'False and ludicrously untrue' - Trevor Mallard threatened with legal action by anti-1080 campaigner over dead native birds claim

An anti-1080 activist is threatening to take the Parliamentary Speaker Trevor Mallard to court over comments that dead native birds laid on the steps of Parliament as part of a protest appeared to have been bludgeoned.

Five native birds, including kererū and weka, were strewn across Parliament's steps on Wednesday, in what activists labelled "an act of theatre."

At a press conference yesterday, Mr Mallard said he had received expert advice the birds had been bludgeoned to death.

"I've been briefed today that the birds died from blunt force trauma," he said.

"There's work that is going on to finally establish that, and that will involve an investigation at Massey University followed by lankier research doing a toxicology check on the birds but the expert advice is that the birds were almost certainly bludgeoned to death."

But, anti-1080 protester, Alan Gurden, said that statement was ridiculous and said he would be suing for slander.

"I will definitely be taking him to court for defamation and slander of my character and that of my fellow protesters if he does not talk to Jacinda [Ardern] and make her agree to give me a meeting with a full parliamentary sitting, for a full day, to give them a presentation of the truth," he said.

"If they are forthcoming with this meeting that we were promised then I may reconsider not taking him to court."

Mr Gurden said there was no way the birds had been bludgeoned.

Department of Conservation staff say in the past month they've had their car tyres slashed and wheel nuts loosened. Source: 1 NEWS

"Trevor Mallard has made an absolutely false and ludicrously untrue statement in saying they were bludgeoned," he said.

"Now we took photographs and footage of those birds, none of them appeared bludgeoned to me."

Some of the birds were roadkill, while others were picked up from a 1080 dropzone in 2014, Mr Gurden said.

However, he could not say for sure if they died as a result of 1080.

"My acquaintance that kept those animals in his freezer since then was hoping to be able to get a pathology report or whatever you call it to get them tested for 1080 residues," he said.

"So he had kept them in his freezer but he has not had the vast sums of money available to him to be able to get an independent test."

In a written statement today, after being advised by RNZ of Mr Gurden's defamation threat, Mr Mallard said he was not going to be bullied but would make no further comment.

The Department of Conservation said they had been the target of threats and violence by some anti-1080 activists, with 16 incident reports being lodged by staff in August 2018.

- Katie Doyle

Rnz.co.nz

Speaker Trevor Mallard has taken the matter to the police and DOC. Source: 1 NEWS



Fletcher's terrace homes to provide solution to Kiwi housing demands

Fletcher Building has shown off a row of five terrace homes constructed in as many days and claim this could be a remedy to the the country's housing demand.

Fletcher's prefabricated method means it takes around one to four days to weatherproof a home compared to 50 days for a standard built duplex home.

The trial is a proof of concept for the construction giant's factory which will open next year, producing around 500 prefabricated houses annually.

Chief executive Steve Evans said, "we wanted to make sure that we could do it for a variety of homes."

"We've moved from a cottage industry to a production line industry," said Auckland mayor Phil Goff.

Once the basic modules are up, the homes can be finished off in six weeks, that's so all the interiors and exterior claddings can be personalised, said the company.

For now the cost of construction is about the same as conventional homes.

"What I would hope in time is that as you get scale, then the pricing should come down and that's certainly our aspiration," said Mr Evans.

"We need 14,000, 15,000 houses a year. We're struggling to do that. with panelisation, we can do it quicker. we get better quality assurance." said Mr Goff.

The company plans to set up a factory in South Auckland, the first panels coming off the line by mid next year.

The aim is to build around 500 homes a year, with the KiwiBuild market in mind.

It’s hoped the use of preconstructed panels will speed up the building process, delivering more affordable homes over time. Source: 1 NEWS


Furore erupts after young kids wearing temporary moko told they couldn't perform at Christchurch Cultural Festival

A furore has erupted after young children wearing temporary moko were told they couldn't perform in the Christchurch Cultural Festival last week.

The festival decided to ban moko last year, following complaints about incorrect use.

The story got attention when a teacher from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Whanau Tahi School made an emotional statement on social media about three children being told to take their moko off at the festival.

"The young boy, who was the original boy that had a moko on his face, he was our leader, it was him that was going to be stood down, told he couldn’t perform, the other two girls were to fix it," the teacher said in a Facebook video.

In 2016 children were allowed to perform with temporary moko, but last year the rules changed and schools signed an agreement that children wouldn't wear the facial tattoos.

Kapa haka leaders have told 1 NEWS the ban followed 30 complaints that the moko weren't authentic, but some are questioning the blanket ban.

"They go with absolute pride in their hearts and on their faces with the intent to showcase their culture and themselves and they potentially got shot down," Mokopapa organiser Huata Martindale told 1 NEWS.

Both the school and the Christchurch Primary Schools Festival Trust didn't want to comment, but said they're working through a process together.

The festival decided to ban moko after complaints about incorrect use, but it has left some in the school community upset. Source: 1 NEWS

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Watch: John Campbell gives emotional farewell to Checkpoint staff on final show as host

John Campbell has given an emotional farewell to Checkpoint staff on his final show as host this evening.

The award winning broadcaster and journalist is moving to TVNZ from Monday next week and made sure to give tribute to his RNZ colleagues before departing.

"I wanted to end by thanking the team in the room around me here who have worked so hard and given such a damn about a programme it’s been my immense good fortune to host.

"I can't thank you enough, God it's been a pleasure and a privilege and I'll miss you all," Campbell said with emotion.

In his new role at TVNZ Campbell will work across 1 NEWS programmes and platforms and will be given a roving brief.

Campbell says he’s looking forward to his new role, which will see him split his time in and out of the studio.

"After 20 years of sitting in a studio five nights a week, I’m really excited by the prospect of spending more time in the field," he says.

"I love getting out, meeting people and sharing their stories. I can’t wait to get to work."

Campbell will file for news and longer pieces for the Sunday programme. He is also likely to step in to present Tonight, Breakfast, Seven Sharp, Sunday, Q+A and 1 NEWS.


"God it’s been a pleasure," Campbell said as his colleagues gathered around. Source: rnz.co.nz


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Meridian discards 'prompt payment discounts' for fairer treatment of struggling Kiwis

One of New Zealand's major power companies has replaced its so-called prompt payment discounts, saying they simply penalise people who struggle to pay their bills.

This move from Meridian Energy comes just days after a Government investigation into electricity prices, which questioned the fairness of the practice.

Budgeting advisers deal with the fallout from steep energy prices on a daily basis.

"We see many people who are constantly being disconnected who find power to be a very significant part of their spending," says Tim Bennett, chief executive of National Building Financial Capability Charity Trust.

This week, a government investigation found those who can't afford to pay their bills on time are being charged up to 26 per cent more for their power.

That's because power companies offer so-called "prompt payment discounts," which look like savings but are really just penalties for those who pay late.

Meridian Energy has now officially pulled the plug on the practice. 

"We're getting rid of the prompt payment discount because it's fundamentally unfair, especially to customers who struggle to pay their bills," says chief executive Neal Barclay.

The move has been welcomed by Energy Minister Megan Woods.

"I'm absolutely thrilled by the leadership that Meridian's showing today, that they've listened to what I think are really compelling arguments - that essentially we had a penalty for those who struggle to pay their power bills the most."

"It's great, I think really they were misleading and they were late payment penalty fees most impacting low income Kiwis and I urge other retailers to do it as well," says Green MP Gareth Hughes. 

"One company at least has seen sense and is going to treat people fairly regardless of how much income they've got," added Mr Bennett.

The Meridian logo Source: 1 NEWS

Other major power companies were contacted by 1 NEWS to see if they'd follow suit.

While Genesis, Contact and Mercury have no plans to ditch their prompt payment discounts, Trustpower is considering it.

Smaller retailers like Pulse Energy, who have already ditched the practice, call the payments deceptive and want them gone for good.

Meridian is set to replace the discount scheme with credits of equal value for all customers and says no one will be worse off. 

"The total cost to us is $5 million so that's money back into those customers' pockets," says Mr Barclay.

The government is now considering further actions to bring prices down. 

The move comes just days after government investigation into electricity prices questioned the fairness of the practice. Source: 1 NEWS