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Saturday, January 31

Heatwave stretches emergency services

Victoria's emergency services have been stretched to the limit as the state continues to steam through an unprecedented heatwave. Ambulance Victoria responded to a record number of emergency calls on Friday with almost 1,500 calls in metropolitan Melbourne alone and almost 2,000 cases across the state. Ambulance Victoria Operations manager Paul Holman said it had rostered on extra services to cope with the demand. Life Saving Victoria has performed more than 40 rescues over the last three days as 230,000 Victorians flocked to the 40 patrolled beaches.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Sweets and fries out at Polyfest

By Martin Johnston
It's a big ask, but food vendors at a major Maori and Pacific festival have been urged to cut out many of the rich and sweet treats that lure customers to their stalls. Health authorities aim to eliminate "non-cultural" deep-fried foods and lollies, and to promote low-sugar drinks, fruit juice and water at the annual Polyfest. And they are working with commercial vendors to encourage menus that are lower in saturated fat and sugar and contain more fruit and vegetables. The ASB Polyfest is billed as the world's largest Maori and Pacific Islands cultural festival. Some 8000 performers, 90,000 spectators and more than 110 food stalls are expected at the event, to be held at the Manukau Sportsbowl from March 18 to 21.

Fuel consumption checks

It is about to get easier for drivers to find out how economical cars are, before they buy them. New rules coming into force tomorrow (1st February 2009) mean inspectors will check vehicles' fuel consumption as they come into the country. Ministry of Transport spokesman Leo Mortimer says the new rules will complement the existing labelling system, which shows how much gas vehicles use. He says it is important because people want more economical cars, given the recent volatility in fuel prices.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

NZ paua, mussels threatened by ocean acidification

Global warming's evil twin, the increasing acidification of carbon dioxide-saturated oceans is threatening New Zealand's corals, crustaceans and shellfish. "Ocean acidification is accelerating, " Dunedin researcher Christina McGraw said. Dr McGraw said this rapid change in ocean chemistry meant that severe damage was imminent. Some of New Zealand's vulnerable organisms include economically important species such as mussels, oysters, and paua (abalone). "These all have calcium carbonate shells, which are going to be increasingly hard for the organisms to construct as the carbonate concentration in the ocean continues to decline," the Otago University marine chemist said.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Pacific nations want to receive more benefits from tuna

The Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority Director, Glen Joseph, wants Pacific Island nations to receive more benefits from the tuna caught in their waters. He says the Parties to the Nauru Agreement are no longer satisfied. He says they get less than five percent of the 3 billion US dollar annual revenue from the tuna harvest in the Pacific. Most of the tuna is taken from within the 200 mile ocean zones surrounding these countries. The PNA nations are expected to meet in New Zealand later this year to flesh out details of their plan to extract better financial returns on fish caught in their waters.
© RNZI 2008

Love gets better and better with age - study

An Otago University professor investigating love and romance among baby boomers aged over 50 says her initial scepticism turned to fascination. Professor Amanda Barusch, who teaches social work and community development, found the people she surveyed "consistently reported that love improved with age," the Salt Lake City Tribune reported. Prof Barusch -- who formerly taught at the University of Utah -- said she found a wide range of romantic experience when she interviewed 91 people aged 51 to 97 -- most of them widowed, but also including married couples and divorcees. She kept looking for a natural "cliff" when romantic experiences became consistently different but didn't find one.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Job outlook bleak: more students stay at school

There are indications that senior students are opting to stay at secondary school while the job market looks bleak. Some high schools have already started the new school year. Others begin the first term on Monday and some rolls will be higher than expected. Papatoetoe High School principal Peter Gall says students may be anxious about the job market and it appears some who were undecided, are going to return.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Mass power cuts in Victoria

Widespread power cuts caused by an explosion at an electrical substation caused problems across Victoria on Friday night, amid a record heatwave. All train services in Melbourne were cancelled and about 500,000 houses and businesses were left without electricity in the city's west, some parts of the CBD and western Victoria. Full power with back-up services won't be restored until the end of the weekend, when two transmission lines are repaired, although most people affected had power again by midnight. Earlier on Friday, power was cut to one million houses in Melbourne for an hour at a time. Melbourne recorded a top temperature above 43 degrees on Friday. It was the first time since records began in 1855 that the city notched up three consecutive days so hot. The temperature reached 45.1 (113F) degrees in Melbourne at 4.27pm (AEDT).
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Friday, January 30

More jail for NZ 'lamp post' criminal

One of the two handcuffed criminals, whose escape bid was thwarted when they ran either side of a lamp post ending up in a comical tangled heap on the ground, has had his prison sentence extended. Regan Reti, 20, pleaded guilty in Hastings District Court on Thursday to trying to escape custody and was sentenced to an extra month in jail on top of the two years he is already serving for assault. The second man, a 26-year-old, was remanded after his lawyer expressed concerns over his fitness to plead. The dumb and dumber criminals fled from a police escort while leaving a side entrance of Hastings District Court on Tuesday. But their break for freedom came to an abrupt end after they ran either side of a lamp post while handcuffed together, swung around and slammed into each other, landing in a crumpled heap on the ground. The episode was captured on closed circuit television and has since been a popular download on the video website You Tube.

Scorsese to use NZ for next film

US film-maker Martin Scorsese plans to shoot his next film, Silence, in New Zealand. Scorsese's production designer on The Aviator and Casino, Dante Ferretti, told The Australian that the adaptation of the novel by Shusako Endo and William Johnston about Portuguese Christian missionaries who arrived in Japan in the 17th-century had not yet been officially announced. But he said that at least some of the film would be shot on this side of the Tasman. Another major film, The Last Samurai, featuring Tom Cruise and set in 19th century Japan, was filmed in 2003 with much of the Japanese sets and scenery actually in Taranaki. Meanwhile, Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro is moving to New Zealand to work on The Hobbit, and Wellington director Peter Jackson's adaptation of the best-selling novel The Lovely Bones is set to open on December 26 in the United States, the newspaper reported.

Dodgy Irish salesmen

Frustrated police are again issuing warnings about Irish tourists selling dodgy generators, but say there is not much else they can do, as the men are not doing anything illegal. The Irishmen are continuing to sell their faulty and dangerous equipment across the upper North Island. The men have sparked complaints to police in Counties Manukau, the Bay of Plenty and Waikato. Police say the wheeler-dealers can be quite convincing, providing paperwork from a Melbourne company and GST registration documents. Police are recommending people do not deal with the men or buy the faulty products.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Changes to visas may cause delays

Changes to the process for obtaining British visas may mean delays for New Zealanders as applications will be dealt with from Canberra instead of Wellington from February 20. During the transition to the Canberra-based operation, some applicants may experience a small delay in appointments for their biometric photographs and fingerprints appointments in New Zealand, the British high Commission said today. High Commissioner George Fergusson said he was confident most people would not notice a change in the process. The High Commission in Wellington would become the sole post issuing British passports in Australia and New Zealand from July.

Recession good time to go back to school, says Turia

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says Maori laid off because of the recession should go back to school. Mrs Turia says the Government's proposed investments in infrastructure development might provide work for some of the Maori likely to lose their jobs in the months ahead. But she told Waatea News it is a good opportunity for others to think about their long-term futures, as often happens at this time in the economic cycle. Mrs Turia says the two or three years of hardship involved in getting an education at a later stage of life can pay off in better economic prospects for families.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Warning to upgrade emergency locator beacons

A warning has been issued to those who use emergency locator beacons that they should upgrade to the new 406 megahertz model immediately. The satellite supporting the old 121.5 and 243 megahertz beacons is being switched off at midnight on Saturday. From Saturday, the Rescue Coordination Centre in Wellington will no longer respond to distress calls from the old beacons. The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council says upgrading is a matter of life and death - because the old ones will be useless. The new beacons are more sophisticated and can send GPS information with precise locations and even phone numbers of emergency contacts.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Revealed - NZ's best city to live in

All of the major centres in New Zealand are said to have a distinct flavour of their own, but a survey released today has revealed which one offers the best lifestyle of all. And the city that came out on top is renowned for its university, medical school and historic buildings. Dunedin has been ranked the top place to live in New Zealand. And the news hasn't been good for the northern centres. A survey by the ASB Bank ranked Dunedin - the country's eighth-largest city - as the best city community ahead of Rodney District, north of Auckland, and Wellington. On the bottom of the ranking was Waitakere City although it was a close run with adjacent Auckland.

Child abuse research programme begins

A researcher behind an American study which reduced child abuse rates in areas of South Carolina is setting up a research group at Auckland University's education faculty. Professor Matthew Sanders was the co-investigator on a five-year study in South Carolina which found lower rates of confirmed abuse cases, child out-of-home placements, and child injuries in communities where the positive parenting programme, or "Triple-P", was implemented. Its key finding was an estimated 688 fewer cases of child maltreatment for every 100,000 children aged under-eight in communities where the programme was made available. He believed there could be a similar impact if the same exercise was conducted in New Zealand.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Child whooping cough cases on the rise

Parents are being urged to ensure their children's whooping cough vaccinations are up to date as cases of the illness have increased nationally over the past year. Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Ramon Pink said whooping cough was serious and could be life-threatening, but was preventable through vaccinations. Babies should be vaccinated at six weeks, three months and five months, and children should have booster doses at four and 11 years. Babies who did not receive their immunisations on time had a five-times-greater risk of being hospitalised with whooping cough, and children under one year were most at risk of serious complications from it, including death.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

US businessman must pay $920,000 in damages

NZPA/Tim Hales
An Auckland company boss has been awarded nearly $1 million in one of the country's biggest defamation payouts. In his decision released at the High Court in Auckland, Justice Mark Cooper ordered American businessman Vincent Siemer to pay Vector chairman Michael Stiassny $920,000 for defamatory comments stretching back to 2005. They included repeated accusations about Mr Stiassny's business practices and personal relationships and also ethnic slurs. Justice Cooper said in his decision Mr Siemer led protests outside the home of Mr Stiassny, whose children suffered harassment by their peers. Mr Stiassny had been appointed as a receiver of Mr Siemer's firm, Paragon Services, in July 2001. Mr Siemer later accused Mr Stiassny of declaring his company was insolvent when it was not.

Kunekune used to breed mini piggys for pets

NZPA / David Rowland
A Scottish zoo has used New Zealand kunekune pigs to breed miniature "teacup" pigs of a size suited to kept as household pets. It has four piglets -- the result of a cross with Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs -- which were the size of a teacup when they were born, the Scotsman newspaper reported. At two weeks old the piglets can easily fit into a mug, and when fully grown, they will only be between 30cm and 37cm long. Their parents, Mork and Mindy, first arrived at the Five Sisters Zoo, near Polbeth, West Lothian, two years ago.

KKK reported to be recruiting in Auckland

A former leader of the Ku Klax Klan says the organisation is actively recruiting members in Auckland. Johnny Lee Clary was named the imperial wizard of the Klan in 1989 but later became a born-again Christian and now travels the world teaching against racism and hatred. He told Nine to Noon that contacts in New Zealand have told him paraphernalia about the group is being distributed in Auckland as part of moves to recruit young members. He says the organisation targets young people from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Thursday, January 29

Toyota recalls Yaris model

New model Toyota Yaris cars are to be recalled in New Zealand due to a possible fault with seatbelts. Toyota says 3027 new model Yaris vehicles, in production from June 2005 to April 2007 are affected, as well as 16 used imports, 11 Vitz, and five Ractis model cars. The fault relates to a high temperature gas in part of the seatbelt, which could cause a fire in the event of a crash.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Mummy's face revealed

NZPA/Ross Setford
The face of an Egyptian mummy donated to Otago Museum more than a century ago has finally been revealed. The mummy has been at the Otago Museum for 116 years. Before that, it spent 2300 years entombed in Egypt. Yesterday, a team of museum and University of Otago staff that created a scientifically based, plaster representation of what she looked like while alive, unveiled their handiwork, The Otago Daily Times reported. About 200 people saw the face of a 35-year-old, middle-class Egyptian woman with long dark hair..."She looks like some of the people you see on the streets of Cairo."

Massive marlin drags fisherman off on three-hour fight

A speargun fisherman dragged three kilometres by a huge blue marlin off Great Barrier Island says he never thought of giving up the fight. When 18-year-old Nick Dobbyn speared the 213kg marlin last weekend it began a battle which lasted two and a half hours and carried him three kilometres. He said when he speared the fish from a distance of five metres it took off with an "explosive power" - dragging him and the buoy attached to his spear through the water.

Funding crisis at Kidicorp

The largest private provider of pre-school services and after school programmes in New Zealand says it has a funding crisis. Kidicorp owner Wayne Wright says 24 programmes need more Government funding. He says some afterschool care services will have to close unless the problem is addressed. He says Kidicorp is facing a loss of $400,000 loss this year. Because funding is contestable, he says there's no guarantee that current programmes will continue to be funded.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

NZ urged to work for safe haven in Sri Lanka

The Wellington Tamil Society wants the New Zealand Government to work with the United Nations to set up a safe haven in Sri Lanka. The United Nations estimates 250,000 Tamil civilians are caught in the crossfire as Sri Lankan troops and Tamil rebels wage fierce battles in the north of the country. Mani Maniparathy of the Wellington Tamil Society says many of its members have lost relatives in the fighting. He wants the Government to play a role in the crisis and to work through the UN to create a safe place for civilians.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

RAMSI to continue another three to five years - Key

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands is expected to remain in place for at least another three to five years. Mr Key gave the assessment after visiting RAMSI headquarters in Honiara and meeting prime minister, Derek Sikua. RAMSI was deployed in 2003 following an invitation by the Solomon's government after a breakdown in law and order there.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Big apple and pear export crop expected

Pipfruit New Zealand expects apple and pear crops in 2009 to be the best for many years. Chief executive Peter Beaven predicts exports will be up almost 17% on last year to just over 17 million cartons. Hawke's Bay is expected to provide most of the export apple crop again, with an estimated10.8 million cartons. Production from the Nelson region will be about half that.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Wednesday, January 28

Cyclone alert for Tonga

The National Weather Forecasting Centre in Tonga says a tropical cyclone alert is now in force for Tonga. It warns that people's supply of crops are likely to be affected by the cyclone, which is expected to affect Tongatapu, Vava'u, Ha'apai and 'Eua groups. Assistant forecaster Ofa Taumoefolau says gales of up to 160km have hit near the island of Tofua, while 285km winds were recorded near Vava'u on Wednesday morning. He expects staple crops will be damaged by the severe weather, with flooding to low-level areas.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Melbourne at hottest in 100 years

Australian meteorologists say Melbourne is about to experience its most intense heatwave in more than 100 years. Temperatures over the next four days are expected to be in the mid-40s across much of the state of Victoria. Scorching temperatures forced organisers to suspend play at the Australian Open on Wednesday. The tennis tournament's extreme heat policy was invoked when air temperatures soared above 40 degrees. Scott Williams, a senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, said Melbourne's temperatures would peak on Thursday, reaching 44C (111F) in some parts of the city.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Navy doc awarded $101,000 for 'callous' sacking

A Navy Hospital doctor has been awarded $101,000 by the Employment Relations Authority for a sacking it deemed "callous, hasty and rash". Fiona Ross-Taylor had her employment terminated by the Defence Force in December 2007, after nearly 12 years at the Navy Hospital in Devonport, Auckland. She was fired after raising concerns over being rostered to do work she was unqualified for. ERA member Leon Robinson awarded her $20,000 in compensation for "emotional trauma and distress suffered" as a result of her dismissal. He ordered the Chief of Defence Force to pay Dr Ross-Taylor $81,072.19 in compensation for lost income.

US Army data on $10 MP3 player

The United States Embassy says it's grateful to get back an MP3 player containing sensitive information about the US Army. The player was bought for $US10 from a thrift store in Oklahoma by Whangarei man Chris Ogle, who found confidential files containing phone numbers, names and social security numbers of American troops on it when he plugged it into a laptop. He thinks most of the files, which also included a confidential mission briefing, are several years old, dating back to 2005. Embassy spokesperson Janine Burns says Mr Ogle willingly gave up his MP3 player on Wednesday afternoon and they are thankful for his cooperation. She says it's not known how the confidential details ended up for sale in a second-hand store.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Bikes hitch a ride on Buses

Environment Canterbury is looking to spend around $250,000 to fit bike racks to the front of its Metro buses. The Christchurch City Council meets today to discuss the success of the 2007 trial on six different routes around Christchurch. It is expected to agree to funding racks for its 114 routes, despite acknowledging there could be a delay to other passengers while bikes are hooked on. ECan's regional transport chairwoman Jo Kane is optimistic about the project and is confident it will go ahead.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Warmest weeks still ahead - MetService

The few weeks ahead are usually the warmest of the year and the MetService says people should become familiar with fire restrictions in drier areas. MetService spokesman Bob McDavitt said much of the country had had over 20mm of rain this month, but several regions remained particularly dry. The driest areas were identified as Cape Reinga and Whangarei, between Taupo and Napier, the Cook Strait area, the Nelson and Kaikoura areas, and between Timaru and Oamaru.

More oil exploration off Taranaki

New Zealand Oil and Gas has secured a new five-year exploration permit for an area covering 3,000 square kilometres off the coast of Taranaki. The company said its analysis, along with the site's proximity to the Kupe oil field, indicates there is a good chance the field may hold oil or wet gas. It is hoping to get a seismic vessel which is currently in New Zealand waters to survey the area.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

NZ recruitment drive for UK care agency

The head of British care agency is flying to New Zealand to stage a recruitment drive because she can't find enough people to work as carers in the UK. Camilla Miles, managing director of Corinium Care, in Gloucestershire, is on her way to New Zealand to find carers for the elderly and disabled, a local newspaper, The Forester, reported. Despite the economic downturn and rising unemployment, she has struggled to recruit staff in the UK. The company, based in Nailsworth, near Stroud, has more than 700 registered carers from Britain and recruitment offices in Zimbabwe and South Africa, but the trip to New Zealand is a first.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

NZ sensor labels being used in British supermarkets

Colour-coded New Zealand labels, which automatically tell shoppers when fruit is ripe to eat, are to be introduced in British supermarkets. RipeSense packs featuring a traffic light-style system to measure the condition of the fruit inside are to be tried in Tesco stores more than a decade after being dreamed up by HortResearch scientists Keith Sharrock and Ron Henzell. The sensors reacted to aromas released by the fruit during the ripening process. When the sensor showed red, the fruit was crunchy, orange indicated it was firm and yellow meant it was juicy. Initially used on pears, the labels were further developed in New Zealand for use on summerfruit (stone fruit), kiwifruit, avocado and melons.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Cheeky chick comes to town

It may not be able to talk, surf or tap dance, but a penguin still managed to attract attention after making it all the way into central Christchurch via the Avon River. The white-flippered penguin chick was "detained" by police after being spotted by a concerned citizen near the Avon River boatsheds yesterday morning. "He saw it looking very lost near the boatsheds and was a little worried that the ducks might try to get at it, so he brought it in to the station," Sergeant Graham Duncan said. Police rang the Department of Conservation (DOC), and "allowed its release into [the] protective custody" of two DOC workers who came to the station shortly before 9am. DOC ranger Anita Spencer said the white-flippered penguin was a rare, local sub-species of the blue penguin.

Pacific forum lays it on line for Fiji

Fiji's been given a deadline of May 1 to announce an election date. Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Papua New Guinea have also said it must hold elections by the end of this year. If its interim government doesn't meet the terms, it'll be suspended from all leadership meetings of the forum. It will also be prevented from receiving benefits that come from belonging to the forum, including new financial aid. Interim Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama, who has stayed away from the meeting, has said it may be at least another four or five years before the country goes to the polls. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has described that as unacceptable.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Australia signs partnerships agreements with Solomons and Kiribati

The Australian government has signed partnership agreements to promote development in the Solomon Islands and Kiribati at Tuesday’s Special Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ meeting in Port Moresby. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the partnerships would help to improve school attendance rates and economic growth in both nations through extra assistance from Australia. The partnerships aimed to improve service delivery, infrastructure and economic in the Solomon Islands and to improve basic education, workforce skills and economic growth in Kiribati.
© RNZI 2008

Tropical depression nears Niue

A tropical weather depression is looming near Niue with the potential to develop into a tropical cyclone. The Niue Met Service says the depression was 685 kilometres west of Niue early Monday afternoon local time.
© RNZI 2008

No health cuts overall, says Ryall

Health Minister Tony Ryall says any savings made in a review of health spending will be spent on improving services for patients. Former Treasury head Murray Horn has been appointed to chair a ministerial group set up to look at cutting health sector bureaucracy. It's the first in a series of groups the National-led Government intends setting up to review public spending. Under its agreement with Act, National Party agreed to establish such groups. But Mr Ryall says this group's mandate is not to cut overall health spending. Rather, he says, its aim is to find savings in the bureaucracy that can then be spent directly on improving patient care. Mr Ryall says doctors and nurses will be given more say in how money is spent on health services.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Tuesday, January 27

NZ honours victims of the Holocaust

Victims of the Holocaust were remembered with ceremonies in Wellington today. The ceremonies to honour the victims were conducted at the Holocaust Memorial at Makara cemetery during the United Nations International Day of Commemoration. Representatives from the New Zealand National Commission for Unesco, the Wellington Regional Jewish Council and the Holocaust Research and Education Centre joined others at the cemetery , followed by a ceremony at Parliament's Grand Hall led by Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson. The day marked the 64th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camps, deputy chairman of the National Commission Andrew Matthews said.

Kiwi, snails, lizards on the move

Solid Energy has begun searching for wildlife it might need to move before building temporary drilling sites within its Upper Waimangaroa Mining Permit, north of Westport. The site will be home to the company's new Cypress Opencast Mine. Solid Energy spokesman Bryn Somerville says the Great Spotted Kiwi, native land snails and three species of lizards are of interest to the company. Kiwi eggs and chicks will be transferred to the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve near Christchurch and the snails will be relocated to similar habitats nearby. The lizards will be released at least 50 metres from the site.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Number of sea lion pups drops dramatically

NZPA / David Rowland
The number of sea lion pups born this season on the Auckland Islands has dropped by 31 percent, Department of Conservation (DOC) researchers said today. More than 85 percent of all New Zealand sea lion breeding occurs on the islands, and DOC is becoming concerned about the growing vulnerability of breeding colonies among the threatened species. Marine conservation manager Simon Banks said a team of researchers was on the island trying to find reasons for the decline. "Indications at this stage are that this is not a repeat of the bacterial epidemics that led to a decrease in the number of pups born in the past," Mr Banks said.

Foreign language skills secret uncovered

Exposure to the sound patterns of another language, even if it is initially meaningless, could hold the key to quickly picking up a foreign tongue, says a researcher. Victoria University PhD graduate Paul Sulzberger made his discovery while trying to find out why many students dropped out in the early days of trying to learn a new language. He believed his findings could revolutionise the teaching of languages. Listening to a language's sound patterns was critical as it set up structures in the brain required to learn the words, he found. "Our ability to learn new words is directly related to how often we have been exposed to the particular combinations of the sounds which make up the words," he said. "Neural tissue required to learn and understand a new language will develop automatically from simple exposure to the language -- which is how babies learn their first language." Listening to songs, movies and even foreign news reports on the internet were all easy ways to expose the brain to foreign language sounds, Dr Sulzberger said.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Labour pledges to listen to electorate

The Labour Party leadership admits it lost touch with the electorate in 2008 but says the party is enormously motivated to reconnect with New Zealanders. For the first time in nine years, the party is holding its two-day caucus retreat outside Wellington. Leader Phil Goff said the Auckland caucus meeting is the first in a series to be held outside the capital as the party attempts to listen to local people. He said the party is proud of its achievements but prepared to acknowledge its mistakes, and that it lost connection with the electorate. The party intends to earn the right to govern again, he said.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Fiji expels newspaper publisher

Another newpaper publisher has been thrown out of Fiji by the interim government of Commodore Frank Bainimarama. The deportation of Fiji Times publisher Rex Gardner was announced on the newspaper's website. Mr Gardner, an Australian, was put on a plane bound for Sydney on Tuesday morning. Last week the High Court fined the newspaper $100,000 for publishing a letter criticising the court's validation of the 2006 military coup. The letter described Commodore Frank Bainimarama as a criminal, no better than the rebels of 2000. Mr Gardner's predecessor Evan Hannah was deported by the Fiji government in May 2008.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Mayor to give away pay increase due to tough economic times

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker intends to donate his pay raise this year to charity, saying it would not be right to take it in the current economic climate. Mr Parker will give his $5,032 dollar pay raise to either a charity or a community project. He said as mayor of one of the larger cities he can afford to waive the increase but he does not expect mayors of smaller towns to follow his lead. Mr Parker currently earns just over $158,000 a year. The move follows a call by Prime Minister John Key for a freeze on MPs salaries.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Business booming for budget tourism

While some tourism operators suffer, business is booming for holiday parks and backpacker hostels. The Tourism Industry Association's latest monthly survey of businesses shows 60 percent have had positive rather than negative trading over the Christmas period. Spokeswoman Sarah Berry says while international visitor numbers are down 5-10 percent, domestic tourism has held up strongly over summer. She says the increase in business for the likes of holiday parks may be due to people looking for a cheaper holiday in tough economic times.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

NZ woman attacked by tiger in Thailand

A New Zealand woman is recovering from a severe leg wound in Thailand after being attacked by a tiger. Ruth Corlett, 45, apparently touched the tiger on the head at the Khumsu Chiang Mai Tiger Centre when it turned on her biting her on the leg. Mrs Corlett, who had moved to Thailand in 2007 with her family to work for a charity-based organisation, was taken to hospital and had 54 stitches inserted in the wound, The New Zealand Herald reported.

Monday, January 26

Founding member of Howard Morrison Quartet dies

A founding member of the Howard Morrison Quartet, Gerry Merito, has died. Mr Merito penned comedy-style hits for the quartet during its heyday in the 1960s, including My Old Man's an All Black and Battle of the Waikato. He also had a solo career. Sir Howard Morrison says he is pleased he had a chance to perform with Mr Merito again in December while filming a Maori Television special on the quartet.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

New guidelines for sunbed operators

Solarium operators will be expected to ban people under 18 and those with very fair skin from using their sunbeds, under new voluntary standards. Sunbed therapists are criticising the guidelines, which also recommend the maximum UV intensity of sunbeds be cut by 40%. Indoor Tanning Association spokesperson Gabrielle Brown said no one from the industry in New Zealand was invited to participate in discussions were held jointly by Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand. Ms Brown said the committee which decided the standards was one-sided, with 80% wanting the indoor tanning industry shut down.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

World's oldest yacht in Anniversary Day regatta

One of the biggest one-day regattas in the world has taken place on Auckland Harbour. About 500 boats, from tall ships and classic yachts to vintage tugboats, are taking part in the annual Auckland Anniversary Day regatta on Monday. Among them is oldest racing yacht in the world, the Jessie Logan, which first sailed in 1880. For the first time this year, a temporary speed limit of 12 knots was imposed to keep speedboats under control.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Auckland protest held over Tamil conflict

Sir Lankans living in Auckland have staged a 48-hour quiet protest, drawing attention to what they claim is genocide against Tamil supporters in their home country. Several hundred people have been part of the gathering in Aotea Square, which ends with a candlelight ceremony at 9.30pm on Monday. Organiser Viji Ratnaveal says government troops are shelling and killing Tamil people in so-called "safety zones". Mr Ratnaveal wants New Zealand to recognise the plight of the Tamils and to push for a media ban on reporting the conflict to be lifted.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Bankrupt's plans stun creditors

Creditors of a bankrupt Christchurch developer whose companies owed up to $50 million are stunned he is back in business in London. Neil Dougan, who left the country in mid-2007 with debts of between $30 million and $50 million, is back in the property business, having bought a development site near Wimbledon in October last year for $235,000. Many small businesses and former staff around the South Island have been stung by his business failures, but the chief victims are dozens of investors who believed in his ambitious schemes. Now he has lodged an application with the Merton Council to erect a two-storey building that will form two flats. It is not known how he is going to finance the building, which is planned on two former council car parks. Jo Moore, who worked in a marketing role on Dougan's various projects in New Zealand, said she was astounded Dougan was able "to just set up in Britain and raise funds and start other developments".

Pair escape before crashed glider burns

Two people managed to escape before their glider crashed and was gutted by fire in Hawke's Bay. The crash happened at Waipukurau Aerodrome on Monday. Chief flying instructor Ross Macdonald says an instructor and a student clipped a power line in their glider and crashed, sparking a grass fire that destroyed the aircraft. Police say the pair suffered minor injuries.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Telecom working to fix broadband fault

Telecom says there is a fault is affecting its broadband services. The company says technicians are working on the fault, which has affected internet access since the start of the weekend. A voice message on the company's phone service says an update will be issued at 5pm on Monday. Telecom has not given any details about how widely subscribers are affected.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Asian slowdown larger than expected - Treasury

Asian economies are slowing more abruptly than expected, says a Treasury adviser, which will increasingly affect New Zealand's economy over the course of the year. Economic data from major trading partners in the region points to an abrupt slowdown with China, now growing at its slowest rate in seven years. Treasury macroeconomics adviser Michael Ridell said the slowdown in the Asian region is a combination of reduced domestic demand and the stuttering western economies. He said gloomy economic data has not yet shown up in trade figures for New Zealand and it is difficult to predict what is in store.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Young Kiwis highly connected

Cellphones are trouncing cigarettes for well-connected young Kiwis. A "flagship" Unicef report, The State of the World's Children, rates New Zealand's 15 to 24-year-olds among the best-connected with cellphones and the internet. There were 94 cellphone owners and 79 internet users per 100 Kiwis aged between 15 and 24, the report said. The average for the industrialised world was 93 cellphones and 59 internet connections per 100 young people. Research suggests cellphones could be replacing cigarettes in popularity among young people. A boom in cellphone ownership has coincided with a steady decline in cigarette use by young people since the mid-1990s. More than 80 per cent of New Zealand teenagers are non-smokers, and the number of youths who have never tried cigarettes continues to climb. British experts believe cellphones have replaced many of the social mechanisms cigarettes previously offered young people.

Waitemata Harbour awash with yachts and boats

Spectacular sights are promised on the Waitemata Harbour today, as Auckland's 169th anniversary is celebrated. The Anniversary Regatta, which is New Zealand's oldest sporting event, features everything from tall ships and vintage tugboats to radio controlled boats and the Navy frigate Te Mana. Regatta chairman Eric Mahoney says the main event, the Classic Yacht Race, has drawn some stunning vessels from overseas. The vessel Fidelis has sailed from Sydney to take part and Infidel, now renamed Ragtime, has come from California. Auckland Anniversary Day covers the historical Auckland Province which includes Northland, Waikato, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, King Country and Poverty Bay.
© 2009 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Community throw open curtains for Year of the Ox

Almost 600 guests celebrated Chinese New Year on Saturday night as they ate a sumptuous Asian feast. Today marks the official start of the Year of the Ox, in which people who are hard working, strong and honest are born. Head of the Chinese New Year feast steering committee, Thomas Lin, said the party was the biggest celebration of its kind held in Christchurch. It brought together people from a range of Asian countries.
The Press

Doctors to assess each other under proposed system

The Medical Council wants doctors to adopt a system of peer review of their colleagues to help lift doctors' competence and boost patient safety. The council has begun consulting doctors' groups over its plan to move to a system of doctors being assessed periodically by others within their specialty. Those carrying out the reviews would visit the doctor, watch consultations, examine records and interview the practitioners' colleagues. Council chairman John Campbell said despite robust requirements of doctors to keep up to date and meet standards, there is room for improvement.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Sunday, January 25

Key off to PNG

Prime Minister John Key will fly to Papua New Guinea to attend the special Pacific Islands Forum meeting to discuss Fiji's route back to democracy. There was confusion that the meeting would not go ahead after PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare shocked forum members by announcing he would postpone it until February 10. But late yesterday the meeting was rescheduled for its original date after Niue, the forum's chair, overruled the decision to postpone. The meeting will discuss the fate of Fiji's forum membership.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Child support after surrogacy

There are reports the Australian government is demanding child support payments from a New Zealand woman who had a baby for two gay Queensland men. The Sydney Morning Herald says the case is raising fears of financial clawbacks for other New Zealand surrogates. In another case an Auckland woman is eight months pregnant with a son to another Australian gay couple. Surrogacy is illegal in Queensland and other parts of Australia, but not in New Zealand. A family law expert here says surrogates could be forced to pay child support in both countries if their babies were not adopted.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Local councils seek to set up Kiwibank franchises

NZPA/Ross Setford
Six local councils have been secretly looking at setting up a community banking network in partnership with Kiwibank, aiming to return funds to the community. Kiwibank franchises were already being successfully operated by councils in Bluff and Cheviot in the South Island, where they provided staff, facilities and Kiwibank transactions, and received a commission from Kiwibank. A confidential report by Porirua council officers said that the partnership between Kiwibank and Porirua City, Far North District, North Shore City, Manukau City, Thames-Coromandel District and Opotiki District councils will be announced next month, according to the Sunday Star-Times.

Rural real estate booming

While urban house prices slump, it seems there is no let up in the demand for rural real estate. Bayleys Canterbury says demand for quality blocks of land is still strong, despite economic uncertainty. Agent Bill Whalan says high prices for beef and better lamb prices have re-ignited the market. He says larger farms are harder to sell, but that is mostly because they are more difficult to fund. However, the largest farm sold before Christmas was worth $3.25 million. And he believes the medium to long term outlook for agriculture is probably the best it has been since the fifties.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Cruise ship rescue underway in southern ocean

A daring long-distance operation involving two helicopters is under way to rescue a cruise ship crew member near Campbell Island. The man is understood to have seriously injured his hand while aboard the Bremen. It is unknown at this stage how the injury occurred. Rescue Coordination Centre spokesperson Sophie Hazelhurst said they were alerted to the accident yesterday morning but the ship was too far out to consider a rescue operation. The ship has been making its way towards Campbell Island and is currently 50-60 nautical miles South of the island, she said. Campbell Island is situated 700km South of New Zealand.

Parachute in full swing

It is another scorching day for the thousands camped out at at the Parachute Christian music festival in Hamilton. Last night, one of the event's headline acts, Dave Dobbyn, performed to the crowd of more than 25,000 people at Mystery Creek. Today's line-up is due to include Crucial Movement, Sweet and Sour Dance Crew and House of Shem.
Parachute 2009 ends tomorrow.

NZ's first electronic toll road opens

The 7.5 km extension to State Highway 1 between Orewa to Puhoi north of Auckland opened on Sunday. The Transport Agency removed barriers just after midnight clearing the way for motorists to use the highway. The agency says the northern gateway route is the first fully electronic toll road in New Zealand. There are no toll booths, and motorists pay either before travel, or within three days after using the road, by setting up an account, paying online or via a call centre.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Saturday, January 24

Ratana celebrations in full swing

The focus at Ratana Pa near Wanganui is moving away from politics, after MPs converged on the gathering yesterday. The annual event to celebrate the birthday of the founder of the Ratana Church has been addressed by Prime Minister John Key, who spoke of the benefits for Maori from his government's relationship with the Maori Party. Ratana leaders had earlier criticised Labour for its election loss, saying while there have been achievements for Maori in the past nine years, Ratana will not be taken for granted in the years to come. The thousands of Ratana followers are now involved in church and sports activities.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Helen Clark named greatest living NZer

NZPA/Ross Setford
Helen Clark may have been dumped as prime minister, but for many people she is the most respected living New Zealander. The former prime minister of nine years has won a newspaper poll where people voted her the Greatest Living New Zealander. Helen Clark said in the Herald today it was "a nice way to start the year".

More joining Defence Force

NZPA / David Rowland
More people are joining the New Zealand Defence Force, and staying with it, new figures show. Personnel assistant chief Brigadier Mark Wheeler said recruitment and retention had been critical issues for the defence force in recent years, with the previously buoyant labour market making it harder to attract and retain personnel. But latest figures showed that at the end of last December, the defence force had 14,150 personnel, up 4.5 percent on a year earlier.

PM unlikely to become fluent in Maori

Prime Minister John Key would like to be fluent in Maori, but says he just does not have the time to learn it. Mr Key spoke for the first time as Prime Minister at Ratana Pa yesterday, after listening to an hour of speeches, which were mostly in Maori. Afterwards, Mr Key was asked whether it was time for a New Zealand prime minister to be fluent in both of the country's official languages. He said it would be an advantage given New Zealand is a bilingual country, but he said practically, there are an enormous number of things taking place in his day, so the probability of him becoming fluent in Te Reo is next to nil.
© 2009 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Australia's $4 billion bid to save jobs

The Australian government has launched a $4 billion bid to save the jobs of 50,000 construction workers. It's going to work with major banks to finance office buildings, shopping centres and other commercial property projects. The Weekend Australian newspaper says the government will put up $A2 billion and the rest will come from the big four banks - ANZ, Commonwealth, National Australia and Westpac. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced the scheme on Friday night, saying that up to a third of jobs in the commercial property sector were at risk because of weak demand and the tight availability of credit. The sector employs 150,000 people.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Windfarm submissions sought

The Minister for the Environment is seeking submissions on a large scale windfarm planned for the Manawatu region by Mighty River Power. A streamlined resource consent process was announced last month for the Turitea wind farm, south west of Palmerston North. Submissions close on 23 February. The windfarm was originally intended to be 308 - 360 megawatts but has been reduced in size by nine turbines after public consultation. Two large wind farms are already operated in the area by Trustpower. Meridian Energy and Contact Energy also have schemes in preliminary development.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Only two whales still alive after stranding

Only two whales are still alive after a mass beaching of sperm whales on a remote island off north-west Tasmania. A pod of about 50 beached themselves on Perkins Island on Thursday night. Marine biologists and Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife staff spent Friday on the island trying to save the seven still alive. However, two died on Friday afternoon and another three overnight.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Pacific Forum still going ahead - chair

Pacific Islands Forum chair Toke Talagi says as far as he's aware, a meeting of Pacific Island Forum Leaders next Tuesday in Papua New Guinea is still going ahead. PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare announced on Friday that the meeting has been deferred. He said the gathering has been rescheduled to 10 February. But Toke Talagi says he spoke to Sir Michael on Friday and they agreed that the meeting will proceed as planned. Mr Talagi says he still plans to leave for Papua New Guinea. Earlier, the Forum secretariat said its staff were on their way to PNG.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

UK taxpayers pay holidaying NZ workers' rent

NZPA/Ross Setford
A British council is spending almost 40,000 pounds (NZ$106,000) of ratepayers' money on flats to house New Zealand workers building a surf reef, even though they have gone home for the northern winter. Bournemouth council rented four two-bedroom flats for eight New Zealanders who stopped work in October and were not expected back in Britain until April, the Daily Echo newspaper reported. Raglan-based marine engineering company ASR Ltd, building Europe's first artificial surf reef on the southern English coast , suspended work when winter arrived. The reef was intended to turn Bournemouth into a surfers' paradise and help generate $26.7 million a year for the local economy. Council said other "ASR representatives" had used the flats while the workers were in New Zealand.

Bibles reaching captive audience

By PHIL HAMILTON - The Dominion Post
The word of God was originally delivered from on high and a Christchurch woman is attempting to take it back there. Redcliffs architect Ria Wayne is trying to put Bibles into every Department of Conservation hut in New Zealand. Since she began her mission eight years ago, forming charitable trust Seek Freedom, she and trust volunteers have put Bibles into 375 of DOC's 950 huts.

Crowds enjoy fun at buskers fest

Buskers took to the Christchurch streets for the first time yesterday as the sound of laughter and cheering filled the city centre. The fine weather brought hundreds of people to Victoria and Cathedral squares to enjoy the first day of street performances at the World Buskers Festival. Audience levels stayed strong throughout the day with the warm evening keeping people in Cathedral Square.

Classic music festival underway

A classic music festival is underway in Nelson. The Adams Festival's 10th anniversary began at a gala event in Nelson Cathedral on Friday night. International acts include the Prazak String Quartet from Czechoslovokia, pianist Piers Lane from Australia and an American classical guitarist, David Tanenbaum. The festival began in 1992 with five performances. This year there are 42.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Friday, January 23

Fish company expects approval for cockle harvest in Dunedin

Otago shellfish company Southern Clams expects sandbanks in the middle of Dunedin's harbour to soon be officially certified as suitable for harvesting native littleneck clams, known as tuaki. The "growing area approval" by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority is required before the shellfish can be harvested for sale. The approval process required a 27-month sanitation survey. An independent survey of 180 hectares in the middle banks, an area less than 4 percent of the entire harbour, measured the clam biomass at 13,500 tonnes.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Kiwi company repairs damaged roads in Fiji for free

A New Zealand roadworks company is repairing roads damaged in the Fiji floods, for free. Hiway Stabilizers has contributed equipment and workers from its Suva site to the western division badly hit by flooding that caused as much as $100 million in damage, much of it around the capital Nadi. It has provided 10 drivers and operators, trucks, grader, stabilising hoe and roller as well two water-carriers, the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reported. General manager Paul Boocock, said the company had been working on Fiji's roads for nearly nine years, and welcomed the opportunity to help.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

One in five Maori at risk of diabetes, says study

By Eloise Gibson
One in five Maori may have diabetes or its fore-runner without knowing it, and the number is likely to be even higher for those who are poorer, says a study. Researchers for Te Wai o Rona: Diabetes Prevention Strategy tested 4,269 Maori aged 28 and older from the Waikato and Lakes areas over three years. They found one in five had diabetes or problems processing glucose - a sign diabetes may be about to develop - including one in 10 women aged between 28 and 40.

Cervical cancer vaccination for girls

A cervical cancer vaccination will now be available for girls as young as twelve. Gardasil helps reduce the development of Human Papilloma Virus related pre-cancerous abnormalities. Biopharmaceutical company CSL Biotherapies says New Zealand is now in line with the rest of the developed world, by reducing diseases caused by HPV. Manager Mike Taylor says reaching younger girls in schools will optimise the vaccine's efficacy, as it is most effective before girls are exposed to the HPV virus. He says Medsafe has clinically proven the vaccine is effective and has a very good safety profile.
© 2009 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Pacific Islanders from Taiwan?

NZPA/Air New Zealand
New research into language evolution has provided more evidence that Pacific Island populations, including Maori, originated from Taiwan thousands of years ago. Scientists at Auckland University have used computer analyses on vocabulary from 400 "Austronesian" languages to determine how the Pacific was settled. "The Austronesian language family is one of the largest in the world, with 1200 languages spread across the Pacific," department of psychology professor Russell Gray said. "The Austronesians arose in Taiwan around 5200 years ago, and before entering the Philippines they paused for around 1000 years, then spread across 7000km from the Philippines to Polynesia." After settling Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, the Austronesians paused for another 1000 years before spreading further into Polynesia and eventually reaching New Zealand, Hawaii and Easter Island, he said.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Largest multi-day music festival getting under way

Thousands of people are descending on Mystery Creek in Hamilton for the Southern Hemisphere's largest multi-day Christian music festival which gets underway today. The headline acts at Parachute 2009 include Casting Crowns, Atlanta crunk-rockers Family Force Five, David Crowder Band, Portland's Kutless and New Zealand's Dave Dobbyn. The bands representing the local scene include Parachute Band, Rapture Ruckus, Mumsdollar, Nathan King, Kingston and All Left Out. A crowd of more than 25,000 is expected for the three day event.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

New toll road to open on Sunday

An extension to State Highway One between Orewa to Puhoi will open north of Auckland on Sunday. The Transport Agency says the northern gateway route will be the first fully electronic toll road in New Zealand. There are no toll booths. The opening is two months ahead of schedule. Fees will be $2 for cars and light utilities and $4 for heavy vehicles. Payment will be made through accounts or at stop points within a three day window. Drivers can also pay through the internet or a call centre.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Thursday, January 22

Wellingtonians urged to save water

Wellingtonians are being urged to be frugal with their water usage with no sign of rain as the balmy days continue. Andrew Samuel from Greater Wellington says the four cities are now using water from the region's storage lakes because river levels are so low. He says while lake levels are 10% higher than this time last year, the situation could change if rain does not show up soon. He says the hotter it becomes, the more water locals use.
Copyright © 2008, Television New Zealand Limited

Worm hits Health Ministry computers

By MICHAEL FIELD - Fairfax Media
A vicious worm-infection has crashed the Ministry of Health's computer systems but an official says the medicine is working and they are back running. But deputy director general Alan Hesketh said their staff were still not allowed to use the internet. "We want to be 100 percent sure it is clean before reconnecting," he said through a spokesman. The ministry was infected by a worm known as "W32.Downadup" or "Conficker" which hit early in January, infecting over 2000 ministry PCs and its mainframe computers.

Peanut bars recalled

A salmonella scare has led to the recall of American peanut bars in New Zealand. Abbott Nutrition has initiated the voluntary recall of Zone Perfect Peanut Toffee bars. The company says the bars contain peanut ingredients supplied by the Peanut Corporation of America, a company whose products have caused ongoing outbreaks of salmonella. Abbott Nutrition says no salmonella has been detected in the Zone Perfect Peanut Toffee bars, but it is urging consumers to destroy the product. New Zealand consumers concerned about the bars should contact Abbott Nutrition's customer service centre on 0800 666 444.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Returning mining workers finding it tough to get jobs

Mining workers returning to New Zealand following worldwide job cuts in the industry are finding it difficult to get new work in this country. The world's biggest mining group, BHP Biliton, plans to cut 6000 jobs worldwide, because of falling demand for its products. Aggregate & Quarry Association president James Boyce says a slowdown in production is also causing some New Zealand companies freeze recruitment and lay-off staff. He says, worldwide job cuts in the last four to six weeks have seen ex-pat mining workers return to this country, seeking re-employment. While the workers are highly skilled, Mr Boyce says they are finding it tough to find jobs.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Hotel workers laid off due to Fiji flooding

Some hotels in Nadi have started laying off employees as a result of a low number of visitors amid the recent floodings in Fiji. Fijilive reports the Sheraton, Westin, Raddison and hotels around Denarau have laid off temporary employees and have advised some permanent staff to go on leave. The report gives no numbers. Hotels have reportedly kept quiet about the latest development.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Warning issued over hybrid vehicle advertising

The Commerce Commission has issued a warning to a car company about the way it advertised a hybrid vehicle as more fuel efficient than others. Hyundai Motors New Zealand used results from a world solar challenge event in 2007 for a billboard and TV campaign in July and August last year. Both advertisements claimed the Hyundai i30 was more fuel efficient and emitted less carbon compared to other hybrid cars in the event. But the Commerce Commission says it failed to include vital comparative information, including the fact the vehicle was driven by a professional driver.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Wednesday, January 21

Good year tipped for first-home buyers

New data suggests home affordability in New Zealand is at its best level in four years and will improve significantly over the coming year in what will be a boon for first-home buyers. Financial information website says the affordability increase is due to the slumping housing market and an unprecedented fall in fixed mortgage rates. The website also says a reduction in tax rates has also helped lift disposable incomes.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Veterans suing British ministry over nuke tests

The first court hearing is due to start in London on Wednesday in a multimillion-dollar compensation case involving New Zealand veterans. The case is being brought by veterans of British nuclear weapons tests, including those on Malden and Christmas Island in Kiribati in the 1950s. It includes hundreds of New Zealand, Fijian and British veterans who are suing Britain's Defence Ministry for millions in compensation. The veterans believe they were used as guinea pigs to study the effects of radiation and allege that the nuclear tests they witnessed led to cancers, skin defects, fertility problems and reduced life expectancy.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

No worries about NZ banks says expert

A banking expert says there is no indication New Zealand banks are making big losses and need bailing out. After yesterday's cabinet meeting on the economy, Prime Minister John Key refused to rule out the possibility of bailing out New Zealand banks, as the American government has had to do. David Tripe, the director of Massey University's Centre for Banking says New Zealand banks have tightened their lending to housing only. He says if there were cuts in lending to other sectors there would be concern about the availability of funds for business but Mr Tripe says the figures he has seen so far do not indicate there is a problem in that respect.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Valentines treat for music lovers

If you are looking for a romantic treat for Valentine's Day, how about a bit of opera from the best? Dame Kiri Te Kanawa will sing in Wellington on February 14. She will perform at the Michael Fowler Centre, accompanied by pianist Terence Dennis. The concert will be called "In Love With Kiri" and will feature romantic songs and arias.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

New spelling champion sought

Students hoping to be this year's New Zealand spelling bee champion will be cramming to get the chance to compete in the US competition in Washington DC. The NZ spelling bee, now in its fifth year, is open to all year nine students . Up for grabs will be a chance to win a return trip for two to the United States capital to compete in the 82nd National Spelling Bee in May. The NZ Spelling Bee was designed to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabulary, and develop correct English usage, said the event's manager, Janet Lucas. Spellers keen to enter can register on
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

UK NZer of Year finalists named

The finalists for the New Zealander of the Year in Britain have been announced in London. The three finalists are Sir Graeme Davies, the vice chancellor of the University of London; Dr John Hood, vice chancellor of Oxford University; and Esther Jessop, founding member of Ngati Ranana, the London Maori cultural group. New Zealand Society president Helen Campbell said the finalists shared "their community spirit, dedication and enthusiasm through a diverse range of activities, which make a significant contribution to the links and profile of New Zealand in the United Kingdom".
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Events to mark anniversary of Bounty's burning

Miniature replicas of one of the world's most notorious ships are being burned this week in many countries in a gesture of friendship to the people of the remote Pitcairn Islands. The gesture comes as about 50 islanders celebrate the 219th anniversary of the day the armed British ship Bounty was burnt in the bay now known as Bounty Bay. Bounty was seized by Fletcher Christian and his fellow mutineers on April 28, 1789. They set Captain William Bligh and some of his crew adrift before sailing Bounty to Pitcairn Islands, about half way between New Zealand and Chile. The mutineers arrived at Pitcairn in 1790 and on January 23, burnt Bounty to the waterline. The mutiny and burning of the ship has led to hundreds of books and several movies. Fletcher Christian has been portrayed by some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, including Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Marlon Brando and Mel Gibson.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Overseas buyers default on wool payments

The New Zealand wool industry reports an increase in defaults on payments by overseas buyers hit by the slowing economy. The international commodity price for wool has slumped: New Zealand now exports almost half the value of wool it did 10 years ago. Wool Exporters Council executive manager Nick Nicholson, says falling wool prices and a sliding New Zealand dollar has prompted more buyers to break contracts. He says the contracts are binding, but often arbitration procedures are not worth pursuing.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

North - South power upgrade due by 2012

Three companies are vying to take on an upgrade of the undersea electricity link between the North and South Islands. The new $700 million link will double the amount of electricity that can be transferred between the two islands. Transpower chief executive Patrick Strange, says the current link is running at capacity, and the expansion project is seen as urgent by the entire electricity industry. Dr Strange says the contract should be awarded later this year and the link should be completed in April, 2012.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Inauguration function at US Embassy

Government officials and members of the diplomatic core were among the guests at the United States Embassy in Wellington for the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington. Guests began arriving at 5.15am on Wednesday after being processed through security checks. As part of the former Bush administration, Ambassador William McCormick stepped down in December. In his place, charge d'affairs David Keegan called this an historic day for the United States and the world, and one he had never thought he would see. A Radio New Zealand reporter at the embassy says the atmosphere was quiet as the audience absorbed the speeches and gravity of the moment.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Tuesday, January 20

Queensland declares flood disaster

Queensland on Tuesday declared a flood disaster over an area the size of France and Germany after recent storms. Thirty Queensland communities covering 969,000 square kilometres were declared disaster zones by Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts, including many outback and rural communities. Two communities are expected to be isolated for at least another six weeks. Eight big rivers remain in flood after heavy rains and a cyclone moved across the state, cutting roads and forcing many small communities to rely on air drops of food and fresh water. Flooding is expected eventually to extend inland, helping fill lakes and relieving a long-running drought in parts of Australia's desert interior and tropical north.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Maori asked to donate to Fiji

The Maori Party is making a direct appeal to Maori to dig deep and give money to the victims of the Fiji floods. The Maori Party is using Maori media organisations to encourage people to donate to an appeal they have set up. Co-leader Pita Sharples says Maori are usually not directly encouraged to get involved in appeals for disasters overseas. He says in this case the party is making a direct appeal because the people affected are New Zealand's Pacific neighbours. The Maori Party is donating $10,000 to the Fiji Flood Relief fund, and other donations can be made at any ANZ Bank.

Hot weather Hot tempers

Hamilton police are urging people to keep their cool after a couple of bizarre incidents in the city in the past two days. This morning a man who was allegedly breaching his bail conditions leapt into Waikato River to evade police officers. He told police he would rather drown than be arrested - but was eventually dragged onto the Police Rescue Boat. Yesterday afternoon another man was pulled over by police for driving an unroadworthy vehicle. The man starting punching his own car - and with the help of others, completely destroyed the vehicle. Waikato Police District Communications Manager Andrew McAlley is advising people to stay calm and think rationally.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

US peanut butter fears spread to NZ

There are concerns a salmonella outbreak that has killed at least six people in the United States may spread to New Zealand. Initial recalls of peanut butter shipped to US nursing homes and cafeterias broadened with the Kellogg Co recalling 16 products after officials confirmed salmonella contamination at a Georgia facility that shipped peanut products to 85 food companies. Abbott Nutrition has recalled three food bars sold in New Zealand because of the possibility of salmonella contamination in the ZonePerfect chocolate peanut butter bars, peanut toffee bars and NutriPals peanut butter chocolate nutrition bars. The Columbus, Ohio-based company said the bars were exported to New Zealand, Mexico, and Singapore

Ruined Fijian business owners consider options

Many Fijian business owners affected by last week's devastating floods have indicated they want to move to New Zealand to start a new life. The Suva Retailers Association says more than 30 percent of local businesses are being forced to close because they cannot repair the damage caused by this month's storms. An estimated 98 percent do not have flood insurance, because insurance companies rarely offer it. Association president Himmat Lodhia says many do not know any trade other than retailing and he has spoken with a number of people who want to join relatives in New Zealand and Australia and set up new businesses.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Aussie gets three years for Thai royal insult

A Thai court sentenced an Australian writer to three years in jail for defaming the crown prince, the latest in a slew of lese-majeste cases that rights groups say are stifling freedom of speech. Harry Nicolaides, who appeared in court in leg-irons and wearing brown prison overalls, remained impassive as he heard his sentence, which stemmed from his 2005 novel 'Verisimilitude', only seven copies of which were ever sold. "I wish my family the best," the 41-year-old Greek-Australian said as he was led from the court to begin his jail time. Lese-majeste, or insulting the monarchy, is a very serious offence in Thailand, where many people regard 81-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej as semi-divine. It is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Blood service happily in the red

Christmas holidays usually mean dry times for the New Zealand Blood Service, but this year new drive-by donors have helped fill their coffers to overflowing. Last week an almost unheard-of 3400 people gave blood nationwide, 388 of whom had donated for the first time. The same week last year had just 146 new donors. After summer blood deficits the last couple of years, the blood service booked TV advertising for the first two weeks of January which appears to have hit its target audience. "The response has been phenomenal, we're really pleased with that," said marketing manager Paul Hayes.
The Dominion Post

Foreign Affairs Minister to meet Australian counterpart

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully travels to Perth on Wednesday to meet his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith. It will be the third time the men have met since the November election, but the first of their regular six-monthly meetings. Fiji will be a major focus of discussion, as both Mr Smith and Mr McCully plan travel to Port Moresby next week for the Pacific Forum leaders meeting. Mr McCully said they will also discuss the military, aid and diplomatic investments in Afghanistan and East Timor.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Monday, January 19

NZ gives 1 mln NZ dollars to Red Cross relief work in Gaza

New Zealand will give the International Committee of the Red Cross one million NZ dollars (546,000 U.S. dollars) to support its humanitarian work in Gaza, Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced on Monday. "This money will help the Red Cross provide urgently needed medical supplies and safe drinking water to the civilian population of Gaza, and to care for those affected by the conflict," McCully said in a statement. "There is a pressing need for humanitarian assistance in Gaza, and the ceasefire provides a window for aid agencies to provide that help, he added.

Women worry about weight

There is no surprise in a new health survey which shows New Zealand women are more worried about their weight than men are. But the research, carried out by Southern Cross Healthcare, also shows women rate their weight as their biggest health concern, and are more worried about that, than the health of their children. Fifty-two percent of women say weight and appearance are their biggest concern, compared to 36 percent of men surveyed. The biggest health concern for men is heart disease, with 40 percent ranking it as their biggest worry.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Early fire restrictions and bans for rural areas

Dry conditions have forced some rural fire districts to impose fire restrictions earlier than usual, and a lack of rain has seen total fire bans in some areas. Restrictions were put in place for the South Canterbury rural fire district from Saturday. Fire restrictions and total fire bans have been put in place in Hawke's Bay, South Marlborough, South Canterbury, Otago and Southland. Restrictions were also imposed over the coastal area of South Canterbury between Waitaki River and Rangitata. A permit is required from a Rural Fire Authority to light a fire in the open air when fire restrictions are in place.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Farm worker shortage to be raised at summit

Federated Farmers says a shortage in farm workers could provide a solution to the country's weakening employment market. A report by Federated Farmers and Rabobank shows there is a need for skilled workers. It also said that in the year to August 2008 farm workers earned on average about $2,000 more than the national average income of $39,517. Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson plans to discuss the worker shortage at the Government's employment summit next month.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Surgery not needed on PM's broken arm

Prime Minister John Key will not need to have surgery on his broken right arm, and says there will be no changes to his schedule following his injury. Mr Key broke his arm in two places when he descended dimly-lit steps from a stage at a Chinese New Year event in Auckland on Saturday, lost his footing and fell face-first onto concrete. He went on to shake the hands of about 120 touch rugby players at an awards ceremony on Saturday afternoon, before an X-ray revealed the arm was broken in two places. Mr Key said a specialist has confirmed he won't need surgery.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Government may boost state house insulation fund

The Government is considering increasing its $15 million fund for insulating state houses as part of its response to the economic downturn. Prime Minister John Key last week said the Government was examining whether to bring forward various projects including roading, housing and school building. The National Party's pre-election housing policy included investing $15 million to upgrade the ventilation, insulation and energy efficiency of state houses.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Hydro lake water spilled into Waitaki

The Canterbury Regional Council is warning people to stay away from the Waitaki River on Monday as water from hydro lakes is spilled into it. Power company Meridian Energy plans to spill water into the Waitaki River for about 24 hours. The lakes are at full capacity after weeks of heavy rain. Canterbury Regional Council flood controller Tony Henderson said the river will be running at about 950 cubic metres per second, or three times its normal flow, by midday on Monday. Mr Henderson said it would be dangerous for people fishing at the mouth of the river, and anyone camping near the river is also being advised to take care.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Thunderstorms, hail in South Island

Bad weather struck eastern eastern parts of the South Island on Sunday evening, bringing thunderstorms, strong wind, heavy rain and hail. The worst hit areas were coastal regions from Christchurch to Dunedin but central parts of Otago and Southland were also affected. MetService severe weather forecaster Chris Noble said thunderstorms in Canterbury and northern Otago produced lightning, hailstones ranging in size from 10mm to 15mm in diameter and heavy rain
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Push for world's first starlight park

A proposal to have the world's first night sky reserve in New Zealand could become a reality. Former cabinet minister Margaret Austin is in Paris this week attending UNESCO's astronomy conference, where she hopes to have a proposal for a dark sky reserve in the Mackenzie District signed off. Graeme Murray from the Mt John Earth and Sky Observatory at Lake Tekapo, says in many places around the world city lights obscure the stars but he says the Mackenzie country still has a pristine dark sky.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Sunday, January 18

Prime Minister breaks his arm

Prime Minister John Key has broken his arm after falling over at a Chinese New Year event on Saturday morning. A spokesperson from the Prime Minister's office says his right arm was broken in two places, after he fell while walking off a stage at the celebration in Auckland. The spokesperson says his arm is now in a sling and may be put into a cast when he visits his doctor on Monday morning. He says Mr Key is in considerable pain, but will be continuing with his regular duties after he has been to his doctor's appointment.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Fewer jobs attract more applicants says Trade Me

New Zealand's job market is showing further signs of tightening, with fewer jobs being vied for by more job hunters. Jimmy McGee, who heads Trade Me Jobs, says 61,000 full time jobs were advertised with the site in the second half of last year, 15% fewer than in first half of the year. But Mr McGee says the applications for those jobs increased by 32%. He says vacancies in customer service, call centres and the banking and finance sectors have been hardest hit, but central and local government, healthcare and engineering sectors are still showing growth. The statistics show Wellingtonians were the best paid workers, with average salaries of $70,585, while workers in Hurunui and Waimakariri in Canterbury were the worst paid, with an average salary of $39,596.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

NSW hotspots

Firefighters are working to secure hotspots around New South Wales ahead of a week of sweltering weather forecast for most of the state. The Rural Fire Service has issued warnings to people in bushfire-prone areas to secure their homes and decide in advance if they are going stay and fight, or get out early if their homes come under threat. Crews are using cooler conditions today to monitor 20 bushfires that have been contained or nearly extinguished so they do not re-ignite. From tomorrow, temperatures will soar to the high 30s in Sydney's west and up to 40 in far west New South Wales. In Western Australia wildfires have burned three rural properties north and south of Perth.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Sit down for money

People who want to earn more money are being told to find a job where they get to sit down. A new Trade Me survey reveals the best paid professions are in the IT industry, with IT sales staff earning an average of almost $124,000 a year. Most doctors, financial controllers and construction project managers now earn over $100,000. Trade Me spokesman Jimmy McGee says by contrast kitchen staff, baristas and caregivers are the worst paid professions. He says Wellington and Auckland remain the highest paid locations.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Critical time to prevent kids getting sunburnt

NZPA/Ross Setford
Parents were warned today to stay alert and protect their children from sunburn as the country enters a critical time. "This is an acute period in terms of ultraviolet radiation or UVR," said Dr Richard McKenzie of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa). "During January, UVR is at its peak which makes it one of the worst months for sunburn." Child sunburn victims had an increased risk of developing melanoma later in life. "The best thing parents can do for their kids is remember to slip, slop, slap and wrap. "Between the months of September to March, especially within the hours of 11am-4pm when UV radiation is most fierce, slip into protective clothing like shirts with collars and longer sleeves; slap on a broad-brimmed hat or cap with flaps; slop on a broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen; wrap on a pair of close fitting sunglasses that reduce at least 90 percent of the sun's UV radiation."

Mayor seeks legal advice over anti-Israeli sign

Kaikoura's mayor is seeking legal advice over whether an anti-Israeli sign in a local restaurant breaches bylaws. The Strawberry Tree restaurant and bar has put up a sign saying Israelis are not welcome until the military offensive in Gaza ends. Kaikoura District Mayor Kevin Heays says he is seeking legal advice about whether the sign breaches bylaws and can be considered offensive. Mr Heays says the sign has angered other businesses in the town and he has been visited by upset residents. Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says it is illegal for businesses to refuse service based on nationality.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Australian girl badly burnt in thermal pool

An Australian girl is in hospital with bad burns after stepping into a thermal pool in the central North Island. The 10-year-old was holidaying with her family near Tokaanu on Friday. While swimming in a stream, she stepped into the boiling hot pool. She is being treated at Waikato Hospital for second degree burns and was in a comfortable condition on Sunday.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Windfall for jobseekers

Plans for another wind farm mean an extra 250 jobs for Palmerston North. Mighty River Power is in the process of building a 122-turbine wind farm on the Turitea Reserve. The number of turbines is fewer than originally planned for the site, because of local concerns about noise. But even so, project spokesman Mark Henry says it will mean employment in the area. He says the wind farm will take three years to build.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

Saturday, January 17

Unprecedented turnout at Wairarapa air show

Motorists heading in and out of Masterton faced long delays on Saturday as an unprecedented number of spectators attended the Wings over Wairarapa airshow. Up to 30,000 people are expected to attend the show over the weekend. Event director Liz Pollock says the numbers are unprecedented. The police were advising of major traffic delays as motorists left Saturday's show. Earlier, it was slow going along State Highway 2, as northbound vehicles clogged the roads in Featherston, Carterton and Greytown. The 10th anniversary event showcases private collections of aircraft from the First and Second World Wars.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Wild kiwis hatch

Two kiwi chicks were hatched at the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary on Thursday - the first wild kiwis to hatch on the Auckland mainland for 60 years. The birds are estimated at between one and three weeks old and weigh 320g and 380g.
Copyright 2009, APN Holdings NZ Limited

Drunk tourist too busy for court

By MARTY SHARPE - The Dominion Post
A Malaysian tourist caught drink-driving skipped his court appearance because he was having a "lovely time" seeing the country and a brush with justice would interfere with his trip. Instead he wrote the judge a letter asking to be pardoned and promising not to do it again. "Being a tourist I am always travelling and moving all around the places in this country; which is of this particular reason that I may find it difficult to attend the summons and court hearing as scheduled," Choi Lok Siong wrote. "Your goodwill and you co-operation is needed and very much appreciated in order to make my travelling in New Zealand memorable." Siong, 38, failed to appear before Judge Geoff Rea on Wednesday in Napier District Court, where he was to face a charge of driving with excess breath alcohol. In his letter to the court Siong acknowledged he had broken the law. "I fully regret of my irresponsible behaviour and my wrong-doings against the traffic rules and regulations of New Zealand. "I am aware of my foolishness and I am sorry for all inconveniences caused he said. A warrant for his arrest has been issued.

DHB trial shows healthier snacks preferred

A trial of healthier food in vending machines shows people prefer to eat healthy snacks if given the choice. The Waitemata District Health Board restocked its 14 vending machines for a year to reduce the among of junk food being consumed by staff, patients and visitors. The vending machine makeover saw a 30% reduction of sugar and fat in the more than 50,000 snacks that were sold. Unhealthy products were replaced with wholesome snacks. Other products such as chocolate bars were downsized to smaller portions. The year-long trial found that 70% of those using the vending machines appreciated the major cut in the number of calories on offer. Sales also increased.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Surgical checklist linked with saving lives

Using a simple surgical checklist during major operations can cut deaths by more than 40% and complications by more than a third, according to new research. Eight hospitals took part in the World Health Organisation initiative, including Auckland City Hospital. The study was carried out between October 2007 and September last year, and involved just under 1000 patients from New Zealand. It found that by using the three-stage checklist, which only takes a couple of minutes, patient mortality rates dropped by 40%. In Auckland, the death rate did not change. However, complications arising from operations dropped by 30%.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

Robot band rocks at NZ music festival

New Zealand is set to host the year's biggest music festivals on Friday and one of the bands will rock the house without setting a foot on stage. The Trons, playing along big names such as the Arctic Monkeys and Neil Young at the Big Day Out festival in Auckland, are all self-playing robots. Engineered to rock by a "top secret" software package, the foursome is made up of Ham on vocals, Fifi on keyboards, Swamp on drums and lead guitarist Wiggy, who plays a single string. The band was created last year by musician and repairman Greg Locke from old computer and mechancial parts and play original songs using a variety of old amplifiers and instruments. The band's MySpace page describes their sound as "motors having a good time". The Big Day Out, the largest music festival in New Zealand, has more than 70 bands and plays one Auckland show before heading off to play in five cities in Australia.

Friday, January 16

Written warning after cheap airfare blunder

The Commerce Commission is not taking further action against Dutch airline KLM but has issued a written warning after the company failed to honour cheap airfares booked via the internet. In September last year the airline posted fares to various European destinations for as little as $50, however the price was a mistake. The day before KLM had advised it was increasing economy class airfares by $50. It took several hours for KLM to correct the mistake, by which time more than 600 people had bought tickets at the cheap price. The Commission says it is concerned KLM did not have better systems in place to quickly deal with the situation, but accepts it was caused by a genuine mistake.
Copyright 2002 - 2008, TelstraClear Ltd

No tsunami risk to NZ from islands quake

Civil Defence there says there is no tsunami risk to New Zealand from an earthquake near Russia's Kuril Islands in the north-west Pacific. The 7.3 magnitude quake occurred just before 7am. Russia issued a tsunami warning in the Far Eastern coastal city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. New Zealand's Civil Defence director, John Hamilton, says a check with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii and with local experts shows there is no danger to New Zealand.
© 2009 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Ancient bones returned to ancestors

New discoveries are still being made at one of the country's most important historical sites. Otago University archaeologist Richard Walter says it is one of the earliest known sites in New Zealand. "So that means it dates to the very beginning of New Zealand history," he says. Bones from about 40 bodies, dating back 700 years, were removed during excavations on the Wairau Bar, near Blenheim, last century. Experts have been on the site for the past two weeks searching out the best places to re-bury the bones taken more than half a century ago. The site has also been chosen for the re-internment of Rangitane Iwi's tupuna or ancestors. It has been chosen because it is as close as possible to the original site without disturbing it again. While the team of experts are on the site, they are discovering new things about the people and animals who lived there seven centuries ago.
Source: ONE News

Wings over Wairarapa takes off

Two World War era fighter planes soared over Wellington on Friday afternoon, officially kicking off the Wings over Wairarapa air pageant. ens of thousands are expected to flock to the airshow in Masterton this weekend - a show commemorating a century of English aviation and showcasing some of the most historic aircraft manufacturers of early decades of flight.
Source: ONE News

UN, Commonwealth trip to Fiji called off amid floods

Fiji's military-led administrators have called off a visit by the joint United Nations and Commonwealth mission scheduled to arrive on Monday to promote democratic elections, blaming the latest bout of flooding. Coup leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama has reneged on an agreement to hold elections this year, saying he wanted to change the electoral system ahead of any return to democracy. He has not said when the army which overthrew an elected government in 2006 will relinquish power. Both the United Nations and the Commonwealth have expressed concern about the election delay, and the technical team's scheduled visit next week was part of an international effort to mediate talks with Fiji's political leaders.

Call for human rights education for migrants

The Federation of Ethnic Councils says the actions of an Invercargill cafe owner show that migrants need to be taught about human rights in New Zealand. Sisters Natalie Bennie and Tamara Shefa were asked to leave the Mevlana Cafe on Wednesday by owner Mustafa Tekinkaya, who is a Turkish Muslim, because of the conflict in the Gaza Strip. The chair of the federation, Puncha Narayanan, says Mr Tekinkaya's actions are unacceptable and bordering on unlawful. Mr Narayanan says the induction of new migrants to New Zealand needs to be more meaningful.
Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

NZ rated 5fth in world for economic freedom

New Zealand is again scored highly for economic freedom. It is rated fifth in the world for economic liberty, according to a report by a pro market American thinktank, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall St Journal. The report found the two most free economies were Hong Kong and Singapore and the least free were Zimbabwe and North Korea, excluding war-ravaged countries where data was unobtainable. In the latest report, New Zealand is one spot higher than the United States. It exceeded the world average in eight criteria, such as trade freedom and freedom from corruption, and was behind the world average in only two sections, having too much taxation and a Government sector that's too large.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Australian soldier awarded VC

An Australian soldier has been awarded a Victoria Cross for gallantry in Afghanistan. Trooper Mark Donaldson received the award for his rescue of an interpreter for the coalition forces under heavy fire during an ambush in Oruzgan Province. The ABC reports nine Australian soldiers were wounded in the action on 2 September last year. He was presented with the award in Canberra on Friday. The award for exceptional bravery is the 96th Victoria Cross to be conferred on an Australian soldier. It is the first to be awarded to an Australian soldier in more than 40 years. The Victoria Cross was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Shark warning issued

People are being urged to stay out of the water at Karitane and Waikouaiti, north of Dunedin, because of a large shark. Police issued a warning about the situation, after two surfers at Karitane raised the alarm. Constable John Paul Tremain says he doesn't know the exact size or breed of shark, but the experienced surfers described it as very large and said it actually chased them out of the water. He says it's hanging around in the surf and appears to be lurking with intent.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand


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