Brother of missing Christchurch man 'desperate to get him home', disappearance out of character

The brother of missing Christchurch builder Michael McGrath is appealing for anyone to come forward who knows anything about his disappearance.

Simon McGrath has made a plea via media today for information about his brother. Source: 1 NEWS

Simon McGrath spoke at a media conference today and said his disappearance two weeks ago is completely out of character, and his family are "deeply concerned".

"Michael lived alone, he enjoyed his work as a builder. His family and friends are desperate to get him home," he said.

Detective Inspector Darryl Sweeney wants to hear from anyone who saw Michael on May 21. Source: 1 NEWS

"We're making this plea for any sightings or activity. Someone might have information that might appear to be trivial, but it may be the piece of the puzzle we need to solve this mystery."

Mr McGrath, 49, hasn't been seen since he disappeared from his Halswell home on May 21.

Police said they're speaking to a number a people in their investigations and that will continue.

Detective Inspector Darryl Sweeney today appealed for sightings of Mr McGrath on his mountain bike on May 21.

He said police will be running a large scale "grid-block" search through Halswell this weekend, in the hope of gathering any evidence that may help locate him.

"Michael is missing. Simon and I agree that that's hugely out of character. He is a man of routine. He's a hardworking man. He's reliable. The longer this goes on. The more concerned we become," Mr Sweeney said.

Bicycle helmet of missing Christchurch man Michael McGrath.
Bicycle helmet of missing Christchurch man Michael McGrath. Source: NZ Police

When asked if police still believe Michael is alive, he said "that does the remain the goal. Michael, wherever you are your family would really like to see you".

Police have also released photos of Mr McGrath's blue mountain bike and blue and white bike helmet in the hope that someone has seen him on it.

Yesterday Mr Sweeney said Christchurch police executed search warrants at three different properties.

He also appealed to the public to come forward if they had any sightings of the 49-year-old builder, or his car, which is a blue 1994 Subaru Legacy station wagon, over the dates of May 20, 21, and 22.

Earlier in the week police carried out an extensive search at Mr McGrath's home, as well as another at the home of a prison guard.

Jacinda Ardern defends New Zealand against sexism claims during CNN interview

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has defended New Zealand against claims that the nation is sexist during a CNN interview that took place overnight in New York.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour said she was amazed by “some of the incredible sexism” that Ms Ardern had received from the country’s media, saying it was particularly "extraordinary" given that NZ was the first county to give women the vote.

That series of questions prompted the Prime Minister to offer a passionate defence of New Zealand’s record with equality.

“I would absolutely classify as being incredibly progressive the fact that I am the third female Prime Minister, she said. “I never ever grew up as a young woman believing that my gender would stand in the way of doing anything I wanted.

A CNN interviewer was amazed by “some of the incredible sexism” Ms Ardern had received. Source: 1 NEWS

“I credit New Zealand for that. I credit the environment. I credit those women who went before me and credit New Zealanders as well -the fact that they did welcome the fact that I had a child in office. The positivity far outweighed the negativity.

“I’m deeply proud of where we are as a nation.”

While she encouraged criticism and challenging questions as part of a “robust democracy”, Ms Ardern did say she found it tricky dealing with criticism that could be construed as sexist.

“We (politicians) should be open to criticism, we should be open to be challenged,” she said.

“It becomes tricky if you ever try to partition off what might be seen as sexist criticism. To be honest, I just don’t engage. The best way I can rebel against those notions is being competent, good at my job.”

From New York, the PM also announced a big funding boost for the Pacific. Source: 1 NEWS

The Prime Minister also explained during the interview that she wasn’t aware that baby Neve was on the floor of the UN General Assembly, but she hoped that she could normalise having children in the workplace.

“To find that she (Neve) was there on the general assembly floor, and there’s actually an image that captures the moment when I see her there and…it was just delightful to see her there,” she said.

“I think what it speaks to is that I am still breastfeeding, I have Neve near me most of the time. It’s not always obvious that she’s in close proximity to me most of the time.

“I want to normalise it. There are logistical challenges.”

The prime minister said she was proud of an "incredibly progressive" NZ as after the CNN interviewer suggested she’d faced "incredible sexism" at home since giving birth in office. Source: CNN


Kiwi retailer fined after selling children's pyjamas at risk of catching fire

A New Zealand clothing retailer has been fined after selling children's clothing that was more susceptible to catching fire than the Fair Trading Act allows.

Closeup of Children's Clothing on Hangers
Children's clothes (file picture). Source:

NZSALE was fined $74,000 yesterday in the North Shore District Court after pleading guilty to four charges for selling nightwear that failed to meet the applicable safety standards.

The issue was brought up by the Commerce Commission.

Under the FTA, all children's nightwear (and limited daywear) must be made of fabric that is less likely to burn and must have a fire hazard information label to reduce the risk of children being injured if their nightwear catches fire.

However, three types of kids' pyjamas and a sleep sack NZSALE were selling did not meet such requirements because material being used in the products were too flammable to be used, did not carry the right fire hazard label, or had no fire hazard labelling at all.

Despite the products being recalled in 2015, Commissioner Anna Rawlings said NZSALE's sentencing is just the latest in a string of safety issues.

"It is important that retailers understand and comply with safety standards - especially when babies and young children are concerned," she said.

"Parents should check the labelling of clothing so they are aware of the safety and suitability of children’s nightwear when using heaters or fires."



Beneficiaries' personal lives are being needlessly probed, says lawyer

Half the beneficiaries investigated for fraud by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) have to answer questions about their relationship status.

Being in a marriage-like relationship can mean changes to someone's benefit entitlements - and their payments may end up being reduced.

Figures from the ministry show that in the 2016/17 year, there were close to 6000 fraud investigations completed.

About half of the investigations closed in that same year involved questions about relationship status.

However, of the total number of investigations completed, overpayments were established in just 1800 cases.

And there were only 431 successful prosecutions.

Lawyer Frances Joychild QC said the figures suggested too many beneficiaries were being needlessly scrutinised.

There should be clear grounds before investigators asked people about their personal lives, she said.

"When you are in a vulnerable position of being on a benefit, it is very unpleasant and stressful to have a fraud investigator contact you and inquire about your relationships with other people.

"It shouldn't happen unless there is reason to believe that there is something amiss."

Beneficiary Advocacy and Information Services worker Karen Pattie said the biggest problem was people don't know what being in a marriage-like relationship means.

"Clients, especially single mothers, are too afraid to even date someone or go out for dinner because does this mean a relationship? Does this mean I'll be investigated? If I talk to my case manager, does this mean I have to continue this relationship because I've declared it? Do I ring them and say, 'oh, we're not dating anymore'."

But MSD deputy chief executive of service delivery Viv Rickard said no one's benefit should be affected by going on a couple of dates.

"Can I unequivocally say having a few dates is nothing to do with this organisation and shouldn't impact on anything to do with what people are entitled to."

When allegations were made without supporting evidence, Mr Rickard said it was more than likely no further action would be taken.

However, he said his staff do need to take suggestions of potential fraud seriously.

"Clearly there are a small number of people who will try things on, and the Ministry of Social Development, we administer $24 billion, so I'm not going to open up the gate to the king's gold.

"But we do need to ensure when there are allegations, we consider them appropriately and if there are matters to investigate we will."

The small number of prosecutions the ministry took showed that sort of action was only taken in the most serious cases, Mr Rickard said.

He said the vast majority of Work and Income's 276,000 clients were following the rules and do get in touch when their circumstances change.

By Sarah Robson

Happy mixed-race couple standing in front of house.
Generic. Source:

Ardern says she didn't laugh with other world leaders during Trump's UN speech

While members of the UN General Assembly laughed at US President Donald Trump's speech this morning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has stated she wasn't one of them.

Ms Ardern spoke to media after a busy day in New York, where the US President spoke to the United Nations about Iran and boasted of his administration's success since taking office.

The latter saw some members break into laughter, forcing Mr Trump to stop and acknowledge he "wasn't expecting" such a reaction.

But Ms Ardern said she wasn't one of the one's amused by the comments.

The Prime Minister has been busy at the UN and doing interviews in New York. Source: Breakfast

"You'd have to ask some of the people that responded," she said when asked if the UN was laughing at or with the President.

"I didn't laugh. I was listening to the words being spoken... The President made a statement around his view around his success relative to past presidents.

"For me, I was respecting the fact he had the floor and what he had to say."

The UN general assembly found the US President's boasting entertaining. Source: Associated Press

When asked if she agreed with Mr Trump's statements, the Prime Minister said she acknowledged the "significant" financial support from the US.

"Each president will take their own view of their relative position in history. It's not for me to judge. It's for the American people to judge."

Ms Ardern is due to speak at the UN later this week and said she'll take a different approach.

"New Zealanders, as self-deprecating as we are, never tend to talk about ourselves in particularly grandeur statements. I certainly wouldn't.

"I think it's up to our voters to determine our place in history."

The Prime Minister said it's up to Americans, not her, to decide how truthful the President's speech was. Source: 1 NEWS