Concerns native plants, precious wildlife will be wiped out by Mckenzie country dairy farm

Murray Valentine has had a dairy farm 15 years in the making after purchasing land in Mackenzie country, in the South Island, in 2003.

After several court battles, his dairy operation is now underway.

However, Forest and Bird regional manager Jen Miller says the development is "entirely inappropriate".

"It's actually a national tragedy, what's occurring," Ms Miller said.

The debate is whether the land Mr Valentine puts those cows on should be irrigated or preserved.

Graham Smith, the Mackenzie country District Mayor, says Mr Valentine has done everything by the book.

"What Murray has done is meet the consents as such and we have just formed an alliance between LINZ, DOC, ECAN, Waitaki District Council and ourselves to get on the same page as far as consents and protecting our landscapes," says Mr Smith.

Some of the opposition, however, is not convinced.

"The reason why a lot of the development has occurred is that many of the agencies that are responsible for its protection have failed to do their job," Ms Miller said.

"I've been slightly amazed at some of the groups that have come out now, without being in touch with us," Mr Smith said in response.

There are concerns that native plants and precious wildlife will be wiped out, but Mr Valentine disagrees.

As part of Mr Valentine's agreement with outside parties, he will be leaving 2500 hectares of his land untouched for conservation purposes.

"I don't think it will affect bird life to any great degree. Some birds like water," Mr Valentine said.

A lot of the argument by critics is how much of the farms the public see, but Mr Valentine said if you're not looking for them, you'll struggle to see any changes.

"When you're losing species, you've lost species, whether you see them or not doesn't make any difference," Ms Miller argued.

Greenpeace is concerned about a massive pipeline on the farm, saying it'll help discharge nutrient pollutants into waterways.

"I don't think any of our nutrients will end up in those areas, because we'll monitor it," Mr Valentine said.

The accountant won't disclose how much he has spent on the operation, although it's clear he wants to see it through.

"They're certainly entitled to their view, and I try to answer all of the questions and make sure it's an informed discussion, rather than people just making statements that aren't actually true."

The area in the south of the South Island has some of the country’s most precious wildlife and native plants. Source: 1 NEWS

'All the perks of having your own car, none of the hassle' - Push for Wellingtonians to embrace car-sharing movement

Wellington City Council has teamed up with a local company to allow a bunch of shared cars to float around the city.

Nikki Legarth, a member of car-sharing company Mevo, has been using the service for the past month.

"It's a convenient way to not worry about petrol, parking, Warrants of Fitness, and all of the perks of having your own car with none of the hassle," Ms Legarth said.

"For me, it's more about personal control, so if you’re in a taxi or Uber, they’re going to get mad at you if you need to do 900 stops because you’re running and it’s a day like this, whereas if you’re the one driving, then it’s up to you what you do and you don’t have to make small talk."

The service gives her access to fifteen different vehicles across the capital.

The cars are similar to what you might hire while on holiday, but they’re tailored to the needs of people living and working in the city.

"Mevo is a car-sharing service, really akin to what we see overseas, basically giving people access to a bunch of cars around the city from their smartphone," Mevo founder Erik Zydervelt said.

"They can hit reserve, walk up to it and press unlock on their own phone and it will unlock and use it as if it is their own."

Mevo is the second car-sharing company to join the Wellington market, taking on City Hop, which expanded into the capital from Auckland six years ago.

"We're constantly asking the council for more carparks. Our cars are used quite frequently down there. We know our customers are missing out," City Hop general manager Ben Carter said.

Both companies have a similar goal - working to convince drivers to ditch their own keys.

"It's not about us telling people what to do by any stretch of the imagination. It's really options - giving people more options. Cars are really the second biggest purchase people normally make after their house. It’s a pretty big part of people's budget. That being said, they also sit around, on average, 94 per cent of the time," Mr Zydervelt said.

Car-sharing vehicles are used a little bit more. Mevo says its fleet idle around 86 per cent of the time, so there's still a way to go.

"People love owning cars and we understand that, and there is something really nice to that, so it won’t be for everyone. We really want to make sure that using our service is as much like as having your own car but all over the city as possible," he said.

But with the cost of owning a car on the rise, it’s another opportunity to share resources.

"People access media these days, so they’ve got Netflix or Lightbox or Spotify, so it's access over ownership. It’s kind of the same thing that is happening with cars in cities around the world and what Mevo represents."

With City Hop you have to return the car to a set place. Mevo offers more flexibility, allowing the car to be parked up anywhere within a designated radius.

"I've seen it work overseas quite well, and it's working. For me, I like the back-to-base model, where the cars get its own dedicated carpark. The research shows that that model removes more cars off the road, it doesn't compete with public transport and it supports the community more," Mr Carter said.

However, it was the free floating feature that sparked the interest of the council, which is providing the carparks for free.

"For every car-share vehicle we have on the street, that takes about five to fifteen other vehicles off the roads," Wellington mayor Justin Lester said.

"In an international sense, it’s not too bad, but there is congestion, and it will get worse in time like we've seen in other cities.

"Auckland's probably the best example in New Zealand. You can’t just build roads to get out of congestion, you’ve got to try and get people out of cars, onto public transport, walking and cycling and getting around, having a balanced transport network, so that’s what we're focused on doing."

The mayor believes Wellington is the perfect place for the idea of car sharing to accelerate.

"It's a very open-minded city. People are very equipped to embrace change and technology, and so what we're finding is really fast uptake on car-sharing. People have travelled overseas and tried it because they didn't want to own a car overseas and they’ve come back home and said, ‘I want to live in town, close to town. It’s an easy commute to work and I can car share on the weekends,'" Mr Lester said.

"A lot of people don't know what it is, then you get to sit down with them and have them go, 'Oh yeah, it makes sense, because we live in Wellington'. You can walk everywhere [and] the public transport system is pretty decent, but occasionally, you just need a car, and it's great for those occasions without having to go to all the extras to have your own car," Ms Legarth said.

This year a new player has entered the market. Source: Seven Sharp


Student from Auckland's James Cook High School suspended over assault on fellow pupil

A male student has been suspended from Auckland's James Cook High School after an assault on another student.

Principal Grant McMillan today confirmed to the NZ Herald one student has been suspended and another stood down while an investigation is underway, after the incident on Monday morning.

Stuff reports the suspended student is a male.

Grant McMillan says the students who allegedly bullied a 16-year-old will be held fully responsible. Source: 1 NEWS

The 16-year-old student from the school in Manurewa was taken to Middlemore Hospital on Monday morning in a critical condition after he was tripped up, punched once and hit his head on the ground.

Mr McMillan told NZ Herald the victim was discharged on Monday night with wired teeth, black eyes and an abrasion to the face.

Yesterday Mr McMillan said although the police were working through the matter, he was assuring students and parents the students would be "held fully responsible within our school's discipline system".

"[For] the students who have broken our expectations we've got a very very simple response, serious bullying involves police because actually we're trying to grow fine young citizens here."

A 16-year-old student at James Cook High School in Manurewa was critically hurt in an alleged assault.