Love Island UK contestant, Sophie Gradon, dead at 32

A former contestant on the UK version of the popular reality TV show Love Island, Sophie Gradon, has died.

The 32-year-old, who was also a former Miss Great Britain, was found dead by Northumbria Police in a property in Medburn, Ponteland, in north-east England, about 8.30pm on Wednesday local time.

Northumbria Police said in a statement, "there are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding her death. A report will now be prepared for the coroner".

Gradon appeared on the 2016 series of the UK dating show, and was crowned Miss Newcastle and Miss Great Britain in 2009.

Her boyfriend Aaron Armstrong paid tribute to Gradon on Facebook yesterday. 

"I will never forget that smile I love you so so much baby your my world forever ever and always," he wrote.

Another tribute to Gradon appeared on-screen before this week's episode of Love Island.

UK Love Island presenter Caroline Flack said the news was "so very sad".

Sophie Gradon posted this image with the following quote on Tuesday. "I miss him..... He’s only been gone a whole 4 hours."
Sophie Gradon posted this image to her Instagram with the following comment on Tuesday. "I miss him..... He’s only been gone a whole 4 hours." Source: Instagram / Sophie Gradon

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More chlorination likely with water services set to be centralised

The Government is set to strip councils of their power over water following Havelock North's 2016 gastro crisis which was a wake up call for the country.  

Speaking to Water New Zealand's conference today, the Local Government Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, gave her strongest hint yet of change. 

Havelock North's gastro outbreak prompted a review of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater nationwide.

The estimated cost of ensuring drinking water is safe is $500 million, and to fix water infrastructure, at least $2 billion. 

"The Government doesn't have a bottomless pit of money to throw at this," Ms Mahuta said.

But water won't be privatised. Instead, services are likely to be moved into a national water regulator and responsibility for water service stripped from the 67 councils and handed to a small number of entities.

Water NZ chief executive John Pfahlert said that would mean "you get better quality water and it doesn't cost as much to provide". 

But change for the water industry is unlikely to be without controversy.

Any change is likely to see authority over water taken away from local councils, and Local Government New Zealand will not be happy about that.

"We would have issues if it was compulsory because we believe bigger is not always better. New Zealand is incredibly diverse from the Far North to the Deep South," said Stuart Crosbie of Local Government NZ. 

Twenty per cent of drinking water is unsafe - so a national agency is likely to mean more chlorination.

"It's there for a good public health reason. So it'll take time for the communities like Christchurch and Geraldine and other parts of New Zealand which have traditionally not had treated water, to get their head around that," Mr Pfahlert said.

Back in Hawke's Bay, the health board is studying the long-term impacts of the campylobacter outbreak.

John Buckley's family believe he could be the fifth victim of Havelock North's gastro outbreak.

The 78-year-old died three weeks ago of a stroke, but prior to the crisis, they say he'd been healthy.

"He's spent a lot of time in hospital. He's had a lot of unexpected surgeries and bleeds and heart problems, kidney problems, all due to the campylobacter," said Kat Sheridan, Mr Buckley's daughter.

Ms Sheridan says the family wishes, "you can turn your tap on again and trustfully drink the water. Surely that's all we want".

Before any changes can happen Cabinet will need to approve the recommendations made in the review of water management. 

It comes after Havelock North's gastro crisis was a wake-up call for New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS

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Versions of synthetic cannabis in New Zealand up to 10 times stronger than strain that saw US 'zombie outbreak'

Experts are warning there are deadlier versions of synthetic cannabis available in New Zealand which are much more potent than the one which caused the so-called zombie outbreaks in the US.

The Government's been told two deadly types of synthetic cannabis are so potent they should be classified as class A drugs.

One of these drugs has been linked to a well-known case that rocked the United States in 2016.

"The concentrations we're seeing in New Zealand are much more potent than what we saw in the Zombie outbreak in New York," Health Minister David Clark says.

In some instances, the drugs found here were 10 times stronger.

The news comes after synthetic cannabis was linked to the deaths of at least 45 people since June 2017.

"I don't think we ever anticipated we'd get new synthetic drugs that would lead to so much harm," Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell told 1 NEWS.

Synthetic cannabis is already illegal - but the maximum punishment for dealers is two years in prison.

Making synthetic cannabis a class A drug would put it alongside methamphetamine, cocaine, magic mushrooms and lsd.

This would mean the police would have more power and the penalties would be significantly tougher for dealers and users.

The Government says it will make a decision on synthetic drugs in the coming weeks.

They're calling for the drug to be classified as Class A – the most harmful and dangerous. Source: 1 NEWS

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Rihanna asks for Jacinda Ardern's help in tweet - 'Its been a big year for you'

Popstar and fashionista Rihanna has reached out on Twitter to try and enlist the help of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for one of the singer's charitable causes.

Rihanna started out by congratulating the PM before asking for help. 

"Kia ora @jacindaardern! It's been a big year for you & NZ - congrats!

"I hope you & @MFATgovtNZ agree that educating every child can change the world!" the singer wrote before linking to the Clara Lionel Foundation which she started in 2012.

The tweet also contained a link to a piece Rihanna wrote for The Guardian yesterday, calling for more support for young students in developing countries. 

Rihanna and Jacinda Ardern. Source: Associated Press


Midwives met with silence on pay equity funding model

New Zealand midwives are heading into a "make-or-break" pay talk meeting with the Government today.

The focus of the meeting will be on a funding model co-designed by midwives and the Ministry of Health, as part of a settlement reached when the College of Midwives dropped an earlier pay equity court challenge against the Ministry.

The College of Midwives described the settlement as a legally-binding certainty that addressed their long-standing concerns, and the Government's failure to act on it was a breach of the terms of mediation.

College chief executive Karen Guilliland has hinted at the possibility of starting new legal action over pay equity before a meeting later today with Health Minister David Parker.

Ms Guilliland told Nine to Noon the college believed it had an agreement in principle over the model and was awaiting sign-off, but had since been met with silence.

Documents released under the Official Information Act show that as far back as December last year the Health Ministry was recommending against implementing the funding model.

The documents showed the funding model would cost up to $353 million a year - three times the current funding level, which was considered unaffordable.

It was also likely to impact on wider healthcare funding.

Ms Guilliland said they never expected overnight results, and while community midwives welcomed an 8.9 per cent "catch-up" pay increase announced in Budget 2018, it did little to address the gender pay gap.

Ms Guilliland said it was not unrealistic to expect a trebling of funding, as that was what they believed had been agreed upon.

"It was agreed this was what it would cost, and this was what the value of the work that midwifery did.

"You know, people... when they talk about pay equity seem to forget it will require quite a large injection of funds."

Ms Guilliland did not think they exited the earlier legal action too early.

The Human Rights Commission facilitated the mediation, after the historic gender equity case was filed by the New Zealand College of Midwives in 2016.

Ms Guilliland said the action through the Commission was a principled one based on gender discrimination. She said the college thought it would be a quicker process and because it believed the Ministry, it signed up to the agreement.

"Our problem is one of constant reassurances, constant hope, and false promises."

Ms Guilliland said today's meeting was about ensuring faith within the workforce and getting the Minister's backing.

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A petition is being handed over to parliament carrying more than 13,000 signatures. Source: 1 NEWS