Generous Kiwis chip in to raise over $150k for 'amazing' Auckland girl's life-changing surgery to help her walk unaided for the first time

On her fifth birthday Ella Yearbury will have potentially life-changing surgery in the US which may enable her to walk and stand unaided for the first time.

Ella Yearbury.
Ella Yearbury. Source: 1 NEWS

The only problem is Ella's family doesn't have the money needed to bring Ella home from the US to rehabilitate.

Born at 25 weeks, Ella suffered a severe brain bleed at just three days old and now suffers with cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus and epilepsy.

Ella Yearbury.
Ella Yearbury. Source: 1 NEWS

Throughout her short life, the South Auckland toddler has endured 18 surgeries.

"She's amazing actually," her mum Kat Yearbury told 1NEWS NOW.

"Straight from her early days in NICU she was always a cheeky strong little fighter and very independent, even trying to pull tubes and things out of her nose when only a few weeks old."

For the past couple of years Ella's mum has tirelessly fundraised for her daughter's operation, a selective dorsal rhizotomy.

"It's been a little over a year that we set off on this journey with the big goal of raising $150,000," she says.

"We ran movie fundraisers, quiz nights we sold chocolate."

One attempt saw them break a Guinness World Record when nearly 1000 people dressed as fairies turned out to help fundraise for the surgery.

Sport stars such as Joseph Parker and Liam Malone have also put their names behind the cause.

Ella Yearbury.
Ella Yearbury. Source: Supplied

Ella's surgery will take place on the May 3 in St Louis Children's Hospital.

"We don't really know what it's going to do for Ella.

"We've been given expectations, but we've sat and weighed it up enough that we know that this is an opportunity for her to have a better life."

The Yearbury family has raised $150,000 for the surgery, but due to Ella's medical conditions and sponsorship falling through, a further $90,000 is needed for her travel.

"I felt like I failed on Sunday when I realised that our sponsorship from an airline that we were hoping for was not going to happen and we were meant to be going in 10 days.

"I didn't know if whether we were just going to park the whole thing or at that time I couldn't even think of another idea to fundraise."

Air Ambulance New Zealand is giving the family two paediatric intensive care specialists to fly with the family.

Family and friends have rallied to help cover the costs, but Ms Yearbury is hoping the public who have been a large support for the family can once again help out and raise the money needed for Ella to come home and rehabilitate.

"I question it a lot that I’m making the right decision for her.

"No one has said stop and I'm not giving up anytime soon anyway."

Ella flies to Missouri on Thursday for her surgery.

If you want to help Ella, go to her website to learn more on how you can donate.

If successful Ella Yearbury will be able to walk and stand unaided for the first time. Source: Breakfast

West Coast teen's binge drinking death 'senseless' and a 'sad illustration of the prevalent drinking culture' - coroner

A coroner has described the death of a 17-year-old after binge drinking as senseless and a sad illustration of New Zealand's drinking culture.

Mitchell David Heward, a farm hand at Hari Hari on the West Coast, died at Lake Kaniere in February 2016, where he'd gone with a group of friends.

Coroner Anna Tutton found the cause of death was aspiration of vomit in the context of profound, severe alcohol intoxication.

"Mitchell's death was the tragic consequence of excessive alcohol consumption by a young person, in a group in which pressure to drink was applied," Ms Tutton said in her findings released today. 

"His death was senseless, and a sad illustration of the prevalent drinking culture, she said.

"It is critical that young drinkers, particularly, appreciate the seriousness of the dangers of binge drinking, and to know what to do if someone becomes unresponsive after drinking."

The coroner said Mitchell went to Lake Kaniere with a group of friends aged between 14 and 18, intending to camp there overnight.

Members of the group took and drank a significant amount of alcohol.

Mitchell drank beer, vodka and Midori. He lost consciousness, could not be revived, and died at the lake.

He was found to have 349mg/100ml of alcohol in his system, which is almost seven times over the legal blood alcohol limit for a New Zealand driver aged over 20.

Two members of the group, one who had turned 18 days before and the other 21, were jointly charged with supplying alcohol to Mitchell who was under 18.

The  21-year-old pleaded guilty and was discharged without conviction, while the other was found not guilty.

Source: 1 NEWS


Full details: Government's huge 10-year, $28 billion Auckland transport package unveiled

The government has today revealed the 10-year future of Auckland's transport funding in a huge $28 billion package. Making the announcement from Auckland, Transport Minister Phil Twyford outlined the details of the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP).

This package will be an enhancement of National's 10-year transport plan which was budgeted at $26.9 billion in 2017.

Minister Twyford's new package has been announced at $28 billion. This morning it was reported that two unexpected new roads in Auckland's north and south to ease congestion are planned.

The Auckland fuel tax will be a crucial funder of the ATAP.

Charts included in the April 2018 ATAP announcement detailing projects, funding and funding sources.
Charts included in the April 2018 ATAP announcement detailing projects, funding and funding sources. Source: Supplied


Live updates of the details as they came: 

12.37pm: Penlink will initially be two lanes, but may eventually turn into a four lane road, Twyford says.

12.37pm: The likely toll on Penlink road hasn't been determined yet, but it likely could be between $2-3, Twyford says.

12.36pm: "I got here in an electric car today," Mayor Goff says in response to a pointed question, but Phil Twyford arrived just "by car".

A map released as part of the ATAP 2018 announcement showing Auckland's potential future rapid transit network
A map released as part of the ATAP 2018 announcement showing Auckland's potential future rapid transit network. Source: Supplied

12.34pm: Phil Goff says they will look at congestion pricing, in addition to the fuel tax, but that is still a couple of years off.

12.32pm: Mayor Goff says he hopes to double the use of public transport in Auckland over a short period of time.

12.30pm: You can view the entire Auckland Transport Alignment Project in PDF form by clicking here

12.28pm: the expansion of the rapid transit network will be extensive over the next 10-years, but will not stop by the end of the 10-years, Twyford says.

12.27pm: Twyford confirms it is now government policy to have a "congestion free network" in a rapid transit network that serves as the "trunk infrastructure" for Auckland's public transport.

12.26pm: Reaction from transport groups: 

Generation Zero welcomed the plan, saying it will "unlock Auckland".

Auckland Director Leroy Beckett said "by building new light rail, prioritising buses and further cycling network upgrades, this new transport budget will unlock Auckland.

"We’re supportive of the Government’s new transport plan and will be pushing for it to be delivered as soon as possible to provide relief and greater transport choices for Aucklanders.

"This plan signals Auckland is now on track to deal with the transport problems that have plagued the city."

Bike Auckland spokesperson Barb Cuthbert said her organisation is also happy with the ATAP, because it will increase the walking and cycling budget to $900m over ten years.

"The huge news is the government getting Skypath off the ground after years of Aucklanders crying out for that missing link across the harbour, which will be an iconic addition to our skyline and will become a must-do experience for visitors to the city," Ms Cuthbert said.

12.24pm: $900 million will be directed directly in safety improvements from the ATAP - with a forecast drop of 60 per cent in deaths over the next 10 years. This will focus on 10-12 of the most high risk intersections, 200km of the most high risk roads in Auckland and upgrading rail crossings.

12.22pm: "Lack of investment in the right things has seen the number of serious injuries and deaths in the last five years rise by 50 per cent, way beyond the growth in population in Auckland", Twyford says.

12.20pm: Auckland will receive 38 per cent of the expenditure under the national land transport program over the next 10 years, Twyford says.

12.17pm: Twyford says the $28 billion ATAP is "fully funded", and claims his government had inherited a $9.7 billion hole National had in the old 10-year transport plan, but the government has "filled it".

12.15pm: Phil Twyford says Auckland is loosing $1.3 billion in lost productivity in gird-lock.

Maps showing strategic road improvement and proposed rapid transit improvements released as part of the ATAP 2018 announcement
Maps showing strategic road improvement and proposed rapid transit improvements released as part of the ATAP 2018 announcement. Source: Supplied

12:13pm: Mayor Goff has spoken of a new ferry terminal, new train line, and has significantly confirmed the SkyPath pedestrian bridge over Auckland Harbour Bridge will be going forward.

- Mr Twyford in his official release that the "much-needed investments" were made possible "by a $4.4 billion funding boost resulting from the Auckland fuel tax, increased revenue the National Land Transport Fund, and Crown Infrastructure Partners contributions".

"This plan is funded to deliver the projects we are committed to. The previous ATAP report, released by former Transport Minister Simon Bridges in August 2017, had a $5.9 billion funding gap.

"National had no plan to fix that fiscal hole, which would have meant the projects they promised couldn’t have been delivered.

"This $28 billion plan will help ease the awful congestion that has been caused by a decade of under-investment."

- Here are the Major investments in the ATAP include as outlined in the Labour press release:

• Committed projects like the City Rail Link and northern motorway improvements.
• Light rail
• Eastern busway (Panmure-Botany)
• Airport-Puhinui State highway upgrade, including a high quality public transport link to an upgraded Puhinui rail station
• Bus priority programme, to more rapidly grow Auckland’s bus lane network and support faster, more reliable and more efficient bus services
• Albany-Silverdale bus improvements
• Lower cost East West Link to address key freight issues in the area
• Papakura-Drury motorway widening
• First phase of the Mill Road corridor
• Penlink (tolled)
• Walking and cycling programme to expand the network and complete key connections (e.g. SkyPath)
• Significant programme of safety improvements
• New transport infrastructure to enable greenfield growth
• Network optimisation and technology programme to make the best use of our existing network
• Rail network improvements including electrification to Pukekohe, additional trains and other track upgrades

- Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Transport Minister Phil Twyford had got to the stage. The ATAP package has been revealed to be $28 billion over 10-years, as opposed to $30 billion as speculated. Mayor Goff says one of the main things to be revealed today is how the Auckland fuel tax is spent.

Billions ploughed into Auckland's transport system in a bid to end gridlock in NZ's biggest city. Source: 1 NEWS