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

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Saturday, March 31

Tropical storm might head this way

The track a tropical storm might take is still unclear but weather experts say winds will start to pick up for Auckland and areas north of it on Monday. WeatherWatch says rain and wind will move south over the rest of the North Island on Tuesday. Heavy falls are possible. Analyst Philip Duncan says the tropical weather is connected to the deadly flooding in Fiji, and the energy within the system is intense. Constant easterlies have already started to build the waves along northern New Zealand's eastern coastline and Tuesday is when dangerous swells are expected to arrive from the low. Conditions could linger until Easter weekend.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Man dies in Western Australia shark attack

A man killed by a shark off Western Australia's southwest coast was diving with his brother, police say. The man was diving about 200m off Stratham Beach in Geographe Bay about 230km southwest of Perth, when he was attacked just before 9.30am today. A police spokeswoman said it was believed the man was diving with his brother, who was not harmed. Today's attack is the fourth fatal shark attack off the WA coast since September last year.
Source: AAP

Formal end of SAS Afghan deployment

The Special Air Service officially ends its operations in Afghanistan today and is unlikely to return. New Zealand's elite force has been mentoring Afghanistan's Crisis Response Unit in the capital Kabul since 2009. The unit is responsible for dealing with insurgents. It is the fourth and longest deployment the SAS has been on in the war torn country. During the deployment, two members of the unit have been killed and the SAS has been involved in dealing with a number of high profile insurgent attacks. Prime Minister John Key says it is not his expectation that the unit will go back to Afghanistan.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Fiji flooding may prompt state of emergency

A state of emergency is being considered in Fiji after severe flooding cut off towns and forced the evacuation of thousands of people. Heavy rain, which has been falling since Thursday, has cut power and washed out roads and bridges, leaving residents stranded. The townships of Sigatoka, Nadi, Lautoka, Ba and Rakiraki are cut off. Fiji's Disaster Management Office says more than 3000 people spent the night in evacuation centres. It fears the worst for some people who have been reported missing. The Office says it needs more boats to assist those trapped in the flooding. It has been told by a number of callers that they have witnessed people being washed away in the flood waters.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Inventor wins $1m in patent scrap over clever champagne opener

By Nicholas Jones
A Kiwi inventor has been awarded more than $1 million in damages after a court ruled an American company copied his patented champagne bottle opener. Bryce Stewart, a long-time inventor, spent eight years perfecting a opener, which removes the cork, wire restraint and foil wrapping virtually intact from a champagne bottle. United States company Franmara offered the 71-year-old US$2500 ($3050) for the licence in 2003, but when rebuffed, later exactly copied the design and sold it online. In the High Court at Auckland, Justice Kit Toogood ordered Franmara to pay Mr Stewart US$864,500 in damages, plus interest and court costs.

NZ to help monitor Burma byelections

By Simon Collins
Two New Zealand diplomats have joined other international observers for landmark byelections in Burma tomorrow in which democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to win a seat. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the deputy head of the NZ Embassy in Bangkok, Todd Cleaver, and one other diplomat arrived in Burma on Wednesday after a surprise invitation to monitor the elections. Burma has invited 159 foreign observers to monitor tomorrow's polls.

50,000 expected at Ohakea air show

Around fifty thousand people are expected at Ohakea today, for the Air Force's 75th birthday. Planes from Australia, New Caledonia, and the US are joining today's air show. Group Captain Darryn Webb says it's a great way to demonstrate the roles and capabilities of the Air Force. Mr Webb says the event will be the biggest of its kind in twenty years.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Daylight savings ends tomorrow morning

Daylight saving ends tomorrow morning. Clocks go back an hour at 3am. Our daylight saving ends at the same time as it does in most Australian states, except Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Good weather not hanging around long

Fine weather is expected through the weekend, but it all turns to custard next week. MetService says the large anticyclone which has brought good weather for the past few days will stick around over the weekend and then drift away to the east. A deepening area of low pressure from the tropics then moves onto northern New Zealand early next week. There'll be strong or gale easterly winds and persistent and heavy rain next week.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Return of Kingston Flyer marked

The Kingston community will celebrate the return of its historic steam locomotive this weekend. The Kingston Flyer was parked up in 2009 after the company which owned it went into receivership owing more than $4.5 million. The train and tracks were purchased by former Marlborough wine grower David Bryce last year and Mr Bryce has spent the past six months operating the venture. Mr Bryce says now that the train has been running for six months, it is time to celebrate by giving people a special discount. He says he bought the train because he liked it and it underpins the tourism economy for the town. Proceeds from the two day celebration will go to the Stroke Foundation. Mr Bryce suffered a stroke in March last year.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Friday, March 30

Rugby - Highlanders win decisively against Melbourne Rebels

The (Otago) Highlanders have beaten the Melbourne Rebels 43-12 in their Super Rugby match in Invercargill. All Black Adam Thompson scored three of the Highlanders' seven tries. The result means the Highlanders have won five of their six games this season.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

'Kick-ass' women in media blamed for violent offending

By Kiri Gillespie of the Bay of Plenty Times and Teuila Fuatai of APNZ
Portrayals of "kick-ass" women in the media are being blamed for an increase the number of women involved in violent offending. Two New Zealand researchers believe the glorification of females in roles showing women exhibiting physically aggressive and violent behaviour are having a negative impact on young women here. The most recent figures from Statistics New Zealand recorded 162 more females were apprehended for violent crimes in 2010 than in 2009. This included apprehensions for assaults, intimidation and threats. University of Canterbury Criminologist Professor Greg Newbold said more women were going out and committing crimes that were traditionally the preserve of men. "It seems to be driven by images in the media of kick-ass women." Professor Newbold said the type of female imagery available to women and young girls created an increased likelihood of violent offending among females.

Floods hit Fiji

Flash flooding has cut highways and forced evacuations in Fiji, with residents sheltering from rising waters on rooftops as authorities scramble to find rescue boats. Heavy rains caused rivers to burst their banks in the west of the main island Viti Levu on Friday. Meteorologists say water levels are higher than those experienced during a six day deluge in January that claimed 11 lives. Police say they are not aware of any deaths in the latest disaster, which has cut off the town of Nadi, home to Fiji's international airport, as well as other centres including Ba, Lautoka, Rakiraki and Sigatoka. Most flights to and from Nadi have been cancelled. The disaster management office, Dismac, says a massive number of people are stranded on rooftops awaiting rescue and appealed for anyone with a boat to help relief efforts.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Tonga’s democrats to soon push for nobles to be elected by the people

The Tongan opposition leader, Akilisi Pohiva, says his Democratic Party will decide in a couple of weeks when to seek additional reforms aimed at making all of the parliament accountable to the people. The Democrats have made no secret of their intentions to continue pressing for more democracy after changes two years ago allowed for the majority of MPs to be elected by the people for the first time. The 9 noble MPs continue to be elected only by the nobility but Mr Pohiva says the Democrats want all the people to vote for them. He says this is the next stage in a reform process that will eventually see a fully democratic legislature.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International

World Bank assisting small farmers in Samoa with 13 million dollars in aid

The World Bank is giving Samoa 13 million US dollars in concessional loans and grants to help farmers improve their productivity. The Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project will help more than 2,000 Samoan fruit, vegetable and livestock farmers to take greater advantage of market opportunities. The Bank’s Pacific country director, Ferid Belhaj, says despite a large agriculture sector, Samoan households remain vulnerable to increases in food and fuel prices, with the poorest families spending over half their income on food.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International

Aussies rule out upping dole payments

The Australian federal government has ruled out increasing unemployment payments in the May budget. The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) wants Newstart welfare payments lifted by $50 a week and future increases linked to wage growth. The existing arrangements offer fortnightly payments of up to $489.70 - almost $35 a day - for single jobless individuals - an amount ACOSS says is unfair and drives recipients into poverty. Single parents can claim $529.80. The demand for a raise has won support from advocacy group UnitingCare Australia, and on Friday from the Business Council of Australia (BCA). But Minister for Employment Participation Kate Ellis said it will not happen in the next budget, which Treasurer Wayne Swan has flagged will contain cuts to services.
Source: AAP

Stats show Wellington's popular with lawyers

By Yvette McCullough - NewstalkZB
Think Wellington's full of lawyers? You're right. Information released by the New Zealand Law Society shows Wellington has one lawyer for every 88 citizens. That's well ahead of the overall New Zealand average of one lawyer for every 390 citizens. The high rate in the Capital is driven by the number of in-house lawyers working for government or big business - that accounts for 45 percent of the lawyers in Wellington. Meanwhile if you're wanting to avoid lawyers the best place to go is Kawerau, with only one lawyer per seven thousand citizens.

Storm brewing, warns MetService

MetService is urging people to "enjoy the weekend" as the weather looks set to deteriorate for Easter. Heavy rain is forecast to set in next week, and it is expected to hit worst those areas that have already suffered under a deluge of rain in the past month. Forecaster Daniel Corbett said MetService had been monitoring a situation near Fiji for some time, which increasingly looked like it would develop into a low that would sweep over the top and east coast of the North Island. He said it was still being monitored to see how it would develop, but there would be a "significant change" in the weather next week.
© Fairfax NZ News

Pink and White Terrace pieces fetch thousands

Two rare pieces of the Pink and White Terraces have been sold at auction for $64,000. The specimens were collected from the edge of Lake Rotomahana a year before Mount Tarawera erupted in 1886, killing 120 people. The pieces were bought by a private buyer at the auction in Auckland on Thursday. The terraces were thought to have been destroyed by the eruption but last year scientists located parts of them beneath the surface of the lake.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Thursday, March 29

Australian streaming service launches in NZ

Australian movie and television streaming service Quickflix launched in New Zealand on Thursday. The service - which costs $17 a month - allows customers with a broadband connection to watch unlimited movies and TV shows on their computers, certain TVs, Blu-ray players and via PlayStation 3. About 650 films from major Hollywood studios and hundreds of BBC shows will be available - with hundreds more added every month. Two providers - Orcon and Slingshot - have agreed to this system so far.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Kiwi nominated for 'Oscars' of romance writing

A New Zealand author has been nominated three times for an award described as the Oscars of the romance writing world. Nalini Singh says she's thrilled to be a finalist in the Romance Writers of America awards. She'll be attending the awards ceremony in Anaheim later this year. Ms Singh has two books in the Paranormal Romance category, including Archangelas Blade which is part of her successful Guild Huntera series.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Charity auction for 25kg of Marmite

Hamilton bulk foods store Gilmours is auctioning off a huge pail of Marmite for charity. Marmite is in very short supply across the country with Sanitarium halting production until July. Gilmours is selling a 25kg bucket and the top bid is now sitting at $860. Gilmours says the proceeds will be donated to the charity of the winner's choice. The auction closes tomorrow evening.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Nationwide quake education campaign

The biggest ever earthquake education campaign has been launched. ShakeOut will last for six months, culminating in a nationwide "Drop, Cover and Hold" earthquake drill at 9.26am on September 26. Civil defence minister Chris Tremain says it'll include radio and television advertisements, a social media campaign and promo activities around the country. He wants one million Kiwis to take part in the September earthquake drill.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Mediterranean diet could help bowel

Researchers are investigating whether a more Mediterranean diet could help people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The disease includes several conditions that can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. AgResearch, Plant and Food Research and Auckland University have teamed up to conduct a pilot study, which is nearing completion. People were asked to change their diet for six weeks to incorporate foods rich in healthy fats, such as avocado, along with fish and seafood, lean meat, fresh vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts and whole grains.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Cost of sending a letter to rise 10c

The cost of sending a letter will rise later this year. New Zealand Post says the stamp for a standard size letter sent within New Zealand will rise from 60 cents to 70 cents from 1 July.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Call for debate on SAS involvement in Afghanistan

As the SAS prepares to pull out of Afganistan, there are calls for a public debate over why New Zealand's elite soldiers were there for so long. The Special Air Service officially finishes its deployment on Saturday. Critics say it has been shrouded in secrecy and now is the time to investigate what it has been involved in. In 2009, the SAS took over the task of mentoring Afghanistan's Crisis Response Unit in the capital Kabul and is responsible for dealing with attacks by insurgents. Labour's Foreign Affairs spokesperson Phil Goff says people need to be informed as to why the soldiers were there so long. Mr Goff told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report on Thursday he understands the need for confidentiality while SAS teams are deployed, but now they are heading home there is no reason to continue the secrecy.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Date set for next census

Next year's census will be held on March 5 2013. There should have been a census last year but it was postponed because of the Christchurch earthquake. Statistics Minister Maurice Williamson announced the date in parliament today, saying preparations were well advanced and about 7000 collectors would be employed to personally deliver forms and help people fill them out. The forms will also be online and Mr Williamson says he hopes large numbers of people will use the internet to complete it.

Tongan high commission jobs to go

By Yvonne Tahana
Morale at New Zealand's High Commission in Nuku'alofa is at an all time low as 19 of 29 staff look set to lose their jobs under the Government's restructuring plan. Sources told the Herald that while the team pulled together to host 140 dignitaries in town to pay their respects to Tonga's late king this week, on five days notice, many were angry at proposed changes which would devastate the team and have a significant impact on local Tongan families.

Wednesday, March 28

Air NZ boosts flights to Shanghai

Air New Zealand will revamp its service to China, by reducing its service to Beijing and concentrating on flying in and out of Shanghai. The national carrier will suspend its twice-weekly Auckland to Beijing service from late June, and add a fifth weekly service to Shanghai from early July. The company says Beijing is still an important and growing market, and it'll use its partner Air China to carry passengers wanting to fly on to the capital.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Tropical storm could hit NZ next week

A tropical storm could hit New Zealand next week, a forecaster says. said a tropical low forming 2000km north of New Zealand is set to track towards the North Island. Head weather analyst Philip Duncan said the storm could strengthen into a tropical cyclone before its predicted arrival in New Zealand as early as Tuesday next week. "At the very least we're expecting strong to gusty winds from the easterly quarter and dangerous rips and surf along the entire eastern coastline of the North Island - and at the worst we're looking at a direct hit from a nasty and slow moving tropical storm." If the storm hit New Zealand, it could arrive as early as Tuesday and linger as long as Good Friday.

Licensing and registration system overhaul

The vehicle licensing and registration system is in for an overhaul. Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says reform is needed to create a simpler and more efficient system. The project will look at vehicle registration, warrant of fitness and certificate of fitness and transport services licensing. Mr Brownlee says the 5.5 million warrant of fitness inspections a year cost car owners around $250 million in inspection fees, so he wants to ensure the rationale for all the aspects of those systems are clear and justified.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Yoga fans to flood to Auckland

Auckland will next month be awash with yoga practitioners. Devotees of the art are gathering on the North Shore for an international conference in Albany. They include a screen siren of cult 1970s vampire movies. Elandra Meredith, who appeared in Hammer horror movies and a string of TV shows as Kirsten Lindholm, is now a fan of yoga.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Building industry needs thousands of workers

The building industry needs thousands of extra workers over the next year. A new joint government and industry productivity partnership has been released is focusing on attracting and training contractors for the industry. Construction Industry Council chairman Pieter Burghout says the construction industry is still down in the doldrums but very soon, an extra 10,000 workers will be needed. He says the industry also wants to give people careers, rather than just jobs.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Environment Commissioner orders fracking inquiry

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has announced there will be an official investigation on hydraulic fracturing for oil or gas, known as fracking. Jan Wright made the announcement on Wednesday, saying a preliminary look at the contentious practice has signalled the need to examine it more closely. Fracking involves pouring fluids under pressure into oil or gas reservoirs to crack layers of rock and free trapped hydrocarbons. Environmentalists say the method is highly damaging. Dr Wright says work done by her office has found there is a substantive case for an official investigation under the Environment Act.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Parliamentary 'friendship' group set up

By Katie Bradford-Crozier - NewstalkZB
A parliamentary "friendship" group has been set up between New Zealand and Hong Kong. It comes as New Zealand exports to Hong Kong jumped by 14 percent last year, with total trade between the countries growing by 11 percent. Hong Kong's Director-General of trade and industry Maria Kwan will address the launch of the friendship group at Parliament tonight. The group has ben set up to strengthen relations between the nations.

NZ has critical role in Tonga

Finance Minister Bill English says New Zealand has a critical role to play in helping the ailing economies of countries such as Tonga. He's been in Nuku'alofa for the funeral of King George Tupou V, where the traditional mourning period has been cut back dramatically so as not to punish faltering industries. Mr English says we can help, and we are helping. "There's been some good progress recently both through aid projects around energy and also through getting the rules right to allow Tonga to export more food products to New Zealand." Bill English says we've been able to help Tonga reach those standards, with the aim of the country becoming less dependent on aid.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Tuesday, March 27

Housing Minister says fund working well for Maori

Housing Minister Phil Heatley says Maori trusts around the country are achieving good things for their people by taking up the Government's offer of subsidies for new community housing. He opened a cluster of new rental homes for low-income people in Moerewa in Northland this week, built on Maori land by the Ngati Hine Health Trust. Mr Heatley says the government has spent about $8 million a year for the last few years on community housing. He says the added benefit of working with Maori trusts is that they also work to improve the lives of their tenants with other services including health care and budgeting.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Cricket - Blackcaps draw third test through Williamson ton

By Andy Rowe - NewstalkZB
The Black Caps have pulled off a remarkable draw against South Africa in the third cricket test in Wellington. Kane Williams has rescued New Zealand with an unbeaten 102, after coming to the crease with the Black Caps two down for just one run. Stand in captain Brendon McCullum says the 21 year old played one of the great innings for his country. McCullum says Williamson really stood up and showed how great he really is. The Black Caps finished on 200 for six, chasing 381 for victory. Morne Morkel took all the Proteas wickets, finishing with six for 23.

Funding focus changes to maternal, newborn nutrition

The Health Minister says money will be moved from physical activity and nutrition to fund a new focus on maternal and newborn nutrition. The change, to be made in the next Government Budget, could mean the end of the former multi-million dollar Heha anti-obesity programme. Tony Ryall says the Government is aware of the importance of what happens early in life when it comes to beating obesity and its complications. He says the National government indicated before the election it would stop investment in some areas so the money could go towards new initiatives in maternal and infant nutrition education. He says he cannot say whether it will spell the end of the Healthy Eating Healthy Action, or Heha, programme, which has already been wound down.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

John Banks' new publication to help small company owners

By Sophia Duckor-Jones - NewstalkZB
Small Business Minister John Banks has launched a new publication to help small company owners run their businesses more efficiently. 'Start, Manage and Grow Your Business' will provide people with information on the wide range of government services available to them and how to get the best value from these services. Mr Banks says he understands how difficult it can be to constantly grapple with government regulations or to know what help is available. He's encouraging all small business owners to pick up a copy of the publication from their local Regional Business Partner or to view it online.

Tongan king laid to rest

Tonga's King George Tupou V has been laid to rest at the Royal Tombs in Tonga. About 10,000 people - including the new king, King Tupou VI, and delegations from around the region - listened to the church service in and around the burial grounds in the capital, Nuku'alofa, on Tuesday afternoon. The 63-year-old monarch died in Hong Kong on 18 March and his body was returned to the tiny Pacific Island kingdom on Monday. The funeral began at 12pm local time with 150 pallbearers carrying a platform bearing King George's casket to the Royal Tombs. The procession was led by 200 soldiers and bands. The king's heir and brother, Tupou VI, the Royal Family and nobles followed behind.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Rewards for quality teachers

Performance pay for teachers will be developed by the Government, with secondary principals told by Education Minister Hekia Parata to start "sorting the wheat from the chaff". Figures obtained by The Dominion Post show millions of dollars are already being paid to scores of secondary principals partly on a performance basis, but Ms Parata has revealed she is "very keen" to develop performance measures for teachers and start rewarding them accordingly. The choice of rewards for quality teachers were "pretty obvious," she said. "Whether it's promotion, pay, opportunities to attend conferences or representative roles, or whatever – there are a mix of rewards that I think would be reasonably easy to settle on."

Embassy doubts Brownlee comments will sour relations

The Finnish embassy in Canberra says it does not believe remarks made by a New Zealand Government minister will hurt diplomatic relations between the two nations. In Parliament last Wednesday, Gerry Brownlee began by attacking the Labour Party's admiration for Finland, but his monologue ended with him attacking Finland itself. Mr Brownlee, who holds several posts including Leader of the House, said Finland had higher unemployment, lower growth and worse crime than New Zealand. He added that Finland can hardly feed its people and has little respect for women. The embassy in Australia is accredited to New Zealand. Mr Brownlee has said his comments were humorous and satirical
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Monday, March 26

Cook Islands officials reveal huge tuna resources in the country’s EEZ

Revised estimates of the stocks of skipjack tuna in Cook Islands waters have revealed that possibly hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the fish could be available. The Ministry for Marine Resources says that previous counts have underestimated the amount of skipjack tuna that live in the Cook Islands’ exclusive economic zone. New counts show that there are about 190 thousand tonnes of the species within Cook Islands waters.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International

Dixon second in Indycar opener

The New Zealand Indycar driver Scott Dixon has made a strong start to the new season with a second placing at the St Petersburg grand prix in Florida. After qualifying 6th fastest, Dixon led for about 40 of the first 70 laps before making a final pit stop, and when he rejoined the race he was unable to catch Helio Castroneves who went on to win comfortably.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Christchurch Cathedral should be saved - UNESCO

There's another call from overseas to look at conserving Christchurch Cathedral. The UNESCO World Heritage Centre says while the cathedral isn't a world heritage site, its symbolic value needs to be taken into account. Spokesperson Gina Doubleday says while the survival of the cathedral might appear to be expensive at first, saving would help maintain the character of the city, bring it business opportunities and increase property values in the long term. Ms Doubleday says a restored cathedral would testify to history and continuity of cultural life that a brand new building wouldn't be able to convey.
Newstalk ZB

Alcohol warnings to pregnant women

Pregnant women will be the target of compulsory warning labels on alcohol products, which are set to be phased in over the next two years. The change comes after Australia and New Zealand's Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation agreed to introduce labels warning of the risks. About 30 per cent of pregnant women in New Zealand drink alcohol, according to Ministry of Health data. The issue of compulsory health warnings, similar to those found on cigarette packets, has been debated by the Government and alcohol watchdogs since 2006.

Sunday, March 25

Pharmacies to offer flu jabs

In a New Zealand-first some pharmacists will be able to offer the flu vaccine to their customers. Approximately one million New Zealanders receive a flu jab each winter, and now 40 North Island pharmacists have become the first to be able to offer them vaccine under the Health Ministry guidelines. The new method will use a much smaller needle than the one traditionally used by doctors, which they say will cause less pain. Pharmacists say offering the vaccine will help doctors by lifting levels of community protection against a winter killer.
Source: ONE News

Kids think cotton-sock animals live on farms

One of these things is not like the other – cow, sheep, pig, cotton beast. They might know that wool comes from sheep, but every child in a class of 21 students tested by the Sunday Star-Times believed cotton socks came from an animal. Not only that, but four of the children thought scrambled eggs came from plants, 16 were convinced yoghurt grew on trees, and eight were not sure whether coffee was from a plant or an animal. The results mirror a recent survey in Australia that showed three-quarters of primary school-aged kids thought cotton socks came from animals. The Australian study, commissioned by the Primary Industries Education Foundation, was more scientific than the Sunday Star-Times' test, but both showed large gaps in children's knowledge of where food and textiles came from.

Hundreds mourn Tongan king in Auckland

Hundreds of people have attended a memorial held in South Auckland for the late Tongan King George Tupou V, before Tuesday's state funeral in Tonga. The service was led by Reverend Frederick Feki at the Tongan Methodist Church at Mangere on Sunday. Mangere MP, Su'a William Sio, spoke of the king as a great and wonderful monarch, saying his proudest legacy was to introduce democratic elections to the country. Governor-General Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae will lead the New Zealand delegation to the late king's state funeral in Tonga on Tuesday. Radio New Zealand's reporter says this will be the only chance most Tongans in this country will have to pay their respects.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Samoa gets US govt offer to fund district new hospital

The United States government, under its US Pacific Command Humanitarian assistance programme, has offered to fund a District hospital in Samoa. The hospital will be built on government land opposite the Faleolo international airport. The assistance is part of America’s contribution to Samoa’s commemoration of fifty years of independence.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Crusaders win first game at new Christchurch Stadium

The Canterbury Crusaders have won their inaugural game in Christchurch's new stadium, 28-21 against the Cheetahs. The country's most quickly-built stadium officially opened on Saturday evening. It was the Crusaders' first home game in nearly two years and the All Blacks first five Daniel Carter's first game since his injury in the Rugby World Cup. The new Christchurch Stadium was built in 100 days to seat more than 17,000 and will act as a temporary home ground while the future of the quake-damaged AMI Stadium is decided.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Labor ousted in landslide Queensland vote

The Australian Labor Party's 14-year-reign in Queensland is over after the opposition Liberal National Party recorded a landslide victory in the state election. A massive swing of almost 16% to the LNP is likely to give the party at least 74 seats, with as few as seven for Labor. Conceding defeat, Ms Bligh said her party had transformed the state, building the foundations of a modern and progressive Queensland. She admitted her decision to sell some of the state's assets was a damaging blow for Labor. The newly founded Australian Party is expected to have two seats, and there are likely to be two independents in the 89-seat state parliament.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

New give way road rules in force

Motorists are being urged to exercise extra patience and caution at intersections on the first day of the new give way rules. Vehicles turning right at intersections must give way to traffic from the opposite direction that is turning left, under the rules which came into force at 5am on Sunday. Drivers at the bottom of T-intersections have to give way to all traffic turning right from the other road.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Saturday, March 24

Australian Labor Party set to lose Queensland

As voting finished in Queensland on Saturday, early exit polls showed a devastating result for Labor that could end the party's 14-year reign in the Australian state. It was looking like a grim night for the Australian Labor party with the latest news poll showing a landslide victory for the Liberal National Party (LNP). Premier Anna Bligh was refusing to concede, despite dire poll predictions. The latest Newspoll in The Weekend Australian shows the LNP should win government with a swing of 11.7%, leaving the Labor Party decimated. The expected win for the LNP will see leader Campbell Newman become the first person in Queensland to jump straight into the premiership from outside parliament. He quit as Brisbane's Lord Mayor last year to become the LNP leader.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Christchurch Stadium opens

The country's most quickly built stadium officially opened on Saturday evening, in time for the Canterbury Crusaders' first home game in nearly two years. Christchurch Stadium, which was built in 100 days, seats more than 17,000 and will act as a temporary home ground while the future of the quake-damaged AMI Stadium is decided. The Crusaders' coach, Todd Blackadder, said the team was excited to play against the Cheetahs in front of a large and loyal home crowd. Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee met those involved in the stadium's construction on Friday night to thank them for their hard work.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Queen Elizabeth sends message of condolence to Tonga

A message of condolence from Queen Elizabeth following the death of King George Tupou V has been sent to Tonga. Matangi Tonga online also reports that The Duke of Gloucester, the Queen’s cousin, will be attending the funeral of the late King, accompanied by the Acting British High Commissioner to Tonga, Martin Fidler.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International

Quake hits South Australia

A remote part of outback South Australia has experienced the largest earthquake to hit Australia for 15 years. Geoscience Australia says the 6.1 magnitude quake struck about 7pm on Friday night New Zealand time. The US Geological Survey reported its depth at 10.7km. People living near the epicentre reported being shaken, but the ABC reports they otherwise escaped unharmed. South Australia police say no injuries or damage were reported. The earthquake struck near Ernabella, in South Australia's far north.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

New Zealander found guilty of drug smuggling in Argentina

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says an Argentinian court has sentenced a New Zealand woman to nearly five years in prison for drug smuggling. Sharon Armstrong, a former deputy chief executive at Maori Language Commission, was arrested in April last year after trying to board a plane with 5kg of cocaine in a suitcase. She has been sentenced to four years and 10 months in prison, having already spent 11 months in a jail in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires province. Ms Armstrong's family say she was a victim of an online dating scam. They say she was on her way to meet a man she had met online in London, but was asked to divert to Buenos Aires to pick up some paperwork in a briefcase, which turned out to contain the drugs.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Rewards for quality teachers

JOHN HARTEVELT - © Fairfax NZ News
Performance pay for teachers will be developed by the Government, with secondary principals told by Education Minister Hekia Parata to start "sorting the wheat from the chaff". Figures obtained by The Dominion Post show millions of dollars are already being paid to scores of secondary principals partly on a performance basis, but Ms Parata has revealed she is "very keen" to develop performance measures for teachers and start rewarding them accordingly. The choice of rewards for quality teachers were "pretty obvious," she said. "Whether it's promotion, pay, opportunities to attend conferences or representative roles, or whatever – there are a mix of rewards that I think would be reasonably easy to settle on." The Government was in the early stages of devising an evaluation system that would have "integrity and regard" and capture all of the different dimensions of quality teaching.
© Fairfax NZ News

John Key heads to Korea for nuclear security summit

Prime Minister John Key leaves for South Korea today to attend the second Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul. The summit's objective is to work towards securing nuclear materials and reducing the global threat from nuclear terrorism. Mr Key says as one of 50 countries invited to take part in the Seoul gathering New Zealand is committed to playing its part in this important effort. He will also meet South Korean president Lee Myung-bak to discuss further strengthening the relationship between the two countries.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Friday, March 23

High-level NZ delegation for Tongan King's funeral

A high-level delegation led by the Governor-General will travel to Tonga for the state funeral of King George Tupou V on Tuesday. King Tupou died in Hong Kong on Sunday night, aged 63. Prime Minister John Key has announced New Zealand's contingent to attend the funeral. A Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 will depart New Zealand on Tuesday morning and return the same day. The Governor General, Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae will be joined by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully, Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Hekia Parata, Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples, and Opposition Leader David Shearer. Also on the flight will be Chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy, Rear Admiral Tony Parr, Auckland Mayor Len Brown, representatives of other parliamentary parties, heads of diplomatic missions, members of the Tongan community, and close friends of the late King.
Source: ONE News

PNG fares poorly in rankings for investors in mining projects

Papua New Guinea has been ranked the worst country out of a survey of 25 nations for mining projects in terms of the political risks for investors. In its annual ranking, Denver-based mining business consultants Behre Dolbear, has ranked Australia, Canada, Chile, Brazil and Mexico as the top five nations in which to locate mining projects. The nations were ranked on seven criteria: economic system, political system, degree of social issues affecting mining, delays in receiving permits, corruption, currency stability and the competitiveness of tax policy. The Post Courier reports that the five lowest-scoring nations were Russia, Bolivia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kazakhstan with PNG bringing up the rear as the worst in terms of the political risk for mining projects. Those with the greatest incidence of corruption are Kazakhstan, Russia, the Congo, South Africa and PNG.
News Content © Radio New Zealand Internationa

Study reveals major findings about Kiwi babies

New research has revealed 35% of babies past the age of nine months are looked after by people other than their parents. The findings from the Growing up in New Zealand longitudinal study show most European families are paying for day care, while lower income households have extended family for support. At nine months, most babies are achieving milestones with 98% smiling or laughing while looking at their mothers.
Source: ONE News

Employment tipped to grow by 94,000

The number of jobs is tipped to grow by about 94,000 in the next two years. The Labour Department's short-term employment prospects for 2012-14 expect about 40,000 jobs will be created by March next year, and about 54,000 a year later. The department's general manager of the labour and immigration research centre, Vasantha Krishnan, says much of the growth will be in skilled jobs. "But we are also seeing over the next two years increased opportunities for lower skilled workers and we are estimating that at least a third of the employment growth over the next two years could be in lower skilled occupations." Vasantha Krishnan says 30% of the growth will be in Auckland, followed by Canterbury at 28%.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Timeball carvings being moved into storage

Two of Christchurch's most significant historic stone carvings are being moved into long-term storage while the fate of their earthquake-damaged home is decided. The 130-year old carvings of the Canterbury provincial shield and the Royal Standard were retrieved from the rubble of the Timeball Station, which collapsed during a large aftershock in June last year. Timeball Station property manager Jan Titus said they suffered only minor scratches. Jan Titus says the carvings will stay in storage for about two years, while decisions are made about whether the station can be restored. The carvings were created by one of the earliest stonemasons in Christchurch, William Brassington, who also helped build the historic Canterbury Provincial Council Chambers.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Cold Conchords fans snap up tickets

Desperate Flight of the Conchords fans camped out to get their hands on tickets to the band's upcoming New Zealand shows, but scores more look set to miss out. In an anti-scalping measure, 300 earlybird tickets went on sale at 8am for nine of the 10 upcoming Conchords shows, beginning in Hawkes Bay on June 13. Details for a Christchurch show are yet to be confirmed. The tickets were available from select outlets and fans had to puchase them in person as organisers tried to beat scalpers. The rest of the tickets go on sale online at midday today, and cost between $55 and $79.
- Herald online

Book claims European explorers were here first

A new book out this weekend claims that explorers from Europe and the Middle East found New Zealand not only before the Maori, but before the birth of Jesus Christ. Maxwell C Hill, Gary Cook and Noel Hilliam's To the End of the Earth contains evidence explorers from Egypt and Greece were here first. It also contains the sensational claim that Maori god Maui was actually an Egyptian naval navigator. According to Fairfax NZ, the authors claim to have found skeletons, buildings, a carving of an ancient Greek ship in Taupo and a stone pillar with an accurate map of New Zealand showing Lake Taupo in its pre-eruption shape (somewhere between 180CE and 240CE).
3 News

Need to nip whooping cough in the bud

Doctors around the country are doing all they can to nip whooping cough in the bud. There's been a steady increase in reported cases of the infectious disease, from the South Island's West Coast, right through to Bay of Plenty. Bay of Plenty medical officer of health Doctor Neil de Wet says parents need to get their six-week-old children immunised. He says whooping cough can spread just like the common cold and can lead to coughing attacks and vomiting.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Free range hens not necessarily less stressed

Research suggests free range hens are not necessarily less stressed than cage or barn housed hens. The study comes from Sydney University's Faculty of Veterinary Science. Researcher Dr Jeff Downing analysed levels of a stress hormone found in hens over 72 weeks. The chooks were from 12 farms using free range, barn and cage production systems. Dr Downing says regardless of their housing system, birds on some farms were showing comparatively low levels of the stress hormone, while other birds on other farms were showing higher levels.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Thursday, March 22

Drinking while pregnant an underrated problem - experts

Women drinking while pregnant could be harming thousands of babies a year, according to new research findings released today. A group of medical experts claim foetal alcohol spectrum disorder could be affecting up to 3000 New Zealand babies born every year. The figure is a rough estimate, but it would be amount to five to six times the average number in Western countries. Child and Adolescent Neuropsychologist Valerie McGinn said the cause of the large number of infants suffering the disease comes down to high rates of women drinking during pregnancy. Doctors like McGinn say as a country NZ is doing very little to combat the problem. FASD occurs when a foetus is exposed to alcohol in the womb, and it often goes undiagnosed in the early stages. While babies are born looking normal, the symptoms develop as the child grows. Symptoms include facial abnormalities, slow growth and speech, learning and behavioural problems. The issue has sparked action from the Maori Party, which is now pushing for tougher rules on the sale of alcohol.
Source: ONE News

New information packs issued for migrant workers

The Government has launched two new information packs for migrant dairy farm workers and their employers. They have come out of an initiative which Immigration New Zealand set up last year in response to concerns about the welfare of migrant workers and their families. There are now about 1500 migrant workers in the country, making up 6% of the dairy farming workforce. Most come from the Philippines and demand has increased in recent years as farmers have found it difficult to attract and keep local workers in some areas. The guides cover topics such as employment and immigration law, keeping safe, working with animals, New Zealand slang and expressions, and adapting to rural life and weather conditions. The guide for migrant workers will also be available next month in Tagalog, for Filipino workers, and Spanish, for South American workers.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

iPad about to hit NZ shelves

The latest Apple iPad goes on sale in New Zealand stores tomorrow, with retail outlets preparing for a rush of enthusiastic buyers. Selected JB-Hi Fi stores will be opening an hour earlier than usual to accommodate demand for the release of the new tablet. JB Hi-Fi in Albany said the iPads were due to come into the store tonight and that the price would be revealed to staff tomorrow morning. The Warehouse had 100 of the new iPads for sale online yesterday. The tablets were bought from the United States and were quickly snapped up. The new iPad has been available internationally since last Friday, with Apple announcing it has sold more than three million since then.
Source: ONE News/Reuters

Paypal founder establishing NZ venture capital fund

By Katie Bradford-Crozier - NewstalkZB
An American investor who founded Paypal and helped establish Facebook is setting up a New Zealand venture capital fund. Peter Thiel is contributing $15 million to the Valar Ventures Fund, which will also have funds from the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund and private investors. Economic development minister Steven Joyce says the fund is a very positive development for Kiwi technology companies wanting to expand into large offshore markets.

Orca whales spotted in Wellington's Lyall Bay

A number of orca have been spotted swimming around Wellington's Lyall Bay this morning. Around five of the killer whales - which belong to the dolphin family and are not true whales - were seen by locals. There were also sightings of the orca in Wellington Harbour yesterday. Department of Conservation biodiversity spokesman Peter Simpson told Newstalk ZB that people should keep their distance from the animals.

Treasure trove of NZ history now online

Nearly 120 years of New Zealand history in words and numbers are now available online. Digitised versions of our Official Yearbooks have been placed on Statistics New Zealand's website. Since 1893, the yearbooks have captured our stories in words and numbers. Statistics minister Maurice Williamson says the move unlocks a treasure trove of information for researchers, from fisheries to friendly societies, prices to poetry.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Announcement on Holden's future today

An announcement's expected today on the future of car manufacturer Holden. The company threatened to shut its Australian operations unless it received an assistance package from the Government. A hefty subsidy package from the federal and South Australian governments worth over $200 million will be delivered today, securing its Aussie-made future for at least another ten years.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Wednesday, March 21

NZ pays $10m towards latest IMF bailout

New Zealand has contributed $10 million to the latest bailout of Greece through an International Monetary Fund lending programme. Nearly $100 million of New Zealand taxpayer money has now been paid through the programme for the bailouts of Greece and Portugal. The payouts follow the Government's decision in 2010 to lend up to $1.3 billion to the fund if it was needed. That top up was part of a $550 billion boost to the IMF in the wake of the global financial crisis. Since then the IMF has called on New Zealand for $87 million of that money for its bailout of Portugal with the European Union. Another $10 million was handed over earlier this week as part of the Fund's second bailout of Greece. The contributions are repayable by the IMF and earn interest.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Heavyweight pumpkin tips world scales

By Kristin Edge of the Northern Advocate
Race horse manure could be the secret to growing the biggest pumpkin in the world so far this year, according to a Northland grower. Eve Barton reckons seeds from America could also have helped produce a supersize pumpkin which tips the scales at a whopping 721kg (1589 lbs). The Parua Bay resident and her two sons - Alan and Jason - took out national honours on the weekend easily winning a pumpkin competition organised by rural farm supplier RD1. There were nine other heavyweight pumpkins on display in the Whangarei branch with the nearest rival weighing in at 239kg.

Agri-business park planned for Ashburton

A $30 million agri-business innovation park is to be constructed in Ashburton. The Ashburton District Council is providing the five-hectare site for the development on the edge of the town, with funding coming from other investors. Grow Mid Canterbury chief executive Rob Brawley says the park will not just offer the chance for businesses to be located at the same site, but to support each other, carry out research and work on new innovation. It will be the second agri-business innovation park in New Zealand. One in Waikato was established in 2002.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

300,000 books mostly intact inside Christchurch central library

By Kloe Palmer
Christchurch Council employees have reentered the city's largest public library to retrieve nearly 300,000 books. They have lain out of reach in the inner city building since Canterbury’s deadly earthquake more than a year ago. The books have been lying where they fell for 13 months, and now finally they are being rescued from the Red Zone. Clearing out Christchurch’s main public library is one of the city's largest indoor clean up job. “We are looking at around two to three months [of work],” says site manager Jane Hackett. There is nearly 300,000 books to be picked up by hand.

Fish can tell Marmite from Vegemite

The Marmite shortage is causing problems for those who use the black substance to help catch fish. Canterbury University marine science professor David Schiel says native fish are attracted to Marmite, particularly whitebait and Canterbury mud fish. He says when the Kiwi treat is smeared onto small traps, the fish find it irresistible and swim straight into them. "You see all sorts of other substances used overseas but in New Zealand we use Marmite and it seems to be the only thing that actually works well." Professor Schiel says he understands that Vegemite just won't do the trick, as fish can tell the difference.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Green light for huge Wairarapa wind farm

The green light has been given to build what would be New Zealand's biggest wind farm, but consent details are not being revealed yet. Genesis Energy is proposing to build its $1.6 billion Castle Hill Wind Farm on rural land in northern Wairarapa. The 286 massive turbines could produce up to 860MW of electricity, capable of powering up to 370,000 households. Nearby settlements include Tiraumea, Alfredton, Bideford, Tinui, Pongaroa and Mauriceville and Genesis says they are sparsely populated. Horizon Regional Council commissioners, in a statement this week, said consents could be granted for most and probably all turbine groups.
Source: NZN

Why getting the flu vaccine matters

The flu vaccine has arrived. Like previous years, it contains inert viral antigens to provide protection against three flu strains – A/Perth, B/Brisbane and A/California, otherwise known as swine flu. Each year the World Health Organisation makes recommendations for the strains that are in the influenza vaccine and the strains that should be circulating around New Zealand. Influenza can cause a healthy person to rapidly become unwell, and to develop a fever in excess of 38 degrees Celsius, which will cause muscular aches and pains, shivering and malaise. An upper respiratory tract infection is quite different to the flu. Influenza is not a minor illness. Complications such as pneumonia, throat, sinus or ear infections commonly result from this illness. A simple vaccination can save lives and a significant amount of illness. In the United States it is estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people die each year as a result of the flu virus. Many employers, including health bodies, offer this vaccination. If you want more information, phone 0800IMMUNE (0800466863).
© Fairfax NZ News

E-books increasingly popular

Borrowing e-books from the public library is becoming increasingly popular. E-books are now available at over 70 percent of New Zealand public libraries after the service was launched in November. Association of Public Library Managers spokesman, Paul Nielsen, says it's still early days, but the lending numbers paint a clear picture. Already over13,000 e-books have been checked out across the country - that's despite a charge for some.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Double-decker buses may be trialed in Auckland

Aucklanders could be commuting on double-decker buses as soon as this year. Two operators are considering bringing in the buses, with NZ Bus evaluating a British vehicle that could be assembled in Tauranga. Auckland Transport says trials are needed and some regulations may have to be altered to allow the much larger double-deckers into service. The agency says a double-decker could carry 70% more passengers than a conventional bus.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Tuesday, March 20

Older Kiwis hold most of NZ's wealth

New Zealanders aged 55-plus have increased their share of household net wealth in the past decade, mainly from investment in their own homes, and are staying in the workforce longer, according to Roy Morgan Research. Older kiwis have 52% of New Zealand household net wealth, up from 43 percent in 2002, according to Roy Morgan's state of the nation report, which focused on the importance to the economy of their wealth, spending power and contribution through employment. The older segment has almost 69.9% of their gross wealth in their own home, up from 56% in 2002. Other investments have fallen away to 30% from 43.9%. Australians in the 55-plus age group have only 51% of gross wealth in their own home and 17% in a pension fund.
Source: BusinessDesk

Australian governor general on Pacific tour next week

The Samoa government says Australian Governor General, Quentin Bryce, will visit the country next week as part of a Pacific tour that also includes Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia. Ms Bryce will address Samoa’s parliament and call on Samoa’s head of state, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International

30% tax on mining becomes law in Australia

The Australian senate has pushed through into law a controversial 30% tax on iron ore and coal mining companies. The tax will raise $13.6 billion over three years from major companies like BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xtrata, who have been profiting from a resource boom driven by strong demand for raw materials from China and India. The tax, which is aimed at distributing the benefits of that revenue to other segments of the economy, comes into effect on 1 July.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

'Terrifying' tornado rips though Townsville

Houses have collapsed and roofs torn from buildings in what the Australian authorities describe as a terrifying mini-tornado. Up to 40 houses have been damaged in the Queensland city of Townsville on Tuesday. Heavy rain and strong winds have caused chaos across the north of the state, the ABC reports. Police say there is major flooding in Cairns, Innisfail, Ingham, Townsville and Mackay.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

More electricity coming from renewable sources

The proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources is inching upwards. New figures from the Ministry of Economic Development show that electricity from renewable sources accounted for 77% of total electricity generated last year, compared with 74% the year before. The Government has a target of 90% renewable electricity by 2025. Renewable electricity comes mainly from hydro, wind and geothermal energy, as opposed to electricity produced by burning fossil fuels.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Dark days are upon us

At precisely 6.14pm this evening, the Autumn Equinox will occur. This means for the next six months, the sun will be shining more over the Northern Hemisphere. By the end of this week, the nights will be longer than the days. There's now less than two weeks to go until daylight savings ends and our clocks go back an hour.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Calls for major change to education

By Felix Marwick - NewstalkZB
One of the Government's most senior public servants is calling for a major change to the way the education system works. Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf says improving student achievement and teacher performance is the heart of the issue. He says he isn't talking about crude performance pay or bonuses on the basis of test scores, but he does want to see a system that distinguishes a developing teacher from a master teacher and remuneration to be consistent with those roles. Mr Makhlouf says he wants to see a more robust career progression process for teachers and it to be more consistent with what occurs in other careers. He's also lobbying for better data collection within schools on the way they perform.

Alleged people smuggler to be extradited

By Ian Steward
Extradition has been approved for an alleged people smuggler accused of organising an ill-fated boat trip in 2001 which resulted in the deaths of over 350 people. Iraq-born Maythem Radhi appeared in the Manukau District Court today where Judge Jonathan Moses delivered his decision on extradition proceedings requested by the Australian government. The judge said Radhi, who was found living in South Auckland last year, was wanted on one charge of facilitating a proposed entry of five or more non-citizens into Australia - a charge which carries a 20-year maximum prison term in that country. Crown prosecutor Natalie Walker presented an Australian police statement of facts at a previous hearing which said Radhi was alleged to be one of the main organisers of the boat later known as the SIEV X (Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel). The boat-load of 421 asylum seekers sank in international waters south of Indonesia on October 18, 2001, en route to Christmas Island. Officials estimated 146 children, 142 women and 65 men drowned when the 19.5m fishing boat sank.
© Fairfax NZ News

Maori king extends condolences to Tonga

The Maori king has extended his personal condolences to the royal family and people of Tonga on the death of King George Tupou V. The 63-year-old king died in a Hong Kong hospital Sunday. The Kingitanga and the Royal House of Tonga have had strong links for many years. In a statement, King Tuheitia says he is shocked and saddened by the death and that the hearts and thoughts of Kingitanga go out to all the people of Tonga at this sensitive time. Both King Tuheitia and King George Tupou ascended their thrones within months of each other in 2006.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Changes will stop local authorities getting into debt - Smith

The Minister of Local Government says changes announced Monday will stop local authorities accumulating large amounts of debt. Nick Smith says the law change, set to come into effect in September, will restrict councils to providing good quality local infrastructure, public services and regulatory functions at the lowest possible cost. He says the Government wants to clarify the role of councils.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Monday, March 19

Young Maori 23 times more likely to get rheumatic fever

A researcher says she is shocked to find that Maori children are 23 times more likely to be hospitalised with acute rheumatic fever than non-Maori. Otago University has compiled a report, commissioned by the Ministry of Health, into the health of Maori children and young people. Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that develops from a sore throat and can lead to permanent heart damage. The report's co-author, associate professor Jo Baxter, says any statistics that show a 23-times greater difference are pretty shocking, given we all live in the same country. But she says, perhaps more shocking, are the figures which show rheumatic fever rates are not going down, they are going up.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Excitement as rare petrel chick born

Volunteers are celebrating the arrival of a five-day-old chick whose species was considered extinct on the main Chatham island. The Chatham petrel, or taiko chick, is believed to be the first born on the main island in 500 years. The conservation breakthrough comes after a four year project to relocate the birds from neighbouring predator free islands. The introduction of cats and rats led to the original demise of the species on the main Chatham island.
Source: ONE News

Barry Humphries to visit NZ in farewell tour

Barry Humphries will take his final bow in New Zealand. The comedian has immortalised characters like housewife Dame Edna Everage and uncouth diplomat Les Patterson. He'll be visiting New Zealand in August during his farewell tour 'Eat Pray Laugh!'. Humphries says although his famous creations are not officially retiring, this will be the last tour. His alter ego Dame Edna promises to empower audiences as she meditates on the big issues of gender, ethnicity and climate change. There'll be four shows at Auckland's Civic Theatre from August 11.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Weather Warnings

A deep low lies slow moving just northeast of Northland. It's associated rainband has already brought heavy rain to Northland. Heavy rain is expected to continue there and spread to the north of Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula and Gisborne this morning and to Hawkes Bay this afternoon. People in these areas are advised to watch out for rapidly rising streams and rivers, slips, surface flooding and hazardous driving conditions. Severe southerly gales in Northland are expected to ease Monday evening.

Thousands of Northland children delivered free milk

Thousands of Northland children will enjoy free milk this morning. Dairy giant Fonterra will deliver milk to 81 Northland schools, 45 years after the scheme was canned. Fonterra said it will supply milk to all New Zealand primary schools by 2013. The Milk for Kiwi's scheme will be trialled in 110 Northland schools, before the nationwide roll out. Free milk was given to school children between 1937 and 1967 under a world-first Labour Government health scheme. Each day "milk monitors" gave a half pint (284 ml) of milk to each pupil and by 1940, milk was available to 80% of schoolchildren. This time, instead of a glass pint of gluggy, luke-warm full cream milk children will receive a 250ml carton of light milk.
Source: ONE News

Marmite shortage spreading

New Zealand is facing a shortage of Marmite, prompting a warning for people to ration their supplies. Marmite's manufacturer Sanitarium was forced to suspend operations at its Christchurch factory due to earthquake damage. The company says its Auckland plant is still making the savoury spread as it looks for new premises in Christchurch, but it is taking longer than expected. Sanitarium says some areas could run short, but they expect things to be back to normal in mid-July. In the meantime, it says people should spread their Marmite on toast, rather than bread to make it go further and try to ration their daily intake.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Record number changed electricity supplier

A record number of consumers switched their electricity supplier last month. Figures from the Electricity Authority show that almost 36,000 consumers changed suppliers last month. That's the highest number since records began and a 16 percent jump from the same time last year. The figures show New Zealand's five biggest retailers recorded a combined loss of 4,700 consumers. Mercury Energy shed the most customers, while all smaller retailers are continuing to gain market share.

Samoa shipping service to Cook Islands to begin

The Samoa Shipping Corporation begins a new service to five northern islands of the Cook Islands this Friday using the vessel Samoa Express. The General Manager of the Samoa Shipping Corporation says the islands need regular shipping to deliver produce such as nonu, coconuts and fish. Papalii Willie Nansen says no other vessel is supplying the service. He says residents of the islands have placed orders for goods from Samoa. Wallis and Futuna is another possibility and the Corporation will look at expanding their service to these islands.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International

King of Tonga dies

Tonga's King George Tupou V has died in a hospital in Hong Kong. It is understood the 63-year-old was rushed to hospital on Sunday afternoon and died a few hours later with brother and heir to the throne, Crown Prince Tupouto'a Lavaka, at his bedside. There has been no official confirmation from the Tongan government or the royal household, but high-ranking sources in the Pacific nation have unofficially confirmed the king's death. The Prime Minister's office told Radio New Zealand that a statement will be made on Monday morning. King George was schooled in New Zealand and sworn-in in September 2006 following the death of his father King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Sunday, March 18

Sydney's Harbour Bridge turns 80

Sydney's famous Harbour Bridge is celebrating 80 years today. After years of proposals to link the city's south to its north, including a tunnel and a floating bridge, the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened to traffic on March 19, 1932. To mark the birthday, a community day is being held, a day before the actual anniversary. Around 14,000 workers played a role in constructing the bridge, which is crossed by 160,000 vehicles every weekday.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Assange to run for seat in Australian senate

WikiLeaks has announced that its founder and leader, Julian Assange, is planning to run for a seat in the Australian senate. Mr Assange is in England facing possible extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women in 2010. He is currently on bail awaiting a British Supreme Court decision on his appeal against the extradition. But WikiLeaks says despite his legal predicament, he is eligible to run for the upper house. "We have discovered that it is possible for Julian Assange to run for the Australian senate while detained," WikiLeaks says on Twitter.n "Julian has decided to run."
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

70,000 to run Round the Bays

Eighteen kilometres of signs have been laid out, 222 portaloos are in position and 600 barbecues are ready to fire up. Downtown Auckland is prepared for the annual sea of walkers and runners taking part in Round the Bays. It's been going since 1972, and around 70,000 people take part. Spokeswoman Sandra King says at 8.4 kilometres it's no marathon, and she believes this is why it's so attractive - because it's fun. She says most runners are in teams and have a good time with friends, families or colleagues. Round the Bays begins at 9.30AM from Quay Street, near Vector Arena.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

North Island rain on the way

Heavy rain is on the way for people in eastern parts of the North Island. It will start falling tonight. It's being dragged over by a deep low pressure system heading down from the sub-tropics. MetService expects up to 150 millimetres of rain over parts of Northland, Coromandel Peninsula and Gisborne. There's also the promise of gale force winds from Mt Taranaki to East Cape.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Call to keep GST simple

New Zealand's GST is the best value-added tax in the world and should be protected from any exemptions that undermine it, according to Treasury secretary Gabriel Makhlouf. The rate was increased from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent in October 2010. However, OECD countries have an average VAT rate of 18.5 per cent and it is 20 per cent in Britain, and one of the reasons it they are so high is because of a variety of exemptions, Treasury says. Speaking to the International Fiscal Association meeting in Queenstown yesterday, Makhlouf said New Zealand's tax system was overall "in pretty good shape". "By international standards we stack up well," he said.
© Fairfax NZ News

Saturday, March 17

Former first lady of Australia Margaret Whitlam dies

Margaret Whitlam, one of Australia's most influential of prime minister's wives, has died at the age of 92. The former prime minister Gough Whitlam says his wife of almost 70 years was a remarkable person and the love of his life. The ABC reports that Mrs Whitlam had been a champion swimmer, representing Australia in the 1938 Empire Games. After completing a degree in social studies in 1938, she practised as a social worker, but was also heavily involved in Mr Whitlam's political career, and in the Labor Party Women's Conference. Mrs Whitlam had reportedly been in hospital after a fall in Sydney last month.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Auckland rally against Syrian regime

More than 50 protesters gathered in Auckland's Aotea Square on Saturday afternoon to rally against the Syrian regime. A spokesperson for the group Syrian Solidarity New Zealand says they are calling on the Government to send humanitarian aid, especially medical supplies, to Syria. Ali Akil says the group also says the Government should boycott the Syrian regime and oppose it at the United Nations. Mr Akil says thousands of people have been killed or injured in Syria since the revolution started a year ago.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

NZ visit last duty for Archbishop of Canterbury

A visit to New Zealand will be the last international duty of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. Williams, who has agonised about schisms in the Anglican Communion over women and gay bishops and same-sex unions, announced unexpectedly on Friday that he would step down at the end of the year. His visit to New Zealand in November will be his last international duty. Williams said it was time to move on after a decade as archbishop and his new post as master of Magdelene College at Cambridge University would give him the time "which I have longed for" to think and write about the Church.
Source: ONE News/Reuters

Airlines face fines for not vetting travellers properly

By Lincoln Tan
International airlines which do not ensure passengers have the right documents to enter New Zealand face fines under new border rules. Some 788 passengers have been refused entry at New Zealand airports in the past 12 months. Reasons for being turned away included using false documentation, not having a visa or having criminal convictions. Immigration New Zealand says it costs about $600, which includes immigration and police supervision, accommodation and the provision of food, to turn passengers around at the border. It can take 12 to 72 hours to process each entry refusal. Under the new requirement, airlines will be required to check that passengers hold valid documentation, such as an acceptable passport and visa, and ensure they meet New Zealand's entry conditions before they are allowed to board the plane.

Friday, March 16

Australian-based Maori head to Canberra for kapa haka judging

Next week thousands of Maori from around Australia will converge on Canberra for a regional competition to select finalists to send to Te Matatini national kapa haka festival in Rotorua next year. The ACT Maori Performing Arts Corporation won the right to re-host the event which was declared the most successful Maori cultural festival in Australia last year. The festival is held biannually to choose the top teams to represent their territory, state and Australia at the prestigious event hosted by Te Arawa next year. Three groups are coming from Western Australia, two teams from Victoria, two from New South Wales and four from Queensland on Friday March 23.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Cooler weather affects apple harvests

Pipfruit New Zealand says cooler weather in Hawke's Bay has helped produce the best-coloured apples in the region for 20 years. Local packhouses expect to handle just over 10 million cartons of export quality apples, which is 61% of the national crop. Pipfruit New Zealand services manager Gary Jones says with the industry focusing more on markets in Asia, producing well coloured, red apples is very important. Mr Jones says most growers in Hawke's Bay should be finished picking Royal Gala by Sunday and Jazz will be the next variety harvested. Cooler than normal summer conditions have also made their mark in Nelson apple orchards.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Samoa hotels booked out for June’s independence celebrations

All hotels in Samoa’s capital are fully booked for the end of May and early June when the country marks its 50th celebrations of independence and hosts an international weightlifting tournament. The President of Samoa’s Hotel Association says there are no hotel rooms left in Apia during that period as an influx of visitors is expected from around the world, including New Zealand, China and Argentina.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International

Benefits, allowances to increase

Benefit rates, student allowances, pensions and Working For Families tax credits will increase from April after receiving an annual inflationary adjustment. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the increase was linked to the consumer price index and would help beneficiaries, students and superannuitants keep up with rising costs. The war disablement pension and veteran's pension payment rates would also increase by the same amount. Superannuation would get a 2.65 per cent increase. "The percentage increase will be slightly higher for people receiving NZ Superannuation or a Veteran's Pension, so that the married couple rate continues to equal 66 per cent of the average net wage."
© Fairfax NZ News

Moteliers look foward to World Masters Games business

Accomodation providers who felt let down by promises of huge revenue boosts from the Rugby World Cup are cheered at the prospect of earnings from the World Masters Games. Auckland has beaten 15 other cities to win the 2017 hosting rights of the amatuer tournament, which will bring 35,000 people from 95 countries. The event is also expected to inject $54 million into the New Zealand economy.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

NZ woman swept away in Samoa flood

A young New Zealand woman holidaying in Samoa is dead after she was swept away in a flash flood. Six members of the Samoan family who live in New Zealand were caught in the flood while swimming in the Vaisigano River near Apia. Five were treated in Samoa's national hospital. Radio New Zealand International correspondent Tipi Autagavaia says it appears the floodwaters came out of nowhere. He said the river surge, caused by heavy rain high in the hills, was hard to predict in the low-lying area near town.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Thursday, March 15

Australia's Port Hedland to shut ahead of cyclone

PERTH (Reuters) - Australia's Port Hedland, one of the world's largest export terminals for iron ore, is preparing to shut down ahead of Tropical Cyclone Lua, a port official said on Thursday. The Category 2 system off Western Australia is expected to strengthen and is moving southeast toward the iron-rich Pilbara mining district, where companies such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton have major operations.
(Reporting by Rebekah Kebede)

Netball - Silver Ferns stare down bumper season

There's a bumper season of netball ahead for the Silver Ferns. As well as the annual three-test Constellation Cup against Australia, there will also be a new Quad Series, including South Africa and England. Each team will play six games in the series which is co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia. The Silver Ferns will play a total of nine tests this year, including five at home and five against the Diamonds.
© 2012 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Turtle lovers urged to open their homes

Christchurch's "turtle lady" is calling on the city's turtle lovers to open their homes as injury threatens the future of her sanctuary. Donna Moot has had more than 200 turtles through her Somerfield home since the February 2011 earthquake. Most had been abandoned or came from families forced to move and unable to look after their pet. However, Moot broke her foot this month and, confined to a wheelchair, has been relying on friends and strangers helping out with turtle-sitting. Moot hoped some of the 41 turtles in her care could be resettled. "If people are thinking of having a turtle, there are plenty here that need homes.
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© Fairfax NZ News

Kiwis treated to extra homegrown TV

New Zealanders had access to an extra 338 hours of homegrown television last year. New figures from New Zealand on Air show more than 11,000 hours of local content screened across the channels, with more than 8,000 of that being brand new programmes. Special coverage of the Canterbury earthquakes, general election and Rugby World Cup led to an increase in both news and current affairs programmes and sport. However the number of hours of entertainment, information, Maori and children's drama programming decreased.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

No Maori focus in early childhood education drive

The Government says Maori won't get any special treatment under its plan to get more children into early childhood education. Prime Minister John Key has announced 10 targets his Government aims to reach over the next five years. Supporting vulnerable children is among the goals, and Mr Key wants more young children to enrol in early childhood education, particularly Maori and Pacific Islanders. But he's ruling out giving tamariki any special attention, because he says he's targeting all New Zealand children. Mr Key says evidence shows that time spent in early childhood education helps future learning. Figures from the Ministry of Education show 90% of Maori children were enrolled in early childhood education before they'd started their first year of school. That compares to 98.2% of Pakeha (European).
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Fishing boat sinks north of Stewart Island, 8 missing

Eight people are missing after a fishing boat sank north of Stewart Island. Police in Invercargill say one person has been pulled alive from the water after the Easy Rider capsized at midnight Wednesday. The survivor was rescued at 6.10pm Thursday evening. Police say the Bluff and Riverton Coastguards, local fishing vessels and Southern Lakes helicopters are involved in the search. It is being coordinated by the Rescue Coordination Centre with the Invercargill Police Search and Rescue squad.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Key announces super ministry

A new ministry of business, innovation and employment will swallow up four existing government departments within months, Prime Minister John Key has announced. In a speech this afternoon, Key announced three major changes to the public sector. A single, dedicated ministry of business, innovation and employment would integrate the work of the economic development ministry, the department of labour, the science and innovation ministry and, in a major surprise, the department of building and housing (DBH). "This new department will help to drive the Government's priority of building a more productive and competitive economy," Key said.
© Fairfax NZ News

Asians encouraged to enrol with GP

A campaign's been launched to encourage members of Auckland's Asian communities to enrol with a GP.(Doctor) The enrolment rate among Asian communities in Auckland is about 10 percent lower than the enrolment rate of people of New Zealand European descent. Waitemata DHB's Dr Lifeng Zhou says one of the reasons is the language barrier. "And also because the migrants have less knowledge of the healthcare system." Lifeng Zhou says the campaign will target the Chinese, Korean and Indian communities through articles and advertising in ethnic media.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Business with NZ may dig Britain out

By Natasha Burling - NewstalkZB
Britain hopes business with New Zealand will help it dig its way of a financial hole. The Lord Mayor of the City of London is here to promote UK business ahead of the Olympic Games. David Wootton says the city has a new policy which gives more of a commercial edge to diplomacy. He says it's seen as a way out of the current economic situation. "In the last 15 or 20 years we've been very focused on Europe and haven't paid enough attention to our long-standing relationships in this part of the world and particularly here." Mr Wootton says the policy will lead to much more emphasis on teaming up with countries like New Zealand. He says distance is still an issue but the UK can see there's much more economic activity on this side of the Pacific

Conchords announce NZ tour

Flight of the Conchords are hoping to stop ticket scalping by releasing a handful of tickets for their live show to physical outlets. Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement are performing live in New Zealand in June, the first time since 2009. Three hundred tickets for each city will be sold at outlets from 8am on March 23, with online sales starting at midday, giving fans the chance to camp out for the hot tickets. The concerts are in nine centres - starting in Hastings on June 13, moving to Hamilton, Auckland, New Plymouth, Wellington, Dunedin, Queenstown and Nelson. There'll be a Christchurch show as well, the details to be announced soon.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Wednesday, March 14

Otago rugby union saved

Agreement has been reached on a recovery package for the debt-ridden Otago Rugby Football Union. The New Zealand Rugby Union announced on Wednesday night the key parties - the NZRU, Dunedin City Council, Dunedin Venues Management Ltd, New Zealand Rugby Players Association and the Bank of New Zealand have agreed on a package. Key points include the NZRU providing a $500,000 loan for working capital and the city council and events management company forgiving debt of $480,000 (in rent and administration from the old Carisbrook Stadium), and the NZRU confirming All Blacks Tests in Dunedin in 2013 and in 2014 in addition to this year's Investec Rugby Championship Test against South Africa. The union has debts of more than $2 million, and faces an expected loss of $750,000 this year.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Faulty hip replacement patients launch legal action

By Rachel Morton
A large group of New Zealand patients are launching legal action against Johnson and Johnson over hip operations that went wrong. The patients were given metal on metal hip joints which began to disintegrate. The New Zealand patients are among thousands affected around the world. Patients have suffered constant pain and the effects of the metal disintegrating. The group is encouraging anyone who had a faulty hip replacement and had side effects to join their legal action. They also plan to make complaints about how they were treated to the Health and Disability Commissioner.
3 News

Govt to give $1m in aid to Sahel region

The Government says it will provide $1 million to a United Nations food relief programme in the Sahel region of West Africa. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says poor rains, crop failure and high fuel prices have led to food shortages and malnutrition across the Sahel region. He says almost nine million people need immediate food assistance and the crisis could affect 23 million people if essential needs are not addressed. Mr McCully says the Government will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and will consider further assistance if required.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

Film shows Key against asset sales

Television footage has emerged of the then leader of the opposition, John Key, arguing in favour of keeping state assets. TV3 has broadcast part of a presentation Mr Key made to a Public Service Association conference, before the 2008 election. It shows Mr Key saying National would not sell assets in its first term, and that it might never sell them. He said the Crown's revenue stream from companies like Mighty River Power and Meridian - which are up for partial sale - was large. Mr Key said the country did not have a debt problem, there was no motivation to sell assets, and it would not make the economic boat go faster.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Special stamps released to honour RNZAF

New Zealand Post is issuing special stamps and a commemorative coin to honour the 75th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The New Zealand Warriors of the Sky stamps come in 15 different designs, each with a face value of 60 cents. They feature aircraft ranging from the Tiger Moths and Skyhawks of the past to state-of-the-art NH90 helicopter.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Increase in online job vacancies

Online job vacancies have risen for a second consecutive month. Figures from the Department of Labour show skilled job vacancies rose a seasonally-adjusted 6% in February. Overall online job vacancies rose nearly 7% percent, the largest growth for a single month since March last year. Auckland and Canterbury reported a large rise in skilled job vacancies, while vacancies in the construction and engineering sector were up more than 12% in February compared to the previous month. Canterbury has the highest rate of skilled vacancies, increasing 77% in the last year.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

CO2 levels higest in 800,000 years, say scientists

Australian scientists say carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are now higher than at any time in the past 800,000 years. The scientists, from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, say the past decade in Australia was the warmest on record. Their annual State of the Climate report, released on Wednesday, says Australia's annual average daily maximum temperatures have increased by 0.75 °C since 1910. The temperatures are forecast to rise by between 1 °C and 5 °C by 2070.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Cook Islands premier to visit South Island

Cook Islanders in the South Island are preparing for a rare visit to their small communities from the leader of Rarotonga's government. The Cooks' Prime Minister, Henry Puna, is in Dunedin on Wednesday evening at the start of a four-day tour that also takes in Ashburton, Christchurch and Invercargill. The organiser of the Dunedin meeting, the Reverend Tokerau Joseph, says it's a rare opportunity because most Cook Islands premiers visit only the bigger communities in the North Island.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand

NZ taking part in flu study

New Zealand is taking part in an international study which aims to find out how many people are getting the flu, and if the flu vaccine is working. The five year study is being funded by the US Government's Centre for Disease Control. Project co-leader Dr Nikki Turner says scientists in Auckland will be conducting the research which will look at the burden of flu in the community across different groups of people, and the effectiveness of flu vaccines. She says the project will this year focus on people who present to Auckland and Middlemore hospitals with respiratory symptoms.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd

Urgent action needed to save Maui's dolphins

The Greens are calling on the Government to take urgent action to protect critically endangered Maui's dolphins after a new study found there are only 55 adult animals remaining. The Government yesterday called for public submissions on its plans to further protect the dolphins. Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson said action was needed after a population assessment commissioned by the Department of Conservation showed the number of adult dolphins had fallen in the past six years to just 55. The main areas where Maui's dolphins were found were already protected by marine mammal sanctuaries and restrictions on fishing but new measures would extend a set net ban along the Taranaki coast south to Hawera and out to 4 nautical miles (6.5km).

New Zealand retirees 'better off than elsewhere'

By Audrey Young
New Zealanders have been scared into saving for their retirement, says Finance Minister Bill English, but retirees here will be better off than their counterparts in Europe, Britain and the United States. "There is going to be an awful lot of uncertainty about retirement savings around the world. Hopefully we will be an island of calm in that sea of confusion." Mr English said that across the developed world, the end of debt-funded retirement was coming - "the end of the free lunch just at the time when a lot of people were looking at cashing up that free lunch".

Cook Islands’ government committed to outer islands

The Cook Islands’ Minister of Finance says the government is committed to delivering a high standard of services to the country’s sparsely populated outer islands to encourage people to stay. Mark Brown gave a presentation on the development challenges for Pacific Island countries to an audience in Wellington yesterday. He talked about the difficulties that the geography of the Cook Islands presents, where 15 islands are scattered over an area of about 2 million square kilometers, an area about the size of Western Europe.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International

New rules wipe out a third of NZ insurers

One in three insurance companies has decided to close their doors after the introduction of new rules designed to boost public confidence in the insurance market. Fifty of the country's 160 insurers failed to meet a deadline last week to obtain a licence to continue in business. The licence, from the Reserve Bank, is given only to insurers who hold millions of dollars of capital to meet claims. The Insurance Brokers Association says the rules have weeded out smaller, potentially riskier operators.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand

Tuesday, March 13

ADB predicts growth in Pacific economies

The Asian Development Bank says several Pacific economies are expected to keep growing in the next two years. Papua New Guinea has had ten consecutive years of growth, although the ADB says in its latest report that this will fall back from 7.5 percent this year to 4.5 percent next year. The Bank also notes Vanuatu has now had nine consecutive years of growth. The ADB says these achievements are impressive but if the rest of the Pacific is to see similar success, there needs to be more investment in public infrastructure, improved government fiscal management and public sector efficiency. It says tourist arrivals, particularly in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Palau and Samoa, reached record levels in 2011, and the outlook for this year is positive.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International

Cooks call to review free association arrangement with New Zealand

The Cook Islands finance minister says he would like the free entry arrangement it has with New Zealand reexamined as the country’s population continues to shrink. The Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau are part of the New Zealand realm and their citizens travel on New Zealand passports. Mark Brown, who is in Wellington, says the ease with which Cook Islanders can emigrate to New Zealand has resulted in depopulation and led to a limited labour force.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand


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