$500 million Hawaiki Cable between NZ, Australia and US open to digital traffic

The $500 million fibre optic deep-sea cable connecting New Zealand with Australia, the Pacific and the United States, is open to digital traffic.

The 15,000 kilometre Hawaiki Cable will improve New Zealand's international connectivity and mean faster, better internet for consumers and businesses.

The cable was first mooted back in 2012. Construction began in 2016 and took 27 months to complete.

It will deliver 43 terabits of additional capacity to the Pacific region, meaning it's a faster, bigger internet connection to the rest of the world.

Hawaiki Cable chief operating officer Ludovic Hutier said the cable would also improve New Zealand's resilience in the event of a disaster.

The Hawaiki Cable takes a different route to both of the other cables that connect New Zealand to the rest of the world.

If anything happened to one or both of those cables, the Hawaiki Cable would be available to secure the country's internet connection, Mr Hutier said.

In the Pacific, American Samoa is already connected to the cable. There are several stubbed branching unites that will enable the future connection of New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.

The Hawaiki Cable. Source: rnz.co.nz

Dozens of Wellington bus drivers to strike as students head back to school

Dozens of Hutt Valley bus drivers are planning to strike on Monday, just as students head back to school.

Wellington's Tramways union that represents the drivers says it's protesting unlawful and dangerous shift schedules set by bus operator Tranzit. 

The union lodged a strike notice on Friday night that will see 50 drivers walk off the job early on Monday.

"Someone starts and they work five and a half hours and have half an hour off for a meal break, work another half an hour, then have two hours off unpaid, then have half an hour on, then another meal break, and then work for another five hours," Tramways Union representative Graeme Clarke said.

But in a statement Tranzit says all driver shifts are in line with regulations.

It says it has talked to Tramways Union in the last six weeks and is open to discussing a possible collective agreement.

However, Graeme Clark said Tranzit has not been forthcoming with these negotiations.

"Six weeks ago they said they'd start negotiations with the union within seven days, and we're still waiting, they have done absolutely nothing," he said.

The strike action is the latest issue in a week plagued by problems for Tranzit as it started running half of the bus routes in the capital.

The regional council, which gave it the contract, acknowledged there are issues with a shortage of bus drivers and technical problems with the bus stop alert system.

"It will be difficult for the next week or two probably and there will be more complaints, and you know on behalf of the council all I can do is really apologise for that and assure people that it will get better," Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Chris Laidlaw said.

Despite the strike action, Tranzit says it's ready for the back to school rush, come Monday morning. 

Wellington’s Tramways union says it’s protesting unlawful and dangerous shift schedules. Source: 1 NEWS


Dog sniffs out drugs hidden in socks mailed to prisoner

A drug detector dog at Manawatū prison sniffed out more than 11 grams of cannabis oil that were hidden in a pair of socks mailed to a prisoner.

The prison's acting director Graham Dack said the socks and drugs were handed over to police this week, and inquiries were underway to find out who sent them.

Drugs and other contraband created a dangerous environment for staff and prisoners, Mr Dack said.

"Being affected by drugs prevents prisoners from fully engaging in the education, employment and rehabilitation programmes that can help them live a life free from crime when they are released.

"It is disappointing when we see people try to push boundaries in order to get drugs or other contraband in to prisoners.

"We want people who try to introduce items into prisons to know that we will find them and you will face consequences."

There are 25 detector dog teams operating across the country and it was detector dog Zena who made this particular find.

Socks used to try and smuggle drugs into Manawatu Prison. Source: Supplied