Kiwis' drug use among the highest in the world

Despite the decades-long war on drugs, Kiwis' drug use ranks among the highest in the world, a recent survey shows, with more than 1 in 7 New Zealanders reportedly using cannabis.

With the five-year National Drug Policy act expiring at the end of last year, some experts say it's time for New Zealand to join the ranks of other countries exploring drug decriminalisation.

Even the United States Justice Department, long among the hardline drug warriors, on Thursday announced it would create guidelines for states such as Washington and Colorado that have legalised cannabis.

New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell says it's time to explore a shift away from lock-'em-up criminal justice tactics.

"Our approach for the last 40 years has been too focused on trying to solve New Zealand's drug problem through a criminal justice focus and it's time now we shifted our efforts towards prevention and treatment."

The Foundation held a two day summit this week to discuss the best way to tackle New Zealand's drug problem.

It included more than 100 stakeholders from a range of groups including the Police, the Principals' Federation, drug reform and treatment agencies and even grandparents raising grandchildren.

It is the first time such a wide group of organisations and people had met, Bell said.

"We think we came up with a pretty powerful statement out of our two days, that should feed directly into the new strategy.

"We reckon that if we could get consensus from a range of groups who haven't traditionally been talking to each other, it is pretty compelling."

The key message that come from everyone was refocusing to have more of a health response to the problem.

Law Commission president Justice Grant Hammond echoed this statement in the Commission's 2011 review of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Justice Hammond said while the law must continue to impose heavy penalties on those who profit from the manufacture and sale of illicit drugs, there are compelling arguments for adopting a more holistic approach to individual drug offending, particularly when it is driven by addiction.

Those who think New Zealand does not have a drug problem should think again.

The Global Burden of Disease study, released this week, found for every 100,000 New Zealanders, approximately 640 years of good health was lost through disease, suicide and mental disorders due to illicit drug use disorders in 2010.

The results are similar to a Ministry of Health study released at the beginning of this month.

It follows the United Nations World Drug Report, released in June, which revealed New Zealand's drug use as some of the worst in the world, with up to 14.6 per cent of the population using cannabis.

Otago University public health Associate Professor Nick Wilson said the findings were not surprising.

"Illicit drugs are still a major problem for New Zealanders."

While the Government needs a new drug strategy it also needs to address its stance on alcohol, which Prof Wilson said was an even bigger problem.

"The harm from alcohol is three or four times that of illicit drugs.

"Last year the government had a chance with a new law to tighten alcohol control, to try and reduce that harm but they just tweaked the law, which from a public health point of view, was really very minimalist.

"The government is allowing quite a high level of alcohol harm because they're just not prepared to do some of these things that we know will work, like increasing alcohol tax."

Ross agreed that more was also needed to combat New Zealand's biggest problem of alcohol related issues.

Cannabis user. Source: 1 NEWS


Owner of dog who became internet sensation after Kawakawa escape speaks with Seven Sharp

A Bay of Islands woman told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp she is "never going to live this down" after footage of her rescue dog Lily dragging a bakery's flag down the main street of Kawakawa went viral around the globe.

CCTV footage of the freedom-seeking furball's runner — accompanied by Yakety Sax, the song made famous by the Benny Hill Show — has been viewed more than 500,000 times since it was posted to Facebook last night.

Lucie Green, a volunteer with Bay of Islands Animal Rescue, was taking the basset hound for a walk last week when she decided to stop at a local business to buy Lily a treat.

The basset hound, named Lily, was tied to a large flag outside a dairy. So she took the flag with her on her wild escape. Source: Facebook/James Mcdonald

But the Basset Hound received a fright and bolted despite being tied to a large Coca-Cola flag forcing Lucie to give chase.

"For an animal with just little legs, my god she can run," Lucie told Seven Sharp.

Lily, Lucie and the rogue flag brought Kawakawa's State Highway 1 strip to a standstill, the whole escapade captured on CCTV.

"My partner owns a local CCTV company I got to the office and I told him what had happened.

"He didn't tell me he'd done it, but he edited footage and put the music on and uploaded it to Facebook and tagged me in it.

"I knew it was trouble when basically by the time we'd gone to bed last night it had hit 100,000 views," Lucie said.

The basset hound, named Lily, was tied to a large flag outside a dairy. So she took the flag with her on her wild escape. Source: Facebook/James Mcdonald

Thousands of people have since commented on the video, with many of them admiring the dog’s spirit.

"I'm laughing my guts out it's so funny," wrote Facebook user Annie Hicks.

Lucie does see the funny side of events however.

"They say every dog has their day, so I guess Lily is enjoying her 15 mins of fame." 

Lily made a run for it when owner Lucie Green stopped at a shop in the Northland town. Source: Seven Sharp

Tracking down New Plymouth youth MP candidates after Andrew Little's 'hip' appeal

Labour MP Andrew Little released a tongue in cheek video encouraging young people from New Plymouth to get involved in politics today.

The video inspired TVNZ1's Seven Sharp to travel to Mr Little's old school to find the perfect candidate for its new youth MP.

Judge for yourself if New Plymouth Boys' High students Thomas Foy and Jarrod Wilson have what it takes in the video above.

Tamati Rimene-Sproat is on the case after the Labour MP's piece of political theatre. Source: Seven Sharp


Watch: Take a tour inside Kate Sheppard’s former house where suffragists worked to get women the right to vote

Suffragist Kate Sheppard's old house in Christchurch goes up for auction next month - so Seven Sharp host Hilary Barry took a tour.

Ms Sheppard was instrumental in gaining New Zealand women the right to vote in 1893. She carried out important work for the suffrage movement in the house during the late 19th Century.

Today saw celebrations around the country marking 125 years since women gained the right to vote in New Zealand.

Jacinda Ardern has indicated the Government is interested in buying the house for the nation. It's expected to fetch in excess of $3 million when it goes under the hammer on October 17.

Hilary Barry met with the home's current owner Julia Burbury who showed her around the dwelling set on one acre of gardens.

The house has a category one heritage listing.

The piece of New Zealand history in Christchurch, worth more than $3 million, is up for auction. Source: Seven Sharp

Mum distraught as son turned away from Hutt Valley High School because he didn't have permanent address

Being homeless has become an obstacle for one mother wanting to give her child an education.

Helen Taitapanui and her son were turned away from Hutt Valley High School last week because they don't have a permanent residential address.

Ms Taitapanui, is currently battling cancer and lives in a motel with her teenage son while they wait for a permanent home.

"We've got to be glad that we've got that when we know that a lot of our families are out there living in cars," Ms Taitapanui told 1 NEWS.

However, this was a problem when she tried to enrol her son at a local school.

"The response was it's against their policy to register children living out of a motel. you had to have a residential address," Ms Taitapanui said.

She complained to the Ministry of Education and shortly after Hutt Valley High School reversed its decision.

Ms Taitapanui says her son's excited about going back to school.

"I know once he steps back into the realm of education he'll be well and truly away."

She hopes by speaking out, another unnecessary obstacle will be removed for the homeless.

Being homeless threw up an unexpected obstacle for a mum wanting to educate her child. Source: 1 NEWS