Deep pockets needed to bring pandas 'fantasy project' to New Zealand

Taxpayer dollars may be used to help bring giant pandas to New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key says investing taxpayers’ money into the panda project will be good for the economy. Source: 1 NEWS

The cost of getting and keeping China's iconic bear at Wellington Zoo is estimated to run into the tens of millions and Prime Minister John Key has even suggested we could send endangered kiwis to China to help secure a deal.

Bronagh Key visited a panda enclosure in China last year while Mr Key attended the Apec summit and he says media found it far more interesting covering Bronagh with the pandas.

The prime minister said he will raise the subject with President Xi Jinping and he believes the project would be worthwhile.

"If you look at it internationally, cities that have got them have done very well out of them."

Prime Minister John Key says he will talk to the Chinese president about a possible swap of kiwis for pandas. Source: 1 NEWS

But some have labelled it a fantasy project, saying taxpayer money could be better spent.

Wellington's Deputy Mayor is keeping an open mind. "We don't want to commit ratepayers to something that might not be affordable but we want to explore the opportunity fully because it might be a really good one," Justin Lester says.

Prime Minister John Key says he will talk to the Chinese president about a possible swap of kiwis for pandas. Source: 1 NEWS

However Labour leader Andrew Little says if the Wellington economy is dependent on the arrival of one or two pandas then "we are in serious trouble".

Initial estimates show it could cost at least $10 million to set up a panda enclosure and even if the capital does get pandas it would only be a loan, typically for 10 years. At around a million dollars a year the council hopes there would be some financial backing from the government.

Councillor Paul Eagle believes that while he loves pandas the plan is "real fantasy stuff".

"As a council we haven't seen any report, no figures, nothing...I think it's really a pet project of a couple of councillors who have said hey what about this."



Photo Gallery: Winter has final sting in its tail, blasts Queenstown region with snow

Central Otago woke up to an early spring snow dump this morning, with the white stuff visible across the Wakatipu Basin.

Glenorchy has seen heavy snow, while flurries are light in Queenstown and on the Lindis Pass.

Queenstown. Source: Thomas Martin

Vision captured by 1 NEWS in Arrowtown shows a heavy blanket of snow. 

Arrowtown saw an early spring snowfall overnight, 17 September 2018. Source: Sophia Purdon

Nineteen flights, both domestic and international, have been cancelled at Queenstown Airport, although it remains open. 

Source: James Penwell

All schools in the Wakatipu Basin are closed. 

Crown Range Source: NZTA

Power outages caused by snow-loaded tree branches have been reported in Glenorchy, Te Anau, Queenstown, Franktown, Arrowtown and Dalefield.

Arrowtown. Source: Jesse Van Grinsven

"Power will be restored as quickly as is safely possible but extreme conditions are hampering our response," an Aurora Energy spokesperson said.

Bridesdale Queenstown. Source: Kate Tonks

A spokesperson from Metservice has told 1 NEWS of heavy snow fall in the Crown Ranges, with many campervans being snowed in.

Camper vans in Te Anau. Source: MetService

Arrowtown. Source: Jess Van Grinsven

Cardrona Ski Field has had 35 centimetres of snow this morning and counting. However, graders have been unable to clear the road in time for opening today. 

Usually snow is a good thing for a ski field, but it couldn’t clear the roads fast enough to open this morning. Source: 1 NEWS

An early spring dump of snow fell on Te Anau overnight, 17 September 2018. Source: Alana Pullar

"Where the snow hasn't fallen, water has. A lot of it," the Queenstown Lakes District Council warned this morning.

"We've got roads affected by surface water from all the rain so watch out for flooding and ponding wherever you're headed today."

Te Anau. Source: Phillip Robertson

Trust Power is reporting an outage in Frankton as a result of the weather. 

Arrowtown saw an early spring snowfall overnight, 17 September 2018. Source: Sophia Purdon

Motorists heading over the Crown Range today will need to bring chains with them.

Images from viewers also show thick coats of snow in Arrowtown and Te Anau.

Snow on the Crown Range. Source: NZTA

SH94 from Te Anau to Milford Sound is closed due to a high avalanche risk. 

The road will be closed for some time due to snow and fallen trees.

Arrowtown saw an early spring snowfall overnight, 17 September 2018. Source: Sophia Purdon

Do you have a photo or video of today's snow? Send it to news@tvnz.co.nz.

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

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

1 NEWS investigates homelessness in New Zealand: The faces of New Zealand's homeless

Thousands of New Zealanders are classed as being homeless and there are multiple reasons why they have found themselves without a place to call home.

To understand some of the reasons 1 NEWS reporter Ryan Boswell spoke to three men who are or were homeless about why they ended up living rough.

Tomorrow, we look at the definition of homelessness, and just how many are without a place to call home in New Zealand. 

Rob's story 

When Rob was young he got into a lot of trouble with the law.

“I was 16, young dumb and stupid. Just wanted to drink, wanted to party, do all the young things."

The partying and constantly being in and out of court and losing contact with his family and support networks started to take a toll on Rob, who struggled to find work.

"One silly mistake" later he was on the streets of Christchurch sleeping in parks where it was quiet and he could be left alone.

After finding himself without a place to settle, Rob found work in a pub and then a fish processing plant, where he could get free food.

“Getting into those jobs where there’s kai around helped. It was a night shift job so keeping warm at night working and coming home during the day when the sun's out, at least I can stay warm."

A couple of years passed and Rob moved north to Hawke's Bay for the fruit picking season. From there he went to Northland to help process wood, before making his way to Auckland.

Aged 32, Rob was living on the streets of New Zealand's largest city.

“I arrived on the streets at Victoria Park just after 11pm.

“It was pretty scary for the first couple of weeks. I didn’t look to connect, just tried to find my own safety first."

It was another man living on the streets who reached out to Rob and told him about getting meals at the City Mission.

Then others took Rob under their wing and showed him “all the free food was in Auckland without having to go to the Mission.”

During this time Rob was trying to get a home and spent six months phoning Housing New Zealand daily asking for a home, before he was given accommodation five years ago.

Now Rob is giving back to the community he was once a part of on the streets, working for the Government’s Housing First programme.

The progamme puts those who are chronically homeless into permanent accommodation and then provides wrap-around support services.

“It’s good to be that reflection for the whānau. It's a long journey but everyone can conquer it - I’m still standing here today laughing it up."

Charlie's story

Over six months ago, Charlie was forced to move out of his flea-infested home due to illness.

“I turned away from my family, my friends, my work, my job completely."

He chose to move into his car and park up in Onehunga, Auckland, surrounded by others who were also sleeping rough.

“When my family found me they didn’t recognise me. I'd grown a beard, which is something I'd never done.

“I was just like I don’t care what people think of me or what I look like. They can call me any names … I don’t care anymore, I sort of gave up on life.”

Charlie's living situation in his car took a turn for the worse when he was dragged from his car in the middle of the night and beaten by a group of teenagers.

It was to Auckland Action Against Poverty that Charlie turned following the event for help, and through the charity he received trauma counselling on a daily basis for a month.

He is currently staying in a motel as part of the Government’s emergency accommodation.

“I’m coming back to life, living life, making more goals. But there is one main goal for me and that is WINZ (Work and Income) housing,” he said.

Charlie is now in full time employment working for a trucking company and he said he wants to help others living rough.

“They don’t belong there,” he said.

Clinton's story

Clinton ran away from home when he was just 13 and never went back.

Now 40, he has been homeless off-and-on for most of his life because he never wanted to go back to his “dysfunctional family”.

“My mother said ‘if you don’t abide by these rules get out’, so I thought I was the man and I left.”

The first couple of days on the street were spent partying, but the reality started to kick in when he had nowhere to shower or wash his clothes.

Shelter came from clothing bins, bridges, electricity boxes and even under balconies, while food came from rubbish bins, the City Mission and takeaway shops.

“Selling myself, I was a bit better off than other people so I could buy better food or pizzas, go to McDonald's,” he said.

To survive Clinton “ended up selling my body to fund my alcohol and drug habit”.

Drug addiction continues to be a battle for Clinton.

“I went from drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana to putting a needle in my arm. Trips, LSD, magic mushrooms, pills and methamphetamine.”

Clinton finally reached out for help through the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, where they put him in touch with the Government’s Housing First programme.

It provides permanent accommodation to those who have been chronically homeless for at least a year or to those who have been in and out of accommodation for at least three years.

Clinton is now living in a one bedroom apartment in Auckland’s CBD, after a “month long application process”.

He’s still getting used to living with power and a television but feels “very blessed to be housed and I love it”.

“I want to say to anyone out there who is homeless to go to Auckland City Mission and say that you want to be on the Housing First list and if you fit the criteria, which most of you will, they will house you."

1 NEWS reporter Ryan Boswell spoke to three men who are or were homeless about the reason they became homeless. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Watch: Simon Bridges responds to Jacinda Ardern’s big speech – ‘Ultimately there was nothing there’

Winston Peters rules the roost and New Zealanders are starting to wake up to the fact that NZ First is leading the coalition government and not Labour, according to National leader Simon Bridges.

Mr Bridges said Ms Ardern’s announcement yesterday of the Government’s priorities for NZ over the next 30 years was devoid of substance.

The Prime Minister gave details of the Government plan during a speech in Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS

“They’ve had a shambolic few weeks, so they wanted to all come together and show unity, have a sort of pep rally, Kumbaya session, the problem I think was ultimately there was nothing there,” he told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

“There was nothing in it basically, that I or any MP in Parliament couldn’t go along with, it was so high level.”

Read more: Jacinda Ardern outlines Government's top 12 priorities for New Zealand over next 30 years

The opposition leader said the reason for that was that Mr Peters had to approve of everything done by the Government.

“The reason for that is the Prime Minister knows she can’t get a lot of agreement on a lot of things, so she has to be airy-fairy, in the clouds on stuff,” he said.

“The reason for that ultimately, which New Zealanders are waking up to, is that Winston Peters runs the roost on this stuff.”

"Unless he agrees, and there’s a lot he won’t agree to, most of it actually, then it doesn’t happen, we’re starting to see a NZ First-led coalition rather than a Labour-led one."

Mr Bridges categorically rejected the notion that this was an MMP government in action, with partners working through the issues in cabinet.

"It is insulting to the MMP governments that have gone before, they were MMP governments, they had to manage these things, they were always Labour-led or National-led, that’s not what we’ve got here.

"I think the real tragedy is ultimately, nearly a year in, past the platitudes, where is the seriously detailed plan and actions for New Zealanders on things that matter?

"Like an economic downturn, like cost of living going up more than wages, and petrol prices and rents and so on, we didn’t see any real stuff there."

Asked what he would have as priorities for New Zealand over the next three decades, Mr Bridges highlighted changes to industrial laws and dealing with overseas investment.

“Reversing the ones (taxes) they have done because that’s putting up petrol prices that are hurting Kiwi families, that’s affecting on rental prices, all these things that Kiwis are starting to really feel.”

Mr Bridges accused unions of “clipping the ticket” to no real benefit for the workers. 

The National leader said the Prime Minister was simply dealing in platitudes, not actions that matter.


Three brave male survivors of childhood sex abuse speak about what they endured, and how they are healing

The Harvey Weinstein case exposed an ugly side of our culture.

Finally, victims of sexual assault and harassment are speaking up. But where are the voices of men?

Thousands of Kiwi guys bear the scars of childhood sexual abuse. They’re our dads, brothers, partners and mates – but many suffer in silence.

This week, three brave men tell SUNDAY what they endured, and how they’re starting to heal.

If you want to talk to anyone about the issues raised in this story, Safe to Talk is the number to call - 0800 044 334

The Harvey Weinstein saga exposed an ugly side of our culture. TVNZ’s Sunday hears from some male victims. Source: Sunday