First purpose-built tsunami high ground in NZ opens in Tauranga

The first purpose-built tsunami high ground in Australasia has been created by Tauranga City Council and opened today by Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi.

Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout says the tsunami high ground built on a reserve is the culmination of years of ground breaking research and investment that has allowed the council to understand how a tsunami might affect its coastline.

The high ground has been engineered to withstand a major earthquake, the scouring effects of tsunami water and can take the combined weight of 4000 people, Mr Clout said.

"Six years ago we were only beginning to understand the specific tsunami risk to our city. Images from the tsunami that had hit Japan in 2011 were still fresh in our minds," he said. 

“Most people assumed that the only place to be safe from a tsunami would be the top of the Papamoa hills, and of course, that everyone would have to drive there."

Traffic modelling shows that if everyone tried to evacuate the coastal areas in their cars, it would take up to eight hours to get everyone out - and that’s on a good day with no disaster or panic, he said.

Mr Faafoi said the need was identified by the community who are preparing themselves for an emergency, and the council has seen the benefit and progressed the high ground. 

"Timely evacuation for school children and others with low mobility is vital in an emergency, and to have both community and council get prepared is really outstanding," he said.

The council says a tsunami that's most likely to overtop its dune system would be triggered by a massive seismic event along the Kermadec Trench and would be possibly the biggest earthquake felt in Tauranga in living memory.

The resulting tsunami would reach the coastline after about 60 minutes.

The council has been able to identify safe areas all along the coastline and has created a network of evacuation routes for people to be able to reach those safe areas, on foot, within about 40 minutes.

The council has invested in an earthquake-proof evacuation bridge so people can get across the Wairakei Stream and built the high ground at Gordon Spratt Reserve, the first of its type in Australasia, and the first of several that are planned for the Tauranga coastline.

The council’s long-term plan proposes outdoor public address speakers and 26,000 in-home warning devices for the most at-risk properties along the coastline, supplemented by the national alerting system. 

A sign on the road in Wellington the indicates a Tsunami safe zone. Source: Seven Sharp



Meet the transgender Wellington school caretaker brightening up kids' days

A transgender caretaker at a Wellington school has been using her musical talents to brighten up the kids' days.

Molly Mason was born as Michael, but soon discovered she was a female born in a man's body.

"I believe I'm a woman, and I associate as a woman, so I live my life as a woman," Molly told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Molly has a love of music that began when she was just six.

Now, in her role as caretaker at a Wellington school, she uses her talent to good effect by beat boxing with the kids at lunchtime.

"When I realised that beat boxing and making sounds was something I couldn't live without, that was it, nothing else mattered."

However, to be this woman - that little boy Michael, had a fight on his hands.

"I got bullied from primary school right through until the day I left college and left Blenheim."

Molly is now proud to be transgender and says the stage is her safe place. She performs as her drag alter ego called Bette Noir.

"Anything that makes me sad, makes me worried, makes me scared, anything that I find stressful, it's not there, it's gone." 

Seven Sharp’s Arrun Soma spoke with Molly Mason. Source: Seven Sharp

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Ministry of Justice union members strike, launching a month of industrial action over pay

Court security officers and Family Court coordinators are among Ministry of Justice employees going on strike for two hours nationwide today as they start more than four weeks of industrial action over pay.

Ministry of Justice members of the Public Service Association will strike from 10.30am to 12.30pm today.

PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay said on Monday that eleventh hour meetings were held between the PSA Bargaining Team and Ministry of Justice to reach a resolution but no movement on fundamental pay issues was offered.

He said the union is seeking an outcome that ensures members including court security officers, registry officers, victim advisors, court reporters and Family Court coordinators are reasonably paid. 

The ministry’s own engagement survey shows that only a third of staff feel valued for the work that they do, with a clear impact on recruitment and retention issues across the ministry, Mr Barclay said. 

He said the ministry offered the third lowest average salary in the public sector last year and the PSA believes this is being worsened. 

As well as strike action today, the employees will ban overtime, only work contracted hours of work and take common breaks until October 19 "to push for fair pay systems and a modest across-the-board pay increase," Mr Barclay said.

Kaitaia, New Zealand - August 18, 2014: Kaitaia District/Family Court outdoor sign and symbol. It is the most northern District Court in new zealand
Kaitaia District Court. Source: istock.com

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Netsafe won't pursue Sir Ray Avery's complaint over media website

Scientist and entrepreneur Sir Ray Avery will have to go to the district court if he wants to pursue his complaint about media website Newsroom any further.

Sir Ray complained to Netsafe under the Harmful Digital Communications Act, regarding five articles Newsroom had published about fundraising he was doing for his LifePod inventions, and about his other past products.

He said the articles caused him severe emotional distress and amounted to harassment and digital harm under the Act.

Newsroom has refused to take the articles down.

Netsafe Director Martin Cocker said there isn't anything more Netsafe can do through mediation.

"As soon as one party says, you know they're not prepared to engage in the process, then that's a pretty strong sign that it's time for Netsafe to conclude its process."

That mediation process is a mandatory first step under the Act, and most Harmful Digital Communications Act complaints are sorted at this point.

However Mr Cocker said the main thing they do to get resolution, is to advise parties on what the likely legal ramifications are of different actions that they might take.

In this case, Mr Cocker said, there is not clarity in the Act about how these particular cases should be handled.

"It is for the court to set that precedent, so our recommendation is that has to happen," he said.

Mr Cocker said if they did not feel they could progress the case, their advice was to consider taking it to the district court. But he said that was "entirely optional" for the complainant.

By Gia Garrick

rnz.co.nz

Newsroom is standing by its reporting on the former New Zealander of the Year, and questioning the method of the complaint.
Sir Ray Avery. Source: 1 NEWS


What to do and what not to do if you come across a kiwi in the wild

A rare daytime encounter with a kiwi on the Heaphy Track got TVNZ1's Seven Sharp thinking - what to do and what not to do when you come across the native bird in the wild.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) says it's pretty unusual for these nocturnal birds to be out during sunshine hours.

As we all know kiwi don't fly so escaping predators can be pretty tricky. An average of 27 are killed every week, so we've got to be pretty careful around them.

DOC gave Seven Sharp some important tips to remember if you encounter one of these unique birds.

Firstly stay still and just enjoy the rare experience. Stay a few metres away and don't worry if they approach you, just keep still.

Second, don't move towards the bird or try to pick it up - it's an offence to hold kiwi without permission from DOC.

Also, be weary of their sharp claws - they're wild animals and can get stroppy.

Lastly, feel free to take photos or video, but only in low light conditions and don't use a flash as it can stun the birds.
 


An encounter with one of the birds on the Heaphy Track got us thinking. Source: Seven Sharp