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Sunday, May 31

Anti-smoking drug to be free on prescription

The drug buying agency Pharmac has announced full funding for an anti-smoking drug. The smoking cessation drug bupropion, known commercially as Zyban and made by GlaxoSmithKline, will be now be freely available on doctor's prescription from July. Pharmac's Medical Director Peter Moodie says the fully funded option has both health and economic benefits. He says smoking accounts for about 5,000 deaths a year in New Zealand.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Fiji Methodist church ordered to cancel conference

The Fiji military regime, in its latest crackdown, has ordered the Methodist church to cancel its annual conference. A joint statement issued by the military and police accused the church of trying to bring instability to the country. Police say the crackdown follows information that "inciteful issues are going to be discussed at the conference". The statement said the Methodist church could not hide its involvement in politics and part of the agenda for the August conference focused on the current political situation. Earlier this month, a former Methodist church president was detained after delivering a sermon calling for peaceful protests to restore democracy to Fiji.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Rugby-Muliaina to captain All Blacks

Mils Muliaina is to captain the All Blacks for the tests against France and Italy in the place of the injured Richie McCaw. The All Blacks squad for the three tests includes three new players - prop Wyatt Crocket, lock Isaac Ross and openside flanker Tanerau Latimer.
The full squad is: Tony Woodcock, John Afoa, Wyatt Crocket, Neemia Tialata, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu, Isaac Ross, Brad Thorn, Ali Williams, Jerome Kaino, Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Kieran Read, Adam Thomson, Jimmy Cowan, Piri Weepu, Brendon Leonard, Stephen Donald, Ma'a Nonu, Richard Kahui, Conrad Smith, Rudi Wulf, Josevata Rokocoko, Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane and Isaia Toeava.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



DNA solves crime after 12 years

By LEIGH VAN DER STOEP - Sunday Star Times
A teenager who tried to rob a Hamilton takeaway shop with a hammer has been jailed for his crime - 12 years after DNA he left at the scene was matched to an unrelated crime. It is one of the oldest cold cases in New Zealand to be solved using DNA evidence. And police say that as the criminal DNA database expands and profiles are routinely run through the system, thousands more criminals will similarly be brought to justice. Fonzie King was 16 when he tried to rob the Asian Kitchen Chinese takeaway in June 1996. His DNA was last year matched to the takeaway attack after an incident in Matamata involving his ex-partner. He pleaded guilty to the 1996 attack and last December was sentenced to 18 months in prison on two counts of assault with intent to rob.



Accused people smuggler due in court

An Indonesian man is expected to appear at the Darwin Magistrates Court on Monday charged with smuggling asylum seekers aboard a boat that later exploded. Australian Federal Police say he was a crew member on a boat carrying 47 asylum seekers that was stopped by the Australian Navy last month. Five people were killed when the boat, known as SIEV 36, exploded near Ashmore Reef while being escorted by the Australian Navy to Christmas Island.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



SH2 closure tipped due to snow

The Rimutaka Hill Road north of Wellington (State Highway Two) may be closed on Sunday due to snow. A southerly front is making its way up the lower North Island on Sunday morning. In a rare occurrence, brief flurries of snow were seen in the streets of central Wellington. Police say snow is also falling thickly on the Desert Road, but State Highway One is still open. Rain and snow showers are falling on the east coast of the South Island down to nearly sea level. No disruption has been reported.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Rugby-Big win by Bulls in Super 14 final

The Bulls won the 2009 Super 14 rugby series in Pretoria on Saturday, beating the Chiefs 61-17. The Bulls scored eight tries to two to win by a record margin before a capacity crowd of 55,000 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. The 2007 champions are undefeated at home this year. The half-time score was 34-7.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



NZ dollar rising

The New Zealand dollar has reached its highest level against the United States dollar since October last year. The kiwi now buys 64 US cents. Deutsche Bank chief economist Darren Gibbs says fewer people choosing the greenback as a safe-haven investment. Despite the recession, he says New Zealand is faring well compared with many other countries and investors are becoming confident about buying the dollar.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Saturday, May 30

Experts warn of divorce effects on boys' education

NZPA/Wayne Drought
The educational achievements of New Zealand boys may be falling victim to the soaring divorce rate, according to experts. The connection has been made as a new report confirms that boys are lagging behind girls at secondary school, with the gap greater in New Zealand than any other developed country. St Bede's College rector Justin Boyle pointed to boys' education suffering when parents divorced. "Invariably, we find if mum and dad have split they (boys) have not had the male role model in their lives to encourage them in a holistic way about how they get educated." "Boys are affected by divorce very deeply because 85 per cent of custody goes to the mother and guys just disappear. That needs to change," he told The Press. "We need to have a family split-up philosophy where we realise that sons need their fathers. All custody and access should be 50-50."



White Queen's birthday expected

Snow is expected to start falling in many places overnight, with a white Queen's Birthday Weekend forecast from MetService for some of the country's roads and passes. Snow is predicted on the Desert Road in the central North Island and on the Rimutaka Hill Road near Wellington during tomorrow with up to 20 centimetres between 6am and midnight. Snow should come down on the Lindis Pass, Porters Pass, and Milford Road from late tonight or early tomorrow, with 10 to 20 centimetres falling. And there will be snow showers on the Lewis and Arthur's Passes early tomorrow morning.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Pacific Blue has no plans to reduce personnel

Pacific Blue says it has no plans to cut employee numbers despite a drop in the number of people flying. The airline's main competitor, Air New Zealand, is to shed up to 80 personnel and cut overall capacity by 3%. The airline says it is always making changes to timetables but it will keep up the total number of seats. It says a small number of staff have shown interest in going part-time, but the company has no plans to cut any positions. Another airline, Qantas, is to be replaced on domestic routes by its Jetstar subsidiary from 10 June.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Turei is Greens' new co-leader

The list MP Metiria Turei has been selected by Green Party members to succeed Jeanette Fitzsimons as co-leader. The announcement was made on Saturday afternoon at the Greens' Annual General Meeting in Dunedin. Ms Turei, who is in her third term as an MP, beat out fellow list MP Sue Bradford. The 39-year old lawyer has a background in social justice and Maori issues, and joins Russel Norman at the helm of the Greens. Jeanette Fitzsimons stepped aside as co-leader after 14 years in the role saying the time was right for a fresh face, and for her to have more time for her family.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Country music winners

It was all on in Gore last night for the 2009 Country Music Awards. Canadian born Auckland resident Tami Neilson reached the ultimate New Zealand country music accolade after winning best country album of the year, for Red Dirt Angel. APRA best country song went to Wellington-based Jess Chambers for the hit String Me Along. The awards are staged as part of Gore's Golden Guitar Week, celebrating its 39th year and drawing more than 5,000 country music fans. For more information visit www.goldguitars.co.nz
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Massive Aussie identity fraud includes NZers

New Zealanders have been caught up in a massive Australian identity fraud involving the personal details of thousands of people, which have been available on a blog site for more than a month. Victoria police said the data which includes thousands of Visa, Mastercard and American Express numbers, including expiry dates, together with home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses was being onsold to criminals. Most of those affected were Australian but the list also included credit card details from people based in New Zealand, Germany and Britain, The Australian newspaper said. The list was posted on a free blogging site, where it was copied by search engine Google as part of its routine cataloguing of internet sites on April 21.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Friday, May 29

Rugby-Richie to miss France and Italy tests

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw will miss next month's tests against France and Italy after injuring his knee in the Sport Super 14 semifinal match against the Bulls last weekend. All Blacks Doctor Deb Robinson says McCaw's symptoms worsened on the flight home from South Africa this week and he had a scan in Christchurch yesterday afternoon. She says the scan revealed he had a torn ligament on the postero-lateral corner (outside) of his right knee. Dr Robinson says, as a result, McCaw will be unavailable for the 3 internationals next month but will likely be available for the Tri Nations, which kicks off in July.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Queen's Birthday Weekend chill forecast

A Queen's Birthday Weekend polar blast is set to end autumn on a wintry note. Weatherwatch.co.nz analyst Philip Duncan says it will be even colder than the bitter Antarctic blast that swept through last week. "This one is coming from almost on the ice caps. So it's very, very close super chilled air. While it sounds very dramatic, the air itself is actually quite dry, so most places probably won't have a very wet weekend." Roads across the Central Plateau and parts of the South Island are expected to see snow. Light snow could fall as far north as the Coromandel Peninsula and the Kaimai Ranges and Hunua Ranges.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



MAF shuts wildlife park after zookeeper's death

The wildlife park where a zookeeper was killed by a tiger has been shut down by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry until it meets safety and animal welfare standards. Dalu Mncube was fatally mauled by a white male Bengal tiger at Zion Wildlife Gardens in Whangarei on Wednesday when he entered the animal's enclosure to clean it. The park has not been open to the public since then. MAF said on Friday it is closing the park until it complies with animal welfare and enclosure requirements. The tiger which killed Mr Mncube was shot on Wednesday but the ministry says it does not intend to have any of the remaining animals put down.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Warmer homes a grant away

The Government expects 60,000 homes a year to be insulated as part of its Budget package. Over the next four years, $323 million will be spent on providing grants of $1800 for homeowners to help them afford to have their homes fitted with insulation and heat pumps. Around 180,000 homes will be included in the scheme, which will be run in conjunction with the Energy Efficiency Conservation Agency. Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee says 27,000 homes are likely to be insulated in the first year, rising to 60,000 a year by 2012.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Kiwi named artistic director of Aussie dance company

NZPA / David Rowland
New Zealander Raewyn Hill has been appointed artistic director of the Queensland contemporary dance company Dancenorth. Hill, the artist in residence at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, begins her new Townsville-based role on January 1 2010. Dancenorth chairman Mike Butler said Hill was highly regarded for her flair in balancing a strong physicality with a precise technical vocabulary and had managed her own professional dance company for many years. Born in 1972 in Oamaru and graduating from the New Zealand School of Dance in 1992 with the Best All Round Student Award, Hill has received numerous awards and critical acclaim throughout Australasia. She retired from performing in 2006.



UK inventor wants to produce washing machine in NZ

NZPA / David Rowland
A British inventor is trying to get to New Zealand to develop a machine he has designed which washes, dries and irons clothes. Oliver Blackwell, 23, who designed the WashDryIron, hopes the machine will become sought-after because it saves about 10 days a year in ironing time, the BBC reported. "The science works however the prototype has to be reformed to make the project commercially viable," said Mr Blackwell. Mr Blackwell was awarded The Daily Mail Designer of the Year prize for the design in 2005, and says he is prepared to set up production lines in both China and New Zealand.



Australia to join piracy taskforce

Australia is sending a warship and a surveillance aircraft to help fight piracy in waters off Somalia. HMAS Warramunga, which is presently patrolling in the Persian Gulf, will be attached periodically to a new combined taskforce established to combat pirate activity in shipping lanes off Somalia. Also assisting will be a RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, one of three based in an unnamed Persian Gulf country.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Thursday, May 28

Huge blue whale washes up dead in NZ

A rare blue whale, measured at 27 metres long and estimated to weigh about 150 tonnes, has washed up dead on a New Zealand beach, news reports said. The animal, found by abalone divers in a remote spot near the northern tip of the South Island, had several shark bites, but whale expert Anton van Helden of the Te Papa national museum told the Dominion Post newspaper it was likely to have been attacked after dying at sea. There are said to be fewer than 2,000 blue whales, which are the largest animals ever known to have lived.
West Australian Newspapers Limited 2008.



University to raise funds for sick cat

NZPA/Ross Setford
Staff and students at Wellington's Wellington University are launching a campaign next week to pay for expensive surgery for its beloved resident library cat. Sandy Rankine, a ginger cat, named after one of the university's founding fathers, spends his days lounging in the Kelburn campus library. He recently underwent surgery for diabetes with vet bills in the thousands. Library staff and the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (VUWSA) have organised the CatFest fundraiser concert, to be held on June 4 at the student bar. University librarian Sue Roberts said Sandy, who had lived in the library for around 14 years, was an important member of staff.



Police finish tiger death scene examination

Police wrapped up their scene examination at Zion Wildlife Gardens near Whangarei on Thursday, after a fatal tiger attack. Inspector Paul Dimery says the site of the mauling, on Wednesday, has been mapped and photographed, and staff have been interviewed about what happened. He says by their accounts the rare Bengal white male tiger attacked senior keeper Dalu Mncube as he was cleaning its enclosure, leaving him with unsurvivable injuries. Inspector Dimery says Zion staff shot the tiger so they could retrieve Mr Mncube's body, because it would otherwise have been too dangerous for them to enter the enclosure.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Standard and Poor's gives tick to Budget

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor's has revised its outlook on New Zealand from negative to stable, and affirmed its AA+ rating, after what it calls a sound Budget. On Monday Standard & Poor's reiterated its warning to the New Zealand Government to come up with a plan to lower debt levels, or risk a downgrade in the rating. S & P says it believes the measures announced in Thursday's Budget will help to stabilise the Government's fiscal position over the medium term.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Swine flu scare ship has 60 NZers onboard

Around 60 New Zealanders are onboard a cruise ship subject to a swine flu scare off the Queensland coast. Four people on the Pacific Dawn are in quarantine after suffering flu-like symptoms. The P&O liner left Sydney Harbour on Monday and is now off the Queensland coast after being diverted from the Whitsunday Islands. P&O says three crew members and one passenger have tested positive for Influenza A and are being tested for swine flu and treated with Tamiflu. The test results will be back tomorrow. The Pacific Dawn is due to dock at Port Douglas tomorrow morning.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Raoul Island fuelled up

After seven hours of flying, New Zealand Navy helicopters have finished delivering 20,000 litres of fuel onto Raoul Island. Two Seasprite choppers from the Navy amphibious support ship the Canterbury were used for the job in the Kermadecs, 1,000 km north-east of New Zealand. The fuel is needed for Department of Conservation staff working on the island to run generators which supply power to their accommodation, and enable them to transmit data from the meteorological station, tsunami warning devices or volcanic measuring equipment.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Air NZ biofuel tests show big fuel savings possible

Biofuel testing in an Air New Zealand jet last year showed up to 1.4 tonnes of fuel can be saved on a 12-hour flight -- a "remarkable" result, Air New Zealand said today. During the December test flight , a Boeing 747-400 Rolls-Royce RB211 engine was powered by a 50:50 blend of sustainable biofuel (jatropha) and traditional Jet A1 fuel. The fuel burn for a Boeing 747-400 12-hour flight would improve by 1.2 percent and save 1.43 tonnes of fuel, with a reduction in carbon emissions of about 4.5 tonnes of CO2. There would be an estimated 60-65 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
NZPA



Takaka writer receives Michael King fellowship

A $100,000 Creative New Zealand fellowship, named for New Zealand historian Michael King, has been awarded to Takaka writer Philip Simpson. Simpson will use the money to research and write a natural and cultural history of the New Zealand totara tree. He was a Montana award-winning writer who had written two books on New Zealand's natural and cultural history, Creative New Zealand chief executive Stephen Wainwright said. The Creative New Zealand Michael King Writers' Fellowship is New Zealand's largest writing fellowship and supports established writers to work on a major project over two or more years.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Fitzsimons' prepares to stand down

Jeanette Fitzsimons' time at the top of the Green Party is coming to a close. This is her last week in the role as co-leader, a position she has held since 1995 when the Greens were still part of the Alliance Party. Ms Fitzsimons has been an MP since 1996 and was the electorate MP for Coromandel between 1999 and 2002. She officially steps down from the position when the Greens hold their annual conference in Dunedin this weekend. Fellow MPs Sue Bradford and Metiria Turei are vying for her job.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



D-Day for spelling bee champ

It is make or break for New Zealand's spelling champ. Hamilton Boys' High student Christopher Jury is in Washington to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The Year Nine student is one of nearly 300 spellers taking part in what is known as the Olympics of spelling and he will find out today whether his efforts have been to the letter. Fifty semifinalists are being announced and the competitors will take part in another round of the competition before a winner is revealed tomorrow afternoon.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Rudd's stimulus package not stimulating

In Australia, the Rudd Government's stimulus package does not appear to be boosting the local economy in quite the way it was intended. It has been confirmed 43,000 payments have been made to Australians who are dead or living overseas. It has been calculated that $18 million has been sent to deceased estates and nearly $32 million is being enjoyed by expat Australians.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Supermarkets push fizzy drinks

Supermarkets discount drinks loaded with sugar and salt more often than healthy alternatives, a study has found. The study by Otago University recorded 1487 discounted drinks from four Wellington supermarkets over four weeks. The researchers found just 15 percent of the discounted drinks were considered healthy, including water, plain reduced-fat milk or plain reduced-fat soy drinks. The remaining 85 percent were unhealthy products, like soft drinks, sports beverages, flavoured waters and cordial - drinks high in sugar, salt or both. "This research suggests less healthy beverages are discounted more frequently and to a larger extent than healthier beverages, " the researchers concluded, adding a nationwide study would necessary to confirm this. One of the study's authors, Louise Signal, said there had been an "alarming increase in obesity in recent years"
NZPA



Americans to get Erebus medals

By MICHAEL FIELD - Stuff.co.nz
Eleven Americans who helped recover bodies from the Air New Zealand DC10 which crashed in Antarctica 30 years ago are to be awarded special medals next month. They will be given the New Zealand Special Service Medal (Erebus) to mark their work on the November 29, 1979, crash on Mount Erebus in which all 257 people aboard died. The medal, which was instituted in November 2006, has already been awarded to 133 New Zealanders, mainly police. The Defence Force said the 11 Americans well get their medals at a ceremony at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington on June 4.



Wednesday, May 27

Zookeeper dies in tiger attack

A zookeeper has died after being attacked by a white tiger at the Zion Wildlife Park, near Whangarei. The attack was witnessed by a group of eight tourists, understood to be English and French. A spokesperson for police in Whangarei says the attack happened at about 11am on Wednesday when two zookepers entered an enclosure for two white tigers. The spokesperson says one of the keepers was attacked by one of the tigers. The wildlife park is now closed with the zookeeper's body still at the scene.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Netball-Silver Ferns to play series against Jamaica?

An already packed netball calendar could become even longer for New Zealand's elite players. The Silver Ferns are already committed to home and away series against Australia this year, as well as three matches against a world invitational team to follow the ANZ Championship. Now there is the prospect they could also play a series against Jamaica. Coach Ruth Aitken says negotiations are underway for a series in the Caribbean on the way home from England after the new world series. She says matches against Jamaica would be a great way to finish the year. The new twenty20 style world series is in Manchester in October.
© 2009 NZCity, NewsTalkZB



Scientists look into customising cancer vaccines

Wellington-based Malaghan Institute of Medical Research has started three innovative research projects around a method for "vaccinating" people against their cancers. The technology relies on "training" part of the patient's immune system to recognise tumour antigens and turn the immune system against the tumour. The institute's internationally-recognised cancer immunotherapy research is a base for clinical trials for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, metastatic melanoma and glioblastoma. In cancer immunotherapy, patients are treated with a vaccine that is generated by combining their own specialised immune cells with tumour tissue. Once injected back into the patient, these custom-made vaccines are able to stimulate immune responses that seek out and kill cancer cells.
NZPA



New mobile dental surgery launched

The first of 94 mobile dental surgeries to be introduced nationwide was rolled out in Ashburton today. Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne officially opened the mobile surgery which will spearhead a nationwide upgrade of oral health services for New Zealand communities. The country's 21 district health boards have combined their purchases to provide better oral health services for communities and to avoid duplication of efforts and resources.
NZPA



$1b Budget warmup

By KERRY WILLIAMSON - The Dominion Post
Close to a billion dollars is to be spent on insulating and heating homes with subsidies available to all Kiwis, no matter how much they earn. The insulation programme, which could be the only piece of good news in tomorrow's Budget, could also reduce the strain on the health system, saving lives during winters. The Government plans to subsidise insulation and heating of as many as a million homes built before 2000 that fail to meet current building standards. Up to $1500 will be invested in each upgrade, costing up to $1 billion in the next four years. It is understood the Government will pay the full cost of the renovations costing more than $1500, then the homeowner will pay back the extra amount. Industry sources said the work could take between six and eight years and save billions in health and fuel costs.



Tuesday, May 26

Massive haul of expensive fine wine stolen

Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fine wine has been stolen from a central Auckland bottleshop. Staff at Glengarry in Wellesley St arrived this morning to find the store had been broken into through a door and all the alarms disabled. Owner Jak Jakicevich says the thieves targeted the store's top end champagne and cognacs. He says items that were stolen include bottles of Krug champagne, Remy cognac and a bottle of Dom Perignon which is worth around $15,000.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



NZ Post puts overseas mail prices up

The cost of sending mail overseas is about to rise by as much as 20%. Sending a standard postcard anywhere in the world or a letter to Australia will rise 30 cents to $1.80. Sending a letter anywhere else in the world will $2.30, an increase of 30c. The new prices will be effective from early July. It is the first price increase for seven years.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Avoiding glut key to maintaining prices - wine judge

An Australian winemaker and judge believes the New Zealand industry's move to trim its harvest to avoid a glut is a wise one. International wine judge and fifth generation family winemaker Bill Hardy is a guest judge for the International Chardonnay Challenge in Gisborne on Wednesday. Mr Hardy says over-production is the biggest single issue confronting the international wine industry and he agrees with the coordinated industry approach taken in New Zealand. He says New Zealand gets more money per litre of wine going into the UK market than any other country, and any oversupply would drive that price down. New Zealand's national winegrower organisation set the target of a 10,000 tonne reduction in the grape harvest this year, by thinning the crop and leaving some grapes unpicked.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Boy racer car crushing bill to be introduced

Illegal street racers could see their cars crushed under new legislation introduced to Parliament on Tuesday. Two bills have been drawn up by the Government strengthening the powers of the police and the courts dealing with boy racers. Included is a provision to seize and destroy a car if the driver already has two convictions for illegal street racing offences in the previous four years. Police Minister Judith Collins says the message to illegal street racers is that every new offence will bring them closer to the crusher. The car can be seized even if the driver is not the owner, she says, though the owners will receive proper warning.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Call for Maori to understand democracy

Local government minister Rodney Hide remains unmoved by the supercity hikoi (protest march) but admits it was an impressive turnout. The ACT MP says it did not change his mind over reserving special seats for Maori in any future Supercity set up. He has told Maori Party MP Hone Harawira his people need to have more confidence in themselves, instead of saying they can not succeed in local government, unless they are "given" seats. Rodney Hide asks why Maori do not put as much effort into standing for local government as they put into organising a hikoi, because that is the way a democracy works.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Most NZers have trust in people

Confidence tricksters would be best served trying to fleece married pakeha professionals who earn more than $50,000 and live in Wellington, a survey shows. That group emerged as likely to be the most trusting, when UMR Research asked 750 New Zealanders whether most people "can be trusted", or "you can not be too careful in dealing with people". In contrast, Maori and Pacific Islanders were inclined to opt for being careful, as were Aucklanders, rural dwellers and the wary citizens of Christchurch. Blue collar workers were the least likely profession to trust people, as were low income earners, renters, married people and parents. If you have faith in surveys, you would accept that 56 percent of the population thought people could be trusted, while just 39 percent thought they couldn't.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Brass monkey weekend

A cold blast on the way could put a damper on Queen's Birthday weekend holiday plans. Weatherwatch head weather analyst Philip Duncan says air from the Antarctic ice shelf will bring snow to low levels, low temperatures and strong winds. He says it is expected to arrive on Sunday and it could stick around until Monday, affecting people on their way home from the long weekend away. Philip Duncan says snow is expected on the Desert Road and winds could whip up Cook Strait.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Scientists reveal reconstruction in marine life

NZPA/Supplied
An astounding reconstruction of burgeoning marine life in the Southern Ocean off New Zealand 200 years ago is expected to be revealed at a conference in Vancouver this week. An international team of researchers -- part of the 10-year Census of Marine Life -- has revealed the teeming abundance of life that once filled the seas of New Zealand, and around the world, the Times newspaper in London reported. At the turn of the 17th century, researchers estimate 22,000 to 32,000 southern right whales lived in the Southern Ocean. A booming whaling industry in the early 1800s -- much of it off the coast of New Zealand -- soon decimated the cetacean population. By 1925, as few as 25 reproductive females were believed to exist.



School lunches go online

By TINA LAW - The Press
Emma Griffin,32-year-old Christchurch mother of three children, aged four, two, and five weeks, started trialling Kids School Lunches at the beginning of the year, and is gearing up to expand the business. "I was looking around for something to do. It's good having children but it's quite nice having something else to do," she said. So she set up an online school lunch delivery business, www.kidslunches.co.nz, after seeing a gap in the market to provide healthy lunches. Parents can order and pay for the lunches online and for $5.80 they get to choose four different foods, including salads, rolls, sandwiches, pizza, sushi, fresh fruit and sweet treats such as banana cake and cookies.



Monday, May 25

Rain 'heralds end' of NI drought

Farmers on the east coast of the North Island are hoping rainfall over the weekend will bring an end to the drought most have experienced since last November. Heavy rain was on Monday working its way from Hawke's Bay to north of Gisborne, and up to 150mm of rain is forecast in some places. Farmers from Wairarapa to Wairoa say that in the 24 hours to Sunday evening 50mm to 60mm of rain had fallen - enough to herald the beginning of the end of the drought.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Fraser urges NZ to do more on anti-nuclear campaign

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser is urging New Zealand to take a stronger lead in the anti-nuclear campaign. Mr Fraser met Prime Minister John Key on Monday to discuss his proposal that like-minded countries form a group to push for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Mr Fraser has formed a group in Australia of military, scientific and technical experts concerned about the risk of nuclear proliferation. He says United States President Barack Obama has made eliminating nuclear weapons a priority and other countries have to offer him support.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Mt Hutt ready to roll

Mount Hutt skifield is to open in May for the first time in 10 years. Ski Area Manager Dave Wilson says the ski field had a base of 60 centimetres on the main trails and wintry weather over the weekend brought another 20 to 30 centimetres. He says it is still snowing and consolidating into a good base for opening day on Saturday.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Top lawyers may get QC title back

By TIM DONOGHUE - The Dominion Post
First it was restoring knighthoods, now the Government has hinted it could revert to using the title of Queen's Counsel for top lawyers. Attorney-General Chris Finlayson said his office was considering the move, which would unpick the previous government's decision to scrap the title and introduced the term Senior Counsel. Existing QC office holders were able to retain their title under the amending legislation. Mr Finlayson had hinted at the change in a recent speech to a legal conference. "They may yet be Queen's Counsel again. Watch this space," he told those attending.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



New Zealand short film singled out at Cannes

The New Zealand short film, "The Six Dollar Fifty Man" has been singled out for a special mention at the Cannes film festival. Directed by Louis Sutherland and Mark Albiston, the film tells the story of a young boy facing up to schoolground bullying. Writer and director Mark Albiston also won a special mention at Cannes two years ago, with Run.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Sunday, May 24

$10m fugitive drinking beer, enjoying heat

By David Fisher
One of the fugitives sought over Westpac banks missing millions has told friends she is drinking Chinese beer, enjoying the heat of Asia - and planning on returning to New Zealand. Aroha Hurring, 22, has charted her and the fugitives' progress from New Zealand to Hong Kong, Macau and into mainland China on her Facebook page. It is five days since it emerged Rotorua couple Leo Gao and Kara Yang-Hurring skipped the country after a Westpac staff member accidentally allowed a $10 million overdraft on their bank account, on or about May 5. The bank spotted the error after $6.7m was withdrawn.



Key third in Bluff oyster-eating contest

Prime Minister and oyster lover John Key joined the mollusc-gobbling, 4000-strong throng at the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival yesterday. Mr Key came third in his heat of the Oyster Eating race, behind Gore District mayor Tracy Hicks and Bluff community board chairwoman Jan Mitchell. Kerikeri man Warrick Hyland won the men's oyster eating race, while Jan Mitchell won the women's division. Contestants raced to eat a dozen oysters, then whistled to prove their mouths were empty. Saturday's festival, which attracted about 4000 people to the waterfront site, also had a fashion show, kapa haka performances and live music.
NZPA



Scott Base retreat destroyed by fire

Fire has destroyed a piece of New Zealand history in Antarctica. An A-frame hut near Scott Base caught fire when a routine changeover of diesel fuel heating tanks, went wrong and priming fuel ignited. The building was discarded by the US McMurdo Base in 1971, but was turned into a field training base. It occasionally served as a retreat for visiting New Zealand scientists, politicians and artists.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Australia-Dust storms reported in south-west NSW

Huge dust storms have been reported in south-west New South Wales as winds whip up dirt from dry paddocks. The Bureau of Meteorology says there are strong easterly winds in excess of 35km per hour in the ranges, northern tablelands and central tablelands. The ABC reports callers describe large red dust swirls in some parts of the state where visibility has been reduced to 0.5km.

Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Doubts over UK "manuka" honey

A New Zealand honey producer says he doubts a British product being marketed as manuka honey, is the genuine article. Manuka Health chief executive Kerry Paul says there are reports that honey made in Cornwall is selling for $NZ140 per jar. He says British consumers are being ripped off. He says beekeepers in Cornwall have imported manuka plants, but there's no way they can reproduce the conditions which create the genuine product. Even in New Zealand's climate, Mr Paul says about one hectare of dense manuka forest per hive is needed to produce 25kg of honey.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Gifted girls conceal their talents

By CATHERINE WOULFE - Sunday Star Times
Parents need to watch their daughters closely to work out whether they might be "gifted", experts say, because girls are far more likely than boys to deliberately "dumb down" to fit in with their friends. Worse still, says Chris Herbert, head of the assessment team at the Gifted Education Centre (GEC), girls who hide their talents are likely to become bored and frustrated, setting them up for failure at secondary school because they lose all motivation. Little boys, when they get bored, tend to act up and become the class clown so they get picked up [as gifted]. Little girls tend to just become quiet and sit in the corner and don't say very much so they are never picked up. "As they get older, the desire to fit in becomes greater... Girls dumb down, they comply, and they become the teacher's pet."



Govt considers fertility law change on frozen eggs

By EMMA PAGE - Sunday Star Times
The Government is a step closer to changing the law to allow women to thaw and use eggs that they have frozen to safeguard their chances of having a baby. Freezing eggs has been legal in New Zealand since 2005, but unlike frozen embryos, the eggs cannot currently be thawed for use in fertility treatments, meaning many women have shied away from the procedure. Fertility advocates are pushing for the change, saying New Zealand women deserve access to the procedure, which is legal in the United States, England, Canada and Australia and has so far resulted in around 500 "frozen egg" babies worldwide.



Tokelau scriptures launch

The first Christian scriptures to be published in the Tokelau language were launched yesterday at a church service in Porirua. It has taken 13 years to translate the New Testament into the Pacific Island language, and is one of the few written documents in Tokelauan. The funding and expertise for the job have come from the Tokelau community and the Bible Society, and another $15,000 will go toward a translation of the Old Testament which will take four years. Tokelau government council spokesman Foua Toloa says the translations are important to help keep the language alive.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Destabilisation of world dairy market feared

New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser fears new subsidies for farmers in the United States will destabilise the international dairy market, just as it was recovering. The US government is to subsidise the export of 90,000 tonnes of milk powder, butter and cheese in response to a similar move by the European Union earlier this year. NZ Federated Farmers describes the subsidies as ludicrous. Mr Groser says the US retaliation could unsettle the whole international trade in dairy products. G20 nations, including the US, recently pledged to refrain from protectionism. Australia on Saturday described the announcement as a "serious backward step".
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Saturday, May 23

NZ swine flu cases remain stable

The number of swine flu cases in New Zealand remains stable. The nine sufferers have since fully recovered. There are 18 suspected cases, which is down one from yesterday. The Ministry of Health believes there is no evidence of community spread of influenza A in the country. A spokesman says all of the cases had recently returned from travel in affected areas or were close contacts.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Trade minister scolds US over dairy export subsidies

NZPA/Ross Setford
The United States' administration has made a "short-sighted" decision to reintroduce export subsidies on dairy products, Trade Minister Tim Groser said today. The move was disappointing, a setback and damaging to world markets, Mr Groser said. "Dairy farmers the world over are under pressure, but this is a short-sighted response when the international dairy market has recently been showing signs of stabilising," he said. "Export subsidy assistance will have a relatively small effect on income for US dairy farmers, and may even prove counterproductive by creating uncertainty and depressing international dairy market prices" he said.



Rugby-Fiji to host 2009 IRB Pacific Nations Cup

Fiji is to be host nation for this year's IRB Pacific Nations Cup. The International Rugby Board says most of the games will be held in Suva, Lautoka and Sigatoka. Samoa and Tonga will also host one match each. Japan and the Junior All Blacks will also play in the tournament that runs from 12 June - 3 July. It is Fiji's first major IRB international 15-a-side event.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



High winds halt inter-island ferry services

Source: NZPA / Ross Setford
A number of ferry crossings have been cancelled as wild winter weather conditions bash Cook Strait and the capital. Six Bluebridge ferry sailings have been cancelled and three Interislander ferry services as high winds and big swells affect the Cook Strait. Two Bluebridge ferry crossings were cancelled last night, and there would be no sailings today, spokeswoman Wendy Pannett said.



Single intervention agency seen as more effective for problem families

A new study has concluded that intervention in the homes of problem families could be more effective if it was carried out early by a single agency. A report by the University of Canterbury has found that about 1200 babies are born per year to dysfunctional families. Dr Annabel Taylor from the school of social work & human services says a single organisation targeting vulnerable families would be more effective in the long run. She says there are too many agencies involved at present such as Child, Youth & Family, social workers and the court system.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Teens want more time with parents -study

By Simon Collins
It may be uncool to admit it, but more than half of New Zealand teenagers want to spend more time with their parents. Details of a survey of almost 10,000 students at 96 secondary schools, published to mark the start of Youth Week today, show that 54 per cent of students "sometimes" or "hardly ever" get enough time with their mothers. And 61 per cent, sometimes or hardly ever get enough time with their dads. Auckland University researcher Simon Denny, who led the project, said the results shattered the myth that teenagers hate their parents. "This is big stuff, much bigger than it sounds," he said. "Having a close relationship with a parent is one of the most important predictors of good health and wellbeing for young people."



Thousands expected at Bluff Oyster Festival

Around 4000 people are expected to attend the annual Bluff Oyster & Food Festival tomorrow. The festival starts at 11am tomorrow and attendees can enjoy food, drinks and music, as well as Bluff oysters. Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley had good news for oyster connoisseurs today, saying a recent survey had shown the health of oyster beds were improving. The survey by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) showed oyster numbers had increased, but the fishery would need to be carefully managed due to the oyster-killing disease bonamia.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



HMNZS Canterbury off to Pacific on aid mission

Navy support ship HMNZS Canterbury leaves on a humanitarian mission into the Pacific tomorrow, carrying medical and dental workers and engineers to the Cook Islands. Canterbury will drop off 20,000 litres of fuel at Raoul Island before heading for Pukapuka, in the Cook Islands, by June 2 in support of NZAid's mission. The mission, called Exercise Tropic Twilight, is part of an annual deployment in the South Pacific to conduct close country training in a tropical environment.
NZPA



NSW evacuations continue

More towns on the north coast of New South Wales are expected to be evacuated on Saturday, as flooding continues. Thousands of people have already been told to leave their homes. The ABC reports Kempsey, Grafton Smithtown, Gladstone and Jerseyville are the latest to be affected. On Friday, Premier Nathan Rees declared the Tweed, Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Kyogle, Richmond Valley and Clarence Valley to be local disaster zones.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Friday, May 22

NZers to ride in world's toughest horse race

NZPA/Michael Daly
Three New Zealanders have entered the world's longest and toughest horse race, over 1000km across Mongolia. Charlotte Davison, Dave Murray and Hannah Ritchie will be among about 25 riders set to race across the Mongolian plains from August 22, each of them changing horses every 40km. The race has been framed around the communications system used by Genghis Khan, a kind of pony express using a relay system which was able to get a message from Mongolia to Eastern Europe in just 14 days, organisers said on their website. Each rider will also have to raise 1000 pounds ($NZ2646) for a charity, Mercy Corps, and many are also raising money for other charities. Ms Davison said she had already raised the 1000 pounds and was now raising money for research into a screening programme for early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, which killed her grandfather, and recently, her father.



Icy blast on the way

NZPA/Wayne Drought
Heavy snow, rain and severe gales are predicted to top off a week of icy weather this weekend. The MetService has issued a severe weather warning for southerly gales, heavy snow and heavy rain around the country. A strong cold southerly airstream was expected to bring snow to the central North Island overnight.Because of the threat of severe weather, people were advised to keep up to date with weather forecasts, and travellers were advised to reconsider some routes. The MetService has also issued road snowfall warnings for Lindis Pass, in Central Otago; Porters Pass, on the West Coast; Rimutaka Hill Road, near Wairarapa; and the Desert Road.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Abandoned yacht turns up in Aust

A yacht abandoned off the coast of Northland more than 13 months ago has turned up in Queensland. The Air Apparent was given up in March last year after the crew reportedly mutinied against the skipper and owner, Bill Heritage, and set off a distress beacon. The yacht was seen upright with its sail dragging in the water about 390 kilometres off North Cape last May and by October, it had drifted towards Norfolk Island. Mr Heritage says the Air Apparent has now been taken in by North Queensland fishermen. He says although the vessel is worse for wear, it is remarkable that it was still afloat after more than 13 months adrift.
© 2009 NZCity, NewsTalkZB



Evacuations on Aust's east coast

Rain continues to batter the east coast of Australia. Most of Lismore, in northern New South Wales, has been evacuated because of wild weather. Forecasters are predicting 150 millimetres of rain in the next 24 hours with floodwaters are expected to peak around lunchtime. A disaster zone has been declared for the region.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



More central city-dwellers wanted

Christchurch City Council wants more people living in the central city. It has released a draft plan for the five inner city parcels of land the council bought last year from struggling developer Dave Henderson. The council plans to build a mix of residential and office space on all the sites, including medium density housing at Sydenham Square. Council-owned buildings, such as the civic offices in Tuam St will be turned into office space and apartments. The council wants a thousand more people living in the city as a result.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Georgie Pie set to make comeback

An iconic New Zealand fast-food chain may be ready to make a comeback. Georgie Pie first opened in Auckland in 1977 and grew until more than 30 outlets were scattered throughout the country. About 1300 people lost their jobs when more than 30 outlets closed in 1996. Now fast-food chain McDonald's, which holds the Georgie Pie trademark is looking at how the company might use it. Last year, Christchurch Broadcasting School students started a campaign which included opening a temporary Georgie Pie shop and filming a documentary about it. A "Bring Back Georgie Pie" group on social networking website Facebook has about 20,000 members.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Digger bought by toddler for $20,000

The parents of three-year-old Pipi Quinlan got a nasty shock when they found she had bought a $20,000 earth-moving digger on auction website TradeMe. Pipi, who decided to play on the computer while the rest of her family were asleep, entered the TradeMe site that her mother was already logged on to, The Rodney Times reported. With a few clicks of the mouse, she won the most recent auction listed on the site's homepage -- a Kobelco digger for $20,000. Ms Quinlan said she had auctions on several toy sets and assumed she had won a toy digger set. "It wasn't until I went back and re-read the emails that I saw $20,000, and got the shock of my life."
NZPA



Rugby team seeks jersey sponsor via internet

The Counties Manukau Steelers rugby team is for sale on TradeMe in a bid to find a major sponsor. The team has listed a team jersey and a Steelers rugby ball, at a starting price of $100,000 on the internet trading site. It hopes to find a jersey sponsor before the Air New Zealand Cup series begins. The Counties Manukau Rugby Union says it's had to turn to a non-traditional method of finding a sponsor after exhausting all other avenues.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Increase in number of infants with cow milk allergy

Auckland University says there's been an increase in the number of infants with "cow's milk protein allergy". Professor Rohan Ameratunga thinks the increase is a result of more parents being aware of allergies. A new pilot study will be underway by August to look at how many children are affected and the impact on their growth and development. The study is funded by the Auckland District Health Board.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Efficacy of honey for burns studied

New medical research has found honey is an effective treatment for superficial and partial thickness burns. The New Zealand Medical Journal has published an analysis of the results of eight studies which compared the effectiveness of honey with alternative burn dressing treatments. The research, by members of the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, highlights the current interest in the medicinal properties of honey. The study analysed these research findings, which reveal a superior effectiveness of honey in healing superficial and partial thickness burns.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Thursday, May 21

Students defiant after uni throws them out

Victoria University has thrown out three students for staging an anti-war protest on campus. Joel Cosgrove and Alastair Reith burnt a New Zealand flag while Ian Anderson filmed it. All have been dissenrolled, with the University saying it was serious misconduct. The group say they were attempting to highlight New Zealand's involvement in wars of aggression from the Boer War, the World Wars, Vietnam and Afghanistan. The students are rejecting the university's actions, saying they will continue to attend all their classes.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Fewer people leaving NZ

New Zealand experienced its highest monthly migration gain in more than five years in April, as fewer people left the country. Statistics New Zealand says there was a seasonally adjusted gain of just under 2200 people for the month, up from 1700 in March. On an annual basis, there's been a net gain of just under 9200 - almost double that of a year earlier.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



NZ expresses concern over trial of Suu Kyi

The New Zealand Government has expressed concerns over this week's trial of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon. Ms Suu Kyi, 63, is charged with breaking the terms of her house arrest. Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully says the Government doubts she will get a fair trial and continues to call for her immediate release. He says the Myanmar government needs to listen to criticism from the international community and end the trial. Mr McCully says New Zealand voiced its concerns at a regional meeting in Thailand earlier this week and will continue to speak out on the issue.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Trans-Tasman Civil Defence agreement signed

A trans-Tasman agreement being signed on Thursday will make it quicker and easier for Civil Defence in New Zealand and Australia to help each other in a national disaster. The agreement between the Civil Defence and the Emergency Management Ministry and the Australian Attorney-General's department will see a 24-hour hotline maintained between the countries if either needs help. The agreement formalises arrangements which allow Civil Defence staff and materials into either country in an emergency.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



De Goldi wins prestigious children's book award

Kate De Goldi tonight won the highest New Zealand accolade for children's and young adult writing, the 2009 New Zealand Post Book of the Year Award. Wellingtonian De Goldi, 49, won for her novel The 10PM Question, the tale of Frankie Parsons and his eccentric family and friends. She wooed the judging panel, just as she had captured the hearts of the young readers who had kept the book on the bestseller lists for months. Convenor of judges Bill Nagelkerke said The 10PM Question had a rare quality.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Israel to reopen embassy in NZ

NZPA/Ross Setford
Israel is to reopen its Wellington embassy in seven years after it was closed due to ministry budget cuts. The Jewish Federation made the announcement on Tuesday, Jewish media reported. A year after the embassy was shut, relations between Israel and New Zealand were badly damaged when two Mossad agents were arrested in New Zealand for passport fraud. Since the departure of Ambassador Ruth Kahanov in October 2002, Israel's ambassador to Australia, based in Canberra, had been non-resident ambassador to New Zealand.



Couple missing after $10m bank bungle

Police are hunting an Asian couple thought to have fled the country with millions of dollars, after a banking error. The couple, who ran Rotorua service station BP Barnetts, are understood to have applied to Westpac Bank for a $10,000 overdraft and mistakenly had $10 million paid into their account. It is believed some of the money has been recovered by the bank. Police had asked international police liaison organisation Interpol to help find the couple.
NZPA and Stuff.co.nz



Polish roof collapse trial begins

New Zealander Bruce Robinson has gone on trial in Poland, with ten others, for his role in a faulty roof that collapsed at a pigeon fair three years ago that killed 65 people. The flat roof of the trade hall in the southern city of Katowice collapsed under a heavy layer of snow in January 2006. Prosecutors said a faulty roof design and a lack of proper maintenance during harsh winter conditions were responsible for the accident. At the time of the collapse, about 1000 people were inside the building. The defendants have all denied the charges. The board members, including Robinson, were charged with proceeding with the event despite knowing about the faulty roof. They face up to eight years.
NZPA



Digital radio system to be used by police

Police are to use an encrypted digital radio system to prevent people from eavesdropping on their communications. The new technology will be introduced in Wellington next month and extended to Auckland and Christchurch by the end of next year. Police Association president Greg O'Connor says the new system will mean people can no longer use scanners to listen to police activity.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Wednesday, May 20

DOC asks public for help with whale programme

NZPA/Ross Setford
The Department of Conservation (DOC) wants people to keep an eye out for southern right whales travelling along New Zealand's coastline. The sightings would help the department's southern right whale research programme. Its aim is to learn as much about the endangered whales as possible and then take measures to ensure they had the right level of protection, DOC's national marine mammal coordinator, Steve Smith said. "This is exciting -- it's a rare opportunity for members of the public to see large whales from the coast and to help DOC with crucial research," Mr Smith said.



Snow arrives in Christchurch

The wintry blast has taken hold in Canterbury and further south, bringing heavy rain, strong south-westerlies and gales. Weather analyst Richard Green was expecting plenty of snow down to about 400 metres, with a slight chance of it coming to sea level. He says snow has arrived in Christchurch this afternoon. "We've had reports of snow falling at Christchurch Airport, parts of Avonhead, as well as some parts of Riccarton. Hail falling in other parts of the city as well." Richard Green says the wind chill in Christchurch has lowered the temperature to around minus 7 degrees. He says the picture is much the same further south, with Dunedin pretty much covered in snow. Weatherwatch.co.nz says southerly winds sweeping up the country will pass over the next 24-hours, but low temperatures will stick around. Until then it will be snow, hail and an icy blast - with sleet covering some roads.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



NZ's competitiveness improves

New Zealand has improved three places to 15th out of 57 on the world economic competitiveness scoreboard. The improved ranking in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, helps close the trans-Tasman gap, with Australia remaining static on its 7th placing last year. The United States remains number one. New Zealand's improvement is due to improved economic performance and infrastructure. The yearbook ranks countries on their ability to create and sustain enterprise competitiveness. This list introduced the new ranking of stress test on competitiveness, which Denmark topped. New Zealand came in 12th.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



MP seeks crackdown on loan sharks

Labour MP Charles Chauvel wants more regulation and restrictions for private lending businesses. He is seeking political support for a private members bill which would reshape current rules on the industry. Mr Chauvel says it is not about stopping people from borrowing money, or preventing loan agencies from lending it. He says all he is trying to do is ensure reasonable interest rates are charged, not excessive ones, and that lenders make proper inquiries about a borrower's ability to repay.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Old treasures on sale

By MERVYN DYKES - Manawatu Standard
One hundred and sixty seven years ago, someone in Kaikoura was the proud owner of a brand new copy of the New Testament in Maori. This week that book, now much time-worn, will join more than 60,000 others seeking new owners at the 20th annual Red Cross Book Sale in Palmerston North. There will also be other goodies such as a first edition Volume 2 of The Home of the Blizzard part of a two-book set by Sir Douglas Mawson that describes the Australian Antarctic expeditions of 1911 to 1914. Another prize for history buffs is a first edition set of memoirs by Sir Walter Scott, dated 1837. Another prize for history buffs is a first edition set of memoirs by Sir Walter Scott, dated 1837. A team of 16 volunteers moved into the Barber and Bell halls at Arena Manawatu yesterday to begin set-up for the sale which opens at noon on Friday.



Men's life expectancy closing in on women's

They earn more, don't have to go through childbirth and soon men might be living longer as well. Women have long dominated life-expectancy rates, but the latest figures from Statistics NZ show men are fast closing the gap. Since 1975, life expectancy has increased by 6.8 years for females and 9.2 years for males. A newborn girl can now expect to live an average of 82.2 years and a newborn boy 78.2 years an increase of 1.1 years for females and 1.9 years for males in the past six years. At this rate, males will draw level with females in under 40 years. This is partly because of improvements in fighting cardiovascular diseases, which kill more men than women.
© Fairfax New Zealand Limited 2009



Helping the blind get in touch with nature

By DAVE BURGESS - The Dominion Post
Your fingers do some of the walking on a new trail that celebrates Louis Braille the man who invented a system of writing for the blind. The Sensation Walk Braille Trail is a 20-minute stroll along Wellington's Botanic Gardens paths. It starts at the Treehouse Visitor Centre and takes in a fernery and herb garden before ending at the Lady Norwood Rose Garden. Tactile markers groups of small metal squares set into the ground are positioned at appropriate spots so blind people know where to stop and smell the flowers, feel the leaves, or hug the trees. There are also information posts, in written form and braille, and a combination of underfoot surfaces to stimulate the senses.



Shoplifter told to shout morning tea

A man who tried to steal grocery items from a Blenheim supermarket has been ordered to shout the staff a $200 morning tea. In Blenheim District Court Judge Tony Zohrab said Steven Gary Page, 26, unemployed, should pay the $200 in emotional harm reparation to the manager of Redwoodtown Super Value after he put $9.77 of groceries in the pockets of his shorts on May 13. Judge Zohrab told Page, who had pleaded guilty to shoplifting, the money should be used to buy morning tea for the staff.
NZPA, Marlborough Express



NZ sport sanctions against Fiji eased, says PM

The Government has eased sporting sanctions against Fiji, that were put in place shortly after Commodore Frank Bainimarama staged a coup in late 2006, Prime Minister John Key says. Military staff, members of the new Fijian government and their families were all banned from travelling to New Zealand. A travel ban was also put on Fijian seasonal workers and some sports teams. Mr Key said the position on those taking part in sports has been eased. "New Zealand has been effectively softening its sanctions in relation to sporting ties and the travel of sports teams." Mr Key said on Tuesday.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Chef off to prestigious competition again

Southern chef Joseph Clarke is on the way to international culinary success after being picked to represent New Zealand in the World Junior Chefs Challenge. The event will be held in Santiago, Chile, next year. The 21-year-old demi chef de partie at Queenstown's up-market Blanket Bay Lodge won the 2009 New Zealand final of the Hans Beaushkens Word Junior Challenge recently.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Biofuel company will not return despite grants

A Scottish company which quit New Zealand during last year's biofuel wrangle, says it will not return, despite the announcement of Government money for biodiesel producers. The Budget on 28 May will allocate $36 million in grants, over three years, to local producers selling to New Zealand consumers. Last year, the National-led Government repealed legislation that would have required a small proportion of petrol and diesel to be sourced from biofuels. Argent Energy, based in Motherwell, near Glasgow, had ditched plans to build a 60 million litre biodiesel plant in the Bay of Plenty because of what it calls the whims of policymakers, and says that decision still stands.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Government to review child support payment system

The Government is reviewing how child support payments are calculated because of anomalies in the system. The Minister of Revenue, Peter Dunne, says the system does not take into account the income of a mother's new partner. Mr Dunne expects to seek public input on the issue by August. Coalition of Fathers spokesperson Jim Bagnall says child support is an inflexible system which fails to calculate how much it costs to raise a child. He says thousands of families are struggling to meet payments, and some fathers are at their wits' end, or even suicidal.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



NZ rates worst in report on fund management

Global financial research firm Morningstar has rated New Zealand the lowest in a report into the fund management industry in 16 countries. New Zealand is the only country to score a D-minus, and is ranked below countries such as China and Taiwan. The Morningstar report looked at investor protection, transparency of reports, fees and expenses, taxation and distribution choice. A spokesman for Morningstar in New Zealand, Chris Cloete, says there is insufficient legislation to protect investors against things going badly wrong in the management of funds.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Tuesday, May 19

French rugby officials expect at least one win over All Blacks or Wallabies

French rugby bosses expect national coach Marc Lievremont and his side to come away with at least one win from their three-Test tour of the New Zealand and Australia next month. France play two tests against the All Blacks in Dunedin and Wellington and then head to Sydney to play the Wallabies. French rugby president Pierre Camou says he expects results and the time for using overseas Tests as experiments is over. The French side will arrive in New Zealand in two groups as their respective clubs sides drop out of the French domestic competition.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Australians offered Auckland trips

Tourism Auckland is giving 50 lucky Australians the chance to help celebrate the 50th birthday of Auckland Harbour Bridge. The tourism agency has joined with airline Emirates to give away 50 flights as part of a two-week radio campaign running on Sydney's 2GB radio station until the bridge's birthday on May 30. Tourism Auckland chief executive Graeme Osborne said the promotion is a unique way to celebrate the bridge's milestone. "Sydney and Auckland both have a bridge spanning our beautiful harbours, so we're keen to mark this occasion with our Australian neighbours," Mr Osborne said. To win a flight, Sydneysiders will need visit www.aucklandnz.com and answer a question about the range of experiences on offer in Auckland. (Crikey mate! thats a bonza prize)
source: Taranaki Daily News



MAF finds no sign of pigs suffering

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) says inspectors saw no sign of suffering and nothing needing urgent attention at a Horowhenua pig farm at the centre of the animal cruelty allegations. The pig farming controversy widening with MAF investigators inspecting the piggery and the owner firing his own accusations at animal rights activists. The MAF probe was launched after an investigation by TVNZ's Sunday programme which broadcast disturbing images of pigs kept in sow stalls. The pictures were taken by animal rights activists who broke into the property. MAF investigators and a specialist pig vet visited the farm on Tuesday to inspect conditions described by animal rights activists as both brutal and disturbing. MAF released a statement saying the inspectors saw no sign of suffering and nothing needing urgent attention.
Source: ONE News



Professor could be first kiwi in space

Professor Karen Willcox could be the first New Zealander to become an astronaut, having been shortlisted by Nasa for astronaut training. Prof Willcox -- on a year-long sabbatical at Auckland University from her research role at Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- has just learnt that she has made it on to a shortlist of 47 people from whom the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will select 10 to 15 people to train to be astronauts this year, the university's alumni magazine reported. Prof Willcox teaches aeronautics and astronautics at MIT and leads an international research effort to drastically reduce the fuel consumption and carbon emissions of 737-size aircraft.
NZPA



Fifteen cities and towns to host NZ Film Festival

Fifteen cities and towns will this year host the annual New Zealand International Film Festival. The 2009 programme includes the New Zealand feature The Strength of Water, Steven Soderbergh's film about guerilla leader Che Guevara, Che, Oscar winner Departures and major German hit The Baader Meinhof Complex. Main regions and dates for the New Zealand International Film Festival 2009: Auckland July 9 - 26, Wellington July 17 - August 2, Dunedin July 24 - August 9, Christchurch July 30 - August 16, Palmerston North August 6 to 19, New Plymouth August 13 - 26, Napier August 19 - September 6, Tauranga August 27 - September 9 and Hamilton September 3 - 16. The festival will finish in Whangarei in November. Further updates will be on the website www.nzff.co.nz.
NZPA



Cornish manuka honey sells for $144 a jar

NZPA / The Press
British beekeepers have imported manuka plants from New Zealand to produce their own version of medicinal manuka honey, which they are selling at Stg5 ($NZ13) a teaspoonful. The honey is being produced on the Tregothnan estate in Cornwall. "At 55 pounds ($NZ144) a small pot, few people will be smearing Tregothnan manuka honey liberally on their breakfast toast any day soon," The Guardian newspaper reported. The honey is claimed to have medicinal qualities and can help ailments including gum disease, sore throats, acne, sunburn and digestive problems.



Birth rates at highest level in nearly 20 years

New Zealand's birth rate is at its highest level in close to 20 years, according to new figures from Statistics New Zealand. The birth rate in March was at its highest since March 1991, with an average of 2.2 births per woman. The highest peak in recorded birth rates was in 1961, when the rate was 4.3 births per woman. Birth rates for March this year increased by almost 1000 from last year, with 64,160 live births recorded this year compared to 63,250 in the year to March 2008. The statistics, released today, also showed women are having babies about five years later than women in the mid-1960s. The median age for women giving birth is now 30 years, compared with 25 years in 1969. Registered deaths in the year to March 2009 totalled 29,150, up from 28,300 last year.
NZPA



Dalai Lama visit confirmed

The Dalai Lama is to visit New Zealand in December. The Dalai Lama Visit Trust New Zealand confirmed today that the Dalai Lama would give a public talk in Auckland at the Vector Arena on December 5. He will give another public lecture at the Vector Arena on December 6. The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people.
NZPA



Biodiesel producers receive government money

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced a grants scheme to boost biodiesel production in New Zealand. Next week's budget will allocate $36 million in grants to local producers over the next three years. Mr Brownlee says a bigger biodiesel industry would provide jobs for New Zealanders as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, the government repealed legislation that would have required a small proportion of petrol and diesel to be sourced from biofuels.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



NZ Tamils worried about family

Tamils living in New Zealand are worried about the wellbeing of friends and family caught up in violence in Sri Lanka. The country's government is claiming victory over the Tamil Tigers after a 25 year conflict. It says they have been wiped out following an assault on a tiny rebel-held enclave they have now annihilated. Tamil Youth Organisation spokeswoman Viji Ratnavel says the group holds grave concerns for the civilians trapped between the rebels and government forces. She says their anxiety is not helped by the fact they are having huge difficulties contacting people in the conflict zone.
Source: Newstalk ZB/Copyright © 2009, Television New Zealand Limited



Australians agree to mobile super

By Tamsyn Parker
Australia has signed a memorandum of understanding with New Zealand to allow for portability of superannuation between the two countries. New Zealand's former Labour-led Government had been in talks with Australia for some time to ease the way. New Zealand signed an agreement in October to allow it to go ahead but it took until recently, as part of Australia's Budget, to clear the way on the other side of the Tasman. A spokesman for Finance Minister Bill English yesterday confirmed the agreement had been signed but said the current Government had yet to endorse it. That decision is expected in the next few months. If cleared it could allow the more than one million people who have signed up to KiwiSaver to shift it to an Australian scheme if they move there.



Quit-smoking pill sparks health warning

By Martin Johnston
Health authorities have issued a new warning on the mental health risks of a quit-smoking pill introduced to New Zealand in 2007. More than 3300 people were prescribed Champix, which contains the chemical varenicline, in the first year of its use in New Zealand. There were 22 reports of people experiencing depression for the first time after taking Champix. Recurrence or worsening of existing depression, and other psychiatric and neurological symptoms, were also reported. The majority of the new cases of depression were probably caused by the tablets, according to the Intensive Medicines Monitoring Programme, which collected the data from pharmacists and doctors.



Fox braced to sell Maori magazine hit by hard times

By Yvonne Tahana
The part-owner and editor of the Maori affairs magazine Mana has announced he is looking for a buyer as the publication struggles to survive. Derek Fox knows that Mana is at a crossroads but he isn't waving any white flags yet and hopes a potential owner will come forward. At its peak Mana had 30 staff, working in print and radio. Now it has one fulltime journalist and, like other publications in the print industry, it is having to look at ways it can survive. The Herald understands that Mr Fox tried to sell the publication for $1 million last year. He said there had been three approaches from groups wanting to buy Mana, but negotiations never got as far as a price. Former Mana journalist Rereata Makiha said the magazine captured the soul of Maori stories when it launched 17 years ago.



More funding for maternity services likely

The Minister of Health, Tony Ryall, is due to reveal details on spending plans for maternity services early this afternoon. Prior to last year's election National pledged an extra $29 million a year for the sector, promising mothers would be able to stay in birthing facilities longer and get extra post-natal support. Today's announcement is expected to confirm the policy though there are strong indications something extra will be added to the mix.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Setting ABC standards

By NATHAN BEAUMONT and BRITTON BROUN - The Dominion Post
After a year at school every pupil should know the alphabet and be able to count objects up to nine using fingers, under proposed literacy and numeracy standards. By the time they reach high school, pupils will need to write using complex punctuation, and be able to do metric conversions. The draft national standards for numeracy and literacy were issued by the Government yesterday for consultation with families, teachers, principals, and school trustees. Parents will be able to assess their child's progress against national academic standards, but educators say the standards are too general and meaningless and fear they could be used to make schools compete against each other at the expense of pupils. Schools will also be required to report to parents and communities in plain language about their child's progress.



Another icy blast on the way

More wintry conditions are set to hit the country on Tuesday as snow is expected at low levels in Southland and parts of Otago and Canterbury.Forecaster Bob McDavitt says strong, cold winds and showers of rain, hail and snow are likely, with snow down to 300 metres in Southland, Otago and 500 metres Canterbury. More significant falls of snow are forecast for Wednesday. MetService has also issued a severe weather watch for the eastern North Island.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Monday, May 18

Kiwis profit from conservation funding

Kiwi (birds) living on private land in Northland are the biggest winners in conservation funding allocated by the Government Biodiversity Funds. In the latest round of funding, more than $2.5 million was allocated to conservation initiatives. "Significant kiwi populations live on private land in Northland and this money will help those landowners who realise that they have natural treasures, literally in their own backyards," In other parts of New Zealand, Biodiversity Funds would help a range of private conservation initiatives ranging from trapping and predator control programmes to protecting endangered birds, through to fencing to allow the re-growth of native plants.
NZPA



Social media proves popular in NZ

New Zealanders have embraced social networking and micro-blogging and believe it is here to stay, according to new research. Blogs, streaming video and podcasting, as well as social platforms such as Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and Twitter, are showing ever-increasing popularity, market researcher Perceptive found. The company asked 1000 New Zealanders aged 15 to 65-plus about their online habits and found 88 percent believed the social media were a part of everyday life. Twitter, the new kid on the block, has been taken up enthusiastically, with 6 percent of those surveyed saying they regularly "twitter". The Attitude New Zealand report showed Kiwis had embraced online banking and shopping, with 83 percent regularly paying their bills, making transfers and checking their balances on the internet.
NZPA



Telecom to include Maori words in phone dictionary

NZPA/Ross Setford
"Aotearoa", "kia ora" and "whanau" are among the new additions to a mobile phone text dictionary. In what is being hailed a New Zealand-first, Telecom will include common te reo Maori words in the dictionary for the predictive text message function on two new phones. As well as common greetings, the words include days of the week, months of the year, the numbers one to ten, and popular New Zealand place names. "The initial list is at 100 words, and our goal is to make it bigger," Telecom spokeswoman Rebecca Earl told NZPA.



Europe cancels Fiji sugar grant

The European Commission has cancelled a grant designed to help Fiji's ailing sugar industry, because the military government has failed to provide a date for elections this year. The 24 million euro ($F70 million) grant is part of a package to help reform the industry, which is seen as inefficient but has been a major contributor to Fiji's economy. The EU Commissioner for development and humanitarian aid says the finance was subject to a legitimate government being in place in 2009.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Govt urged to follow Aust's lead

A retirement investment specialist believes New Zealand should take a leaf out of Australia's book when it comes to the retirement policy. In this month's budget, Australia's Treasurer Wayne Swan announced that the age a person is eligible to receive a pension will rise from 65 to 67 by 2023. In addition, retirement tax benefits for higher-paid individuals would be reduced and the Government would stop matching contributions to low and middle-income earners to pay for a weekly increase for current pensioners. Retirement investment consultant Paul Newfield says New Zealand's Government must also address the issue of an aging population.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Study rules out moving cows in eruption

NZPA/Ross Setford
It will be every cow for herself if Mount Taranaki ever blows its top. A $20,000 study has found it would take at least three months and $2 million to evacuate the estimated 208,000 dairy cows from the region should there be a moderate or large volcanic eruption. Researcher Tom Wilson, from Canterbury University's Natural Hazard Research Centre, said the volcanic hazards present during the eruption, such as volcanic ashfall, had the potential to significantly disrupt farming and transport operations in widespread areas both near to and far from the volcano. The study estimated that for a total evacuation of cows from dairy farms impacted by 100mm of ashfall 208,000 cows would need to be evacuated and it would take at least 43,600 man-hours and cost $2 million.



Air NZ freezes pay of those earning over $80k

Air New Zealand is to freeze the pay of staff earning more than $80,000 to cut costs in the wake of a fall in air travel. The year-long pay freeze takes effect in July, and will apply to employees on individual contracts and not to staff on collective contracts. Air New Zealand says this will affect about 1,000 of its 11,000-strong workforce and will reduce the pressure to cut staff numbers.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



It's not British! cries Anchor's rival

A British dairy company is promoting its butter by running down its New Zealand rival, Anchor. The ads say the company has nothing against New Zealand which is "a fantastic place" but tells consumers that if they prefer to buy British and support British farmers, then Country Life is the natural choice. The company says it is launching the new campaign after conducting research that shows 39 percent of Anchor butter consumers mistakenly believe the brand is British. It says it is trying to set the record straight.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Sunday, May 17

Road warnings as bad weather sets in

By laura heathcote - NewstalkZB
A raft of road warnings and closures are in place in the South Island as wild weather has hit the region over the past 24 hours. State Highway One between Hinds and Temuka is closed after the Rangitata River burst its banks. There are similar problems on State Highway 83 from Otematata to Omarama. Towing vehicles are advised not to use the Rakaia Gorge, Arthurs Pass or the Lewis Pass due to high winds.



Panel likely to recommend repeal of controversial act

The panel reviewing the Foreshore and Seabed Act looks likely to recommend the Government repeal the law, with most submitters calling for the act to be thrown out. The Ministerial Review Panel has held 19 hui and public meetings from Bluff to Northland to review the 2004 Act, with two more to come. It's also met sector groups and government departments with foreshore and seabed interests, and specialist lawyers and academics. Taranaki and Whanganui Maori were unanimous at this weekend's two hui that the act should be scrapped. Panel member Hana O'Regan says 94% of submitters favour repeal.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Australia plans world's largest solar power station

Australia plans to build the world's largest solar power station with an output of 1000 megawatts in a $1.7 billion investment. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the plant would have three times the generating capacity of the current biggest solar-powered electricity plant, which is in California. He said the project should eventually lead to a network of solar-powered stations across the country. Mr Rudd also said Australia would become a full member of the International Renewable Energy Agency, which will have its first global meeting in June.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Site of the week .... animal welfare matters - you can help


Click on the pic above....you can help prevent cruelty to animals. "SAFE" is a NZ animal welfare organisation.
Free Jumbo, Save the PiggyWigs, Oppose duck shooting, Pick up a potato pancake recipe, take a look at the Online Cruelty-Free shop, and sign up for a newsletter...Give your support to "Safe" and help prevent cruelty to animals



Prime minister joins Twitter

By ANGELA KENEALY - NewstalkZB
After a successful trip in to the land of Facebook, Prime Minister John Key is now on Twitter. The free social networking site is all the rage in Parliament, with the likes of Annette King and Sue Bradford all having a tweet. In a Facebook update he told supporters that although he was still just setting up his account, he would already collected some 600 followers. The prime minister plans to use the site to keep people in the loop with what he is up to.



SH1 south of Ashburton closed by flooding

Flooding has closed State Highway 1 between Hinds and Temuka, south of Ashburton, in the South Island this afternoon as high winds and rain batter parts of the country. Winds have blown down trees, knocking out powerlines, lifting roofs and causing floods and slips. Police and the Automobile Association are advising drivers to take caution on several roads in the central South Island and Otago because of high winds and flooding.
NZPA



More for the Sallies

The country might be in the middle of a recession, but it seems New Zealanders still have a soft spot for the Sallies. The Salvation Army has released figures for its Red Shield street appeal. This year's take is up by more than 10 percent on last year, at $708,000. Sallies spokesman Major Robbie Ross says he was a bit taken aback by the public's generosity, and wants to say thanks.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Award-winning writer upset at airport detention

A Commonwealth Writers' Prize winner from Pakistan says he's dedicating his award to customs officers who detained him for two hours in Auckland. Mohammed Hanif's work A Case of Exploding Mangoes was named best first book at the awards held in Auckland on Saturday. The Slap by Australian author Christos Tsiolkas won the overall best book prize, worth about $26,000. Mr Hanif says he almost didn't attend the ceremony after his experience at the airport, which he said made him feel like a terrorist. He says he travels frequently and discrimination against people with Muslim names is now pretty commonplace. Mr Hanif says people in Auckland have been hospitable and warm since. The two winners were chosen from eight regional winners of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Folic scheme may go

The government is thinking about dumping a scheme requiring all bread products to be fortified with folic acid. The mandatory folation of bread has been promoted as a way of reducing rare birth defects, like spina bifida. Labour's Health Minister Annette King ordered bakers to add a synthetic form of folic acid under special rules, which meant no legislation was needed. With almost 90 percent of consumers opposed to the idea, National is now taking another look.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Pacific nations discuss tuna fisheries

The Fisheries Minister was due to fly to Niue on Sunday for multi-country meetings on better management of Pacific Island tuna fisheries. Tuna fisheries exports are worth about $3.9 billion a year to the region. The Minister Phil Heatley says representatives from 16 countries are part of the 70th annual meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee. The forum aims to find a more consistent method of management, including stopping illegal fishing. The Minister is calling for a one-voice approach on the issue from Pacific nations.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Rugby-Three NZ teams make Super 14 semi-finals

The Chiefs, the Hurricanes and the Crusaders have all won their way into rugby's Super 14 semi-finals. The Bulls of South Africa complete the final four, finishing at the top of the table after their 27-26 win over the Sharks in Durban on Sunday morning. In their semi-final the Bulls will host the Crusaders and the Hurricanes will return to Hamilton to face the Chiefs.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Govt wants fewer jury trials

The Government wants to cut the number of trials by jury. Justice Minister Simon Power says he wants to see a system where there would be a judge-only trial if an offence carried a prison sentence of three years or less. Mr Power told TVNZ's political programme Q & A on Sunday that such a scheme would cut the number of jury trials by about 1,000 per year. At the moment, under the Bill of Rights, defendants charged with offences carrying a sentence of three months or more can elect for a trial by jury.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Saturday, May 16

Caravans fly as wild winds hit

A warning to hunker down and drive with care, as gale force winds are about to batter Central Otago. Metservice has released a severe weather warning has also been issued for heavy rain in the Marlborough Sounds, Tararua Ranges and Mt Taranaki. The nightmare weather is due to hit late tonight, and is thanks to a cold front sweeping over the Tasman Sea, heading for the top of the South Island. Police have already attended three crashes involving two caravans and a high sided truck being blown over in the wind on State Highway 73,and at Rakaia gorge.
NEWSTALK ZB



Quake not big enough for tsunami warning

Scientists say a 6.7 magnitude earthquake northeast of White Island this afternoon was not big enough to set off a tsunami warning. The quake happened just before 1pm, 760 kilometres northeast of the active Bay of Plenty volcano, and was felt in Gisborne and Wellington. GNS duty seismologist Brian Ferris says it was quite a large earthquake but was not big enough to set off a tsunami, as the area is a very seismically active part of the world.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



Campion at Cannes

New Zealand director Jane Campion is having another shot at the coveted Palme d'Or trophy, at the Cannes film festival in France. "Bright Star"is one of 20 films competing. It tells of the romance between poet John Keats and his neighbour Fanny Brawne, in the two years before the poet's death from tuberculosis. Ms Campion won the Palme d'Or sixteen years ago with 'The Piano', which then went on to win three Academy Awards.
Copyright 2002 - 2009, TelstraClear Ltd



New Zealand's population 4.31 million

The estimated resident population of New Zealand was 4,306,400 at 31 March 2009, Statistics New Zealand said today. The population increased by 42,800 (1.0 percent) in the March 2009 year, compared with 40,800 (1.0 percent) in the March 2008 year. Population growth increased slightly from the March 2008 year level due to increased net migration. The main contribution to population growth during the March 2009 year came from natural increase (excess of births over deaths) of 35,300, down 800 on the previous March year. Permanent and long-term arrivals exceeded departures by 7,500 in the latest year, up from a net migration gain of 4,700 in the March 2008 year.
Geoff Bascand
Government Statistician



We're pigging out on fast food

By KEITH LYNCH - The Press
New Zealanders gobbled up more than $1 billion worth of fast food in the past year. In March this year, fast-food sales jumped to $105.6 million - a $10.5m increase on February sales. According to Statistic New Zealand figures, fast-food fanatics throughout New Zealand splashed out $299.8m or $70 per head on takeaways in the first quarter of this year, a $6m increase on the 2008 figure of $293.8. Chicken and pizza sales were $105.7m in the first quarter of 2009, making up the largest slice of takeaway sales. Fish and chips, hamburgers, and ethnic food takeaways were $100.7m, with ice cream and other takeaway foods including sandwiches making up the final $93.3m.



Achievement 20% lower for Maori and Pacific students

Qualifications Authority statistics show the NCEA level one pass rate among Maori and Pacific Island students is about 20% below the national rate. Some 52.8% of Maori students and 47.8% of Pacific Island students in Year 11 passed their NCEA level one in 2008 compared with the national pass rate of 70.4%. Since 2004, the pass rate for Maori students has improved by 8.4%. Pacific Island students have had an almost 11% improvement, with the pass rate in 2004 at just 37.1%. Secondary Principals Association Vice President Paul Daley says any kind of disparity is concerning but schools are working to target Maori and Pacific pass rates. He says staff are constantly being trained to understand how Pacific Island and Maori students may have different learning styles.
Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand



Friday, May 15

More violence in Papua New Guinea directed at Chinese businesses

Chinese nationals in Papua New Guinea have been subjected to attacks and protests for a third straight day, leading police to use tear gas against the rioters. Chinese-owned stores were ransacked in Port Moresby on Wednesday and then in Lae yesterday. Police intervened this morning in another anti-Chinese protest in Port Moresby, using tear gas to disperse a riot, which an eyewitness says was directed at Chinese businesses. Earlier this week, PNG workers clashed with management at the Chinese-run Ramu nickel mine in Madang Province, after a worker was injured.
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