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Monday, December 31

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year from Daily New Zealand News




Kingston Flyer back on track

Central Otago's historic Kingston Flyer steam train will be back on the tracks this Friday, after boiler problems knocked out one of its locomotives. Earlier this month, leaks in the boiler of its AB778 locomotive forced it out of action because of fears - in a worst case scenario - it could explode. However, another locomotive, AB795, is now ready to resume tourist services after being repaired, albeit later than the original September deadline, owner David Bryce told NZ Newswire. The Kingston Flyer was originally a passenger train service between Kingston and Gore in the 1890s.
NZN



Tramper fined for inadequate precautions

A man has been fined for not preparing adequately before setting out on a three-day trek in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. Police say he had only 1kg of potatoes and a naan bread in his backpack when he left for the walk on Wednesday afternoon. The man failed to arrive at his destination three nights later. A search involving two helicopters began on Saturday afternoon and the man was found four hours in the Wolgan Valley and winched to safety. The man, from Victoria, was taken to Katoomba police station and issued with a $A500 fine. Inspector Brenton Charlton said the fine was for putting his own safety and the safety of others at risk, through lack of planning and preparation, and carrying inadequate provisions.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Seven knights and two dames in honours list

Seven knights and two dames top the New Year's honours list in which 190 people are honoured for their contribution to New Zealand. Five-time Olympic medallist Mark Todd, philanthropist Owen Glenn, veteran broadcaster Paul Holmes and former Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey have been made Knight Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit. The others are Mark Solomon of Ngai Tahu, the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mark O'Regan and media entrepreneur Julian Smith. Entrepreneur Wendy Pye is a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, along with retired High Court justice Judith Potter.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



More Sri Lankans opt for home over Nauru

Another 30 Sri Lankans have made the return trip home rather than spend time on Nauru processing their asylum claims. AAP reports four others also made the trip back last week instead of heading to Nauru for the processing of their claims. "They chose not to pursue their asylum claims and no longer seek to engage Australian protection obligations," said a spokesman for the Department of Immigration & Citizenship. AAP reports a total of 883 Sri Lankans have returned home both voluntarily and involuntarily since 13 August, when the federal government announced that asylum seekers would be liable for transfer to regional processing facilities.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Sunday, December 30

Strong winds forecast for Wellington and Canterbury

A series of fronts moving up the country are expected to bring periods of strong to gale northwest winds to Canterbury and central New Zealand tomorrow. MetService has issued a severe weather watch for Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, Wellington and Canterbury. The watch for heavy rain in Fiordland, Westland and the headwaters of Otago and Canterbury has now been upgraded to a warning. In northern Wairarapa and central Hawke's Bay, westerly gales are possible tomorrow morning and these areas remain under watch. Northwest gales are likely to develop in Canterbury, Wellington and Wairarapa during Monday night or early Tuesday morning.
Source: ONE News



Women targeted in new Fire Service recruitment drive

The Fire Service wants 300 new volunteers and it's targeting women. The service says it's increasingly difficult to find people for callouts during the day. Women will be deliberately targeted in a new campaign because they tend to be the ones at home with children during the day. The service says a number of brigades have volunteer "grandparents" who go to the station when the siren sounds and look after the children of the women firefighters while they are on a call.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Beach named top summer holiday activity

You can't beat the beach when it comes to Kiwis' favourite holiday activity. A survey by Tourism Bay of Plenty has found New Zealanders unanimously rated aspects of the beach as the top thing to do during summer. Enjoying food and wine came in as the next best activity, while reading, and doing nothing tied for third place. And as for the favourite smell of the Kiwi summer, again the beach leads the survey, closely followed by the smell of a barbecue. The beach and the waves also lead the list for the top sounds of summer, with the birds' dawn chorus and a running river or stream, ranked second and third best sounds.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Health and wealth at top of New Year list

Getting fit and saving money are New Zealanders' most popular New Year's resolutions. Exercising more, losing weight and eating a more healthy diet are at the top of the list for up to half those surveyed in a Colmar Brunton poll. Increasing savings was the second most popular goal. For people in Christchurch, taking more holidays and reducing stress levels were popular ambitions. The least popular resolution was to quit smoking. Getting married and moving overseas were low on the list for all but the 18-29 age bracket, about a tenth of whom had these as a priority. A clue to whether the goals will be achieved lies in another of the poll's findings - only 15% carried through their resolutions in 2012.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



More than $10m in unclaimed lotto prizes

By Newstalk ZB staff - NewstalkZB
More than $10 million in lottery prizes has gone unclaimed in the past year. Two prizes of more than half a million are part of the total, both of them first division winning tickets sold in Christchurch. Second division prizes as high as $75,000 have also been left untouched. People have 12 months from the date of the draw to make their claim. Over $540 million has been paid out in prizes this year from ticket sales of almost $950 million.



Saturday, December 29

Australia condemns Japan whale hunt

The Australian government has vowed to continue its fight against all forms of whaling as Japan's whaling fleet leaves for its annual hunt in the Southern Ocean. "The Australian government condemns all commercial whaling, including Japan's so-called 'scientific' whaling," Environment Minister Tony Burke said in a statement. "It is particularly offensive that Japan's whaling will take place in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary established by the International Whaling Commission. "We will keep working to achieve a permanent end to all commercial whaling." A joint statement from the New Zealand, Australian, US and Netherlands governments this month urged Japanese whalers and conservation group Sea Shepherd not to partake in any unlawful behaviour in the Southern Ocean. The fleet plans to hunt up to 935 Antarctic minke whales and up to 50 fin whales through March, the fisheries agency said earlier.
Source: NZN



Cyclone Freda hits Solomon Islands

Tropical Cyclone Freda has hit Solomon Islands with strong winds and heavy rain flattening trees and lifting rooves. The cyclone has now been upgraded to a category two out of five storm. The Solomon Islands Meteorological Service said the cyclone is in full force on Rennell Island and the country's major island - Makira.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International



New passport website proving popular

A newly launched website allowing people to apply for or renew passports had its 10,000th customer this month. The Department of Internal Affairs set up a pilot of the online service in June and launched it formally in November. Apart from its convenience, the department says the new paperless service has made each application $10 cheaper. The 10,000 application mark was reached on 21 December.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Call to protect babies from whooping cough

As people gather for holiday celebrations, the Ministry of Health is encouraging them to be extra vigilant in protecting babies from whooping cough. There have been more than 6700 cases of whooping cough since August last year. Chief adviser for child and youth health Pat Tuohy says one person with whooping cough can pass it on to about 17 others. He says anyone with a cough should be especially careful about coming into contact with babies. From 1 January, women between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy can be vaccinated for free against the disease. The immunisation programme for babies begins at six weeks of age.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Friday, December 28

Whalers sail south

By Bruce Russell - NewstalkZB
Japanese whaling vessels have left port bound for the Southern Ocean on their annual hunt of the marine mammals. Three vessels have departed from the far-western port of Shimonoseki, while environmental group Greenpeace says the mother ship has left another port also in the country's west. The fleet plans to hunt up to 935 Antarctic minke whales and up to 50 fin whales between now and March.



Shark bites off surfer's finger

A man is recovering in hospital after being bitten by a shark at a remote beach on the mid-north New South Wales. The Ambulance Service was called to the beach at Diamond Head, south of Port Macquarie, this afternoon. The 29-year-old was surfing when he was attacked by what is believed to be a bull shark on Friday morning. An Ambulance Service spokesperson, Michelle Hoctor, said the man was bitten on his right hand and leg, and had lost an index finger and a knuckle.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Resort towns gear up for big New Year's Eve parties

The big South Island resorts of Queenstown and Wanaka are filling up with tens of thousands of holidaymakers ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations. The Queenstown Lakes District Council is working closely with police, to make sure revellers have a good time without getting out of control. The New Year's Eve fireworks display on the Queenstown waterfront is expected to attract the biggest crowds for many years, with as many as 20,000 people expected along the shoreline.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Port Hills gondola to be open by March

The gondola that traverses Christchurch's Port Hills is due to reopen in March, two years after it was damaged by the February 2011 earthquake. Before it closed down, the popular tourist attraction carried about 140,000 passengers a year. The managing director of the gondola company, Michael Esposito, said the building has been renovated and the cabins upgraded. Mr Esposito says the work has cost the company about $2 million.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Record number of cruise ship passengers coming to Canterbury

A record number of cruise ship passengers is expected in Christchurch this summer. Between the end of 2012 and April 2013, 86 ships will drop anchor in Akaroa Harbour, while another four will dock at the Port of Lyttelton, bringing a scheduled 144,000 passengers and more than 50,000 crew members. Hugh Waghorn, who runs water-based operations in Akaroa, says the influx will go some way towards making up for the drop in tourism being experienced throughout the world. Mr Waghorn says it is hard to put a monetary value on what the arrivals are worth, but the income boost will allow him to retain all his staff.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Cannabis status interferes with health messages - researcher

An Otago University professor says studies of long-term cannabis use beginning in adolescence suggest its harm has been underestimated. Richie Poulton has conducted at least four studies of cannabis use by New Zealanders born in 1972. About 80% of the sample group had tried cannabis by their early thirties. He says evidence of gum disease, respiratory disease, reduced cognitive function and greater risk of psychosis shows the drug does more harm than is widely appreciated, although moderate irregular use is not associated with a great deal of harm. But Professor Poulton says the unlawful status of cannabis gets in the way of conveying sensible health messages about its use. He says accurate information is hijacked either by those who want to maintain the ban and or by those who say cannabis is harmless. Professor Poulton says for this reason, researchers like him need to be persistent about getting such information into the policy arena.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Rich history of Molesworth Station route explained

The road through Molesworth Station in Marlborough has re-opened for the summer and this year includes sites displaying historical information. The Department of Conservation (DoC) has put up interpretation panels in shelters at more than 10 sites along the Acheron and Tophouse Roads. DoC says the panel displays explain the area's rich history including it being used as a Maori and early European travel route. The road is open longer than usual this year, from 28 December to 7pm on Easter Monday, 8 April.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Tropical depression off Solomons could develop into cyclone

Forecasters are warning a tropical cyclone could hit Solomon Islands and New Caledonia tomorrow. The Fiji Metservice says a tropical depression is currently heading in a south-south-west direction and is expected to turn south east, past New Caledonia. The Duty forecaster Amit Singh says there is a high chance of the depression developing into a cyclone in the next 24 to 36 hours. He says if the system remains on its track it will pass Solomon Islands and the central and eastern parts will experience heavy rain and gale force winds. Amit Singh says the cyclone won’t affect Vanuatu or Fiji.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International



Wild Oats breaks Sydney to Hobart race record

Wild Oats XI has crossed the line first in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race for a sixth time and has broken its own race record. The Mark Richards-skippered yacht picked up speed and arrived at at Constitution Dock in Hobart on Friday morning about 20 minutes ahead of its 2005 record time. The super maxi finished just before 7.30am in an unofficial time of one day, 18 hours, 21 minutes and 17 seconds. The line honours win adds to victories in 2005-08 and 2010.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Flash floods, thunderstorms expected in North Island

MetService has issued an alert for Waikato to Wairarapa, including Hawke's Bay and Taranaki. It is expecting slow-moving storms on Friday afternoon and evening that could bring 25 and 40mm of rainfall an hour, which is capable of causing flash flooding. MetService said low-lying areas such as streams, rivers or narrow valleys are particularly at risk of flash floods, and the rainfall may also lead to slips.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Treasury warning over power company sales

The Treasury has warned the Government the stock market will not be able to cope with the partial sale of three state-owned power companies in one year. The Government had planned to begin selling shares in Mighty River Power this year but put it off until 2013 to allow more time to consult with Maori. Newly-released advice from the Treasury says it is only practical to sell one company every six months - two next year and one in 2014. It says that still makes the programme vulnerable to a market downturn or a dip in a company's performance. Finance Minister Bill English has been considering selling all three power companies next year. The Labour Party says that is economic idiocy and shows Mr English is pushing ahead with bull-headed politics regardless of the consequences.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Thursday, December 27

Rabbits 'coming back with a vengeance'

A surge in rabbit numbers in some regions of Australia is costing farmers there around $A200 million a year. Invasive Animal Cooperative Centre chief executive Andreas Glanzig says there is now one rabbit per hectare of land in Australia, the ABC reports. "They are coming back with a vengeance," he said. "A lot of that is due to the increased food availability." Rabbits are considered the nation's most expensive pest.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Rakaia music festival plans for 3000

Organisers of South Island music festival, Rhythm and Alps, are expecting a crowd of at least 3000 on Friday. This year marks the second time the festival, which is an off-shoot of the long established Rhythm and Vines in Gisbourne, has been held in the Canterbury foothills near Mt Hutt, and on the edge of the Rakaia Gorge. Event director Jaz Powell says 50 international and local artists will play during the two day event.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Chinese firm plans South Canterbury dairy factory

Chinese dairy firm Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group plans to spend $214 million building an infant formula plant in South Canterbury in a deal that will see it take over Oceania Dairy Group. Yili will acquire Oceania to access its land resource consents to build a plant over 38 hectares in South Canterbury, according to a notice on the Shanghai Stock Exchange on December 18. The Chinese firm said it is attracted by New Zealand's relatively cheap raw milk and the prospect of the free-trade agreement with China completely removing Chinese import tariffs by 2020. The plant is scheduled to be completed by June 2014 operating at 60% capacity, with annual full capacity of 47,000 tonnes expected in the 2016/17 year.
Source: BusinessDesk



Reminder to 'take only photos, leave only footprints'

Kiwis are being reminded of the 'take only photos, leave only footprints' message as they head away on holiday. University of Canterbury says during travelling peaks, they're hearing of environmental impacts on a weekly basis. Lecturer in outdoor and environmental education, Chris North, says those impacts include fires which damage forests and wetlands, toilet waste, rubbish and desecration of tapu sites. Chris North says people need to plan ahead on how to minimise the impact on the environment.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Those with minor injuries urged to go to A&E

Those needing medical treatment for minor injuries are being urged to go to A&E rather than taking themselves to hospital. Hawke's Bay Hospital was over-run with patients yesterday. Over 150 came through the doors. Chief operating officer, Warrick Frater says many of those could have been treated at an accident and medical centre. He says those who turn up to hospital with minor injuries will have to wait a long time to be seen, and might be referred back to a GP. Mr Frater says unless it's an emergency, the GP should always be first port of call.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Australians go on Boxing Day spend-up

Boxing Day sales in Australia have caused a big spike in plastic card use, with one bank reporting a 30% jump in transactions on last year. The National Australia Bank reported on Thursday it put through 3,839,518 debit and credit card, ATM and EFTPOS transactions, with a peak transaction rate of 100 per second. A spokesman said that was an increase of about 30% from last year's Boxing Day.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Foreign workers flood in for Christchurch rebuild

Christchurch's international work force is ramping up. Immigration figures released this month showed visas issued to workers helping rebuild the earthquake-hit city totalled 404 in the past six months, compared with 206 the first half of the year. The rebuild workers are mostly from Britain, Ireland and the Philippines. Since July last year, 719 skilled workers have received visas, including carpenters (97), quantity surveyors (72) and painters (69). Some of the more-than-12,000 British and Irish working-holiday visa-holders could be also working on the rebuild.
Source: Fairfax



Wednesday, December 26

Barrier Reef tsunami a potential threat

Researchers mapping the sea floor near Australia's Great Barrier Reef say they've made an ominous discovery. They've found a giant slab of sea-floor that's in the early stages of collapse, the ABC reports. They say it'll break off one day and when that happens it could trigger a tsunami capable of hitting the North Queensland coast. Marine geologists at James Cook University say it is only a matter of time before the slab, known as the Noggin Block, collapses. Dr Robin Beaman says the slab is the remains of an underwater landslide deep in the Great Barrier Reef. "It's actually up on the top of the continental slope in about 350 metres of water," he said. The research is published in the journal Natural Hazards.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Kiwis preferring not so intrepid journeys

By Newstalk ZB staff - NewstalkZB
Not so intrepid...
A new travel survey shows New Zealanders prefer to head for comfortable destinations, rather than those that could be more challenging. The Middle East was the lowest ranking destination appealing to Kiwi travellers, followed by North Africa and India and Nepal. Australia and the UK hold the most appeal, ahead of Pacific Islands, Western Europe and North America. CEO Craig Morrison says the biggest surprise of the survey was that there was little difference between young and old when it came to appetites for destinations off the beaten track.



Visitor numbers up

Visitor numbers are on the increase in Canterbury as the region continues to recover from the earthquakes. Australian holiday arrivals in September were up 10% on last year while October's figures climbed 8%. Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism said guest nights in October rose by 12% compared with the previous year. Chief executive Tim Hunter said the inclusion of Christchurch in Lonely Planet's list of top 10 cities to visit was huge. Canterbury also claimed nine spots in the AA Travel's 101 'must-do' list, with a visit to Hanmer Springs ranked number one.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Strike threatens Queensland milk supply

Queensland's milk supply is being affected by a blockade of almost 100 angry dairy workers who are stopping milk trucks entering a factory south of Brisbane. Workers from the Dairy Farmers factory at Creastmead in Logan are striking for 24 hours on Monday in a bid for better pay and conditions from parent company Lion Group. Australia’s National Union of Workers spokesman Duncan Pegg says employees are after a four per cent pay rise, which will bring their salaries in line with other states. "These Queensland workers get paid significantly less than their counterparts in other states for effectively the same job - it's the same milk," he told ABC radio.
AAP



Tuesday, December 25

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas from Daily New Zealand News



Monday, December 24

NZ joins Australian research programme

The government is putting up $2 million to help New Zealand scientists submit proposals to Australia's Filling the Research Gap programme. The programme is administered by the Australian Department for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and will invest $A201 million($NZ244m) over six years to support research into reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The funding is part of New Zealand's participation in the Global Research Alliance, which is focused on collaborative research to find ways to grow more food without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
NZN



Four new members join Waitangi Tribunal

A former Labour Government minister has been appointed to the Waitangi Tribunal. Paul Swain has also worked as a Crown Treaty settlement negotiator - and most recently chaired an inquiry into the use of foreign-owned charter vessels. Miriama Evans, Dr Rawinia Higgins and Nick Davidson are the other new members. They will join Professor Sir Hirini Mead, who has been reappointed to the Tribunal. The new members take up their roles on 1 January.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Families to gather for Carols by Candlelight

Hundreds of Canterbury families are expected to gather at Latimer Square for a special Christmas Eve event. A large stage is being erected this afternoon in preparation for the Christmas on Latimer event. It begins at 5pm with performances by the Cathedral Choir, before the 65th annual Carols by Candlelight begins at 8pm. A Midnight mass will then be held in the square from 10.30pm. Latimer Square has become the city's main hub of Christmas celebrations in recent weeks with the large Telecom tree being a popular attraction since it was lifted into place earlier this month. Christmas markets were staged there recently and various stalls and food vendors have been based there over recent weeks. Madras St around Latimer Square will be closed to traffic for tonight's events.
- © Fairfax NZ News



Xmas shoppers set EFTPOS record

By Newstalk ZB staff - NewstalkZB
Christmas shoppers have set a new record for electronic transactions. A whopping 132 purchases were made every second between 12pm and 1pm today. Paymark CEO Simon Tong says unfortunately for retailers he doubts it'll also be a record setting day for pre Christmas takings. Mr Tong says figures show over-all the year-on-year takings are up just over three per cent.



World Bank agency helping hotel development in Kiribati

The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation is helping the Kiribati government to select an investor for the Otintaii Hotel, the largest hotel venture in the country. The public-private partnership is aimed at helping to transform Kiribati’s hotel industry, create jobs and generate revenues for the government and the private sector investor. A Kiribati government spokesperson, Atanteora Beiatau, says the demand for hotel services is set to increase over the next five years, thanks to investments worth more than 150 million US dollars in the country’s infrastructure.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International



Air NZ promising extra flights

Air New Zealand is promising extra services to try help get Christmas travellers to their destinations. Dozens of flights in and out of the capital were cancelled or delayed yesterday as thick fog blanketed the city. Air New Zealand says it will resume scheduled services this morning, along with some additional services, weather permitting. Passengers are advised to keep an eye on the Air New Zealand website and arrival and departure boards.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Police buy drone for surveillance

New Zealand police have bought an unmanned aircraft, a drone, for investigations and surveillance. Drones are used in military operations in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Police have been evaluating the use of drones this year and have contracted a company to provide the overhead cameras in two investigations so far. However, the drone they have bought has not been used yet, as they are still deciding how it can best be utulised. Police say the technology could save money, as an unmanned aircraft would be cheaper than using a helicopter.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



NZ deer fibre product being used offshore

Luxury socks made from New Zealand deer fibre, and carrying a price tag of $1600 per pair, are proving popular with wealthy customers. The socks are made from Cervelt - the rare, ultra high-quality fibre from the soft layer of underdown of the New Zealand red deer. Harrys of London, an upmarket menswear store, is selling a limited edition of 100 pairs. Douglas Creek, which developed and markets Cervelt, says the socks are the latest luxury product to be made from the fibre. Managing director Bert McGhee of Tauranga said it has taken 12 years to develop the machinery and take Cervelt to the market. Italy is the initial target.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



35kg cyst removed

A 35kg (77 lbs) ovarian cyst has been removed from a woman who thought the growth was due to overeating. Fairfax reports the cyst was discovered after Sharon Watt complained about stomach pains and the growth was removed last week. Ms Watt is in Timaru hospital, but will likely be home for Christmas. AAP reports she had no idea about the cyst and thought she had put on weight due to overeating. "I can actually fit some of my clothes now, which is nice; I was wearing a 5XL T-shirt and I couldn't understand why," she said.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Solomon Islands hopes to build on success of seasonal workers scheme

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Solomon Islands says it is hoping to build on its success from its seasonal employment scheme with New Zealand, with the start of a similar deal in Australia. The Ministry has sent two groups, totalling eight men and women, to Hobart city in Tasmania to work for six months under the Pacific Seasonal Workers Programme. The Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs in Solomon Islands, Bernard Bata’anisia, says it is the country’s first batch of seasonal workers to Australia, who will labour in industries that are facing employee shortages.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International



Eftpos spending well up on last year

Shopping figures for December show eftpos spending is well up on last year. Paymark, which processes more than three-quarters of all retail electronic transactions, said just over $3.2 billion was put through its network from 30 November - 20 December. Paymark said that was almost $150 million more than in the same period last year and December has been the strongest month all year. Chief executive Simon Tong told Morning Report he believes last Friday will turn out to be the biggest day for spending.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Sunday, December 23

Flights to Mt Cook resume after a decade

Air New Zealand's first flight to Mt Cook in more than a decade is set to take off. The trial summer service between Christchurch, Mt Cook and Queenstown will provide tourists with a convenient way to visit several of the South Island's key tourism areas. "The service will make it quick and easy for groups to take a day trip to the region or overnight at Mt Cook," Air New Zealand group general manager Australasia Bruce Parton said. "The connection through to Queenstown will also enable travellers on a tight schedule to visit multiple South Island destinations." The service will operate from Sunday for six weeks, until January 27. The 40-minute flight between Christchurch and Mt Cook will run three times a week.
Source: NZN



Capital celebrates Ayyabban booja festival

A festival offering prayers to the Hindu deity brought colour to Wellington this weekend. About 200 people were in the capital to celebrate the Ayyabban booja festival. After seven male devotees observed a 42-day penance abstaining from meat and alcohol, and sleeping on mats, they carried offerings from the Kumaran Kurunji Temple in Newlands, Wellington yesterday. In Hindu tradition, the men carry bundles of coconut filled with ghee to offer prayers to their deity. Women and children carry milk pots.
- © Fairfax NZ News



Generators being sent to Samoa, Fiji

By Juliette Sivertsen - NewstalkZB
The New Zealand branch of a global rental power company is sending 10 generators to Samoa and Fiji to help those affected by Cyclone Evan. Aggreko spokesman Philip Lendich, says their depot in Fiji is already working at capacity. He says they're shipping their most powerful units which are capable of supplying power to whole villages.



Telstra repays roaming overcharge

Telstra will refund up to $A30 million to customers in Australia after the telecommunications giant overcharged for global roaming services on mobile phones since 2006. Australia's largest telco identified the problem following an audit earlier in 2012, and most of Telstra's affected customers have now been refunded. "Telstra became aware of an issue whereby some customers were charged multiple data session fees due to the way international carriers generate their data usage records," a Telstra spokesman said in a statement on Friday. The spokesman said overseas carriers had presented the charges of Telstra customers multiple times.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



US agreement important for NZ - economist

BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander says it's vital for New Zealand's economic prospects that the fiscal cliff budget crisis in the United States is resolved before the end of the year. If it is not, a set of harsh spending cuts and tax rises will take effect in January, which is likely to send the United States back into recession. Mr Alexander said that would deal a major hit to growth worldwide. Another US recession would create widespread uncertainty - which would likely push the New Zealand dollar down. Mr Alexander said sharemarkets and commodity prices would also fall.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Saturday, December 22

Tail of cyclone heads to New Zealand

The remnants of Cyclone Evan are forecast to bring heavy rain and strong winds to the upper North Island over Christmas. The cyclone hit Samoa on 13 December, causing at least five deaths, major flooding and destruction of buildings and crops. It went on to pound Fiji, where the main island of Viti Levu bore the brunt of the category four storm. The weather system, now a deep low, is expected to lie near Northland late on Sunday, then move onto the northern Tasman Sea late Christmas Eve and early Christmas Day. MetService says Northland, northern parts of Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, western Bay of Plenty and northern Gisborne will get periods of heavy rain on Sunday and Monday. Northland in particular may receive bursts of very heavy rain as the low passes by, in addition to a risk of easterly winds reaching severe gale.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Super Moon to rise over New Zealand this weekend

By Imogen Crispe
The moon will be closer, bigger and brighter than usual on Sunday, but there is no need to worry about any "lunacy" because of it. NASA says on May 6 New Zealand time, the moon will be a super moon, and could be as much as 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than other full moons this year. The moon is predicted to be at its biggest at 3.34pm, but will not be visible in New Zealand until moonrise at 5.23pm. This type of large moon is called perigee and occurs when the moon is closest to the earth in its elliptical orbit. It is 50,000km closer than it would be at its most distant point.



Former PM 'unhappy' with insult app

The creator of a popular app that generates insulting phrases in the style of Paul Keating is seeking legal advice after he drew the ire of the former Australian prime minister. The Paul Keating Insult Generator app creates Keating-esque put-downs in text at the press of a button, which can be instantly emailed or tweeted, AAP reports. The app generates mischievous missives such as "you dimwit, pansy, intellectual rustbucket" and "you imbecilic caucus of political harlots". Mr Keating, who was Labor prime minister between 1991 and 1996, was well known for his colourful quips, one-liners and put-downs. But Dan Nolan, the app's creator, told AAP on Friday he was looking into the future of the app after he received a less-than-happy response from Mr Keating's office.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Illegal fishing discovered by Navy patrol

A New Zealand Navy patrol has detected a number of fishing vessels violating rules protecting areas in the Southern Ocean close to Antarctica. During a two week patrol, the Navy was able to note illegal fishing which the Minister for Primary Industries David Carter has described as serious. Mr Carter says strong measures will be sought against vessels which are violating the rules.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Friday, December 21

Cyclone Evan heads for New Zealand

The cyclone that devastated Samoa and Fiji will deliver heavy rain and gales to the north of the North Island on Sunday and Monday, and could linger on to spoil Christmas. The former Cyclone Evan will lie near Northland late on Sunday. Periods of heavy rain are forecast for Sunday and Monday in Northland, northern parts of Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, western Bay of Plenty and northern Gisborne. Winds in Northland and possibly Auckland are expected to be strong or gale northeasterlies. MetService has issued a severe weather watch, and expects to put out a weather warning on Saturday.
Source: NZN



Novopay makes caretaker "instant millionaire"

The final payday for teachers this year has once again been rife with errors due to the Novopay system, including a caretaker's payslip showing a $100 million windfall. Ronnie Moffat, who works at Mt Aspiring College in Wanaka, got the shock of his life when he discovered his holiday pay was being paid at more than $650,000 an hour. He immediately rushed to the school office to correct the error. Mr Moffat says he was thankful the massive sum did not arrive in his bank account on Friday - instead, he was underpaid by $110. He says he's been short by more than $100 every payday since the system was introduced. A number of principals have had to ask banks to cancel payments to staff who no longer work for them. Thousands of staff have been incorrectly paid since the Novopay system for more than 92,000 school staff was introduced in August. A new problem appeared this week at Matakana School where four teacher aids have received thousands of dollars despite not having worked at the school at all this year.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Bedrock breakthrough in Antarctica

A New Zealand-led team of scientists has made a huge scientific breakthrough in Antarctica, by successfully drilling through more than 700 metres of ice sheet to bedrock, and back in time to the end of the last ice age. Dr Nancy Bertler of Victoria University's Antarctic Research Centre and GNS Science, who headed the team, says the 763 metre ice core will provide a detailed record of the climate history of the Ross Sea for the last 30,000 years. Speaking via satellite phone from Roosevelt Island, 1,000 kms from Scott Base, she said the ice core will show how the Ross Sea region could respond to global warming.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Additional $1.5m aid for Philippines

By Newstalk ZB staff - NewstalkZB
As well as giving aid to Samoa and Fiji - New Zealand is providing further assistance to the storm-ravaged Philippines. Two weeks ago, Typhoon Bopha killed over a thousand people and left 800 more are missing. Homes and livelihoods have been destroyed with over six million people affected. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has announced New Zealand's giving an additional $1.5 million in aid, taking our support so far to $2 million.



Exodus to Australia slows

The loss of New Zealanders across the Tasman has slowed and more Australians are moving to this country. The monthly net loss of population to Australia fell to its lowest in nearly two years in November. Last month 2900 more New Zealand citizens left for Australia than arrived from across the Tasman, once seasonal factors are accounted for, Statistics New Zealand figures show. Meanwhile, China has overtaken the UK to become second largest source of visitors to New Zealand. Australia accounts for 45% of all visitors to New Zealand and China 8%. Numbers of Chinese visitors have increased 38% in the last year, while numbers of British visitors have been falling for the last five years.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



NZ nominates Tim Groser as WTO head

The New Zealand Government has nominated Trade Minister Tim Groser for the role of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, the top job in world trade. WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy of France steps down in May after nearly eight years in the role. If successful, Mr Groser would become the second New Zealander to hold the top job after former prime minister Mike Moore. Before entering politics Mr Groser was a top-ranking official at the WTO's Geneva headquarters.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Aucklanders asked to chip in for Samoa

Aucklanders are being called on to give to a new mayoral fund to help Samoa and Fiji recover from Cyclone Evan. Mayor Len Brown announced the fund and the formation of an Auckland Relief Committee after a meeting on Friday with nearly 100 Pacific community leaders, foreign affairs officials, the Samoan consul and aid agencies. Mr Brown says cash is the best way to help the devastated islands right now and the Auckland Council is kicking in $10,000 to start. Collection points and transport are being organised for non-perishable food, cooking utensils and clothing to help homeless families in Samoa. Mr Brown says the council will also send water, road and electrical engineers to help rebuild infrastructure once the Samoan government has assessed what's needed.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Treasury papers reveal reservations on charter schools

Treasury documents reveal officials have doubts about the Government's plan to introduce charter schools. The Government wants to introduce privately-run, publicly-funded charter schools, also known as partnership schools, in 2014. The documents say charter schools could be used to test new methods for improving student achievement. However they also show Treasury is not convinced the benefits of introducing the schools will outweigh the costs and risks. The papers express scepticism that increasing competition between schools will improve the education system. The documents show both the Treasury and Ministry of Education opposed the Government's plan to allow partnership schools to hire unregistered teachers. Treasury told the Government that teacher registration is an indication of a minimum level of quality. National secretary of the Educational Institute Paul Goulter says the documents say there is little evidence the schools help improve children's achievement.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



China now second-biggest visitor source

Tourists from China are now the second-biggest source of visitor arrivals, overtaking the United Kingdom. The latest figures for November show a 38% rise in visitors from China to more than 194,000. In contrast, visitor numbers from the UK have been declining for the past five years and dropped 17% this year to just over 191,000. Most of the Chinese visitors are holiday makers and their average length of stay is three and a half days. Australia remains the biggest source, accounting for 45% of all visitors to New Zealand.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



End of the world won't come tonight

Those who believe the world is going to end sometime over the next 24 hours are being told to focus on Christmas. The Mayan prophecy predicts December 21st as the day the world will cease to exist. Astronomy educator at Auckland's Stardome Observatory, David Britten, says it's not going to happen. "Don't worry, there's nothing in all of these things that has any substance, and certainly put them together and it doesn't make them any more true. "The internet has fuelled this sort of thing, along with the move that came out a couple of years ago, and a couple of books that have added to it." David Britten says he's planning for Christmas, and others should, too.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Lowered speed tolerance starts today

Once again, it'll be easier to get a speeding ticket this Christmas. Police will be enforcing a lowered speed tolerance over an extended holiday period, with action taken against any driver found driving more than 4 km/h over the limit. National road policing manager, Superintendent Carey Griffiths says they'll be enforcing the reduced tolerance from today through to January 7. "The way that the holidays fall this year, we believe that a lot of people will be travelling from Friday the 21st and taking the Monday off."
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



New battery charge product targets consumers

Wireless power provider Powerbyproxi is moving into the consumer electronics sphere by developing wireless rechargeable batteries for products that range from toys to cameras to smartphones. The company came out of the University of Auckland five years ago and it has been providing wireless power to industrial sites and moving applications where power cables are problematic, expensive and unreliable. Its focus is now on the consumer market and its wireless rechargeable batteries attracted attention at the China Hi-Tech Fair in Shenzen, including a spot on China TV which has 1.3 billion viewers. Co-founder and executive chairman of Powerbyproxi, Greg Cross, says its AA battery technology eliminates the hassle of removing rechargeable batteries to place them in an external charger.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



More action urged on forced marriages

A support group for domestic violence survivors is calling for a law change and a safe house for girls forced into marriage, some of whom are as young as 13. Police have drawn up an agreement with Child Youth and Family, Work and Income, Immigration New Zealand and other social agencies on how best to to deal with forced marriage. In Auckland, refuge organisation Shakti has seen numbers climb from one single case of forced or threatened marriage three years ago to 11 last year - and that only counted women with New Zealand citizenship or permanent residence.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Thursday, December 20

France sends soldiers and other personnel to help cyclone battered Wallis

The French overseas territories minister, Victorin Lurel, has been on Wallis to inspected the damage caused by Cyclone Evan and says a state of natural disaster is expected to be declared. Mr Lurel says the prefect is to submit reports so that extra funding can be released. Wallis was badly hit at the weekend and 300 houses have been damaged by winds said to have been the strongest since 1968. Only 20 percent of the power network has been restored and phone lines out of the territory are still down. France has chartered a plane in New Caledonia to fly 33 members of the armed forces, four firefighters and three technicians from Noumea to Wallis.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International



Rise in number of people completing tertiary study

The percentage of people completing tertiary courses rose from 76 percent in 2008 to 82 percent last year. Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce is boasting about the performance of his portfolio, but admits work still needs to be done when it comes to meeting the skills shortage. Qualification completion rates are also up, from 64 to 71 percent. Mr Joyce says the 2011 Tertiary Education Performance Report also shows the balance sheets of most providers has improved and the Youth Guarantee scheme is going from strength to strength.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Prescription cost changes kick in next year

Changes to prescription charges kick in from the New Year. Government-subsidised medication will rise from $3 to $5 for each new prescription item. It's the first increase to prescription charges in 20 years. Individuals and families can use a Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card if they have 20 or more prescriptions in a year, meaning they'll pay a maximum of $100 in any one year.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Vodafone announces cyclone customer credit

Vodafone will credit all its New Zealand customers' calls and texts to Fiji, Samoa and American Samoa following Cyclone Evan. It follows a similar announcement made this week by Telecom.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Nesting kaka found in Wellington's town belt

Kaka have been found nesting in Wellington's town belt for the first time in a century. Wellington City Council says the kaka nest with chicks was found on the edge of Prince of Wales Park in the suburb of Mount Cook. Council spokesperson Myfanwy Emeny says the nest is close to a small stream where there is a population of banded kokopu - a species of native fish. Matu Booth, who runs a local community restoration programme and discovered the kaka nest, says the birds are part of a loose flock of kaka that has taken up residence in the town belt.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Wednesday, December 19

Books should arrive before Christmas

Good news Book Depository customers - your Christmas orders "absolutely should" arrive before the big day. About 12,000 orders from the popular overseas online bookseller arrived at Auckland Airport yesterday after customer complained of waiting months for their deliveries to arrive. Orders usually take about two weeks to be delivered, but customers told the Herald orders they had placed in October still had not arrived. The Book Depository posted a message apologising to New Zealand customers on Twitter and Facebook this morning. The statement was also sent to customers inquiring about the delays. "Following a joint investigation with our air freight partners and New Zealand Post, a backlog of approximately 12,000 items was discovered at Auckland Airport and these have now been processed by NZ Post who have advised deliveries will be arriving into homes over the next few days and everything will be delivered by Saturday 22nd December.
- nzherald.co.nz



Penguin safe after causing traffic mayhem

By Newstalk ZB staff - NewstalkZB
A little blue penguin is back where it belongs after causing mayhem on a Wellington motorway. It spent more than an hour in the middle of State Highway 2, that's in the middle of four lanes of traffic on the Ngauranga flyover. Police officers came to the rescue with a rolling block to slow traffic down. Then, as an officer approached, the penguin calmly jumped down and tottered across the road, across the railway tracks and into the harbour.



Lockwood Smith to become High Commissioner to UK

Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith has been named as New Zealand's new High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully confirmed the appointment on Wednesday. He said Dr Smith is one of Parliament's longest-serving members and his experience in international marketing and senior portfolios including education and trade make him an ideal diplomatic appointment. Dr Smith is expected to take up the role in early 2013.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Fiji Red Cross calls for international assistance

The Fijian Red Cross says their country will soon need help from the international community. Thousands are still in evacuation centres, after Cyclone Evan tore through the north and western parts of the country on Monday. There were no deaths yet confirmed, but the communication network, power and water supplies have all been affected. The director general of the Fiji Red Cross, Filipe Nainoca, says Lautoka city is one of the hardest hit areas.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International



Tuesday, December 18

Kiwi man helps create huge shark sanctuary

A Kiwi man's dream to establish a shark sanctuary the size of Mexico has been realised in the Cook Islands. On December 12, the Cook Islands declared its 1997 million square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) a sanctuary for sharks and rays - the largest in the world and with the toughest shark conservation regulations to date. The sanctuary is the product of an 18-month grassroots campaign led by Auckland-born Stephen Lyons, a marine scientist and founder of the Rarotonga-based NGO the Pacific Islands Conservation Initiative (PICI). The Auckland University-educated scientist says he had the idea for the conservation project over six years ago, after witnessing how sharks were becoming exploited through his work in the dive business. "Together with our Polynesian neighbour, Tahiti Nui (French Polynesia), we have created the largest shark sanctuary in the world. We join our Pacific neighbours to protect this animal, which is very vital to the health of our oceans, and our culture," said minister of marine resources Teina Bishop.
Copyright 2012, APN Holdings NZ Limited



Gisborne region powerless for half of the day

By Gisborne Herald staff
The most disruptive power outage for many years brought Gisborne, Wairoa and parts of Napier to a standstill this morning - seven days out from Christmas. The three-to-four-hour outage was caused by a major Transpower New Zealand Ltd fault at the Redclyffe substation in Hawkes Bay just before 10am. Banks, supermarkets and large retail chains closed their doors for security reasons but some smaller stores continued to trade in the dark with cash-only sales.



Kiwis most likely to peek at presents

If you're an eager beaver when it comes to being a peeping tom under the Christmas tree, you're not alone. The Wrapping Report which looks at global Christmas present behaviour, shows Kiwis top the sneaky-peek stakes. Sixty-five percent of us confess to having opened presents early, compared with the norm of 45-percent. New Zealand women are even more impatient, with nearly 80-percent admitting to unwrapping before Santa arrives on his sleigh. South Africans came in second with 64-percent spoiling the surprise, followed by Brazilians at 59-percent.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



NZ to reinstate High Commissioner to Fiji

New Zealand expects to re-instate its High Commissioner to Fiji by early next year, ending a five-year diplomatic standoff. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the move recognises the progress Fiji is making towards democracy. Fiji's military leader, Frank Bainimarama expelled the New Zealand and Australian High Commissioners in the wake of his military coup in 2006, sparking tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats. Australia last week announcement the appointment of a new high commissioner also.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Navy ships from China in Sydney

Three navy ships from China arrived in Sydney on Tuesday for four days for a brief stop-over en route to China. The Yi Yang, Chang Zhou and Qian Dao Hu began arriving at 8.30am (AEDT). AAP reports they are returning from a mission to combat pirates in the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and the Horn of Africa. The ABC reports the stop-over is one of a number of events planned this year to mark 40 years since the beginning of diplomatic relations between Australia and China. The Australian, Chinese and New Zealand navies held a training exercise in October.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Death toll now 8 in Samoa

The death toll is now eight in Samoa after Cyclone Evan hit Samoa on Thursday. Ten fishermen are still missing during Cyclone Evan. Four bodies have reportedly washed ashore near Apia. Maritime New Zealand is suspending a search by an RNZAF Orion for the men who have now been missing for five days. Maritime NZ said on Tuesday their chance of surviving this long in the rough waters is slim. The agency said the search can easily start again if new information is received. A state of emergency remains in place in Samoa.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Adelaide parking tax mooted in state budget

The state government in South Australia is to impose a new tax on car parking in Adelaide. Parking spaces in the centre of Adelaide will be subject to a tax to raise cash for public transport infrastructure. AAP reports the tax will apply to all inner-city parking spaces, including off-street and multi-level carparks from July 2014. At $A750 per year for each parking space, about $A2 per day, the tax will raise about $A25.7 million per year.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Petrol excise to rise 3c every year for 3 years

The retail price of petrol is set to rise nine cents per litre over the next three years because of an increase in petrol taxes. The Government has announced the petrol excise duty will go up by three cents per litre on 1 July first next year, and again in 2014 and 2015. Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said on Tuesday the increases are required to deliver the roads of national significance programme and other roading projects. He said the announcement gives businesses and motorists time to plan for the extra cost. Road user charges for diesel vehicles will also go up by an equivalent amount.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Monday, December 17

Severe weather warning for parts of South Island

By Rachel Jackson-Lees - NewstalkZB
A severe weather warning has been issued for Fiordland, Buller and Nelson. MetService says there will be heavy rain overnight. Heavy rain has already been falling in Fiordland during the day but it's slowly making its way north.



Christchurch neurologist in world-first clinical trial for MS

A Christchurch neurologist is leading part of the world's first clinical trial into whether oral vitamin D may prevent multiple sclerosis. The trial is being conducted in both Australia and New Zealand and will include 240 people with early multiple sclerosis. Dr Deborah Mason will oversee the New Zealanders taking part in the study, while Professor Bruce Taylor, a former Christchurch neurologist now based in Hobart, is one of the principal researchers heading the trial in Australia. Dr Mason says the prevalence of MS in New Zealand is high compared to many other parts of the world and appears to be increasing, particularly in females. Researchers believe New Zealanders may be particularly susceptible to MS because of the country's low latitude, which results in low levels of vitamin D.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Samoan cyclone recovery to cost over $150m

The Samoan government is estimating the cost of recovery from Cyclone Evan, which killed at least four people, at about 300 million tala ($157 millon). The cyclone, which is bringing ferocious winds to Fiji now, wrecked buildings and left debris strewn over a wide area in Samoa last week. The National Disaster Council, which involves New Zealand officials, declared a state of emergency after surveying the damage in parts of Samoa on Monday. Prime minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi says the major cost will be rebuilding schools and roads and restoring power lines. Seven schools have been destroyed and 44 other schools damaged. Meanwhile, the crew of a New Zealand Air Force plane has located the upturned hull of a fishing boat believed to one of the four vessels that have been missing for three days. There was no sign of 10 crew members missing from the boats, but the crew of the Orion will resume their search on Tuesday.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Electronic official documents now a reality

By Katie Bradford-Crozier - NewstalkZB
Officially verified documents for use overseas, such as marriage certificates, can now be issued electronically. The new e-Apostille service from the Department of Internal Affairs aims to cut submission times considerably by creating secure electronic versions of documents, which can then be emailed to overseas agencies. We are one of only four countries using the service. Internal Affairs minister Chris Tremain says it's more secure than the paper version of the system.



Master's degrees can be completed earlier

People studying towards a master's degree will be able to complete it quicker from next year. Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce says the 180 credit master's degrees will be completed between 12 and 18 months, rather than two years. He believes it'll be attractive to students from overseas, to graduates who want to enhance their knowledge and skills while they are working, and to those who only want to return to university for a year.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Qld cattle at risk of starving after bushfires

Graziers in Queensland want the federal government to declare a natural disaster in the Gulf Savannah region after weeks of bushfires there. AAP reports the fires are not yet out and are still destroying the feed for large herds of cattle. Thousands of head of cattle face starvation. Etheridge shire mayor Will Attwood said that even if there's an immediate start to the wet season, which is overdue, it won't resolve the issue.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Cyclone Evan now category 5

Thousands of people in Fiji have evacuated as the full brunt of the cyclone sweeps across the country. Cyclone Evan, which weather forecasters in New Zealand now say is up to a category 5 status - the highest on the scale - is expected to batter Fiji on Monday afternoon and evening. The cyclone passed the north-west island of Vanua Levu this on Monday morning, where 3,700 people are holed up in 45 evacuation centres. It is making its way down the Yasawa and Mamanuca islands, before it is expected to sweep past the western part of the main island, Viti Levu. Severe damage is anticipated along the path of the cyclone, which is expected to reach Nadi at 3pm on Monday.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Crack-down on prepaid phone cards

The Commerce Commission is cracking-down on the prepaid phone card industry after complaints from customers. The commission prosecuted two companies last year and has issued new guidelines warning the industry not to mislead customers. The commission said one company has been fined $140,000 for failing to make it obvious there was a daily fee of 22 cents for using the card. One customer had bought a $10 card, made a brief call to Britain and was then unable to use the card the following month because it had no credit. The commission is telling companies they should provide a clear, all-inclusive price on the card so consumers can easily tell which deal gives them the best value.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



'Horse has bolted' on US gun control says Key

As US law makers look at strengthening gun laws, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key believes it is too late to change the culture of gun ownership in America. Several Democratic lawmakers have called for a new push for US gun restrictions, including a ban on military-style assault weapons, in the wake of the Connecticut massacre in which 20 children and six adults were gunned down in a school. Gun control has been a low priority for most US politicians due to the widespread popularity of guns in America and the clout of the pro-gun National Rifle Association. "There is an enormously powerful gun lobby. During the election campaign there was a shooting and neither Obama or Romney wanted to touch gun laws, which just shows you how powerful that lobby is," he said. "Even if they were prepared to do something there are 200 million guns out there - it would take generations to get them back. The horse has well and truly bolted in the United States."
Source: ONE News / Reuters



Christchurch cafe owners 'desperate' for staff

Christchurch cafe and restaurant owners desperate for staff want hospitality workers added to a list of skills urgently needed to get the city back on its feet. Cafe, bar and restaurant owners fear a "lost generation" of young people have left the city, leaving many establishments struggling to attract staff. It has been estimated that between 15,000 and 30,000 workers across all sectors could be needed in Christchurch to tackle the peak recovery phase, above the number of workers that were in the city before the rebuild started. Immigration New Zealand holds a Canterbury skills shortage list to target temporary migrant workers that so far have come mainly from Britain, Ireland and the Philippines. Initially most of the listed shortages were management positions in the construction and engineering sectors, but now trades including plasterers, roof and floor tilers are among a dozen recent additions. However, the hospitality sector says it, too, is facing a critical shortage of workers.
Source: Fairfax



Zero-interest loans to help poor families

By Simon Collins
A group of Auckland charities have quietly started lending money at zero interest rates to low-income families in a pilot project which may eventually drive loan sharks out of the market. Nga Tangata Microfinance Trust has made nine loans so far using eight South Auckland budgeting agencies as their "shopfronts", and with loan capital from Kiwibank. The scheme is effectively trialling the "public/private partnership microfinancing model" that was one of six immediate priorities in last week's expert group report for Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills on tackling child poverty. Trustee Dr Claire Dale, an Auckland University economist and member of the Child Poverty Action Group, said many families on low incomes were driven into borrowing from fringe lenders at "preposterous" interest rates because they could not get bank loans. Nga Tangata is starting small, lending up to $2000 at zero interest for purposes that support personal and family wellbeing or building assets. Examples include car repairs, fridges, computers and a fence to protect a disabled child. It will also lend up to $3000 to consolidate debts.



$10,000 grant will help women dress for success

By Vaimoana Tapaleao
Women heading back into the workforce after a long break and worried they have nothing to wear to a job interview are getting a boost of confidence from the team at Dress for Success. The New Zealand branch of the international not-for-profit organisation - based in Auckland - has been granted $10,000 in the Auckland Airport 12 Days of Christmas giveaway. The grant will go towards supporting 66 Kiwi women who are looking to get back into the workforce, by providing them with an outfit and accessories, including shoes and a handbag. The women are referred on by various organisations including church and women's groups.



Heartland Building Society now a registered bank

By Sam Thompson - NewstalkZB
Heartland Building Society is now registered as a bank. The approval has just been given by the Reserve Bank. Heartland comprises of the former businesses of CBS Canterbury, MARAC, PGG Wrightson Finance and Southern Cross Building Society. It posted a half year net profit of $9.8 million. There are now 22 registered banks in New Zealand.



New wildlife sanctuary in Hauraki Gulf

A new wildlife sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf has been established by Auckland Zoo on Rotoroa Island which is to become a home for endangered species. Zoo director Jonathan Wilcken said it's the first time the zoo has been a part of a restoration project from the beginning. He expects the island to have a wealth of New Zealand endangered species in five years. Mr Wilcken said the zoo plans to include an education programme so schools can have a direct part in the island's restoration.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Sunday, December 16

Carols by glow stick at Vector Arena

By Jacqui Stanford - NewstalkZB
Auckland's Vector Arena will be alight with glow sticks tonight. Around 10,000 people are expected at the fourth Glow - which is carols by glow stick. Glow is presented by St Paul's Church and Reverend Paul Ashman says tickets are only $5, with proceeds going to KidsCan. "We're also asking people to bring non-perishable food items to give to Auckland City Mission and that just helps families, at Christmas time especially, who find it difficult to make ends meet."



Kakapo breeding could be hurt by cold spring

A kakapo (night parrot) breeding programme in Southland could be in jeopardy, after one of the coldest springs on record. Kakapo Recovery programme manager Deidre Vercoe Scott said bad weather has ruined much of the rimu fruit crop, which the female kakapo use as a cue for breeding. She said the tips are counted in February or March every year to predict the breeding season and 15 nests were predicted after the count on Codfish Island. But a count last month has revealed a decline of 67% in the fruit. Ms Vercoe Scott said the breeding team was expecting some kakapo to breed, but not as many as they had hoped.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Fiji braces itself to get 'walloped'

By Ben Chapman-Smith
Fiji is preparing itself for potentially catastrophic damage as a beefed-up Tropical Cyclone Evan begins to move in over the main islands. Evacuations have begun in low-lying coastal towns, the Fijian military has been put on stand-by, and locals are being told to get ready for heavy rain and big swells. After leaving four people dead and seven missing in Samoa, Tropical Cyclone Evan has now become a monster category four as its heads towards Fiji, said weatherwatch.co.nz's Philip Duncan. The Fiji Met Service said Evan may yet strengthen to the maximum category five rating in the next 24 hours or so. And despite the cyclone having changed direction, Fiji is still expected to get "walloped" by the storm over the next couple of days, Duncan said. Evan is now roaring in from the north-east, which would take its centre much further north of both Suva and Fiji.



Thousands in shelters in Samoa

More than 3000 people are staying in temporary accomodation in Samoa after the country's battering by Tropical Cyclone Evan. Most of them are sheltering in major public buildings, such as schools, gymnasiums and hospital halls. The prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, says many houses have been completely demolished. On Saturday his government extended its disaster declaration another 48 hours while teams assess the damage. Four people are known to have died and seven are missing, including children, after the cyclone made landfall on the island of Upolu on Thursday. AAP reports the 130 New Zealanders registered in Samoa are safe and well. New Zealand's foreign affairs minister Murray McCully says New Zealand is sending a P3 Orion to help assess the damage and the Government is contributing an initial $50,000 to the first on-the-ground response to the disaster.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Saturday, December 15

New Zealanders living longer: global study

New Zealanders are living longer but chronic diseases such as diabetes are taking a greater toll on our health, a global study shows. New Zealand men are living 10 years longer than they were in 1970 and woman eight years longer, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. Figures for New Zealand show male life expectancy in 2010 was 78.6 years, up from 68.5 years four decades earlier. The life expectancy of a woman was 82.7 years in 2010, up from 74.7 years in 1970. Heart attacks and lung cancer were the biggest disease burdens in Australia and New Zealand, the research found. Diabetes is now the 10th largest burden of disease, measured by years of life lost, in Australia and New Zealand, compared to 19th globally.
Source: NZN



Meteor shower here until tomorrow

By Newstalk ZB staff - NewstalkZB
Last night offered the best display in New Zealand skies of the meteor shower currently raining down on the planet, but it will still be around tonight and tomorrow. It's the Geminid shower, which the earth passes through annually. Shooting stars were reported last night from various parts of the country. Tomorrow morning's display will peak between 2am and sunrise.



Fairfax to sell Trade Me: The Australian

It is being reported in Australia that Fairfax Media is selling its remaining stake in Trade Me for 650 million Australian dollars to leave the company debt free. The sale is reported in The Australian newspaper, which is owned by Fairfax's rival, News limited. It says Fairfax is selling its Trade Me stake to a range of Australian and New Zealand institutions. The sale proceeds amount to more than the company paid for Trade Me some five years ago.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Treetop walkway opens on South Island's West Coast

A 400m-long treetop walkway was opened on the South Island's West Coast Saturday morning. The $7 million steel structure in the Mahinapua Scenic Reserve winds its way through ancient Kamahi rainforest about 20m above the ground. It's the first walkway of its kind in New Zealand and has been funded by Westpac Bank and Australian investors.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Do you know Anita Hoogendyke?

Anita Hoogendyke - Sr Anne-Marie is trying to find you. If you see this Anita please contact me at - patricianoel@iinet.net.au or phone Australia 0011 (02) 44763831. Would love to hear from you.



Cherry prices soar as poor weather affects supply

The price of Christmas cherries is expected to rise as orchard owners warn of a small yield after crops were blighted by a cold and wet South Island spring. Key growing areas of Roxburgh and Cromwell have experienced smaller than normal harvests of the fruit which is a symbol of the kiwi summer. Cherry prices have hit $14 a kilogram - up several dollars from last year. Orchards have also been turning away workers that are just not needed.
Source: ONE News



Students returning to Christchurch

The University of Canterbury says a big jump in the number of applications for next year shows growing student confidence in Christchurch after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. Applications to enrol in first-year science and engineering courses are up 44% on this time last year, while overall first-year domestic and first-year international applications are up 20%. Vice-chancellor Dr Rod Carr said the university contributes more than $1 billion to the local economy every year and attracting more students to Christchurch is one of the most significant contributions it can make to the rebuild.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Referral plan to cover SI

By NICOLE MATHEWSON
An electronic system for referring patients between health practitioners is ready to be rolled out across the South Island, making it easier and faster for patients to receive treatment. More than 100,000 referrals have now been made in Canterbury using the South Island Alliance's electronic referral system. More than three-quarters of all referrals between the region's health practitioners are now made using the system, which replaces paper letters. The system has been developed over the past three years in Canterbury.



Australia restores a High Commissioner to Fiji ending three year hiatus

Australia’s Foreign Minister has announced Margaret Twomey as its High Commissioner to Fiji, ending a three-year hiatus caused by the expulsion of Australia’s previous High Commissioner in 2009. Bob Carr says the decision to restore an Australian High Commissioner to Fiji was an agreed outcome of trilateral talks with Fiji and New Zealand in Sydney in July of this year. Senator Carr says he welcomes recent moves towards democracy in Fiji, including work towards an electronic electoral roll ahead of the elections scheduled for 2014.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Advertised job vacancies up over past 12 months

Over 250,000 job opportunities were listed on seek.co.nz in the 12 months to November 2012, up 4% on 2011, reveals data released by New Zealand's largest job site today. The best month for Kiwis looking for a new role in 2012 was May, when the number of new jobs across the country reached the highest point in the year, driven by significant spikes in Auckland and Canterbury. Looking at New Zealand's main centres, Auckland remains the region with the greatest number of available jobs, with just under 125,000 new jobs listed in the region throughout year. Wellington had the second-highest number of roles - more than 45,000 for the year to November 2012. The strongest performer of 2012, however, was the Canterbury region, with the third-highest number of jobs in New Zealand this year (37,000). Canterbury also experienced the highest rate of growth of any region, with a 34% increase in new job ads or 9,000 new jobs during 2012.
Source: ONE News



NZ signs food supply deal with United States

Exporting food to the United States will be a smoother process for New Zealand companies following the signing of a ground-breaking food safety agreement. The Ministry for Primary Industries signed a Food Safety Systems Recognition Arrangement with the US Food and Drug Administration in Washington DC this week. MPI deputy director of general standards Carol Barnao says it is the first time the USFDA has recognised another country as providing comparable degree of food safety assurance. Ms Barnao said the agreement lays the platform for an increase in trade between the countries, because it provides greater certainty, and increased trust in the New Zealand system.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Friday, December 14

NZ refuses tighter internet control

An international push to put the internet under stronger state control has been rejected by the New Zealand government. We've joined other OECD countries in refusing to sign the International Telecommunications Regulations at a conference in Dubai. Communications Minister Amy Adams says the regulations would lead to stronger state control of the internet, content, spam and cyber security. She says those moves are unwarranted, unhelpful and represent a threat to innovation and free and open debate.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Pharmacists soon able to prescribe drugs

Patients will soon be able to go to a pharmacist to get repeat prescriptions for medication. Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says the change will make better use of pharmacists' skills and make it easier for patients to access services. Mr Dunne says the change is in line with other countries such as the United States and Britain, and has received wide support from the medical community. Fourteen pharmacists are studying towards a certificate in pharmacist prescribing and should complete the course early next year.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



At least three dead as cylcone batters Samoa

Samoan authorities are beginning to assess the damage caused by a tropical cyclone which has claimed at least three lives, wrecked buildings and left debris strewn over a wide area. A state of disaster has been declared after Evan made landfall in Apia, on Upolu, on Thursday. Police on Friday confirmed that some children are missing presumed drowned after the Vaisigano River, which runs thorough Apia, burst its banks. However, the exact number of deaths and injuries is not yet known. Authorities are negotiating their way through mud-logged streets to determine how many houses have been ruined and how many lives lost. New Zealand's High Commissioner to Samoa said it is the worst cyclone to hit in about 20 years. Nick Hurley said in the eastern parts of Apia, the river dragged logs and debris as it gushed through streets, causing damage houses and cars. Electricity is still out on Friday after the winds and the raging river ripped power poles out of the ground. Mr Hurley says up to 2000 people are in emergency accommodation after their houses were flooded. Evan is forecast to hit Fiji next, and authorities there are preparing for the worst. The Ministry of Information says Evan is predicted to be Category 4 when it hits the group of islands on Sunday night and Monday morning.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Boat safety campaign take to Auckland’s Pacific community

Various New Zealand government and local body agencies meet the Pacific Island community in Auckland tomorrow to promote safe boating practices. Maritime New Zealand’s Alistair Thompson says the exercise has taken on greater importance with four boating deaths involving Pacific Islanders in the Auckland region in the past few months. He says their Folau Malu or Journey Safely programme teaches Pacific people boating safety and identifies those with skills and experience to work as trainers within the community.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International



Free Christmas calling for Telecom customers

Telecom has announced what it calls a 'goodwill gesture' for its fixed-line customers, after a series of broadband outages this week. It's offering free landline to landline national calls for Telecom customers nationwide on Christmas Day.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Tariana Turia to step down in 2014

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia does not believe her decision to leave Parliament will have a negative effect on the party. Mrs Turia has confirmed she will not seek re-election at the end of this parliamentary term. Mrs Turia entered Parliament as a Labour MP in 1996, but left the party in 2004 over the foreshore and seabed legislation and formed the Maori Party. She said that after giving it serious thought she has made the decision with her family not to seek re-election in 2014. Mrs Turia said she has signalled early that she will step down so the party can prepare for her departure and put a succession plan in place.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Meteor shower to light up weekend skies

Stargazers are in for a celestial treat this weekend when space debris hits the Earth's atmosphere and lights up the night sky in an annual meteor shower. Occurring each year in mid- December, the Geminid meteor shower will be visible over the next five days, peaking tomorrow and on Sunday mornings from 2am until sunrise.Carter Observatory programmes officer John Field said meteor showers were a trail of dust and debris left by a comet.
Source: Fairfax



Cyclone causes destruction in Samoa

The tropical cyclone that has hit Samoa causing widespread destruction and feared to have claimed at least two lives is about to strike the country a second time. A state of disaster has been declared after the storm made landfall in Apia, on Upolu, on Thursday, carrying winds of up to 110 km/h. Several people are missing feared dead in the cyclone which destroyed homes and crops, brought down trees, flooded buildings and cut power. The cyclone was moving away from neighbouring American Samoa and taking a course that would return it to the western part of Samoa.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Disaster food: Peaches, peas pasta and peanut butter

Forget the vacuum-packed, freeze-dried emergency supplies - when disaster strikes, head to the pantry and hunt out the flour, sugar, rice, pasta and peanut butter. It might sound bland, but a new study from the University of Otago has found that these foods, along with vegetable oil and wholegrain oats, meet all daily energy requirements and cost as little as $2.22 a day, making them the ideal supplies for families to have on hand in case of emergency. While this was the cheapest option, the study also looked at the cost of a number of foods that don't require cooking and can be eaten straight out of a can, or after soaking. For $3.67 per day, a man could meet his energy needs with wholegrain oats, vegetable oil, dried peas, Weetbix, sugar, peanut butter, sultanas and peanuts.
Source: NZN



Thursday, December 13

TVNZ's Teletext service to end

TVNZ's teletext service will be winding up next year, after operating for nearly 30 years. TVNZ today announced the closure, citing obsolete teletext technology and the widespread use of the internet as the reasons for it ending. "Over the last few years, the information services carried on the Teletext magazine have been overshadowed by the explosion of information available on the internet," TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said. Teletext would wind up on April 2.
- APNZ



Flights cancelled as Cyclone Evan hits Samoa

Tropical Cyclone Evan is battering Samoa as it passes over capital city Apia, and Air New Zealand has cancelled flights in and out of the island nation. The storm is currently a Category 1 tropical cyclone but is expected to become a Category 3 storm at its height as it makes a U-turn over American Samoa and heads southwest towards Fiji, with winds of up to 190kp/h expected. Evan is forecast to move east along the south coast of Savai'i before passing through the strait between Savai'i and Upolu to hit Apia this afternoon. Cyclone Evan is likely to intensify over the weekend and is threatening the vulnerable Tongan islands of Niuafo'ou and Niuatoputapu, which were devastated by the 2009 tsunami which killed 189 people in the region.
Source: ONE News



Fonterra to provide free milk to all primary schools

Fonterra is expanding its free milk programme to all primary schools in New Zealand. The dairy co-operative has trialled the school milk programme in Northland and will launch the scheme in Southland in the first term next year. It expects to have all of the 2000 primary schools that which to take part on board by the first term in 2014, which would add up to 350,000 servings of milk a day. Research conducted by the University of Auckland has shown that children's milk consumption in the Northland community, both at school and at home, has significantly increased since the pilot began.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Free whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women

The Government is set to introduce a free whooping cough vaccine for all pregnant women from next year. An epidemic has seen close to 7,000 notified cases of the illness since August last year, 200 of which were babies under the age of one. Health Minister Tony Ryall says the initiative is about early prevention. “If we offer this to pregnant women, they can build up antibodies which are passed on to the baby to help with that gap between birth and the first immunisation,” he says. The free vaccine will be available to all women between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy from January 1 2013.
3 News/RadioLIVE



Pippa Middleton sets sights on Coast to Coast race

The younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge says she has set her sights set on doing The Speights Coast to Coast race next February. In a blog on The Spectator, Pippa Middleton said it will be a reason for her to lay off on the food and drink over the Christmas break. "Next year I am hoping to do the Coast-to-Coast in New Zealand, which is a triathlon (running, cycling and kayaking) from the South Island to Sumner Beach on the Pacific," she said. "It's in February, so I'd better hold back on the food and drink, starting now. Happy Christmas everyone."
Source: Fairfax



Kiwis 'Googled' the Olympics more than anything

By Annabel Reid - NewstalkZB
According to Google, Kiwis wanted to know about the Olympics more than anything else this year. It was the top trending search on google.co.nz, followed by the Volvo Ocean Race and One Direction. Among the top 10 searches, were Gangnam Style, content sharing service Pinterest and Hurricane Sandy. Google spokeswoman, Annie Baxter, says it was a big year for international events but local issues like the Marmite shortage and changing give way rules also warranted a bit of Googling. Valerie Adams was in the top 10 trending people, alongside Usain Bolt and Lance Armstrong.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Wednesday, December 12

More crackdowns on smoking

By Brook Sabin Political Reporter
The tobacco industry has today been dealt two blows. First, Prime Minister John Key has come out in support of plain packaging, and second, 3 News has discovered officials are considering a crackdown on smokers, including a ban on those lighting up outside public buildings. The Government wants to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025. A report was prepared for the Ministry of Health on how to achieve that, and has been obtained by 3 News under the Official Information Act. It contains 40 proposals, including next year banning smoking in all cars with children and making all parks and playgrounds smoke-free. In 2015 it recommends removing all cigarettes from dairies, supermarkets and duty-free, decreasing nicotine in cigarettes, a ban on smoking in front of public buildings, and even classifying films with smoking in them as R18. The documents also show plain packaging of cigarettes should be introduced by 2014. Australia introduced plain packs 12 days ago.
3News



Warnings for Ruapehu, White Island

GNS Science has issued warnings over both Mt Ruapehu and White Island. The volcanic alert level for White Island has been raised following the discovery of an unusual lava dome in a crater formed by the last series of eruptions in August. Ruapehu remains at a heightened level of unrest and an eruption is more likely than it normally would be. GNS Science head volcanologist Gill Jolly says lava dome growth can be accompanied by explosive eruptions, which could pose a danger to people on the island. The alert level has been raised from one to two out of a possible five, and the aviation code to orange, indicating minor eruptive activity with no or minor ash emission.
Copyright © 2012 Radio New Zealand



Tropical cyclone Evan named - nearing Samoa

A tropical cyclone nearing Samoa has been named Evan. Early this afternoon, the cyclone was 300 kilometres westsouthwest of Apia, and is moving slowly east. The Fiji’s metservice’s director, Alipate Waqaicelua says it is expected to be a category one cyclone, with gale force winds of 35 to 45 knots, with stronger momentary He says it is anticipated to strenghten. Alipate Waqaicelua says the cyclone is expected to turn back from Samoa, and pass over northern Tonga, before heading straight for Fiji.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International



Gerry and the Pacemakers to visit NZ

Liverpool band Gerry and the Pacemakers are coming to our shores for a Farewell World Tour next year. They'll be performing around the country in March and April. Fans can expect to hear hits like Ferry Cross the Mersey and You'll Never Walk Alone. The band will be joined by fellow UK group The Searchers, who are on their 50th Anniversary World Tour.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Cost of royals' New Zealand visit revealed

The Department of Internal Affairs has revealed how much the royal visit cost. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were here as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, from November 10 to November 16. Around 300 proposals and invitations were considered for the programme, with the final itinerary covering 40 engagements. While there was a budget of just over $1 million, the total bill came in at $766,000. Included in the breakdown is $61,000 on accommodation and meals, $30,000, $93,000-thousand on travel, and $36,000-thousand on printing, photography and media. Given the scale of the event, the Department of Internal Affairs set up a Diamond Jubilee Visit Office to make necessary arrangements, with the cost of salaries totalling $287,000.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



Government extends Afghan interpeter package

Former interpreters who have worked for New Zealand soldiers or police in Afghanistan during the last two years have been offered the opportunity to move to New Zealand. The offer is expected to apply to about six people and their families. Staff such as mechanics and cooks have been offered financial assistance including money to resettle within Afghanistan. Twenty-three interpreters working with New Zealand forces at present, and their families, were offered immigration to New Zealand in October after they expressed fears about reprisals from the Taliban once the troops had left. So far 21 people have taken up that offer.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



New era for refugees in New Zealand

The Government's launched its Refugee Resettlement Strategy, with one of its aims to increase the number of refugees in paid employment and reduce those on welfare. Refugee Council spokesman Gary Poole says it's a good move as he believes there needs to be a higher level of employment amongst refugees when they first arrive. He says in order to do that, they need help to regain their health, learn English, and build relationships with employers.
Copyright 2002 - 2012, TelstraClear Ltd



More overseas than locals applying for Christchurch jobs

Canterbury employers are fielding far more job applications from overseas than from within the region. The recruitment company Decipher Group has found more than 70% of applicants for executive level roles are coming from offshore. A spokesperson, Leanne Crozier, says the areas attracting the most attention are in IT software development and web design, as well as in construction roles such as quantity surveyors. She says an advertisement for a particular IT role attracted 50 applications, with just 12 coming from within New Zealand. But she says employers prefer to employ locals. Ms Crozier says the applicants are primarily from Ireland, India and Asia, with a few from Australia and the United Kingdom.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Alcohol law passed

The Government's controversial Alcohol Reform Bill has passed its final hurdle in Parliament. The legislation, which will keep the legal age for buying alcohol at 18 after a conscience vote by MPs, passed its third reading by 108 votes to 13. The new law will also require parents to give express permission for their children to be supplied with alcohol, and alcohol displays and advertising in supermarkets will not be allowed in prominent areas of stores.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Telecom broadband problems continue

Faults with Telcom's broadband service have continued for a second day. An upgrade to Telecom's Auckland-based broadband service caused a fault that stopped the system operating at 1am on Tuesday. More than 200,000 broadband clients and some Eftpos customers were affected. The system went down again on Wednesday morning, affecting tens of thousands of customers, due to overloading on the single Auckland server. The company said it had restored service to most people by 10am, though some would continue to experience problems.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand



Tuesday, December 11

Asylum seekers in Nauru court over camp riot

16 people seeking asylum in Australia detained on Nauru have appeared in court, accused of causing 24,000 US dollars in damage at a riot at the processing centre in September. They have been charged with rioting injuring buildings and wilful damage. A Nauru government spokesman has told the newspaper, The Age, that additional charges of common assault were levelled against four men. All are being tried under Nauruan law, and the charges carry possible jail terms of up to seven years. Two of the group have voluntarily returned to Iran since the incident.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International



TVNZ cuts Saturday Breakfast, 4.30 news

By Julie Moffett - NewstalkZB
TVNZ will be cutting TV ONE's Saturday Breakfast and the 4.30pm news bulletin next year. Head of News and Current Affairs Ross Dagan says the programme is no longer commercially sustainable. Resources will be redirected into strengthening the weekday Breakfast programme in 2013 and to the TVNZ online news service.



Cyclone threatening Fiji could affect NZ

A tropical cyclone threatening Fiji could affect New Zealand, according to analysts. An "aggressive" low near Fiji is being closely monitored, with WeatherWatch predicting it could be the first tropical cyclone of the south west Pacific cyclone season. Head analyst Philip Duncan said weather models, such as the ones that predicted cyclones Wilma and Yasi, are pointing to a large storm in Fiji this Sunday. Residents should be preparing for flooding, landslides and power cuts, he said. "The models show this likely tropical cyclone slamming Fiji from the east on Sunday and Monday, then it has the potential to drift towards New Zealand," said Mr Duncan.


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