijuana, which is illegal in New Zealand, as a religious rite. First elected in 1999, he failed to win re-election six years later and left parliament dubbingit a "very toxic hostile working environment," but he was back two months later to replace the party's co-leader Rod Donald after he died. Tanczos, who was born in Britain of a Hungarian father and South African mother and came to New Zealand at the age of seven, said he would not stand at the general election to be held later this year.


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