DOC keeping an open mind on cause of death for over 40 fur seals found washed up in Canterbury

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is keeping an open mind about how 40 New Zealand fur seals or kekeno died after they were found in a remote part in Canterbury.

DOC staff has been examining the area in a remote bay in Banks Peninsula today after being alerted to the deaths late yesterday.

“Our ranger counted 41 dead seals. One was an adult seal and the rest were pups at weaning age,” Christchurch Operations Manager Andy Thompson said in a release.

“We think they had been dead for about two to three weeks by the state of the bodies. They were found high up on the beach, above the high tide mark, and we think they were probably swept there by high seas.

“This is a remote area of the peninsula and locals have told us that there were stormy, heavy seas about the time we think the seals died.

“We hope to send some of the dead seals to Massey University for necropsy to investigate the cause of death. We are keeping an open mind but at this stage, given the circumstances, we are leaning towards natural causes,” Mr Thompson said.

The results of the post-mortem examinations won’t be known for several days with DOC to keep a monitoring brief on the population.

Around 12,000 kekeno live and breed around the Te Oka Bay area. Kekeno are the most common seals in New Zealand and their population of more than 200,000 is growing.

A Department of Conservation photo of the seals. Source: 1 NEWS



Homeless in New Zealand: 'I was struggling to get a tenancy in my own country' - What's keeping the homeless on the street?

The word is getting round Auckland’s rough sleepers that housing is being made available specifically for them.

The Government has set aside $63.4m in this year’s budget to provide 1,450 places to those who have been identified as chronically homeless by Housing First.

The programme provides housing without requiring psychiatric treatment or sobriety as determinants of “housing readiness”.

Auckland spokeswoman Fiona Hamilton says it’s much easier for homeless people to deal with issues like addiction, mental and physical health once they have a safe, warm, stable place to live.

“The whole philosophy behind Housing First is housing’s a human right and there are no conditions to being housed,” she told 1 NEWS.

Clinton was living on and off the street for about 30 years before he was put into a private rental in Auckland’s CBD, organised by Housing First.

“I was struggling to get a tenancy in my own country and I feel that’s wrong because of my criminal history, because I have drug and alcohol issues.”

Clinton said that he went to the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective to ask for help and was put in touch with Housing First.

He said after a month-long application process, he was housed within nine days.

To be accepted onto the programme, people need to chronically homeless for at least a year or in and out of accommodation for at least three years.

Each client will be assigned a social worker who will start meeting with them on a regular basis to work out what they need and where they want to live.

The Ministry of Social Development says right now we can’t build permanent housing quick enough. Source: 1 NEWS

Clinton has been given access to support services to help stay in his home and address his issues so he “can lead a better life”.

Already he’s cut back on his drug use but is still getting used to keep a budget and taking care of bills.

“At the end of the day I end up with a hundred and something dollars and I have to pay my water out of that, my power and I have to buy my food.

“So I don’t go out and do what I used to do when I was on the streets,” Clinton said.

Auckland’s Housing First programme has housed 285 families and individuals to the end of June.

Housing First began operating in Christchurch and Tauranga in May this year, funded to deliver 100 places in each city.

In 2018 and 2019, a further 700 places will be delivered across Wellington and the Hutt, Rotorua, Whangarei and Northland, Blenheim and Nelson, Napier and Hastings.

You can read more from 1 NEWS' Homeless in New Zealand series from Monday here and yesterday here.

From discrimination to an overpriced rental market and family violence, the homeless face a raft of challenges. Source: 1 NEWS

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Messages released to 1 NEWS show Massey’s Vice Chancellor had problem with Don Brash speaking long before he was barred from campus talk

Newly released documents show Massey University's Vice Chancellor had a problem with Don Brash speaking long before he was publicly barred from speaking on campus.

A trail of transcripts of voicemail messages and emails to and from the Vice Chancellor's office have been released to 1 NEWS, showing Jan Thomas citing "trails of evidence".

Her decision to block the former National and Act leader from speaking drew widespread criticism.

That decision was made public on August 7, and spoke of a great security risk to students, staff and the public. These newly released documents show the lead-up to that decision.

Emails show Professor Thomas weeks beforehand on July 13 saying, "I am still fretting about the student club invitation to Don Brash… I really want to find a way to indicate that Brash is not welcome on campus unless he agrees to abide by our values and the laws against hate speech".

Professor Thomas continued: "My strong preference is that we stop it occurring."

The next day, Professor Thomas wrote in another email: "But we still have a couple of trails of evidence, then we need to speak to [the] politics club, and then refuse entry to campus if students don’t oblige – and be proactive at that point before Brash can get to the media."

Before both those emails, she wrote in another on July 10 that she "wanted to know what our options re not allowing politics club to hold event on campus… Will hit the fan in the media if we go this way".

Newly released documents show Massey University’s Vice Chancellor had a problem with Don Brash speaking long before he was publicly barred from speaking on campus. Source: 1 NEWS

When Jan Thomas pulled the plug on Dr Brash's appearance, she said it came after security concerns surrounding a threat involving a gun.

But Police told 1 NEWS at the time they were not contacted before the decision to cancel was made.

The new documents confirm this, with Massey University saying there were no written communications sent or received from the police. In an email to staff, Jan Thomas said she arranged a meeting with local police to discuss security but "before that meeting could take place... I made the decision to cancel the booking of the event on our campus".

Included in the documents is a Facebook user comment about Don Brash's event saying "take a gun".

Mr Brash was due to speak at the university, but had his speech cancelled by Jan Thomas. Source: 1 NEWS

BARRAGE OF CRITICISM

Massey University released several hundred pages of emails to 1 NEWS, showing an onslaught of criticism aimed at the Vice-Chancellor. Some called for her resignation.

Messages left on voicemail spoke of disappointment. "I'm absolutely horrified at the decision… I am very very concerned at the lack of free speech," one caller said.

"My son is due to graduate from college very soon, and we're looking at universities and Massey was one of them, but a little concerned about what I’ve heard about some free speech restrictions on campus," another voice message said.

Emails from former students were also critical.

"As an alumni of Massey University I wish to express my displeasure at your decision to ban former leader of the National Party Don Brash from speaking at Massey University," one wrote.

The University remains at odds with police over claims of security concerns and threats of violence. Source: 1 NEWS

A "proud Massey chemistry alumni" said they were very disappointed to learn that their friend Don Brash "had been deplatformed for his talk".

"I am ashamed to have to tell my friends, associates and colleagues that I am a Massey University graduate from this day forward,"another person wrote.

Another message said they had instructed their Trust not to fund any of their children or grandchildren to attend any programme or course at Massey University. "There are always consequences when you attack the freedoms our family spent so much of our lives to protect," they wrote.

"Please do the honorable thing and resign as Vice Chancellor” another former student wrote. “Massey has lost a great deal of credibility as a learning institution and I’m embarrassed to be associated with my former university."

The former National Party leader and free speech advocate has hit out at the university over its decision. Source: 1 NEWS

A short statement drafted for the university's contact centre to reply to people with said the decision wasn't taken lightly, and that Professor Thomas made the decision taking the gun threat into account.

It further added that "recent events… suggest the current situation is potentially volatile."

A trail of transcripts of voicemail messages and emails to and from the Vice Chancellor's office have been released to 1 NEWS, showing Jan Thomas citing "trails of evidence". Source: 1 NEWS

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Kiwi chocolatier Whittaker's takes leap into ice cream bars

Kiwi chocolate company Whittaker's is expanding from the lollies aisle, with an eye on dominating the freezer sections of supermarkets and dairies as well.

Starting Monday, Tip Top will offer three new flavours of ice cream bars featuring the brand: chocolate and pretzel, coffee and cacao and vanilla and cashew praline.

"It's the moment you've been waiting for...two iconic Kiwi brands coming together to combine the best of both worlds," Tip Top announced on its Facebook page this morning.

Unlike previous collaborations, the flavours are a permanent addition to the Tip Top range, a Whittaker's official told the New Zealand Herald.

"We've always had a dream to be able to create a delicious ice cream with somebody," said Whittaker's marketing manager Jasmine Currie.

Auckland fans of the brands will have an opportunity to get an early taste of the ice creams on Saturday, with a pop-up store opening at midday in Newmarket.

kiwi companies Whittaker's and Tip Top have collaborated for three new ice cream bars. Source: Tip Top


'Some links to the Mongrel Mob' – seven charged after BOP police sting sees guns, Hilux vehicles, $21k cash, drugs seized

Police have arrested and charged seven people after executing a number of search warrants in the eastern Bay of Plenty as part of Operation Notus II.

Speaking to media today Senior Sergeant Richard Miller said the operation had "some links to the Mongrel Mob".

Operation Notus II is the second phase of a long-running investigation, led by the National Organised Crime Group, into organised crime and the supply and supplying of methamphetamine and cannabis in the eastern Bay of Plenty region.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller briefed media today. Source: 1 NEWS

Search warrants were conducted this morning in properties in Kawerau, Whakatāne and Te Teko.

The seven are facing a number of charges, including possession for supply, and supplying, methamphetamine and cannabis, as well as firearms-related offending.

They will appear in Whakatāne District Court this afternoon.

Along with methamphetamine and cannabis, 26 firearms and more than $21,000 in cash has been seized.

Three stolen Toyota Hilux utes were recovered from one address in Kawerau, along with a number of power tools.

A stolen Toyota Hilux Surf and trailer were recovered from another address.

Operation Notus, launched in October 2017, revealed the Kawerau Mongrel Mob's involvement in the commercial distribution of meth and cannabis to the community.

As a result of the investigation, 48 people were arrested and almost $3 million in assets were frozen in March 2018.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller, said, "This was a major disruption to organised crime and methamphetamine supply in EBOP".

Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty
Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Source: NZ Police