Burmese community creating new Muriwai rocks warning signs after pair drown at Auckland beach

A community has come together to create new warning signs at Muriwai Beach after a Burmese pair died while fishing on rocks yesterday.

A man and a woman, who were not wearing lifejackets died after being swept off rocks while fishing at Muriwai yesterday afternoon.

Both were pulled from the water but one died at the scene and the other in hospital, police said.

Muriwai Volunteer Lifeguards chairman Tim Jago told Morning Report the Muriwai beach, along with most of the beaches on the west coast, were well signposted about the dangers of waves and slippery rocks.

"Sadly these people had to actually walk right past one of those signs to get to where they were," he said.

He said he had found out the man and women were Burmese - a nation which has several different dialects - and that the signage did not necessarily signal to them the dangers.

"None of the signage addressed their particular requirements and [the Burmese community] offered to help us to create signage for their community. It's news to me that they're very frequent visitors to the west coast for rock fishing."

However, he said that signs and warnings were a part of the safety process and fishers needed to always carry appropriate gear.

"We're frequently telling people to get off the rocks but the biggest piece of advice and message that we're constantly giving ... is to educate the rock fishers that they've got to have floatation devices with them and wearing them," Mr Jago said.

"Now the sad thing as a matter of fact yesterday is these people were wrapped up against winter conditions and once they were in the water it was never going to be a happy outcome.

"They just had so many layers of clothing on that it was impossible for them to swim."

Rodney Local Board chairperson and fire brigade volunteer Phelan Pirrie said people continued to ignore the many warning signs about the beach's dangers.

Water safety group Drowning Prevention said that often cash-strapped families saw rock-fishing as a cheap way of gathering food - because all that was needed was bait and a rod.

Drowning Prevention spokesperson Harry Aonga said there were concerns over the lack of understanding on the dangers of West Coast beaches.

"The risk itself is quite deadly. And just the power of those waves, and if people aren't aware of, I guess, the conditions when they go out there, then they're putting themselves at risk."

Despite this, Mr Aonga said the number of fatalities had drastically decreased in the past twelve years, thanks to a project aimed at stopping people fishing off rocks without proper safety equipment.

"It started in 2006. There were a spate of drownings at that time, with five people that drowned off the rocks at Muriwai so from then we started the rock fishing project to encourage more people to wear life jackets."

Documents on the Drowning Prevention website showed in 2005 there were nine rock fishing fatalities, whereas in 2017 that number went down to zero.

While that was a win, he said, the two deaths at Muriwai show there was still a way to go.

Mr Aonga urged everyone heading onto the rocks to wear a lifejacket.

"It would interrupt the drowning process because it would give you time to float and make decisions and then ... if you're in the water for quite a long time it would give you time for a rescue team to come grab you."

A man and a woman were pulled from the water around 2pm this afternoon. Source: 1 NEWS


Greens call to legalise safe drug testing before summer festival season begins

The Green Party wants to see safe drug testing legalised before the summer festival season begins.

Testing has already been taking place at some events, but the practice exists in a legal grey area.

"So no one here is saying that drugs are cool or fun, but we're saying that after decades of trying to say, 'Don't use them,' the reality is that they are being used and they do exist," Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick said. 

"Mums and dads, when they're sending their kids off to festivals, obviously, we'd hope that their kids aren't using these substances, but if they are going to use them, surely, you want to ensure that they're doing so in a safe way where harm is minimised."

Ms Swarbrick is confident that law changes can be made in time for summer, as Health Minister David Clark has already requested advice on what legislative change would look like.

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick wants to see safe drug testing legalised before the summer festival season begins. Source: 1 NEWS


Government has room for improvement to curb mental health crisis, Mental Health Foundation says

It's a good start, but there's more work to do to curb the mental health crisis, the Mental Health Foundation says.

Described as a nationwide "epidemic", the issue took centre stage during last year's election and was a major drawcard for Labour.

Prime Minister and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said at the time, "If you're going to talk about hope, then my view is we need to do something about mental health in this country".

One year on, Ms Ardern says the Government has "moved as quickly as we can" to improve mental health.

Part of the changes include dedicated mental health support in Kaikoura and Canterbury primary and intermediate schools; a $10 million cash injection to pilot free counselling services for under 25s and extended school-based health services to decile four schools.

Mental health campaigner Mike King said the Government "deserves more praise than we are giving them".

However, some say there is still room for improvement, including on the topic of suicide prevention.

Mental Health Foundation CEO Shaun Robinson said, "Now that's definitely been kicked for touch until the inquiry comes back. It does make sense in some respects, but there are probably some things that they could have done".

An overstretched workforce is also proving problematic.

"You know, it's all very well to say, 'We want services' or 'we want to put mental health workers into schools', but are those workers there?" Mr Robinson said.

The Prime Minister recognised the "workforce issue", and said the Government has "tried to scale it up as quickly as we could".

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick has spent the past week talking to university students, where education has also been a recurring concern.

"When somebody falls over and breaks their leg, you know that you call an ambulance, but when somebody's having a mental health breakdown, we currently don't have a go-to resource," Ms Swarbrick said.

The independent inquiry into mental health and addiction - due to report back next month - will form the backbone of the Government's response to the issue. Those on the frontline are keen to see what's implemented - and how quickly.

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a new ship," Mr King said.

"What I fear is going to happen is we're going to continue to throw patches on the old boat."

The Mental Health Foundation says there’s room for improvement in the government’s work on mental health. Source: 1 NEWS


Good Sorts: Meet the Good Sort who failed to finish cross country...twice

This week's Good Sort is Phoenix Horo from Rahotu School, a 45 minute drive from New Plymouth.

Phoenix was nominated by his teachers for failing to finish his school cross country not once, but twice.

Hadyn Jones explains all in the video above. 

Phoenix Horo from Rahotu School was nominated by his teachers. Source: 1 NEWS

Dame Valerie Adams announces second baby, plan for career finale at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Dame Valerie Adams is pregnant with her second baby.

But the 34-year-old insists the news does not spell the end of her glittering athletics career.

Instead, New Zealand's Olympic queen says she's still on track for her grande finale - a fifth Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020.

Watch the exclusive interview above

In her only television interview, a delighted Dame Valerie told 1 NEWS she and husband Gabriel Price are expecting their second child in April next year.

"My pooch is a bit out, a little bit now, and I didn't want people to think I was just eating pies and not doing any training," Dame Valerie told 1 NEWS.

"The time is right for us to announce and it is a celebration."

The couple's first baby, Kimoana, turned one this week. Her birth represented victory in her parents' emotional and expensive battle against fertility problems.

The NZ Olympic queen says she plans to be at the 2020 games following the birth of her second child. Source: 1 NEWS

But wanting to add to their family while Dame Valerie is also in the twilight of her shot put career - and her fertility - it's left the couple with a difficult choice to make.

"I don't want to come end of Tokyo, look back and have any regrets. That's what I didn't want to happen because realistically, my fertility situation isn't great and this was my only chance. My timeframe was limited and I knew that. I'm 34 now and basically I'm going to menopause by the time I'm 43," she said.

"The risk of completing our family and training for the Olympics... I don't want that. First and foremost for me was actually giving Kimoana a sibling and completing a family. For us this is it.

"I don't want to be one of those should've, would've, could've. I've got the opportunity now, I need to take it. It's the same with sport, if you've got the opportunity, take it."

Just six months after Kimoana's birth, Dame Valerie was back in the throwing circle where she won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

This time, the double Olympic champion says she will have almost a year-and-a-half to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics.

"I think timing-wise it's all working out quite well for us," she said.

"It's more than what I got in Commonwealth Games, so, I'll take that. What I produced this year with a very short time that I had wasn't bad at all.

"It's possible to come out and have a pregnancy, have a baby and create your family but also go back to high-level sport, there's nothing that says you can't do that."

The Olympic legend is targeting the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 after announcing she’s pregnant. Source: 1 NEWS