'Avenue for creating income for whanau' - East Cape Maori harvest trial hemp crop

An iwi-led organisation is hoping to boost the regional economy and create jobs for the Gisborne community as they begin to harvest hemp.

Thirty years ago cannabis was driving a wedge through the small community of Ruatoria, near Gisborne, but today the plant could be a solution for the town that has struggled economically.

After securing a licence from the Ministry of Health last year, Hikurangi Enterprises has been growing a trial crop of hemp, a cannabis variety that's grown for its fibre rather than its psychoactive properties. 

The organisation invited community members to the secret location of the crop, to take part in yesterday's harvest and learn what all the hype is about.

"We are now keen to let the public see, smell, touch and smoke the plant so they can get a better understanding of its properties," said general manager, Panapa Ehau.

Due to the low THC level in hemp one person would have to smoke a joint "the size of a power pole" to get high from the crop, said the organisation.

This trial crop has been tested by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research, finding that the THC level is below 0.1 per cent, which complies with government regulations for industrial hemp production.

Hikurangi Enterprises have used the trial as an alternative way to use local whenua that's beneficial to the land, while also providing jobs for the community.

"This is a small crop, and it's literally about having conversations and korero with our whanau about how this could be used as an avenue for creating income for our whanau," said Mr Ehau.

Robin Thompson told Te Karere the plan was "to boost it [hemp] as a thing to create employment for our whanau on the coast, and get our growers back onto growing something that's legal and better that won't get them locked up."

Mr Ehau said with the possible decriminalisation of marijuana in the future they need to look at alternative industries in the region.

Industrial hemp can be used for foodstuffs, health products, textiles and as a housing solution.

"We need to be at the forefront to ensure we have a viable alternative that can earn even more money now and into the future."

Hikurangi Enterprises were out harvesting their hemp crop yesterday, having been granted a licence to establish a trial plot. Source: Te Karere

South Auckland charity The Aunties takes home top Women of Influence Award

The founder of a South Auckland charity group dubbed The Aunties has won the top honour at the Women of Influence Awards.

Jackie Clark set up the not-for-profit organisation six years ago to help vulnerable women and children who've experienced domestic violence.

The group's primary aim is to provide material needs to those they support.

"The Aunties believe everyone has the right to be safe, to have shelter, to be fed, to be loved, to dream, to read, to write, to have their say, and to be heard," the group proclaims on its Givealittle page. "Where any of those things are missing, the Aunties mission is to help provide them - the practical things, and also in terms of advocacy and pastoral care."

The group says it believes in manaakitanga - protecting the mana of the people they help so that they can find their way towards living independently, and with dignity and joy.

"Jackie and her fellow Aunties give without seeking anything in return and without judgement," said Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean, whose company co-sponsors the Women of Influence Awards. "She, and her core of other Aunties, ask vulnerable women what they need and then set about making it happen, in a completely selfless way.

"They have made an enormous contribution to our local communities at grassroots level."

The award ceremony was held last night at SkyCity in Auckland.

Here's the full list of winners:
Supreme Winner: Jackie Clark
Lifetime Achievement: Theresa Gattung
Arts and Culture: Miranda Harcourt
Board and Management: Dr Farah Palmer
Business and Enterprise: Angie Judge
Rural: Rebecca Keoghan
Public Policy: Charlotte Korte
Community/Not for Profit: Jackie Clark
Innovation and Science: Professor Wendy Larner
Diversity: Sarah Lang
Global: Sarah Vrede
Young Leader: Maddison McQueen-Davies

Jackie Clark set up the non-for-profit six years ago, which aims to help vulnerable women and children who have experienced domestic violence. Source: Breakfast


Around 360 Glenorchy homes still without power 48 hours after early spring snowfall

The Glenorchy township in Central Otago is still without power 48 hours after a spring snowfall caused major disruptions in the deep south.

Around 360 households have been affected.

Aurora Energy is hoping to have power restored to the area by this evening.

Around 360 households in the central Otago town are affected, with Aurora Energy hoping to have electricity back on by this evening. Source: Breakfast

In many places power was cut, schools were closed and flights cancelled. Source: 1 NEWS


Watch: Artist uses pyramid in central Auckland to spread some joy around town

A Kiwi artist are architect is using a pyramid in central Auckland to spread some joy.

Matt Liggins has made it his mission to ask people what makes them smile, but instead of rolling up to you on the street he's built a pyramid to help lighten people's moods.

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp's Lucas de Jong went along to take a look and share a laugh in the video above.

Matt Liggins has made it his mission to ask Kiwis what makes them smile. Source: Seven Sharp

Meet the transgender Wellington school caretaker brightening up kids' days

A transgender caretaker at a Wellington school has been using her musical talents to brighten up the kids' days.

Molly Mason was born as Michael, but soon discovered she was a female born in a man's body.

"I believe I'm a woman, and I associate as a woman, so I live my life as a woman," Molly told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Molly has a love of music that began when she was just six.

Now, in her role as caretaker at a Wellington school, she uses her talent to good effect by beat boxing with the kids at lunchtime.

"When I realised that beat boxing and making sounds was something I couldn't live without, that was it, nothing else mattered."

However, to be this woman - that little boy Michael, had a fight on his hands.

"I got bullied from primary school right through until the day I left college and left Blenheim."

Molly is now proud to be transgender and says the stage is her safe place. She performs as her drag alter ego called Bette Noir.

"Anything that makes me sad, makes me worried, makes me scared, anything that I find stressful, it's not there, it's gone." 

Seven Sharp’s Arrun Soma spoke with Molly Mason. Source: Seven Sharp