'Celebrate some of the great successes' – Fred Hollows Foundation marks thousands of sight-restoration surgeries in the Pacific over 25 years

It's not even 9am at the Leulumoega clinic and the seats are already filled.

Patients have come from neighbouring villages for non-communicable disease checkups – in Samoa that means diabetes.

The charity has been providing life-changing eyesight operations for 25 years, transforming thousands of lives. Source: 1 NEWS

Ophthalmic nurse Aisasiga Taase Mafaufau, who has a tiny room that acts as an eye clinic near the waiting area, knows this means a busy day – every patient with diabetes is sent on to him for an eye checkup.

"The thing we are trying here is to identify them in an early stage because a surgeon can save them from getting blind .. for diabetic retinography if it's presenting in a very late stage we can't do much about that," he says.

Time is of the essence. Diabetes, which can cause blindness, is spiralling out of control in the Pacific with some of the highest rates in the world.

In Samoa, it's estimated nearly a quarter of the population has the disease – many of them undiagnosed.

The foundation has had to change the way it works due to the sky rocketing rates of diabetes in the Pacific. Source: 1 NEWS

It's why the Fred Hollows Foundation has moved away from just sending in overseas specialist teams twice a year.

In Samoa it's trained five ophthalmic nurses who are based in outreach clinics in rural areas so they can identify at-risk patients sooner rather than later. 

Ophthalmologist Dr Lucilla Ah Ching-Sefo, another local trained by Fred Hollows, say these community clinics are making a vital difference as diabetes patients who go to the main hospital eye clinic often go too late to save their eyesight.

"One of the great barriers of health care is distance and transportation so making this service accessible to the rural community it will make a great difference".

It's a difference funded by donations and the New Zealand Government gives $7.5 million in aid over five years to the Foundation which today celebrates its 25th anniversary.

In the Pacific alone it's done over 50,000 operations since 2001 – restoring the sight of around 3000 people a year

Fred Hollows NZ Executive Director Andrew Bell says while it's time to celebrate the successes, it's also about re-energising for the work that still needs to be done.

He says arming Pacific countries to provide their own eye care services is key.

"It's a huge difference to the old concept of fly in fly out where Australian and New Zealand specialists would go for a week, set up an eye camp and go back home again," he says.

"We now have consistency, you have culturally appropriate care, you have care in the home language".

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New Zealand's female MPs, including Jacinda Ardern with baby Neve, recreate 1905 Parliament photo

New Zealand's female MPs have today recreated a 1905 photo of former Premier Richard Seddon and his colleagues. 

It comes as the country celebrates 125 years since women won the right to vote. However, women were not allowed to stand in Parliament until 1919. Elizabeth McCombs was elected as the first female MP in 1933. 

Richard Seddon, the 15th Premier of New Zealand, sits with his colleagues in 1905.
Richard Seddon, the 15th Premier of New Zealand, sits with his colleagues in 1905. Source: Supplied

Jacinda Ardern cradles her baby Neve in the photograph. 

Mr Seddon was New Zealand Premier from 1893 to 1906, winning five consecutive elections. 

Richard Seddon, the 15th Premier of New Zealand, sits with his colleagues in 1905.
Richard Seddon, the 15th Premier of New Zealand, sits with his colleagues in 1905. Source: Supplied

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, baby Neve and New Zealand's female MPs.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, baby Neve and New Zealand's female MPs. Source: Supplied


Up to 200 Fonterra staff fly to California resort for meeting as co-op announces $196 million loss

Fonterra has responded to revelations members of its Europe-based staff travelled at least 9000 kilometres to attend a meeting at a California resort town by saying the location was chosen because of its proximity to Los Angeles Airport.

NBR has reported up to 200 staff from the co-op's New Zealand milk product division attended the sales and marketing meeting at the tourist and surf mecca Huntington Beach at the time Fonterra was announcing a historic annual loss of $196 million last week.

The NZ Herald reports Fonterra responded to questions about the meeting with a statement.

Los Angeles Airport sign.
Los Angeles Airport sign. Source: Getty

"NZMP is an international business, with the majority of staff and customers based offshore, including a significant number in Europe, the US and South America," it read. 

"Every two years, select members of this team come together for a sales and marketing meeting to review performance and develop strategic plans for the following 12 months.

"The location of the global meeting varies but is always organised near a major airport hub. The venue for this year's meeting was selected due to its proximity to LAX. Bookings for the event were made several months ago to ensure cost efficiencies."

NZMP is the dairy ingredients brand of Fonterra.

The Herald noted Huntington Beach is at least an hour's drive from LAX.

Its report said while it's not unusual for large international businesses like Fonterra to hold conferences overseas, the farmer-owned cooperative is in the public spotlight for its financial performance, number of managers and staff salaries. 

Fonterra's annual report last week had showed nearly 6000 staff were paid at least $100,000.

The dairy giant today revealed a near-$200 million annual loss, the first in its 17-year history. Source: 1 NEWS

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Rentable e-scooters could 'revolutionise' way Aucklanders get around with 2500 set to hit city's streets

A fleet of e-scooters is about to hit Auckland streets which the public can rent to get around town.

A media release today says an initial order of 500 Onzo e-scooters are en route to Auckland and set to hit the streets next month.

The company says a further 2000 will join them in coming months.

With a 250W motor, the e-scooters are capable of top speeds of around 30 kilometres per hour and can cover around 30 kilometres before requiring a recharge.

"E-scooters are great because they make travelling easy and fun," Onzo Chief Growth Officer, Min-Kyu Jung, says.

"Unlike bikes, e-scooters are allowed to be used on footpaths and don’t require helmets. They're perfect to pick up anywhere, anytime, for last-mile journeys such as between the bus stop and the office.

"I think this is totally going to revolutionise the way Aucklanders travel around this city. We're designing the system to make it super quick, easy, and cheap to pick up e-scooters for short journeys multiple times a day."

The scooters are said to feature regenerative braking to recharge the battery when the brakes are applied, or when a rider is going downhill.

They also have front and rear lights for added safety.

Just like Onzo's bikes, the system will be dockless and users will simply use the Onzo app to unlock the scooters from wherever they're left around the city by the previous rider.

Onzo will crowdsource the recharging of the scooters at night to the public.

Onzo e-scooter. Source: Supplied


Winston Peters explains party's support for raising refugee quota

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says NZ First shared the Labour Party's "aspiration" to increase the refugee quota, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced it will be raised to 1500 today.

The NZ First Party leader's position was in stark contrast to comments made at the start of the month at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru.

"We never made a commitment to double the refugee quota," Mr Peters told media at the time.

The Deputy PM went on to argue there were other priorities for the Government.

"We've got 50,000 people who are homeless back home, and I can show you parts of the Hokianga and elsewhere, parts of Northland, with people living in degradation.

"We have to fix their lives up as well before we start taking on new obligations of the level that some people would like."

However, while standing next to Ms Ardern during the announcement today he took a much softer line on the refugee issue.

"This is about people not about politics and controversy, the fact is it was put to me in Nauru that the 1500 figure was already there, which it wasn't.

"The Labour Party policy I knew was an aspiration towards that, so was New Zealand First's an aspiration towards that, and I knew the Greens had a higher target," Mr Peters said.

"All I did was put out the plain facts and to say that it was a work in progress and I'm not surprised with the speed at which the progress has taken place.

"This was always on the cards that we'd get it done when we had all the background work done on refugee centres and a host of other things," he continued.

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand's refugee quota was previously 1000, after being increased by the National-led Government from 750 in 2016.

The new quota will take effect from July 2020. 

Major points

- There will be six new settlement locations, on top of re-establishing Christchurch as a settlement location.

- Expanding the public housing supply for 150 extra refugee families is expected to cost $32.5 million over three years.

- Budget 2018 included money to build new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre  

The NZ First leader said the increase was “always on the cards”. Source: 1 NEWS