Auckland student representing New Zealand in FIFA eSports world cup - and there's $200,000 up for grabs

An Auckland University commerce student is representing New Zealand in the FIFA eSports world championship in London, with a top prize of $200,000.

Harry Blackmore, 22, who goes online by the name FUTWIZ Honey Badger, is one of 16 PS4 players who qualified for the world final, which will take place in August.

More than 20 million people entered the competition through online tournaments and live events in Barcelona, Manchester and Amsterdam.

Blackmore will fly the flag not just for New Zealand, but for all of Oceania - other entrants come from a range of countries like Germany, England, Brazil and France.

More than one million people watched this weekend's playoff event in Amsterdam through the live streams of the event.

Harry Blackmore - a.k.a FUTWIZ Honey Badger - will represent New Zealand at the FIFA eSports world cup.
Harry Blackmore - a.k.a FUTWIZ Honey Badger - will represent New Zealand at the FIFA eSports world cup. Source: Supplied



Northcote by-election: Legalising euthanasia, putting abortion into the Health Act and why they're the best person to be NZ's newest MP

This weekend, Auckland's Northcote electorate will vote on New Zealand's newest Member of Parliament. 1 NEWS asked each of the candidates vying to represent the area why they are the best person for the job.

There is a chance parliament will be making conscience votes on topics such as legalising cannabis, moving abortion into the Health Act and introducing voluntary euthanasia. How would you vote on each of those issues?

Dan Bidois has been selected by local party members as National’s candidate to fight the Northcote by-election. Source: Supplied

Dan Bidois (National)

Cannabis and abortion - I haven't seen evidence the current systems aren't working properly. I would want to study the issues more before I made a decision on these two.
Euthanasia - I haven't read the proposed euthanasia legislation yet. I do have some concerns around it though, in that we have to make sure that there appropriate safeguards so our sick and elderly aren't abused. 

Shanan Halbert
Shanan Halbert. Source: New Zealand Labour Party

Shanan Halbert (Labour)

Legalising cannabis –  I support the medicinal use of cannabis.
Moving abortion into the health act – Yes
Introducing voluntary euthanasia – Currently unsure

Dr Rebekah Jaung.
Dr Rebekah Jaung. Source: Facebook/Rebekah Jaung/ 정 레베카

Rebekah Jaung (Green)

Legalising cannabis: Yes - substance misuse should be a health issue not a criminal one.
Moving abortion into the health act: Yes - just yes.
Introducing voluntary euthanasia: Yes if we can get the legislation right.

Stephen Berry - ACT
Stephen Berry - ACT Source: ACT NZ Party

Stephen Berry (ACT)

On all three of those issues, I will vote yes. In a multi-member Act caucus, every vote (outside of confidence and supply) is a conscience vote, so unlike my opponents, I never have to toe a party line.

Jeff Lye (Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis)

The party name says it all but, YES, YES and YES. 

Tricia Cheel (Dem for Social Credit)

Currently unsure on all three. If elected, I would need to see the actual legislation and hear from the people of Northcote.

Kym Koloni (Independent)

Legalising Cannabis: Yes, for medicinal purposes.
Abortion: No, I am pro-life and encourage adoption rather than abortions.
Volutary Euthanasia: Yes, but it must be supported by a Living Will (called an Advanced Directive).  It's a legal document signed by my GP and power of attorney, and was completed a few years back. It directs my family to my health care wishes should certain conditions face me. This takes away any burden from my family to make decisions on my behalf. 

Liam Walsh (Not a Party)

I'd be a raging hypocrite if I said I'd vote on any issue when our key message is that no one should vote, but I can confirm that Not A Party doesn't support prohibition or compulsion of anything or anyone.

If you were to win the Northcote by-election, how would you celebrate?

Shanan Halbert (Labour) - With great entertainment, food, and bubbles to acknowledge my team of volunteers that helped me to get there.

Rebekah Jaung (Green) - I would call my grandparents in Korea. Both of my grandmothers never got past a primary school education but they taught me volumes about how to live my life. Every one of my achievements partly belongs to them.

Stephen Berry (ACT) - After thanking my supporters on Saturday night, I'll go home to bed and have my final Sunday sleep-in for the next two and a half years.

Jeff Lye (Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis) - I would start my celebrations first and foremost by having a nice glass of bubbles with my two nominators.

Tricia Cheel (Dem for Social Credit) - Invite the whole of Northcote to a free mini-film festival of Poisoning Paradise, Let Us Spray, and another Magic Show at the Birkenhead Rugby Club.

Kym Koloni (Independent) - Quietly, with family and friends. The noise would come soon enough!

Liam Walsh (Not a Party) -  I'll probably get the most non-votes but no one will think that's a victory except me so regardless of the result. I'll probably meet up with some Not A Party friends, members and supporters in Wellington (where I live) drink some beers, ignore some prohibition and have a laugh at our own expense.

Dan Bidois (National) - Have a beer with my supporters on the night, and then get straight into work on my plan for Northcote! I have also met a lot of nice dogs when out door-knocking so I am tempted to buy a four-legged friend.

If you could spend a day in another person's shoes, whose would they be?

Rebekah Jaung (Green) - Abe Shinzo (Japan's PM) - I would formally apologise to the survivors of WW2 era Japanese military sexual slavery. There are not many survivors left and they cannot wait much longer for justice. I can't think of many of the world's problems that can be solved in a day but this is one of them.

Kane Williamson batting.
New Zealand Blackcaps v England. 1st day/night test match. Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Day 1, Thursday 22 March 2018. © Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
Kane Williamson, Source: Photosport

Stephen Berry (ACT) - Kane Williamson. I'm a mad cricket fan but was always a terrible player so I wouldn’t mind being a great player for a day.

Jeff Lye (Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis) - I would like to spend a day in the shoes of Donald Trump.

Tricia Cheel (Dem for Social Credit) - Even if I could, I have no desire to spend a day in another person's shoes.

Pauline Hanson.
Pauline Hanson. Source: Twitter Pauline Hanson

Kym Koloni (Independent) - Pauline Hanson - She is one gutsy woman, and has been battling for the well-being of our Australian cousins for years. She is energetic and passionate and time has proven that what she was advocating 22 years ago is very, real today. We need strong people like her to stand up and not back down.

Liam Walsh (Not a Party) - My friend Nate, he's not famous or anything he's just a cool Maori guy that lives out South Auckland with his wife and kids, got the family bliss going on, real connections to his community, knows that voting makes you complicit in the actions of the crown. I just think it'd be cool to see how his day to day life is since it's quite different from mine.

Dan Bidois (National) - Richie McCaw. I've always been a keen supporter of him and never been particularly good at rugby!

Oprah Winfrey. Source: Bang Showbiz

Shanan Halbert (Labour) - I have always been impressed by Oprah Winfrey's generosity and how she has used her status to benefit the lives of others. I think I could learn a lot if I was in her shoes for a day.

What was a moment in your life that you believe sets you up for the cut-and-thrust lifestyle of parliament?

Stephen Berry (ACT) - The cruelest dynamic in politics in the modern age isn't the politicians themselves, rather the social media noise that follows them. Once you get used to it, the cut and thrust of Parliament will be similar, though you’ll need to be quicker on your feet. I've run for Parliament four times before; I finished third for the Auckland mayoralty in 2013.

Jeff Lye (Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis) - There's no one real stand out moment but after seeing and hearing some of the actions and comments of current and previous sitting MPs, I'm pretty sure I could do a better job and some of my input would be invaluable.

Tricia Cheel (Dem for Social Credit) - Losing a child, as I did, must be one of the worst moments of anyone's life. By comparison, the cut and thrust of Parliament holds no fears for me.

Kym Koloni (Independent) - My changing moment was the 11th September, 2017, when I delivered a very powerful speech on NZ First policy... I couldn't understand why people were getting offended by the prospect of colour-blind policies, and didn't want equality and fairness. I refused to back down and be silenced. I've learned a lot since then.

Liam Walsh (Not a Party) - As a toddler I was quite good at throwing tantrums and storming out of places if I wasn't being treated like the emperor of the world, I'm also an experienced promise breaker, I've told a few lies in my time and would be excellent at abusing my position of power for personal gain.

Dan Bidois (National) - Dropping out of school and then getting diagnosed with cancer at 15. Facing death makes you really think about life and reflect on what does and doesn't matter. It has made me strong and determined, but it also makes me more compassionate because I think about other people and their own struggles.

Shanan Halbert (Labour) - Coming from a large family who have struggled to make ends meet... leaves me with a strong sense of responsibility to strive to achieve better opportunities that can improve lives. It's also the experiences that I have had in my education career where I helped get young people and second-chance learners into higher education.

Rebekah Jaung (Green) - Caring for acutely unwell and deteriorating patients. Being trained to function as a multi-disciplinary health care team to achieve the common goal of keeping people alive is a crash course in effective communication, conflict resolution and goal-oriented action. I think lot of that will be applicable to the House.

If you were to become an MP, what is an issue or topic you would pursue in parliament? 

Jeff Lye (Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis) - Legalising cannabis is always a top priority for me, banning 1080, mining and fracking are also major concerns of mine as we are well into the 21st century. We need to be focusing on greener sustainable economies. Also reduce the prison population by focusing on rehabilitation rather than just punishment.

Tricia Cheel (Dem for Social Credit) - My prime focus would be to create a legacy for future generations that we can all be proud of. I would actively promote 21st century economics for a just society on a healthy planet. I would also be searching for ways to address the global crisis in the exponential growth in the production of plastics, poisons, and other pollution.

Kym Koloni (Independent) - I would implement the 100 Days concept - this would be a priority over any other issue. Once people understand how it works it doesn't matter if you would normally vote National, Labour, Act, Greens or for Martians - it makes complete sense and brings the control back to the people for a direct democracy. 

Liam Walsh (Not a Party) - I would do absolutely nothing in parliament. I have faith in the people of Northcote that if there is a cause or group that they think needs support they'll get out and get involved, or maybe they won't, it's up to them really. All I know is I've got lawns to mow and the house needs a vacuum.

Dan Bidois (National) - Aside from fighting for Northcote and being a really strong voice for our communities, I'm passionate about education and making sure we're getting more kids learning good trades. I would like to see more done around apprenticeships.

Shanan Halbert (Labour) - Progressing [Northcote's] transport agenda to reduce congestion, getting the housing our community needs, and getting more resources and better facilities for our local schools. We also need more training options available for school leavers locally, including trades training and apprenticeships in local housing and shopping centre developments. 

Rebekah Jaung (Green) - To ensure that measures to protect the health and well-being of our people with an equity focus are woven into all policies - in transport, housing and development, trade, justice, international affairs and beyond. This includes considering the massive impact that climate change is having and will continue to have on our health.

Stephen Berry (ACT) - My first act if I become Northcote's MP will be to table a bill which requires the Government to complete the Auckland motorway network within ten years. If possible, I will table the bill during my maiden speech.

What's the biggest problem issue facing NZ at the moment that needs dealing with?

Tricia Cheel (Dem for Social Credit) - Solving NZ's multiple problems - homelessness, rotting hospitals, under-resourced schools, traffic congestion, environmental degradation - requires a big pot of money. Only the Democrats for Social Credit Party’s economic reforms offer a sustainable way forward.

Kym Koloni (Independent) - Our lack of democracy. We get to vote once every three years and then the parties that form a government do the exact opposite of what they campaigned on. Labour and NZ First both campaigned on opposing the TPPA, and yet they have now signed it! They are not held accountable for the decisions they make and their broken promises.

Liam Walsh (Not a Party) - A parliamentary system that struggles to achieve anything because of red tape, paperwork, greedy opportunism of its members and fear of voter backlash if the status quo isn't maintained.

Dan Bidois (National) - The economy has been doing well the last few years, which has lifted incomes and meant the Government can afford to invest more in public services, but we can't take it for granted. The new Labour-NZ First Government is making a range of changes that will slow that growth down, which is really bad for families. 

Shanan Halbert (Labour) - Housing is affecting so many people - particularly people my age who can't afford to buy their first home and families who are renting. This government has generated quick wins improving rental standards and establishing the winter energy payment. Our challenge is to build the right mix of social and affordable housing as soon as we can.

Rebekah Jaung (Green) - Inequality and inequity. We go to bed ever night in the knowledge that our children are being subject to the trauma of massive social and economic inequality. Discrimination is built into the fabric of many of our institutions and we all have a responsibility to do the very practical work of dismantling these from where we are.

Stephen Berry (ACT) - The most powerful step government can take to reduce poverty is to fix the housing market. The government need to scrap the RMA to make land planning rules and zoning more flexible, absolish the urban boundary which is creating an artificial land shortage, share the GST raised from construction with local councils to fund infrastructure, and mandate compulsory insurance on developers to prevent ratepayers being saddled with another leaky home catastrophe.

Jeff Lye (Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis) - Can be said in two words: AFFORDABLE HOUSING. $650k is not affordable $50K is.

Why do think you would be the best MP for Northcote?

Kym Koloni (Independent) - I stand up for the silent majority of New Zealanders that have had a gutsful of false promises from all parties. More than ever, NZ needs people who are not afraid to stand up, speak out and say what the majority of people are thinking. My priority is the voters and families living in my electorate.

Liam Walsh (Not a Party) - I don't think that. The best MP for Northcote would be no one. I would refuse to take the parliamentary oath and do nothing, so I'm kind of the closest available option to no one.

Dan Bidois (National) - Because I live here, and I have the experience and character to get results for this amazing part of Auckland. I have had to fight for everything I have achieved in life, and so I want to bring that determination to Northcote and fight for the things that matter locally – improving transport, stopping the fuel tax increases, and getting more investment in local services like health and education.

Shanan Halbert (Labour) - I'm connected to my community and I have a plan to make it even better. I have the energy, drive, and relationships to get things done for the communities of Northcote.

Rebekah Jaung (Green) - I think it's time Northcote to have a doctor who actually cares about our healthcare system as the local MP! I represent the party with the solutions that will keep Northcote and all of Auckland thriving. We envision an end to congested streets, warm and secure housing for all, and protection of our natural environment. 

Stephen Berry (ACT) - I've lived on the North Shore for four years. I know what it is like to be a young person struggling on low wages to support myself. I'm a professional retailer, self-taught economist and amateur door-to-door politician with the drive to give the people of Northcote the active representation they deserve.

Jeff Lye (Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis) - Northcote need a new look new face new ideas and new rationale.

Tricia Cheel (Dem for Social Credit) - Not only do I have more life experience than the other candidates but as a member of the Democrats for Social Credit, in speaking up for Northcote I'll be a strong independent, truly representative voice - with no need to pull my punches.


Whena Owen hit the streets of Northcote with one week left in the by-election. Source: Q+A

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'Fairly awful' - anti-depressant withdrawal symptoms rife in New Zealand, but warnings found to be lacking

A study of 1829 New Zealanders who used anti-depressants found that more than half experienced withdrawal effects when stopping - despite most drugs coming with no addiction warnings.

About a third of those surveyed reported they felt like they were addicted to the drugs, and only one per cent recalled being told anything about withdrawal symptoms or addiction by their doctor.

Study co-author Associate Professor Dr Claire Cartwright of Auckland University's Psychology School, speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast programme, said it was important to note that about 84 per cent of respondents thought anti-depressant medication helped with their depression.

"People are told that anti-depressants are not addictive, so it's pretty controversial to actually say anti-depressants are addictive," she said.

Dr Cartwright said the reported side effects from anti-depressant withdrawal were wide-ranging.

"Things like shaking, nausea, dizziness - some people describe fairly awful symptoms like brain snaps, feeling very emotional, lots of anxiety symptoms," she said.

"Even if they're coming off them slowly, they would start [having] strong physical symptoms, and they would get quite frightened that they were relapsing again into depression."

The study responses were taken from an online survey conducted between 2012-2013 and the authors acknowledged those who filled it out may be been those wanting to complain.

In New Zealand, about one in nine people are prescribed anti-depressants each year, according to Pharmac data.

Associate Professor Claire Cartwright of Auckland University chats to Breakfast about the symptoms reported by Kiwis coming off anti-depressants. Source: Breakfast