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Monday, April 29

NZ to host attorney-generals meeting

New Zealand is to host a meeting of attorney-generals from the United States, Canada, England, Wales and Northern Ireland next week. Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson says the meeting on 8 May will focus on prosecuting crimes of violence against women and children. He says the meeting will also discuss gun violence, strengthening co-operation in civil and commercial matters and support for victims of crime. There will also be a wider meeting of law enforcement agencies that focus on international crime, he says.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Marae civil defence role 'ignored'

An engineer says the Government and some local councils are ignoring the capability of marae in a civil defence crisis. Dr Kepa Morgan of Auckland University says facilities at meeting houses could play a role equal to schools and village halls in a civil defence emergency but authorities don't think about using them. Dr Morgan, a lecturer in civil and environmental engineering, says people who have lost their houses during earthquakes and cyclones have been looked after by Maori, who meet victims' physical, spiritual and emotional needs. He says marae are used to welcoming people at short notice, such as for tangihanga.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

New law to protect jurors takes effect

Legislation aimed at improving the privacy and safety of jurors took effect on Monday. The Juries Amendment Act removes the addresses of potential jurors from the lists provided to lawyers. The law also allows people to apply to be permanently excused from jury duty if they are aged over 65, disabled or in ill-health. It also prevents anyone who has served three months' or more home detention in the past five years from serving on a jury.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

New ag science and educational hub at Lincoln

The Government has unveiled plans for a new agricultural research and education hub in Lincoln, south of Christchurch. A partnership to develop the centre has been formed by Lincoln University, industry body Dairy NZ and Crown Research Institutes AgResearch, Landcare, and Plant and Food. The plan has arisen out of Lincoln's need to rebuild its science facilities after the 2011 earthquake and AgResearch's decision to spend $100 million upgrading its science facilities throughout the country. The cost of the hub, which will hold 900 staff, is to be announced later this year.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Labour Party MP Parekura Horomia has died

Labour Party MP Parekura Horomia has died. He was 62. Mr Horomia represented the Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate and was an MP since 1999, serving as a minister under the previous Labour-led government. Mr Horomia died at home surrounded by his family in the East Coast settlement of Mangatuna, near Tolaga Bay, at 4.30pm on Monday. In the 1999 general election, Mr Horomia stood as Labour's candidate in Ikaroa-Rawhiti, winning the seat with a majority of 695 votes. He became Maori Affairs Minister in 2000, and in 2003 had the difficult job of helping usher through the Foreshore and Seabed Act - legislation unpopular with many Maori and which divided Labour's Maori caucus. Parekura Horomia had been absent from Parliament for much of this year and had been unwell for some time. Mr Horomia is survived by his three sons and one grandchild.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Newborn cheetah cubs fighting for their lives

Three newborn cheetah cubs are fighting for their lives after being born at a Christchurch zoo. First time cheetah mother Mazza gave birth to a litter of five at Orana Wildlife Park on Saturday afternoon, but two have died. The three surviving cubs, two males and a female, are now in incubators at Christchurch's After Hours Veterinary Hospital. Orana Park zoological manager Rob Hall says they've managed to survive the critical 48-hour period and their chances of survival increases with each passing hour. "One cub is nursing reasonably well which is great news but the other two are not feeding well at this point," he said. "Park staff, along with the team at the After Hours Hospital, are working around the clock tending to the needs of these cats." To date, 18 cats have been raised to adulthood at Orana.

$12b hole in Australia's finances

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has revealed a $A12 billion hole in the country's finances. In 2012, the federal government insisted it would deliver a $A1.1 billion budget surplus, but in December dumped this promise and has been revising down revenue estimates since. On Monday, Ms Gillard will announce that revenue is now expected to be $12 billion lower this financial year than forecast in October 2012, the ABC reports. However, Ms Gillard is promising the government will still use the May budget to push on with a school funding plan and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Cases of superbug infections rise

Cases of infection with the superbug MRSA have doubled and more Maori and Pacific people are affected, a study has found. Environmental Science and Research examined data collected from its annual reports between 2005 and 2011 and hospital admission records. The figures reveal the number of people with MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, has increased from 8 or 9 to 18 per 100,000. When MRSA first occurred some 20 years ago it was known as a hospital bug, but the study shows it is now more likely to infect people in the community. The bug has become resistant to many antibiotics commonly used to treat infections. ESR scientist Helen Heffernan says Maori and Pacific Island people are significantly more likely to acquire the infection, possibly due to social and economic inequalities.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

PM backs expansion of oil and gas exploration

Prime Minister John Key wants oil and gas exploration companies to expand their activities significantly in New Zealand. Mr Key made the call at the Advantage New Zealand conference of petroleum industry representatives in Auckland on Monday. He told delegates the Government is right behind plans to significantly expand oil and gas exploration outside the Taranaki region. He says the industry could be a game-changer for New Zealand, and the Government will offer up more areas for exploration, both on and off shore.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Book award named after Margaret Mahy

A top book prize is being named after Margaret Mahy in recognition of the acclaimed author's work. From this year, New Zealand Post Children's Book Award will be renamed the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year award. The children's author died last year aged 76. She was a previous winner of the Children's Book Awards and her work Mister Whistler is a finalist in this year's picture book category. The awards will be announced in the author's home city of Christchurch on 24 June.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Sunday, April 28

Labour calls for answers over power prices

Labour is putting pressure on the Government to provide answers on power prices following their power plan announcement last week. The Greens and Labour revealed a joint plan to shake up New Zealand's power industry, promising to create 5000 jobs, stimulate the economy and slash electricity prices, if they are elected next year. Now, Labour's Deputy Leader Grant Robertson wants National to join the party and debate the "real issues" such as how to bring down power prices and the lack of competitive electricity market. He said National should stop its political "huffing and puffing". "Steven Joyce and the rest of the National Party have spent more than a week throwing out hysterical political insults in response to the release of the New Zealand Power policy. "But they have failed to debate the core issues; are New Zealanders being over-charged for their power, and if so what is National going to do about it?" Robertson wants Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce to answer why prices continued to rise after a report found the big four power companies had taken $4.3 billion of super profits from consumers.
Source: ONE News

South Island goes digital

The South Island has marked the beginning of the new digital age in public television, with the switch to digital television overnight. The switchover began at 2am, and the job should be complete by the end of the day. It brings the curtain down on the analogue transmission that has carried pictures throughout the mainland for more than 50 years. Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss said earlier this week that more than 90% of South Island households have already moved to digital TV, but there was still 47,000 households that have not. Next to face the digital switch are those in the lower North Island and East Coast on September 29. Hawke's Bay and the West Coast were the first regions in the country to make the switch.
Source: ONE News

Strong wind forecast for Southland

Southland Regional council is urging boat owners around Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri and along the southern coast to check moorings are secure against gale force winds. Gusts of up to 120 km/h are forecast for the coast and inland Southland from midday on Sunday. Southland Harbourmaster Kevin O'Sullivan says says it looks like the weather system will deliver a short, sharp blast so anyone with a boat should check its moorings.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Expo offers latest info on rebuild issues

Community groups and residents in Christchurch are getting a chance to raise their concerns about the rebuilding efforts, at an expo in the city. The primary focus of the event at the CBS Arena over the weekend of 27-28 April is to give the public the latest information on rebuilding Christchurch, and issues surrounding insurance and home repairs. There are more than 60 stands from local groups, support and government agencies, and building companies. A co-ordinator for the Canterbury Community Earthquake Recovery Network, Kathryn Wilson, says she has seen many people struggling to cope with insurance and repair issues.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Saturday, April 27

Veteran gardening presenter dies

Veteran gardening guru Eion Scarrow has died at the age of 81 after a long illness. The former television presenter passed away on Anzac day with his wife Ann by his side. His son David said he had been ill for a long time and his passing was expected. Scarrow was best-known for fronting the long-running gardening show Dig This from 1972 to1986.
Source: ONE News

Aust government offers farming loans

Concessional government loans worth $420 million will help farmers who are being "smashed" by the high Australian dollar and rising production prices, the National Farmers' Federation says. Treasurer Wayne Swan and Agricultural Minister Joe Ludwig on Saturday announced a federal Farm Finance package, which will provide $60 million in loans for each state and the Northern Territory to help farmers restructure their debts. Under the two-year scheme, loans of up to $650,000 would be made available as soon as possible to struggling farmers, with the funding to be allocated in the May 14 federal budget.
Source: AAP

Australia signs 7 million US dollar post-cyclone package for Samoa

The Australian government has signed an agreement this week giving the government of Samoa almost seven million US dollars for post-Cylone Evan support. Talamua Online reports the funding will rebuild schools and medical facilities damaged by the cyclone. Eighteen schools and nine health clinics were either completely destroyed or sustained damage.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International

Kiwis first to get their hands on Samsung's new phone

Samsung's newest Galaxy S4 smartphone goes on sale today as part of a global release. Due to the geographical location of New Zealand, Kiwis will be the first in the world to purchase the device. The company unveiled the smartphone on March 15 in New York saying it will "redefine the smart phone experience". With a number of new features, the Galaxy S4 is expected to be the most popular Samsung smartphone to date.
Source: ONE News

Trawler spills diesel after hitting rocks

A fishing trawler has struck rocks at Stewart Island spilling up to 23,000 litres of diesel. The Sureste 700 was sheltering off the area known as The Neck in Paterson Inlet when it grounded on rocks and ruptured a fuel tank shortly before 11pm on Friday, Southland Regional Council officials say. The 58-metre long vessel has drifted about 55 kilometres offshore. It is likely the diesel will be dispersed naturally because conditions are extremely rough. The ship grounded near the Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara marine reserve.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Friday, April 26

Australian tycoon sets sights on becoming PM

Australian mining tycoon Clive Palmer has announced he will stand for a Queensland federal seat in September's election, declaring he wants to be the prime minister. The flamboyant businessman - who is also behind a plan to build a replica of the Titanic - floated his latest idea at a Brisbane news conference on Friday. Mr Palmer says his new United Australia Party would contest every seat across the country - but so far he is the only candidate, the ABC reports. The billionaire says he is forming the political party because it is time for Australia to claim back itself.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

More Kiwis opting for flu shots

An unprecedented number of New Zealanders have already had their flu jabs this year. Just over one million New Zealanders have had a flu vaccination so far this year, 250,000 more than the same time last year and 350,000 more than in 2009. Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew says health workers have never seen this level of immunisation so early in the flu season, even during the 2010 pandemic. "It looks like we will easily reach the goal of immunising 1.2 million New Zealanders by the end of July when the flu immunisation programme finishes," said Goodhew. Around 1.1 million people are eligible for funded (free) flu vaccine each year, including people 65 years, pregnant women, children under the age of five with significant respiratory illnesses and people with ongoing health conditions.
Source: ONE News

Thousands recycle old TVs

Thousands of South Islanders have taken advantage of a government initiative to recycle old TVs, as the area prepares for analogue TV to be switched off this weekend. In the month since the TV TakeBack programme kicked off in the South Island, more than 10,000 TVs have been collected from more than 100 drop-off points. More drop-off points are being opened in the next few weeks. TV TakeBack was launched to encourage New Zealanders who switch to digital by buying a new TV to recycle their old TV sets to prevent them ending up in landfill. During last year's switch to digital in Hawke's Bay and the West Coast region more than 20,000 televisions were collected under the programme. To go digital most people need some new equipment such as the right set-top box or TV with Freeview built in, together with a UHF aerial or satellite dish.

New safety database details hazardous substances

A new safety information service which went on line this month will make life easier for retailers selling agricultural chemicals and other hazardous substances. The database includes information on more than 2200 controlled substances regulated under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. The industry body for agricultural chemical and veterinary medicine companies, Agcarm, has provided $10,000 to help set up the service that retailers will subscribe to.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

China passes Australia as biggest export market

China has overtaken Australia as New Zealand's main export market. Statistics New Zealand figures released on Friday show goods exported to China in the three months to March were valued at $2.3 billion, while exports to Australia were valued at $2.1 billion. Sales to China accounted for 20% of all goods exported from New Zealand during the quarter.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Thunderstorms in store for West Coast

By Rebecca Quilliam
Thunderstorms, heavy rain and gale force winds are likely to hit the South Island's West Coast this weekend. analyst Richard Green said the West Coast could be in for a "hammering" at times over the next two to three days. It comes less than a week after torrential rain caused flash flooding on the South Island, where the Nelson region received the second highest rainfall ever recorded in one hour with 104mm.

Shortage of skilled IT workers hits NZ firms

The country's largest exporter of software, Orion Health, says there is a serious shortage of skilled information technology workers. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates the number of ICT professionals grew by about 25% from 2005 to 2010, and more than 7200 new employees entered the industry. Several economists predict this figure needs to almost double by 2017 to keep up with growing demand.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Thursday, April 25

Bridge of Remembrance repairs to begin

Work to repair the Bridge of Remembrance in Christchurch will start next week and is is expected to take about 18 months to complete. Christchurch City Council says it has given an undertaking to the Returned & Services Association that the site will be available in some form to mark the commemoration in August 2014 of the beginning of World War I. The bridge was structurally damaged in the February 2011 earthquake and detailed examinations show it needs extensive technical repairs.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

$1.7m for World War I centenary projects

Seventeen projects commemorating the centenary of World War I have received $1.7 million in funding from the Lottery Grants Board. Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain said $500,000 has gone to Massey University for a three-volume history of New Zealand and the war. He said the rest of the money, about $1.2 million, has gone towards community projects including a mobile exhibition by Tauranga City Council and preservation of memorial oaks in the Waitaki district. The grants are the first from a $10 million fund for commemorative projects of national significance and $7 million destined for community projects and events.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Expats keep Anzac tradition alive in UK

Thousands of Australian and New Zealand expats are expected to gather for an Anzac day dawn service at London's Hyde Park on Thursday. Anzac Day commemorations have a long history in London, including a street march of 2000 soldiers in 1916. The traditional dawn service is held on alternating years at each country's memorial at Hyde Park Corner, with commemorations held at the Australian War Memorial this year. New Zealand's high commissioner to Britain Lockwood Smith encouraged the many expats living in London to honour those who died for their country. Other Anzac Day commemorations in London on Thursday include a wreath-laying parade and ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall and a memorial service at Westminster Abbey.

Call for Maori cultural greetings to be explained

Maori and iwi-led tourism operators need to be more communicative about their cultural greetings in front of visitors to New Zealand, NZ Maori Tourism chief executive Pania Tyson-Nathan says. There needed to be more effort from Maori to make sure guests at welcomes were not intimidated or left mystified at events, she said. Tyson-Nathan was speaking at a Maori tourism panel discussion at the tourism industry conference Trenz 2013 in Auckland before local and international media. She made reference to the recent visit to New Zealand by Danish MP Marie Krarup, who blasted a powhiri she received on a visit as an "uncivilised" ritual. "Whose fault is it that she didn't know about the powhiri or the hongi? It is our fault, it is hosts, it is tangata whenua and officials in charge," Tyson-Nathan said of such misunderstandings. "How often do we hear the hongi referred to as rubbing noses? These are important components of our tourism offering." With no explanation of such greetings, there was no context for visitors, she said.
Source: Fairfax

Prince Harry to serve with Australian Army

Negotiations are underway for Prince Harry to spend six months with the Australian Army, according to reports. The British Army, Australian officials and the Prince's residence, Clarence House in London, are in talks about where and when the deployment will occur, according to The Australian. The 28-year-old apache helicopter pilot has already served two deployments in Afghanistan.
Source: ONE News/ Reuters

Political electricity plan hits investors

The announcement of the plans by Labour and the Greens for the electricity industry has had a profound impact on investors' intentions towards the Mighty River Power share sale. The Shareholders Association has released a survey it commissioned of 400 active retail investors. The survey shows 72% had wanted to buy Mighty River Power shares before the opposition's announcement and now only 36% want to buy the shares. Almost 54% said they will be investing less money in Mighty River Power than they had originally intended. Association chair John Hawkins said the results illustrate the impact the policy announcement has had on investors' decision-making. Labour and the Greens intend that all electricity will be sold via a state agency if they win the 2014 election.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand


Wednesday, April 24

Nelson power price scheme

Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio says a plan to reduce power prices has attracted so much interest it is now going nationwide. Mr Miccio chairs the Kiwi Energy Trust, which plans to negotiate prices on behalf of households. People can register their interest, but will not have to commit to the plan until they see what's offered. Mr Miccio said the scheme was initially called the Nelson Energy Team Trust which hoped to attract 20,000 registrations from Nelson. However, he said it has been renamed to reflect a nationwide approach because of many inquiries from around the country.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

NZ super fund still beating benchmarks

A run of strong months has pushed the New Zealand Super Fund to $22.11 billion after it gained 1.76 per cent in March. The pension pot has topped $22b without contributions from the Government, which are suspended until further notice. The sometimes volatile fund has not posted a negative return since last May, when it lost 4.45 per cent. Overall, it has gained 16.29 per cent in the past year. That takes the fund's average annual returns to 8.53 per cent before tax each year since it was started by former finance minister Michael Cullen in September 2003. The fund's managers, the Guardians of NZ Superannuation, say they have earned an extra $1.4b by their active investment strategies over the years.

Fishing company fined over frost-bitten workers

A court has fined a fish processing company $16,000 after two of its employees suffered frostbite while unloading fish from a vessel. Maritime New Zealand says Pelco has been sentenced in the Tauranga District Court over the incident in July last year. Maritime New Zealand said the employees were required to move fish from holds filled with water that was minus 17 degrees Celsius. It says while both men had been given gloves they had torn on fish spikes, exposing their hands to the freezing water. One man was hospitalised for two-and-a-half weeks and still has not regained the use of the fingers on his right hand. Pelco has been ordered in the Tauranga District Court to pay $4000 to that worker in addition to $10,000 the company had given him before the court case. The second worker is to receive $2000.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Kiwis urged to get flu jab early

Health experts are encouraging people to get a flu vaccination as soon as possible following a particularly nasty flu season in the Northern Hemisphere. The annual flu season is still two months away but the College of Public Health is urging Kiwis to get the jab now as it can take a couple of weeks to take effect. "Just because you're well and healthy doesn't mean you can't get the flu and become extremely unwell," said president Dr Julia Peters. The H3N2 flu strain that swept across the Northern Hemisphere is covered in this year's flu vaccine and the injection is free for many people. Pregnant women, people over 65 years of age and children between six months and five years with a chronic respiratory illness and anyone with a complex chronic health condition can all get vaccinated for free. Peters added that there is no evidence for a link between autism and vaccination.
More information about flu vaccination can be found CLICK HERE
Source: ONE News

US Secretary of State sends Anzac message

US Secretary of State John Kerry has sent his "best wishes" to New Zealand and Australia ahead of Anzac Day. "[Tomorrow] we stand together to honour the memory of the courageous heroes of Gallipoli and pay tribute to all of the proud men and women who have served in the defence forces of Australia and New Zealand," Kerry said. "We celebrate the bond that Australians and New Zealanders have gained through their shared sacrifice and reflect on the virtues of hope, courage, and freedom that unite our three nations. "The United States is honoured to have such strong partners in promoting peace and prosperity in the world," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News

Kiwis rank world's fourth most optimistic

New Zealanders have emerged as the fourth most optimistic nationality in a global study. The research by Boston University, published in the Journal of Personality, analysed 150,048 individuals from 142 countries. It examined relationships between optimism, subjective well-being, perceived health and hopes for the future. The Irish, whose economic fortunes have slumped in recent years, were the most optimistic about their future followed by Brazilians, Danish, New Zealanders and Americans. Australians ranked ninth.
Source: NZN

Island walkway to be announced

A new walkway is to be created on Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands. It will be announced at the TRENZ tourism trade fair on Wednesday morning. People will be able to stay on the islands for three days learning about Maori heritage, volcanic landscapes and the ongoing conservation work. Guests are expected to stay in huts on the islands, but over time, Ngai Tai iwi hopes to build a marae on land it was gifted in its Treaty settlement. Rangitoto and Motutapu were declared pest free in 2011.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Tuesday, April 23

Tongariro track set to fully reopen after eruptions

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is set to fully re-open next month, Conservation Minister Nick Smith has announced today. The Department of Conservation track was closed after an eruption at the Te Maari Crater in August and again on November 21. The track was partially re-opened in December but an exclusion zone meant that people doing the crossing could not complete it and had to do a return trip back to the Mangatepopo end. Smith said the track will be fully re-opened on May 8. "The Department of Conservation is satisfied that the risks of future volcanic activity has dropped to a sufficiently low level that the full Tongariro Alpine Crossing can be re-opened."
Source: ONE News

NZ Ballet locked out of Chinese theatre

The Royal New Zealand Ballet's tour of China has hit a snag, after a spat with a theatre company. The New Zealand Embassy in Beijing has had to step in following the cancellation of two shows. It's understood the theatre was too cold to perform in. The theatre then locked the company out - refusing them access to their gear. A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson says it's understood the issue has now been resolved and the company will continue touring.

Nelson-Tasman begins clean-up after flooding

Families and businesses are clearing up after intense heavy rain in the Nelson-Tasman area. At least 90 homes in Stoke and Richmond have been damaged by flooding and will be checked by building inspectors. The region received 144 millimetres of rain in 12 hours, including a near-record fall of 100mm in just one hour on Sunday and 200 calls were made to the Fire Service. The Nelson-Tasman region Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group said priorities were assessing infrastructure, people and businesses, and damage done to the CBD.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Te Papa welcomes home Maori cloak from China

The National Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa - is welcoming home a traditional Maori feather cloak which has spent more than 50 years at the National Museum of China. The kakahu huruhuru (feather cloak) was given to China's leader Mao Zedong in 1957 by pioneer film maker Ramai Te Miha Hayward on behalf of the fifth Maori King, Koroki, as a gesture of goodwill. The cloak will be displayed at Te Papa in Wellington from 13 June until 20 October this year.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Population of Australia about to pass 23m

Australia's population is set is expected to pass 23 million on Tuesday evening (AEST). According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the population passed five million in 1919, 10 million in 1960, 15 million in 1983 and 20 million in the December quarter of 2003. AAP reports the latest million people were added between September 2009 - April 2013 at an annual growth rate of 1.25%.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Pacific veterans heading to Noumea

A group of New Zealand servicemen who served in the Pacific during World War II are heading to New Caledonia on Tuesday to attend commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the war against Japan. Eighty four veterans, aged 86 - 96, will attend an ANZAC Day service in Noumea and a service at the Bourail Commonwealth war graves cemetery north of the capital on Friday. The Pacific War began with the attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, and New Zealand declared war on Japan the following day. About 25,000 New Zealanders served in the Pacific war until the Japanese surrendered in September 1945. The Bourail cemetery is the resting place of 235 New Zealand servicemen and memorial to 254 for whom there is no known grave.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Monday, April 22

Visitor numbers jump 13% in March

The number of visitors to New Zealand soared to a record high in March - but an economist warns they might be cutting back on spending. Statistics New Zealand figures show more than 270,000 people visited the country last month - up 13% on the same period last year. The earlier timing of Easter helped boost visitors from Australia, China, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan and Germany. ANZ senior economist Mark Smith says while that's a positive, the high New Zealand dollar is dampening the amount they spend while in the country. He says when the exchange rate strengthens people still tend to come to New Zealand, but they probably spend a bit less than they would have otherwise.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Kiwibank opening on Niue next week

A branch of the New Zealand bank Kiwibank will open for business on Niue next week. Niue’s sole provider of commercial banking services, Papua New Guinea’s Bank South Pacific, is closing the branch it set up almost nine years ago. Kiwibank’s spokesperson says the branch will offer a comparable range of services, including deposits, withdrawals and a visa debit card, but will not be able to offer cheque accounts or certain savings. Bruce Thompson says the establishment of the branch is an arrangement between Kiwibank and the Niue government.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International

Afghan interpreters arrive in NZ

Thirty Afghan interpreters and their families have arrived in Auckland to start new lives in New Zealand. The interpreters were employed by the New Zealand Defence Force in Afghanistan, most of them working with the Provincial Reconstruction Team. Ninety-four Afghans, including 20 children, were met at Whenuapai air base by Chief of the Defence Force Lieutenant-General Rhys Jones. The Government agreed in 2012 to accept them under its refugee quota, amid fears that they would be targeted by the Taliban when New Zealand troops left Bamyan province. They will get residency visas. The group will stay at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre for eight weeks before settling in Hamilton and Palmerston North.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Mighty River Power share sale suspended

The sale of shares in Mighty River Power has been temporarily suspended while information in the offer document is updated. The move is in response to a policy announcement by Labour and Green parties last week. The opposition parties say if they were in government, they would set up a single purchaser of electricity to help bring down prices. The Mighty River Power share offer document already lists the potential for regulatory changes as a risk for investors. However, Prime Minister John Key said on Monday that potential investors should be made aware of the possible impact of the Labour/Greens policy. Mr Key said that includes how likely it is that Labour and the Greens will be able to form a government after the 2014 election; and if they can, will it be practical or even possible to implement the policy and over what timeframe. The Government said the share offer website would be suspended until after midnight on Monday. No applications for shares would be accepted until it is back up and running.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Sunday, April 21

What if New Zealand hadn't fought in WWI?

As Anzac Day approaches a Canterbury historian is asking what would have happened if New Zealand had not fought in World War 1. Dr Gwen Parsons of the University of Canterbury has been researching what might have happened if New Zealand hadn't mobilised over 100,000 men to fight for Britain in the Great War, and what it might have meant if 18,000 New Zealand soldiers hadn't died during the conflict. ''How would New Zealand national identity have developed if New Zealanders hadn't fought and died on the slopes of Gallipoli and there was no Anzac Day? "While the Great War is credited as a key event in the creation of nationhood, historians have traced the beginning of New Zealand national identity back to colonial days when, free from the vices of the Old World, young pioneers proved themselves to be self-sufficient, tough and egalitarian," Parsons says. Parsons says areas where it had a great impact include the development of social welfare and health provisions, both of which she says would have been stunted had New Zealand not participated in the war. "I would argue that the development of repatriation provisions for returned soldiers and the families of deceased soldiers positively affected the development of an early welfare state in New Zealand,'' Parsons says. The experience of the war also meant that medical advances developed initially for soldiers became available to civilians by the early 1920s. Dr Parsons will give a public lecture on the issue at UC on April 24. For more details, see:
© Fairfax NZ News

Support for National slumps in latest poll

Support for the National Party has slumped to its lowest level since 2005, according to the latest One News Colmar Brunton Poll. National recorded 43% support in the party vote, down six points from the previous poll in February. This poll, together with a Roy Morgan poll which had similar results, will be worrying National Party strategists. But the 3 News Reid Research poll had better news for National. While the party lost some support it still garnered 49.4%, well ahead of its rivals. In the One News poll though support for the Labour and Green Parties rose to 36 and 13% respectively, placing their combined support in that poll well ahead of National's. Prime Minister, John Key's, personal support also fell by five points to 39%.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Kiwis consider Anzac Day more important than Waitangi Day - poll

A clear majority of New Zealanders say that Anzac Day means more to them than Waitangi Day, according to a UMR Research poll. The poll asked 1000 New Zealanders 18 years and over which day meant more to them personally, with 60 per cent saying that Anzac Day did, while just 8 per cent said Waitangi Day was more important. Twenty-nine per cent thought both were equally meaningful to them. Maori answered the poll differently, with 29 per cent saying Anzac Day meant more to them, while 14 per cent felt Waitangi Day meant more.

Families harassed over vaccinations

Families are being "harassed" by health officials to vaccinate their children, despite new research showing we are generally a nation of vaccinators anyway. A Tongan family in South Auckland said they were rung every three hours by an outreach immunisation service after initially deciding not to vaccinate their child. After days of what they call harassment, they gave in and got their child vaccinated despite concerns about it. This comes as the Australian medical community takes a hard line on unvaccinated children, calling for them to stay away from school. The "2013 Immunisation Health Report" - commissioned by Pfizer in partnership with the Meningitis Foundation - surveyed 1500 parents and found 96 per cent had vaccinated their children, with 87 per cent completing the treatment. However, 17 per cent had not immunised their children on time, with some waiting months beyond the recommended date to get their child's immunisations. The Ministry of Health has a target of 85 per cent of children under 8 months to be immunised by July. That target will increase to 90 per cent in July 2014 and 95 per cent by December 2014.

Kiwis win two-week rickshaw race across India

A group of four Kiwis have claimed victory in one of the world's oddest races, the 5447km Rickshaw Run in India. Blanco Norton, 25, Andrew Allsopp Smith, 28, Dana Johnston, 32, and Tim Boyle, 28, beat 73 other teams in a race from the southwest tip of India to its furthest northeast corner. They had taken the 147cc, 7hp auto rickshaws on a two-week journey through jungle, into the Himalayas, and into one of the most hostile parts of the country along the Bangladesh border. The team faced constant mechanical failures, an electrical fire requiring a full rewire, disintegrated wheel bearings, drive shaft and numerous brake failures, dead distribution leads and a shredded gearbox. The team has raised $3500 for Live More Awesome, a charity dedicated to depression.
- © Fairfax NZ News

NZ funds solar power programme in Afghanistan

A New Zealander working on a solar power programme in Afghanistan says it will dramatically affect the livelihoods of local people. The New Zealand Government has funded several legacy projects in Bamyan province as part of a programme to help the area continue to develop after the withdrawal of the Provincial Reconstruction Team.The Government has helped fund an agriculture support programme and a $19 million renewable energy scheme which will provide solar power to 2500 homes, an orphanage and a new hospital.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Saturday, April 20

Police say stay at home: BOP flooding

Police are warning people to stay at home and avoid driving because of another dumping of rain in the Bay of Plenty. They say driving conditions are extremely hazardous in Mount Maunganui and Papamoa Beach where there is considerable flooding. Homes and business were flooded and motorists trapped in cars during torrential rain and thunderstorms during the day. The Fire Service had to deal with more than 100 callouts from early Saturday morning, with Mount Maunganui the worst affected area. MetService says more rain is expected in the Bay of Plenty, with falls of up to 200mm near the coast, and further flooding is possible. Heavy rain is also expected to hit parts of the Taranaki, Tasman and Marlborough regions and to last until Monday. In the South Island, moderate to heavy rain is expected in the Canterbury high country and eastern Otago.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Kiwi giraffe Nakuru reaches new home

She's spent nearly six days in a box, but Melbourne's newest resident barely paused to stretch her ample neck before she "strutted" onto Australian soil. Zookeepers say 15-month-old giraffe Nakuru arrived safely at the quarantine area of Werribee Open Range Zoo on Saturday morning. Her sea journey from Auckland Zoo was due to take five days but had to be extended slightly when her boat changed course to help rescue a solo sailor lost in rough seas. Now Nakuru has another wait ahead of her. She needs to spend 30 days in quarantine before she can be transferred to Melbourne Zoo to be introduced to the zoo's male giraffe Makulu. Nakuru is in Melbourne as part of an Australasian breeding program.
Source: AAP

Bravery awards for soldiers who served in Afghanistan

The family of a soldier who died in Afghanistan say they are proud he has received a military honour in recognition of his courage. Lance-Corporal Leon Smith has been posthumously awarded the New Zealand Gallantry Decoration, one of three soldiers to be given New Zealand Defence Force bravery medals. Flight Lieutenant Benjamin Pryor and Acting Warrant Officer Dean Rennie received the New Zealand Gallantry Medal. Lance-Corporal Smith died in action in September 2011 not long after beginning his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. He is described as remaining calm under pressure and showing bravery when under attack from rebel fighters.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Flooding in Tauranga after torrential rain

Dozens of homes and businesses have been flooded during torrential rain and thunderstorms in the Bay of Plenty. The Fire Service has dealt with more than 100 callouts from about 2am to 8am on Saturday, with Mount Maunganui the worst affected area. Northern communications shift commander Steve Smith said firefighters have also had to free motorists trapped by floodwater up to their car windows, but there are no reports of injuries.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Friday, April 19

Controversial war documentary to air on Anzac eve

A potentially controversial documentary detailing New Zealand's role in the Afghanistan war is due to air on national television the eve of Anzac Day. He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan, which received government funding, has been assigned a spot on Maori Television next Wednesday night. Ten Kiwi soldiers died during New Zealand's decade-long involvement in the war. The cost of involvement to taxpayers was about $300 million according to the Defence Force, which is due to withdraw its final contingent of troops by the end of this month. Documentary producer and co-director, professor Annie Goldson of Auckland University, says He Toki Huna provides an overview of the Afghanistan conflict, which is the longest war New Zealand has participated in. It sheds light on New Zealand's recent past and holds valuable lessons for the future, prof Goldson said. Fellow director and producer Kay Ellmers said the film posed "some uncomfortable questions about the political motivations that sent young New Zealand men and women to battle in a very ill-defined war against an unclear and shifting 'enemy'.

Labour, Greens have numbers for coalition - poll

The latest Roy Morgan political survey shows the support for Labour and Greens has bumped up enough to give a Labour-Greens coalition the seats it would need to govern. The Government has taken a major hit in the new poll, which shows National down 3.5 points to 40.5 per cent last month. Support of Labour is up one point to 35.5 per cent and the Greens edged up slightly to 13.5 per cent. The Maori Party is on two per cent (down 0.5), Act is unchanged on 0.5 per cent and United Future is at 0.5 per cent support (down 0.5).

Grants for eel and crayfish projects

Maori fishing projects have received cash injections from the latest Sustainable Farming Fund grants. Tuna Aquaculture by Te Ohu Tiaki o Rangitane Te Ika a Maui Trust got $600,000. Maori are significant eel quota holders and eel (known in Maori as tuna) is a highly valued customary, recreational and commercial species. It is considered a delicacy and is served at marae throughout the country. Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the project will focus on learning more about young glass short-fin eels so that they can be raised in a successful and sustainable way. Koura Aquaculture by Wai-Koura South was granted about $120,000. It plans to develop a best practice guide for freshwater crayfish farming.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Severe weather forecast for upper North Island

The MetService is warning that flooding and one or two small tornadoes could hit the upper North Island on Friday night due to heavy thunderstorms. Heavy rain of up to 25 millimetres an hour is forecast for Northland, Auckland and Coromandel. MetService says that could cause flash floods in low-lying areas, which may result in slips. It also warns that small tornadoes are possible. The bad weather will mean reduced visibility for motorists and they are urged to take care.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Fiji paramount chief dies at sea

A paramount chief in Fiji, the Tui Macuata, Ratu Aisea Katonivere, has died after an accident at sea. Ratu Aisea had gone fishing with two others yesterday but their boat capsized. His body was found earlier today in the Macuata waters. The men who had been with him were rescued by a fisherman.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International

Treaty signing completes South Island settlements

The last South Island tribe to conclude its Treaty settlement will sign off a deal with the Crown at the weekend. Ngati Tama ki te Tau Ihu will seal their Crown deal which includes cultural and financial redress of $12 million. The signing ceremony near Takaka in Golden Bay on Saturday will mean all treaty grievances will have been settled for Te Wai Pounamu and Rakiura (South Island and Stewart Island). Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson says this is an exciting new era for southern Maori who want to work together to boost the South Island's economy.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Pacific MPs to debate in NZ Parliament

MPs from around the Pacific are to hold two day of debate in New Zealand's Parliament on issues important to their nations. Only rarely do politicians other than New Zealand MPs address the House, but on Friday and Saturday the chamber will be given over to the Pacific politicians to discuss issues ranging from gender quality to the role of the media. The Pacific Parliament and Political Leaders' Forum was arranged by Parliament's Foreign Affairs Select Committee.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Poor food for Gallipoli troops caused illness - study

A study of the food given to New Zealand soldiers at Gallipoli has found it was so nutritionally deficient it probably caused scurvy and other illnesses. Researchers from Massey and Otago universities analysed modern-day foods that are the nearest equivalent to the military rations of 1915. The rations on Gallipoli consisted mainly of bully beef, biscuits and jam and were low in vitamins A, C and E and potassium, selenium and dietary fibre. Dr Nick Wilson from Otago University says apart from causing scurvy, the lack of nutrition may have reduced resistance to dysentery and typhoid, which killed more than 200 New Zealanders at Gallipoli. Dr Wilson says the nutritional problems would have been preventable if even modest amounts of canned fruit or vegetables had been provided to the troops. Massey University professor of war history Glyn Harper says the food was so bad that when the troops threw it at the enemy it came back with a note from the Turkish troops saying "send tobacco yes, bully beef - no".
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Thursday, April 18

31 wind turbines for Hurunui

A $200 million wind farm generating enough power for 32,000 homes will be built in North Canterbury. In 2011, Meridian applied for consent to construct, operate and maintain 33 wind turbines and associated facilities on a private property in between Omihi and Greta Valley. Late year, an Environment Court hearing was held over the proposed 'Project Hurunui wind farm'. In a written decision released this week, permission was granted for a 31 wind turbine farm, with two removed because of the view from private properties. Judge Melanie Harland stated there was an ''overwhelming benefit'' in that the farm would provide a renewable energy source.
© Fairfax NZ News

Auckland among world's top airports

Auckland International Airport has jumped a place in the annual world top 100 airports awards and is the top airport in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. The list of the top 100 airports in the world was released by Skytrax, which specialises in airline and airport research. This year's list is headed by Singapore's Changi Airport, which has taken over the top spot from South Korea's Incheon International Airport. They are followed by Amsterdam and Hong Kong. Auckland comes in at 13, a rise of one place on the year previously. It is just behind London Heathrow and Germany's Frankfurt. The nearest regional rival to Auckland is Brisbane Airport at 21 - a jump up from 34 the previous year. Melbourne is 29 and Sydney 31. In the category of best airports in Australia and the Pacific, Auckland heads the list of 10. Wellington comes in at 10th place.
Source: Fairfax

Rain, thunderstorms on the way

MetService says the prolonged dry spell is now over and more wet weather is on the way. Another active trough will bring a spell of wet weather across much of New Zealand over the next several days. And meteorologist Daniel Corbett said the widespread rain carries "an increased risk of thunderstorms". Northwestern areas, including Northland, Auckland and Coromandel, are in for a deluge tomorrow. In many places, rain or showers are expected to continue on through Saturday and into Sunday. Next week is also looking unsettled, with New Zealand dominated by several large lows. Heavy rain over the last few days has brought relief to farmers across the country but they say the impact of the drought will be felt financially for months to come.
Source: ONE News

Australian university cancels Dalai Lama visit

The University of Sydney has called off a visit from the Dalai Lama, prompting accusations it is bowing to China which has branded the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader a dangerous separatist. Tibetan activists and Australian lawmakers saccused the university, ranked in the world's top 50, of cancelling the June talk by the Nobel Peace laureate to avoid damaging China ties, including funding for its cultural Confucius Institute. "As a democratic country, we should be encouraging more open and frank discussion about the current situation in Tibet, not banning the country's spiritual leader from addressing students and staff at universities," said Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. Prime Minister Julia Gillard was heavily criticised for refusing to meet the Dalai Lama during a 2011 visit to avoid damaging two-way trade worth $120 billion last year.
Source: Reuters

Australian PM unmoved by NZ gay marriage vote

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she won't be moved from her stance against gay marriage despite New Zealand passing legislation allowing same-sex couples to tie the knot. Last year, an attempt to legalise gay marriage failed in the Australian parliament, with Ms Gillard opposed to the move, and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott refusing coalition MPs a conscience vote. Asked by a member of the public at a community cabinet in Melbourne on Wednesday night why Australia lagged behind New Zealand in legalising gay marriage, Ms Gillard said she would not be changing her mind on the issue. "I doubt we're going to end up agreeing," Ms Gillard said. She told the community cabinet at Ringwood that Labor has allowed a conscience vote on the matter. A conscience vote in New Zealand parliament passed the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill with a 77-44 vote. New Zealand is the 13th country to legalise gay marriage and the first in the Asia-Pacific.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Trust launching website to 'name and shame' judges

The Sensible Sentencing Trust is to launch a website to name and shame judges whose decisions it doesn't agree with. The advocacy group says the Judging the Judges website will feature judges who consistently get it wrong, particularly when it comes to bail. The group's spokesperson, Garth McVicar, says the website will take feedback from members of the public and expose the judges if the complaints are justified. He says he doesn't want the site to be a forum for ranting, but more openness is needed about the decisions judges are making.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Labour proposes single buyer of electricity

The Labour Party is proposing to set up a single buyer of electricity to help bring down the cost of power for households and businesses. Labour leader David Shearer says the new body, New Zealand Power, would buy all electricity generation at a fair price based on the cost of production. Mr Shearer says the independent economics consultancy BERL has estimated the new system would create 5000 new jobs and add $450 million to economic growth. Under Labour's plan, state-owned power companies would not have to pay dividends or tax. The proposal is supported by the Green Party, which says the plan would cut the cost of power to families by $300 a year.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Wednesday, April 17

Ministry sues building companies over leaky schools

The Ministry of Education is going to court over the huge repair bill it is facing for leaky school buildings. On Wednesday, it announced it has lodged a claim in the High Court against manufacturers of wall claddings used in the leaky buildings. The ministry said repairs are under way to more than 800 buildings at about 300 schools with the total cost estimated at $1.5 billion. It did not name the companies involved, but James Hardie has confirmed it is one of them. The Australian firm temporarily suspended trading in its shares on Wednesday afternoon, saying the legal action affects two of its units. Its stock closed at $A9.77 per share on Tuesday.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Vet bonding scheme working well

A Government programme that offers young vets money if they work in rural areas is proving a success, with the vets staying on for the required three years. More than 100 veterinary graduates have signed up to the rural Voluntary Bonding Scheme. The scheme is now in its fifth year and more than 96% of the bonded graduates have stuck with it. President of the New Zealand Veterinary Association, Dr Gavin Sinclair, says the scheme has succeeded in getting young vets to work in rural areas.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Good response to Maori Television content on Aboriginal network

The National Indigenous Television channel in Australia says viewers are getting behind the Maori Television programmes it screens. National Indigenous Television had humble beginnings in the Northern Territory in 2007, before shifting its operations to Sydney six months ago and joining the SBS network. That meant it could broadcast free to air to all Australians, including more Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders. Channel manager Tanya Denning from the Birri Aboriginal Nation in Queensland, says the compliments about Maori Televison content have been flooding in since National Indigenous Television's move to a wider audience. She said there had been a lot of support, especially from Maori and other New Zealand viewers who live in Australia.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Drop in smoking has improved life expectancy

A health specialist says life expectancy for Maori has improved because fewer are smoking. Statistics New Zealand has released figures collected from 2010 to 2012, which show the gap between Maori and non Maori has narrowed to about seven years. Maori men can expect to live to 72.8 years, and Maori women to 76.5 years. An Auckland University specialist in Maori health and tobacco research, Dr Marewa Glover, says there has been a significant reduction in the number of Maori who smoke.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Labour and Greens to outline power price plans

The Labour and Green Parties will outline their plans for changes in the electricity sector later in the week. The Labour leader, David Shearer, has warned potential Mighty River Power investors his party would reform the electricity sector if it leads the next Government. The Prime Minister, John Key, said Labour had a responsibility to tell New Zealanders if it planned to make radical changes. Mr Shearer said he would hold a joint news conference with the Green Party on Thursday, where both parties would outline their policies. He said Labour's policy would be fully costed, and aimed at bringing power prices down.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Social services could receive private funding

Some community social services could be funded privately in future, under a new agreement with the Government. Health Minister Tony Ryall said he was keen to see a new kind of contract, known as Social Bonds, trialled in this country. Britain was first to adopt the scheme, under which a non-governmental group undertakes to provide a service using private funding and is reimbursed by the Government if it delivers what it promised. Mr Ryall said it would give NGOs the flexibility to tackle an issue the way they wanted, without red tape and with funding from philanthropist groups and individuals, such as the Tindall Foundation and Sir Owen Glenn. He said such a scheme could help reduce drug and alcohol use among young people, or teenage pregnancy rates.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Tuesday, April 16

New Zealanders believed safe in Boston

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it has no specific concerns about the wellbeing of New Zealanders in Boston. About 45 New Zealanders competed in the race, which ended when two bombs detonated within moments of each other. The Ministry says it has had no reports of New Zealand runners or spectators being injured. It says its embassy in Washington is closely monitoring the situation and liaising with local authorities to determine if any New Zealanders need help. People with family or friends in Boston should in the first instance attempt to make contact with them directly. The ministry says if they require further assistance, they should call its consular division on 04 439 8000 and ask to speak to a consular adviser.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Life expectancy gap narrows

The life expectancy gap between Maori and non Maori has narrowed to 7.3 years. Statistics New Zealand has released figures collected between 2010 and 2012, which show Maori men can expect to live to 72.8, and Maori women to 76.5 years. Non-Maori are expected to live about seven years longer - men until 80.2 years and non-Maori women until 83.7 years. A decade ago, between 2000 and 2002, non-Maori lived for about eight and a half more years. An Auckland University specialist in Maori health and tobacco research, Doctor Marewa Glover, says Maori are smoking less, and that's reflected in their greater life expectancy.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Seeking lost friend - Do you know Anita Hoogendyke?

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

Low skilled Maori workers in Australia warned of downturn

A Ngapuhi businessman who lives in Sydney says the jobs of Maori in low-skilled occupations are at risk, and they need qualifications that will allow them to move into more secure employment. Brent Reihana says he agrees with a warning from Victoria University researcher Paul Hamer. Mr Hamer is studying Maori who move to Australia, and says they could be the first to lose their jobs if there is a downturn in the Australian economy. Mr Reihana says the mining industry employs hundreds of Maori, and while the industry is still booming, they need to safeguard their social well-being in case employers discard them for cheaper labour. He says many of those workers are at risk if there are any job cuts. Mr Reihana says they need to aquire skills that will set them up for careers with greater economic stability.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Hello Sailor's Dave McArtney's death a 'shock'

The death of the founder of the classic Kiwi rock band Hello Sailor's Dave McArtney has come as a shock to many. According to his band's official Facebook page McArtney had been unwell and recently spent a week in hospital. But he was released last Wednesday. The band says he seemed comfortable and expected to recover. "His sudden death was not predicted and has come as a shock to all," a post on the page said. Hello Sailor's guitarist is also known for his time in 80s band the Pink Flamingos. He was nominated twice for the prestigious songwriting award the Silver Scroll. McArtney's best-known song was Gutter Black, the first song from Hello Sailor's debut album, released in 1977.
Source: ONE News

Free wi-fi network

Whanganui is rolling out a free wi-fi network throughout the city. The rollout provides people with up to 100 megabytes of free data per month on wi-fi devices at certain locations, including the airport, the hospital, parks and 19 streets. Trials have been held some suburbs and at the recent Masters Games event. Mayor Annette Main said it will be handy for visitors and residents out and about, but is not designed to replace home broadband services.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Jackie Blue new EEO Commissioner

National Party MP Jackie Blue is quitting Parliament to become the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner. Dr Blue entered Parliament as a list MP in 2005 and is deputy chair of the health select committee. She said a track record of advocacy for women was among the qualities she was bringing to the job. She said her new role was not a political appointment, as she applied and was interviewed just like other candidates. Justice Minister Judith Collins said she is confident Dr Blue would be a very capable Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, because she was committed to human rights and equity.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

45 New Zealanders running in marathon

Athletics New Zealand says it has 45 New Zealanders registered as running in the marathon. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said its embassy in Washington was closely monitoring the situation and liaising with local authorities to determine if any of them need help. But it had not received reports of New Zealand runners or spectators being injured. Those with family or friends in Boston should in the first instance attempt to make contact with them directly. The ministry said if they required further assistance they should call its consular division on 04 439 8000 and ask to speak to a consular adviser.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Kiwis describe Boston horror

New Zealanders running the Boston Marathon have described the horrorible scenes after two bombs went off near the finish line. The blasts caused mayhem, with people suffering terrible injuries and deaths reported. Wellington runner Andrew Wharton was icing his legs after the run when he and his wife heard the two explosions, he told Radio New Zealand. "We immediately panicked and went straight up to the roof of the hotel, which was one floor up," he said. "I looked down and saw, just next to the hotel, people and debris everywhere. A lot of blood, people on the ground, people being carried away." He said hotel staff then came through and evacuated them. Former Alliance Party MP Laila Harre was 100 metres from one of the explosions. She told TV3's Firstline she had just crossed the finish line when the explosions occurred. "I finished the marathon probably five to 10 minutes before the explosion occurred. I was in the finishers area at the time so I heard them and I saw smoke but I wasn't in the immediate area." Harre said she heard two explosions, the first of which was "extremely loud and deep sounding". Brett Addison from Athletics New Zealand said he was trying to get in touch with the 45 New Zealand citizens who ran the marathon. There were no reports of Kiwis being injured at this stage. He said he knew of nine runners from Auckland, four from Hamilton, two from Otago, two from Tauranga, and four from Wellington. Twelve were Kiwis living in the US.
© Fairfax NZ News

Monday, April 15

Job listings continue to grow

According to two of the largest online job hunting sites, vacancies continue to grow. Trade Me said the number of jobs advertised in the past three months increased by just over 5% compared with a year ago. New job advertisements on Seek are also up by about 5%. Trade Me said the growth is being driven by Auckland and Christchurch, with Auckland accounting for more than one-third of the country's job vacancies. Seek said the employment market started the year strongly with demand for labour rising steadily.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Giraffe being prepped for Trans-Tasman transfer

A giraffe is expected to surprise a few gawking motorists today. Nakuru, a 15-month-old giraffe, is being driven from Auckland Zoo through Mt Eden to the city's port this afternoon. It is the first step on her journey to Melbourne Zoo where it is hoped she will mate. A keeper and vet will accompany her on the sea voyage. Auckland Zoo says herd numbers there will soon be back up as another female is due to give birth in July.
- Newstalk ZB

Rise in breaches at oil/gas waste sites

A growing number of dump sites for the waste from oil and gas drilling in Taranaki has led to a rise in the number of environmental breaches. Before 2009, Taranaki Regional Council issued hardly any infringements for the sites, but in the past three years it has issued at least 10 abatement notices and recorded 19 breaches of consents. Recent problems have included drilling mud blowing onto a beach, groundwater coming into contact with storage pits and drilling muds being spread in the wrong place.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

No eftpos terminals working in Auckland

A power cut has crashed EFTPOS terminals throughout Auckland on Monday morning. Eftpos New Zealand said it is experiencing technical difficulties which are preventing some sales being accepted. Paymark said eftpos terminals in Auckland are having difficulty connecting to the Telecom payment network, because of a power cut. Telecom expects the problem will be fixed shortly.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Mighty River Power share offer begins

The Mighty River Power share offer began at 8am on Monday. A total of 440,000 people are pre-registered for shares in the State power company, which is the first of three due for partial privatisation. The company is due to be listed on the stock exchange on 10 May. State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said that potential investors can go online from 8am and signal how much they want to spend. The prospectus states that the price per share is likely to be between $2.35 - $2.80. Eligible New Zealand investors will get one bonus share for every 25 shares they hold after two years, with a limit of 200 bonus shares. Labour says it will reform the electricity sector if it gets into power. Party leader David Shearer told Morning Report it is vital to do something about increasingly unaffordable electricity prices in New Zealand. He said people considering investing should be aware of the party's intentions, but is not yet saying what these would be.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Farmer worker incomes higher than average

Federated Farmers hopes a new survey showing farm workers earn on average $5000 more than the typical New Zealand wage earner will attract more people to the sector. The Federated Farmers/Rabobank farm employee remuneration survey canvassed nearly 4000 farm jobs and found the average salary was just over $46,000, which rose to almost $50,000, when non-wage benefits were taken into account. Federated Farmers said the sector sometimes struggles to get all its positions filled with skilled people.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Sunday, April 14

Peace flowers to greet visitors

Peaceflowers celebrating the country's anti-nuclear stance will greet visitors to Wellington. The City is Ours have erected the field of white artificial peace flowers next to a sign stating 'Welcome to Wellington, Capital of Nuclear Free New Zealand' at the corner of Caledonia St and Calabar Rd near Wellington Airport. The City is Ours president Maria van der Meel said the symbols of peace were celebrating the capital's 31st anniversary of being a nuclear-free city. The peace symbols ''would wow overseas visitors who themselves come from countries without this revered status,'' Ms van der Meel said.
© Fairfax NZ News

Akaroa harbour to be marine reserve

Akaroa harbour in Canterbury is to be designated a marine reserve. A formal application for the reserve was lodged in 1996 by the Akaroa Harbour Marine Protection Society. Former Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson denied the application two years ago, but a High Court ruling forced her to revisit that decision in May last year. Current minister Nick Smith announced the designation in Akaroa on Sunday afternoon.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Cake mixes now allowed in cooking contests

The Country Women's Association of Western Australia has expressed disbelief that its counterpart in Queensland will allow packet cake mixes in cooking contests. The ABC reports the new rules will take effect at a competition in Charters Towers in north Queensland later this month. It is the first time in 90 years that the organisation will allow baking entrants to use a quick-fix mix. Spokeswoman Alison Taylor said it will make the competition more accessible. "But there is a talent to making packet cakes, it's not as easy as sounds," she said. "People who do cooking at home, who feel perhaps they can't compete with some of the older CWA bakers who have been cooking for years, it just opens the competition up." But Western Australia member, Heather Allen of Geraldton said it is sad that entrants can resort to supermarket mixes.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Land sales can be reined in by law - PM

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says legislation could be used to rein-in land sales to foreigners, if needed. During a visit to China last week, Mr Key told his hosts that trade and investment in food production in New Zealand is welcome, although the sale of farms to foreigners isn't popular. Mr Key told the Q + A programme on TVNZ on Sunday that the issue does not apply only to China, but also to other nations New Zealand trades with. He said that if land sales to foreigners are seen to be out of control, the Government could legislate to tighten the rules on foreign ownership.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Manchester Street fully open again

Manchester Street in central Christchurch is fully open again for the first time in more than two years. The Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority said the street was fully opened on Saturday night as part of continuing efforts to lift restrictions in the central business district where possible. The reduction of the cordon coincides with a new east rebuild zone, similar to the north and south zones created by the opening of Gloucester Street.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Donated baby gear being turned away

A refugee organisation says it's turning away truck loads of baby gear after an appeal for donations for the children of the Afghan interpreters arriving in New Zealand this month, went viral on social media. Ninety six Afghan refugees, including 21 children under the age of four, will stay at the Mangere refugee resettlement centre in Auckand. The centre was short of baby gear, so an organisations it works with issued an appeal for donations of clothes, cots, bassinets and high chairs. Refugees As Survivors administration manager Diana Swarbrick said people with gear to donate should contact the Red Cross, as the organsation works with refugees across the country.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Saturday, April 13

Australian firm shelves huge gas project

A proposal for one of Australia's biggest resources projects has been scrapped. The $A45 billion dollar onshore gas processing plant at James Price Point in the Kimberley region of Western Australia will not go ahead because costs are too high to make the operation viable. Oil and gas company Woodside says that, after a technical and financial evaluation, the proposed LNG development does not meet its commercial requirements. It has recently lodged an expression of interest for developing a liquefied natural gas project in Canada, the ABC reports. Environmentalists have hailed the announcement as a win after opposing the development from the start.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Antarctica NZ recruiting for jobs on ice

If you fancy one of the coolest jobs on earth, with a priceless view, Antarctica New Zealand may have a place for you. Applications open on Saturday for fixed-term jobs over summer or all year at Antarctica NZ's Scott Base. The government agency says it employs an average of 30 support staff over the summer season each year, 10 of whom "winter-over". Julie Patterson, who is leading the recruitment for Antartica NZ, says because of its remote location staff at Scott Base must work well as a team, be safety focused and integrate into the community lifestyle. "One of the biggest challenges people face in Antarctica is living and working away from home and their usual support networks," she said. Details of vacancies are on
Source: NZN

NZ Super sent far and wide around world

Figures submitted to Parliament show the far-flung climes New Zealanders choose to retire to, and the $230 million of NZ Super we send to them. Our rules allow people to receive NZ Super overseas, and by far the biggest chunk of our pensions exporting is to Australia, with Netherlands, the Cook Islands and Canada being the distant second, third and fourth most likely places for NZ Super to be paid to. Data sent to the Social Security Select Committee shows that, as of August 30, 2012, the annualised value of NZ Super exports was $230,342,322 with 34,783 recipients living in 27 countries. Of those people 31,069 - or 89 per cent - were resident in Australia. The rules let retirees travel abroad for up to 26 weeks and not have their NZ Super payments cut, with some flexibility for unforseen circumstances preventing their timely return.
© Fairfax NZ News

Hundreds protest at Government education policies

Hundreds of people have held protest rallies in Auckland, Welington and Christchurch over Government education policies. About 1000 people marched along Queen Street in Auckland against the Government's plan to introduce charter schools, problems with Novopay and the closure and merger of schools in Christchurch. Radio New Zealand's reporter in Auckland says marchers carried signs emblazoned with messages to the Government that teachers are fed up and that Education Minister Hekia Parata was destroying education.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Aucklanders encouraged to welcome home Breakers

The mayor of Auckland is encouraging people to show their support for Breakers basketball players when they arrive back into the country on Sunday. The New Zealand Breakers defeated the Perth Wildcats on Friday to become only the second National Basketball League club to win three straight championships. Auckland mayor Len Brown says it's up to the team to decide how it wants to celebrate and the city will put on a victory parade if that's what the players want. He says Aucklanders must show their support and he hopes to see a large gathering at the airport on Sunday for the team's arrival. The team will meet members of the public at an event later in the day. The Breakers beat the Wildcats 70-66 in a tense second game of the grand final series in front of a sold out Perth Arena. They faced the Wildcats in all three grand final series and this was the first to be decided in two games.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Helen Clark reappointed to top UN role

Helen Clark has been reappointed head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Her second four-year term at the helm of the development agency was confirmed at the 67th session of the UN General Assembly on Friday. The former New Zealand Prime Minister took up the role in April 2009 and is the first woman to lead the UN's global development network. The position is the third highest in the UN and has responsiblity for the programme's $US5 billion budget and nearly 8000 staff in 166 countries. She is also the chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of the 32 UN funds.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Five dead after asylum boat sinks

At least five asylum seekers are believed to have drowned after their boat sank in the Sunda Strait while on the way from Indonesia to Australia. Details of the unfolding tragedy emerged after authorities in Indonesia spent the day scrambling for information following reports that an asylum seeker vessel had sunk earlier on Friday. But Habibullah Hashimi, one of 14 men plucked from the water by fishermen off the coast of Sukabumi in West Java, has told AAP that he was on a boat that sank on Wednesday morning.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Friday, April 12

Rain relief heading for New Zealand

Drought-struck farmers could be in for some solid downpours if forecast widespread rain pans out through next week. A subtropical rainmaker, which meteorologists are describing as the biggest low of the year, is expected to land over the country from Monday bringing upwards of 20mm of rain to parched pastures in Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa and to urban Wellington, where an outdoor water use ban has only recently been lifted. With drought still officially declared across the North Island and the north of the West Coast WeatherWatch analyst Richard Green said the system had the potential to be the wettest system so far for 2013.

Govt still on target to return to budget surplus

Finance Minister says the Government is still on target to return the budget to surplus in two years' time. In March, Mr English said drought conditions would curb economic activity and make it harder for the Government to reach its goal of a surplus by the June 2015 financial year. But he says he's confident an improving tax take and tight control over spending has the Crown accounts on the right path. Mr English says getting back to surplus, and then reducing net debt to 20% of GDP by 2020, are the Government's two main goals.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Thousands of Japanese cars sold in NZ to be recalled

By Matthew Theunissen
More than 6000 Japanese cars sold in New Zealand are expected to be recalled due to concerns about faulty airbags. They are part of a global recall of more than 3 million vehicles made by auto industry giants Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mazda. The company which manufacturers the airbags for all four companies, Takata, has reported a potential safety defect in the front passenger airbag inflator which could "cause the airbag inflator to rupture and deploy the airbag abnormally in a crash''. Toyota New Zealand spokesman Spencer Morris said about 5000 Toyotas in New Zealand produced between 2001 and 2005 would be recalled.
Toyota: Corolla, Corolla Volts, Avensis, Picnic, Lexus SC430 produced between 2001 and 2005
Honda: Civic produced between 2001 and 2003
Nissan: Pulsar, X-Trail and Patrol produced between 2000 and 2004
Mazda: Mazda6 produced between 2002 and 2003

Australia jobless rate highest in three years

Australia's unemployment rate has jumped 5.6% in March, its highest level in more than three years. The total number of people with jobs fell by more than 36,000 as the unemployment rate hit its highest level since September 2009, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found. In February the unemployment rate was 5.4%. The figures partially reversed a surprise surge in February, which saw total employment rise by 71,500, one of the largest monthly rises in the history of the survey, AAP reports. Bank of America Merrill Lynch Australia chief economist Saul Eslake expects the unemployment rate to move higher in the next few months before peaking around 6%.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Chinese investors show interest in Christchurch - PM

Prime Minister John Key says banks and investors in China have raised the possibility of investing money in the Christchurch rebuild. Mr Key, who is in China on an official visit, says he has told the investors there are projects that will be operated as public-private partnerships and will have a number of partners. He says there is no reason a Chinese company could not be part of such an arrangement and he has told the investors to look at individual projects.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Thursday, April 11

Last Kiwi soldiers leave Bamiyan

The last remaining soldiers have left Kiwi base in Afghanistan, bringing an end to New Zealand's decade of military service in the war-torn country. Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman today confirmed the remaining 21 soldiers from the Provincial Reconstruction Team had left Kiwi base in Bamiyan. They departed on a Royal New Zealand Airforce C-130 plane for the Bagram Airfield - one of the largest US military bases in Afghanistan. The soldiers will spend a few days packing and cleaning equipment before returning to New Zealand next week. Last week, the New Zealand flag was lowered for the final time at Kiwi base to mark the withdrawal of Kiwi troops from Afghanistan.
Source: ONE News

Small group of doctors account for half of complaints - research

Australian research shows a small group of doctors are responsible for half of all patient complaints. The research published in the British Medical Journal was carried out at Melbourne University and led by New Zealander Marie Bismark, a doctor and lawyer specialising in medical law issues. The team studied almost 19,000 patient complaints against 11,000 doctors over a decade in the largest such study ever carried out in Australia. Three percent of doctors accounted for nearly half of all complaints. Male doctors accounted for 79% of all complaints, almost half of them GPs. Researchers say there is a pressing need for interventions that address the behaviour of doctors, who are the subject of many complaints.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Group protests seismic testing

A group opposed to seabed mining has sent out boats to protest against seismic testing it says is being carried out in a dolphin sanctuary off the west coast of the North Island. Group member Phil McCabe says Kea Petroleum is conducting sonic booming from the MV Voyager Explorer in a sanctuary for Maui and Hector's Dolphins. The technique involves using airguns to create an extremely loud pulse of sound to map the seabed. Scientists say there is evidence this may disrupt or damage whales and dolphins and has been linked to strandings in other countries.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand

Govt considers new 'big data' hub

The Government is considering a massive expansion of data-sharing between ministries and agencies and has asked the Treasury to assess the potential impact on people's privacy. It has started work on a plan to put information on individuals held by its agencies into one big hub so that it can be better accessed by officials. Law changes this year provide for more personal information to be shared between agencies, and even with private sector organisations. The Treasury says the information would be changed so individuals cannot be identified, and agencies would be permitted to access the pool of information only for authorised and relevant reasons
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Undetected boat stuns border officials

By Greg Ansley
Australian border authorities may need to restructure their patrols following the undetected arrival of 66 Sri Lankan asylum seekers apparently hoping to find refuge in New Zealand. Their appearance at Geraldton, north of Perth, shocked authorities whose attention is focused heavily on the northwest approaches to the mainland, where most boats are intercepted near Christmas Island or Ashmore Reef. The boat, flying a New Zealand flag and displaying signs asking for help in getting to New Zealand, is believed to have followed a route that extended the normal time at sea by more than 40 days. The boat is the first to have reached the mainland in five years. Customs and Border Protection officials have told Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare the boat appeared to have sailed directly from Sri Lanka on a course far to the south of most Indian Ocean crossings.

Tokelau, Niue and Cooks want to be consulted in NZ constitution review

Cook Islanders, Niueans and Tokelauans in Auckland want special status for their countries and people if New Zealand adopts a written constitution. The three countries are part of the Realm of New Zealand, and their people are automatically New Zealand citizens. A Tokelauan member of the Auckland group, Salapima Everdina Fuli says citizenship hasn’t conferred the benefits their elders were promised by New Zealand.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International

Wednesday, April 10

Cantabs fairest of them all

Ethical Cantabrians have pushed the region to the top of the fair trade- friendly list, with five small towns ranking among the most proactive in New Zealand. The inaugural Oxfam Fair Trade Index has been announced, with towns in New Zealand being ranked for their willingness to embrace fair trade. Lincoln, Rolleston, Leeston, Akaroa and Kaikoura have made the top 20 this year, as Oxfam heralds the commitment of small towns to world issues. The list has been announced one month out from the next opportunity to get involved - Fair Trade fortnight starts on May 4. An integral part of the two week-long promotion of fair trade is the Oxfam Coffee Break, which encourages Kiwis to raise money for a good cause, while savouring cake and coffee. The money raised goes to farmers in places like East Timor who produce fair trade coffee. Donations help campaign for better wages, diets, health and education, as well as improved working conditions. Anyone can register at oxfam (registrations close April 14). Of the top 20 towns listed for fair trade, Takaka in the Tasman came first, Waitati in Otago came second, with Akaroa and Lincoln coming in a close third and fourth.
- (Live Matches)

Irrigation could make farmers more vulnerable - Hackwell

An environmental group says irrigation schemes won't necessarily protect farmers from a changing climate and may actually make some more vulnerable. Forest & Bird advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell says irrigation will lead to an intensification of farming, with farmers running more stock and needing more inputs to farm. He says the higher farmers are geared, the more likely they are to use up to the maximum of their water storage, and the more risk they face if irrigation fails. He warns that if farmers build up infrastructure on the basis that water supply will always be reliable, their investment will be at risk if they get two droughts in a row - and theat is more likely with climate change. Mr Hackwell also questions why New Zealand taxpayers are contributing to the schemes, when he says the extra wealth generated by irrigation will be captured by a few. "In a lot of cases these irrigation schemes, they're about private benefit. There'll be individual landowners who will benefit from getting the water (and) will be making the profits out of them." He asked why irrigation schemes can't be funded by those who are going to benefit from them. "If these are such good propositions, why do they need massive public subsidies?"
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Govt to close all NZ hospital kitchens

By Kate Shuttleworth
The Government plans to close all hospital kitchens across New Zealand and outsource the making of hospital meals, which will cost 1300 jobs nationwide. Up to 50 hospital kitchens will be closed. Currently a third of hospitals make their own meals and deliver them to the wards onsite under their District Health Board. The rest are run by Spotless Services and Compass, two private contractors - they operate within hospital kitchens. HBL plan to move to one provider that produces and supplies the food for the whole of public health system through one production kitchen in Auckland and another in Christchurch. It is believed a multinational consortium will run the kitchens that provide the meals that will be delivered chilled to hospitals, who will then reheat and deliver them to patients.

No plans to evacuate Kiwis from South Korea yet

The New Zealand Government is not considering any specific plans to evacuate Kiwis from South Korea at this stage. This is despite North Korea warning foreigners in South Korea to quit the country because they would be at risk in the event of conflict. "We do not wish harm on foreigners in South Korea should there be a war," said the KCNA news agency, citing its Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee. Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully says New Zealand is monitoring developments on the Korean peninsula closely with 835 Kiwis registered as being in South Korea. "All our embassies and high commissions have contingency plans covering everything from natural disasters to large scale emergencies." The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) says it has had a steady stream of requests for information from expats in Seoul but no requests for assistance yet.
Source: ONE News

Rugby - Hansen reappointed All Blacks coach

Steve Hansen had been reappointed as All Blacks coach through to the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Hansen was initially appointed head coach on a two-year contract following the World Cup in 2011. The All Blacks lost just one of their 14 Tests last year, won the Rugby Championship and retained the Bledisloe Cup.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Chinese language version of Hairy Maclary launched

By Audrey Young
A Chinese language version of classic kiwi children's book Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy was launched at an education event in Shanghai yesterday. The Hairy Maclary series, first published in 1983, has sold more than nine million copies worldwide. The Penguin Group, which holds the rights to the series, has sold the Chinese language rights to Wenhui Press, a Chinese publishing company. Wenhui Press has produced 10 bilingual (English/Chinese) translations of Hairy Maclary stories.

Bill seen as threat to kava

By Isaac Davison
Concerns that move to ban psychoactive substances may affect cultural ceremonies. Culturally important substances such as kava could be captured by a law change which aims to stamp out harmful synthetic drugs, MPs have told Parliament. All eight political parties backed the Psychoactive Substances Bill at the first hurdle yesterday, though Opposition MPs hoped for clarification of the scope of the bill at select committee stage. Labour MP for Mana Kris Faafoi said it was unclear whether the law would ban or limit the sale of kava crops, used in a traditional drink consumed at Pacific Island ceremonies and gatherings. Kava contained psychoactive substances and could have a sedative effect. Mr Faafoi said: "There is a lot of cultural significance to kava and kava ceremonies ... for the Tongan community, for the Samoan community, and for the Fijian community. It is a serious issue." He urged Polynesian communities to make submissions on the bill.

Asylum seekers to be taken to detention centres

Australian authorities are transferring a group of asylum seekers who arrived in the port of Geraldton to detention facilities. Those on board were carrying a sign that said they wanted to go to New Zealand. It is understood two men in a dinghy first spotted the boat and alerted authorities just after midday on Tuesday, the ABC reports. Authorities say the boat was undetected until it made it into the harbour and it is not clear how the boat made it so far south before being spotted. Geraldton is 2,240 kilometres south of Christmas Island, the usual destination of asylum seekers heading for Australia.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Tuesday, April 9

security check please ignore 848GQKU6H7F7


Changes to child support system signed off

By Kate Shuttleworth
The biggest changes to the child support system in more than 20 years have been signed off in Parliament today and will come into place in April next year. The changes include the formula for calculating child support payments to include both parents' income and changes to payment, penalties and debt write-off. Debt from unpaid child support sits at $2.6 billion and 60 per cent of that is from overdue penalty payments. Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said the current system focused too heavily on penalties and people were not coming forward to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to make payments. The Child Support Amendment Bill passed a third reading today.

NZ testing for new strain of bird flu

Scientists are monitoring whether a new strain of bird flu that has killed at least six people in China has made it to New Zealand. The National Centre for Biosecurity and Disease in Upper Hutt will be taking samples from patients with severe acute respiratory infection and certain strains of influenza to test them for the H7N9 strain. Virologist Sue Huang says there is no sign of the strain in New Zealand so far and the tests are precautionary.
Copyright © 2013 Radio New Zealand

Supermarkets to stop using plastic for produce

Some of New Zealand's largest supermarkets will stop putting fruit and vegetables on polystyrene meat trays and wrapping them in plastic after thousands of New Zealanders complained. Supermarket co-operative Foodstuffs - which includes New World, Pak'nSave and Four Square - says it will introduce a new recyclable packaging and restrict the use of polystyrene to meat products. In 2012, lobby group Unpackit awarded Foodstuffs its Worst Packaging Award because of the fruit and vegetable packaging. Ten thousand people complained about it in public feedback sought by the group.
Copyright © 2013, Radio New Zealand


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