'Hello, here's another one!' - Marlborough farmer, 85, welcomes first lamb quadruplets in 50 years

It's been described as a one-in-a-million chance, and it was certainly a first for Marlborough's Les Hensen.

"I came out here in the paddock and saw a couple of lambs, and thought, 'Ah, yeah', which twins is quite normal," the 85-year-old sheep farmer told Stuff. "But then I looked closer: 'Hello, here's another one.' Then I looked again and, 'Here's another one!'"

Mr Hansen said he has had plenty of triplets in his five decades of tending sheep herds, but never quads - until Friday.

Federated Farmers Rotorua Taupo president Alan Wills told the Herald in July, after a similar set of quadruplets was born on a Rotorua lifestyle block, that such births were "almost unheard of".

Mr Hensen said his lambs looked "quite big" and healthy. How the mum will manage, however, is still up in the air.

"It's going to be a big handful for the old sheep," he told Stuff. "She could be right...They all seem to get a drink.

"They're better on their mothers than trying to rear them on a bottle, and it's a lot of work. If she keeps looking after them, I'll leave them with her."



Murderer to be compensated for solitary confinement breach

The government has agreed to pay $10,000 to a convicted murderer who was unlawfully held in solitary confinement.

The UN Committee Against Torture has ruled inmate John Vogel had his human rights breached in 2000 after he was confined to a cell for drug offending for 21 days - six days longer than legally allowed.

It said the solitary confinement was disproportionate and urged the Government to give him fair compensation.

In a letter to Vogel's lawyer, Attorney General David Parker said he had agreed to pay $10,000 compensation as well as covering part of his legal costs.

Vogel was sentenced in 1988 to life in prison for murdering Peter Hoey in Auckland.

He was released on parole after a decade, but was recalled to prison in January 2000 after further offending.

rnz.co.nz

Prisoner (file picture)
Source: istock.com

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Wellington named the top destination in New Zealand by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet has named Wellington as the best destination in New Zealand, labelling the city "one of the coolest little capitals in the World".

Christchurch was left out of the country’s top 20 destinations after seven writers visited the country as part of research.

The capital was praised for its art-house cinemas and live music.

"Edgy yet sociable, colourful yet often dressed in black. Wellington is big on the unexpected and unconventional,” the book says.

"One of the coolest little capitals in the World, windy Wellington lives up to the hype."

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester told Stuff the city’s ranking was "brilliant".

"Every visitor to Wellington, and those returning after an absence, are gobsmacked by the change and I'm glad more people are getting the same buzz,” he said.

Auckland was rated fourth in the list, dropping two places from the previous edition in 2016.

"(Auckland is) regularly rated one of the world's most livable cities, and while it's never going to challenge NYC or London in the excitement stakes, it's blessed with good beaches, wine regions and a thriving dining, drinking and live music scene," Lonely Planet said.

Although it left Christchurch out of the top 20, the book said the Garden City was a vibrant city but says "scaffolding and cones will be part of Christchurch's landscape for a while yet."

LONELY PLANET'S TOP 20 PLACES TO VISIT IN NEW ZEALAND:

Wellington

Tongariro

Waiheke Island and the Hauraki Gulf

Auckland

Kaikoura

Bay of Islands

Milford Sound

Queenstown

Rotorua

Maori Culture

The West Coast

Heaphy Track

Central Otago

Rugby

Abel Tasman National Park

Waitomo Caves

Skiing and Snowboarding

Akaroa and Banks Peninsula

TranzAlpine Railway

Otago Peninsula

View from Mount Victoria into the bay of Wellington (capital city of New Zealand)
Source: istock.com

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Power poverty: 'We don't even have a heater'

Pensioners sit in cold houses wrapped in sleeping bags for fear of a big power bill, a budgeting services trust says, as a new report reveals energy hardship in New Zealand.

Nearly a third of all households struggle to pay their electricity bills with many incurring fines or having their power cut entirely.

A Government report released yesterday showed more than 100,000 households are experiencing "energy hardship" and paying more than 10 per cent of their income on electricity.

One person feeling the sting of high power prices is Mangere resident Anaru McCallum whose father is a chronic asthmatic yet often the heater is not turned on in their house in order to save on the power bill.

He and his father live in a Mangere state house and neither are working at the moment.

"We're on $20 a week and if we use the heater one day a week then it takes like $5, just for that one day. So that's a quarter usage of how much we use a week."

This is despite the importance of providing a warm environment for his father's condition.

"Our house is over 50 years old so it does add to his sickness as well," he said.

Most of the people RNZ spoke to at Mangere Town Centre use prepay power plans, meaning if they don't top up their account, the electricity goes off straight away.

"You just get topped up and cut off as they please," said Lewis Te Amo.

"We don't even have a heater."

Anamarie Havili pays the bills for all three people in her house with the money she earns as a customer service representative at a call centre.

She was living with her parents until she got married recently, and was shocked when she started paying for power.

Nearly one million Kiwis are about to get help heating their homes during winter. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's just like, what the heck? How is it so high? Even just using the appliances at home like cooking in the oven or the microwave, I see that using that on certain days it's higher. It's like, what the heck?"

James Tafatu lives in Mangere with his partner and five children and works while his wife studies. He estimates he's one of those paying at least 10-percent of the family's income for electricity.

"I need my kids to be warm ... if it's not too cold we try and turn off the heaters but when it's really cold I've got no choice."

Darryl Evans of the Mangere Budgeting Services Trust said power poverty had been increasing throughout New Zealand for many years.

Record numbers of people are coming to the Trust for help, not only for food and clothing, but increasingly to pay for power.

"If you look at the pressure put on low-income families, who are often considered vulnerable, then it tells you why kids are getting sick because the houses are cold and damp. There's a range of health issues which impact when you're living in cold houses," he said.

Mr Evans said pensioners were particularly affected by high power prices.

"Many pensioners are afraid of turning on the electricity simply because they're afraid of receiving a large bill that they can't pay for.

"And so they simply sit in cold units wrapped up in sleeping bags and hot water bottles. We hear it all the time.

Mr Evans said it was time for the government to step in.

Stefan Atkinson was left without a heating source when plaster fell out of his chimney flute, creating a fire hazard. Source: 1 NEWS

Consumer New Zealand head of research Jessica Wilson said low income households were more likely to miss out on prompt payment discounts.

People on prepay plans also incur extra fees each time they top up.

"We are seeing that the significant rise in residential power prices over the last couple of decades has had a major impact, particularly on low-income consumers.

"In our view, access to power at an affordable price is a basic consumer right and the current system we have in place isn't delivering that access," said Jessica Wilson.

Lucy Telfar-Barnard, of the University of Otago's Department of Public Health, said limiting the amount of electricity you use in order to save money can have very serious consequences.

"Every year we see more people in hospital in the winter than in the warmer months and a big part of that is the temperature that they're living in," she said.

By Matthew Theunissen

www.rnz.co.nz

The Government’s proposed standards include putting heating in bedrooms and installing extractor fans. Source: 1 NEWS


Seven Sharp details Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's NZ itinerary and gives tips for what they need to check out

The countdown is on... just over one month until Prince Harry and Meghan Markle touch down in Wellington for the first time as a married couple.

So where will they stay? And what will they do? And where will you be able to catch a glimpse of them?

Seven Sharp has all the details of the royal couple's itinerary, and some ideas on what they should do, in the video above.

Seven Sharp’s Tamati Rimene-Sproat plays tour guide to the royal couple. Source: Seven Sharp