Analysis: Referendum over Maori seats appears off the table for Winston Peters

The push by New Zealand First for a referendum on the Maori seats appears to be one issue off the table, as behind the scenes work on coalition negotiations gets underway.

1 NEWS political reporter Katie Bradford says both Labour and National won't be keen on letting Winston Peters have it all his own way in negotiations.

"One of the issues that Mr Peters has campaigned on is a referendum on the Maori seats.

1 NEWS' Andrea Vance says we are no closer to finding out the make-up of the next government after Mr Peters' theatrics. Source: 1 NEWS

"Labour is of course opposed to that idea, they now hold all seven seats, and National, while they did have a policy in the past to abolish the Maori seats, is not so keen on that idea under Bill English," Bradford said.

She went on to say Mr Peters' Maori seat referendum would be the easiest policy for him to drop in the negotiations.

"If such a referendum were held it would be divisive and expensive," Bradford said.

The NZ First leader says any talks with other leaders are subject to special votes being counted on October 7. Source: 1 NEWS

National, Labour and NZ First are currently holed away in Parliament while they discuss their respective strategies for the upcoming coalition talks.

1 NEWS political reporter Katie Bradford says most other things will be up for debate, however. Source: 1 NEWS



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


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

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Wellington bus network changes to be reviewed after council bombarded with complaints

Wellington's new bus network will be independently reviewed after ongoing complaints of buses being late, too full to board or not showing up at all.

The regional council today voted today to have the system reviewed and the results reported back by December.

Since the system was changed in July the council has been bombarded with complaints.

Councillors have also asked officers to change a route so that it began and ended in Kilbirnie, as it previously did, and for feedback on whether some other routes can be changed.

Regional council chief executive Greg Campbell said he took full responsibility for fixing the network's problems.

He said the review needed to be done quickly.

"Any commuter that is left stranded, or a bus that is late, that is of extreme concern. We have to get a clear view of what is happening. What an independent review can really do - particularly for management and council - is give a view of what has happened and articulate that well."

At the beginning of the meeting several Wellington residents addressed the council to let it know they were still unhappy with the new bus routes.

A Wellington principal said the recent re-jig of the routes was making his students late for class and putting them in danger.

St Patrick's College, Kilbirnie's rector Neal Swindells told this morning's meeting about 100-150 boys were using the new service.

"Currently our two 753 buses from the station in the afternoon are significantly overloaded and are unsafe. On Monday this week, they were both loaded to the gunnels and there were 30-odd students who couldn't get on. So what they do is they cross the road to catch the new 24 bus, which by the time it leaves St Pat's now is also overfull."

rnz.co.nz

Commuters at a bus stop in Newtown. Source: rnz.co.nz


Serious crash leaves one person in critical condition, closes section of SH2 near Upper Hutt

A serious crash has left one person in critical condition and a section of State Highway 2 closed in both directions near Kaitoke, Upper Hutt.

Police say there are likely to be lengthy delays and motorists are asked to avoid the area if possible.


A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle
A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle. Source: 1 NEWS