Ardern calls international turnout to Women's March 'extraordinary', urges NZ to 'keep up the progress' on women's rights

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the footage of the international Women's Marches held around the world "extrordinary".

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"Some of the aerial footage across the cities really speaks to the strength of feeling from those who have congregated to make sure we're never complacent about the things we champion."

"I was looking at some of the images last night and it was extraordinary."

Activists marched around the world over the weekend in some places to highlight gender equality, and in places like the US to target swing voters into electing "more women and progressives candidates to office", according to the activists' website. 

"Here in New Zealand it's about holding some responsibility to keep up the progress," Ms Ardern told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

"For women in New Zealand that is issues like pay equity, closing the gender pay gap.

"It is also about things like violence that women predominantly experience in new Zealand, particularly in their relationship."

Ms Ardern criticised President Trump's decision to not invest in foreign aid and development of any organisation with a connection to sexual and reproduction rights.

"I can only speak as an observer," she said.

"I know that he did early on determine his government would not be investing in the foreign aid and development that went towards any organisation that had anything to do with sexual and reproductive rights."

"There is no doubt that has left a gap in the international arena where there are areas of high need, where women's maternal health and well-being is really at threat."

She said the international community would need to look at filing that void.
 

The PM says those issues include pay equity, closing the gender pay gap and violence against women. Source: Breakfast



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


Massey University's Vice Chancellor faces reprimand from colleagues over handling of Don Brash debate debacle

Massey University’s Vice Chancellor is facing reprimand from her colleagues over her handling of the Don Brash debate debacle.

At the October meeting of the Massey University Academic Board, two motions to censure Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas will be debated, after she banned Don Brash from speaking on campus.

They relate to her decision to cancel the Don Brash event, and for the process of decision making revealed in today’s Official Information Act (OIA) release.

Massey University vice-chancellor Jan Thomas and Don Brash Source: rnz.co.nz

"I think it’s safe to say there's a proportion of staff who aren't happy with how things have proceeded," Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor, Chris Gallivan told Newstalk ZB.

If the motions are passed, they won’t have much more effect than to register staff's disapproval of the way Prof Thomas handled the affair.

"The University Council is the Vice Chancellor's boss. It will be for the University Council to deal with this as they so wish, it’s not up to the Academic Board," Prof Gallivan says.

The University Council has been approached for comment by 1 NEWS.

But the former National Party leader is calling on the university's Vice Chancellor to resign. 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


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