Morning Briefing August 3: Controversial police restraining tool linked to death

A two-year Sunday investigation into the arrest and death of Alo Ngata has revealed police misused a controversial restraining tool and failed to follow their own policies.

Alo Ngata Source: Sunday

Twenty-nine-year-old Ngata was tasered, pepper-sprayed and tied up by police after he randomly attacked an elderly man in central Auckland in 2018. A few hours later, his heart stopped beating while he was in a cell with a spit hood over his head.

Witnesses to the arrest heard Mr Ngata call out, “Brother, help me, I can’t breathe.” 

Mr Ngata’s family believe police misused the spit hood and failed to monitor his condition.

Police completed two internal investigations and concluded “no person is criminally culpable for Mr Ngata's death".

However, leading New Zealand defence lawyer Marie Dyhrberg says there should still be an independent public inquiry into the matter. She will be joining TVNZ’s Breakfast just after 7am today to discuss the issue.

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Fire service faces allegations

A former firefighter has described the work environment at Fire and Emergency New Zealand as “abusive” and “sexist”.

She’s one of five women 1 NEWS has spoken to who say they were sexually abused or harassed while working at the agency.

Fire and Emergency says it’s working on changing the culture of the organisation following an independent report that found bullying and harassment were rife – but the women say they’re still fighting for their allegations to be properly investigated.

1 NEWS understands new information on Fire and Emergency's assault and harassment complaints is expected to be released soon.

Shortage drives up house prices

A lack of housing on the market has meant higher asking prices, according to new data released by this morning.

Asking prices were up in nearly all regions last month, with a 13-year high for Northland, Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Coromandel and Manawatū/Whanganui.

The total number of homes available for sale in July was down 11 per cent on the same month last year, while the national average asking price increased by nearly four per cent. says the current housing shortage issue will likely become worse with more Kiwis returning from overseas. 

Bleak predictions for Māori employment

Figures released to 1 NEWS reveal Māori unemployment is predicted to soar higher than what was experienced following the Global Financial Crisis.

It’s expected to peak at a rate of 20 per cent, up from the 8 per cent seen pre-Covid-19.

Those figures came as Labour yesterday launched its bid to retain the Māori seats at the upcoming election.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took the opportunity to praise her MPs and assure the community they will do their best to get them back on their feet.

However, questions are being asked about whether the Government has been held to account for delivering to tangata whenua, with Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer telling TVNZ’s Q+A they’re hoping to stage a resurgence at the election and make their way back into Parliament.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Grant Robertson has also been talking unemployment, saying he expects most Kiwis being supported by the wage subsidy extension will keep their jobs when the scheme ends next month.

Mr Robertson says it hasn’t been taken up to its full extent, which he says is a positive sign for the New Zealand economy.

However, National says the best-case scenario will still see tens of thousands of job losses.

A state of disaster

Melbourne is waking up to strict lockdown measures this morning as a state of disaster is declared in Victoria.

A nightly curfew has been implemented in Melbourne with stage four measures similar to New Zealand’s Alert Level 4 in place for at least the next six weeks. The rest of the state is moving to stage three restrictions from Thursday.

Victoria recorded 671 new cases of Covid-19 and seven more deaths from the virus yesterday.

Meanwhile, New South Wales recorded 12 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, with health authorities now urging residents to wear masks in busy, enclosed spaces like supermarkets, at places of worship and in coronavirus hot spots around the region.

Other news of note this morning: 

A memorial service for former All Blacks captain Andy Haden will take place at Eden Park today. 

Covid-19 is delivering an unforeseen benefit to New Zealand’s health system with a surge in skilled applicants wanting to work here.

RNZ reports there are calls to scrap a learning scheme that costs $100 million a year.

A synthetic media expert is warning Kiwis over the real possibility the upcoming election could be influenced by foreign interference

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the list of shovel-ready projects getting a funding boost from the Government should be revealed within the next week.

As US President Donald Trump continues to threaten to ban TikTok, Microsoft is in advanced talks to buy the US operations of the popular Chinese-owned video app.

And Stuff reports that while global chocolate consumption has slumped since the outbreak of Covid-19, Kiwis are buying more chocolate than they were a year ago.

And finally...

Gareth Hughes Source: 1 NEWS

Green MP Gareth Hughes is stepping down from politics at September’s election but, unlike some of his parliamentary contemporaries, he’s not leaving shrouded in scandal.

He says the time’s right to move on – and he’s moving about as far away from politics as you could possibly get.

He, his wife Meghan and their two children are about to become the total population of Quarantine Island / Kamau Taurua, a small piece of land in the Otago harbour where people with infectious diseases were quarantined between 1863 and 1924.

“It kind of sounds like the punchline for a joke or somewhat ironic, but yeah, moving to Quarantine Island in the middle of a pandemic probably is a smart decision,” Mr Hughes says.