'Get in early' - thousands of Auckland families compete for prized kindergarten spots

The Government is being urged to step up and help, as thousands of Auckland children wait for months on end to start early childhood education.

Service provider BestStart says there is a lack of provision across the city as the issue isn't a lack of centres, but a lack of centres in the right places.

Chief executive Fiona Hughes says across their sites, there are children who will be waiting up to 18 months.

"A lot of it is to do with the growth in Auckland," she says.

"It's been phenomenal and the services aren't there in the new suburbs to provide for education and care for children, so our waiting lists can be quite substantial."

Three-year-old Laavya Kumar has been waiting to get into the BestStart centre in Flat Bush for over seven months.

Father Kuldeep says they still have at least three months of waiting ahead.

Mrs Hughes says: "We are hearing of mums who haven't even had the baby yet actually coming into enrol their child so they can get them in in time".

The Auckland Kindergarten Association chief executive Tanya Harvey says they struggle with waiting lists too, with 5500 families in line.

But, while in some areas there are no choices for centres, other neighbourhoods are overwhelmed with option.

Fiona Hughes says this is because instead of providers looking to develop a centre in areas where there is need, many services set up in areas where there is already competition.

As a result, "you're getting centres that are probably reducing their roles down to say 70 per cent, because the concentration of children isn't there".

"I guess it's a little bit like setting two schools up side by side, it really doesn't make a lot of sense," she said.

In Takanini, two centres have been set up within 100 metres of each other and are operating with reduced roles.

A similar situation is expected in Westgate, where there are two neighbouring centres in the building phase.

BestStart says the Government needs to regulate where centres are set up to avoid this happening.

In a statement to 1 NEWS, Katrina Casey from the Ministry of Education dismissed the idea.

"Early Childhood Education (ECE) services are private businesses and we don't direct where these services are established."

"However the Ministry does provide guidance that encourages businesses/organisations to understand the market before they establish an ECE, including carrying out a community needs assessment and talking to local Ministry staff" she said.

Preschool centres are calling on the government to manage the problem. Source: 1 NEWS



Air New Zealand to ditch Vietnam flights next year

Air New Zealand will stop flying to Vietnam from next year.

The airline said that over the past year, due to engine problems, it has consistently had nearly half of its fleet of 13 787 Dreamliners grounded while their engines are serviced in Singapore.

As a result, Air New Zealand has leased three aircraft, but to prevent further disruptions it will stop flying to Vietnam next year, suspend services to Haneda in Tokyo, and reduce the frequency of flights to Argentina and Taipei.

Chief executive Christopher Luxon said he will meet Rolls-Royce management in London next month to seek reassurances the engines will be fixed soon.

Air New Zealand Dreamliner. Source: 1 NEWS

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Carterton school mystery: Police say likely no plane involved in incident that left children hospitalised

Police say a plane was likely not involved in the incident at a Carterton school that saw 10 primary school children taken to Wairarapa Hospital after falling ill yesterday.

Emergency services were called to South End School yesterday afternoon after reports of an unpleasant smell.

Paramedics treated 40 other people - children and adults - with minor symptoms and over 100 people had to go through a decontamination process.

Police searched the school grounds this morning but were unable to find the source of the smell, Wairarapa Area Commander Inspector Scott Miller said.

"Witnesses have described seeing a grey and white or red and white plane, possibly a Cessna, flying near the school between 1.30 and 2.30pm yesterday," Inspector Miller said.

After tracking down the plane and its pilot, Inspector Miller says there is no evidence to indicate the plane is the source of the smell.

"The initial call said a student saw a plane fly over the school and drop a white substance, after speaking to adults they confirmed that nothing came from the plane."

Inspector Miller says after speaking with residents it appears the substance came from the road and wafted over the school.

He says it's still a "mystery" and investigations are ongoing, including looking at local factories.

There are no ongoing effects for the children who became ill and the school will be open on Monday with a police presence.

The mystery substance which caused the illness is yet to be identified. Source: 1 NEWS


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Jacinda Ardern says parts of employment bill still under discussion

Labour and New Zealand First are working on some changes to the government's employment law legislation, the Prime Minister says.

The Employment Relations Amendment Bill which is before Parliament scraps the 90-day trial period for businesses with 20 or more employees and carries a raft of union-friendly changes including collective agreement bargaining and greater union access to workplaces.

New Zealand First minister Shane Jones said provincial employers and regional leaders had expressed some concerns about the bill.

Jacinda Ardern said there were still some parts of the bill that were being discussed between the parties.

But she told TV3's Newshub Nation she was confident the bill would still achieve the goal of improving employment law.

"As even the Deputy Prime Minister himself has said, 'this bill will pass', we're working on some details collectively.

"I'll keep my confidence around those negotiations, as I do with all of our negotiations, but we are the Labour Party, issues of employment legislation of course are critical to us, but I'd say actually they are to New Zealand First as well."

The details of the changes would be released soon, and people would be able to see that the balance of employment relations would be improved, Ms Ardern said.

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It comes after the MP was accused of assaulting a staff member in Gisborne.
Source: 1 NEWS


Man dies after becoming trapped under vehicle while pushing it down driveway in Auckland

A person has died after becoming trapped under a vehicle in Highland Park, East Auckland.

Police confirmed that emergency services were required to attend an incident that occurred on private property at around 12:15pm today.

Initial reports suggest the man was pushing a vehicle down a driveway when he somehow became trapped underneath it.

His next-of-kin have been notified and the death will be referred to the Coroner.

Ambulance Source: 1 NEWS