Huge fire at recycling plant near Thames still burning but now under control

Fire and Emergency New Zealand reports that a very large fire at the Carter Holt Harvey Smart Environmental Recycling plant between Paeroa and Thames is now under control.

Firefighters were called to the scene about 9.15pm last night, and numerous fire engines were called in from as far away as Hamilton, Thames and Ngatea.

The fire is now contained, but two aerial units are being brought in to help extinguish the fire.

It is still expected to continue to burn throughout the day.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS


Plea for Rural Health Alliance funding

The Rural Health Alliance says it will be forced to shut down unless it gets $600,000 in government funding.

Federated Farmers said yesterday that the funding needs to continue as it is an effective voice for rural New Zealanders.

The Rural Health Alliance, which was set up five years ago, represents people in the rural health sector, and finds out tomorrow whether the government has approved its case for funding of $600,000.

"It is essentially a district health board for rural Kiwis," Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says.

"It advocates for the 600,000 New Zealanders living in rural areas - that's one and a half times the population of our second largest urban area, Wellington."

Core funding for the operating, leadership, advocacy and needs identification work of the alliance has for the last five years been met by member organisations, most of them charities and membership-levy groups which are themselves finding money is very tight, Ms Milne said.

The alliance has said that model is no longer sustainable without government support.

It has run a campaign on suicide prevention and mental health among farmers.

"If the alliance is starved of funding and is forced to close, those gaps and shortfalls could snowball, leaving the health and wellbeing of rural residents at significant risk," Ms Milne said.

"Australia and the USA have had rural health umbrella groups for decades, with government funding for their running costs from day one. New Zealand deserves the same."

Chief executive of the alliance, Michelle Thompson, says it had never had government funding before but the alliance presented a funding bid to the Minister of Rural Communities and Minister of Health in November.

Source: 1 NEWS


What's the damage? North Island waking to damage after being battered by gale-force winds overnight

Those in the North Island are this morning waking up to fallen trees, power outages, blocked roads and property damage after powerful gale-force winds battered many areas.

A Fire and Emergency NZ spokesperson said they had been called out to 450 weather-related jobs last night as of 3am, and about 1600 111 calls had been received.

Winds of more than 100km/h pulled down powerlines leaving many homes cut off. Source: Breakfast

Large trees have fallen in many parts of Auckland and property damage was visible on city streets as of 5am.

Vector reports that crews have been working through the night to fix more than 150 outages due to power line damage.

More than 100,000 homes and business have lost power throughout the course of the night.

Auckland Transport reports that the storm is causing issues on the rail network, with western line services terminating in Henderson with some bus replacements.

There may also be delays at other stations because power may be out, AT said, and the network is being assessed.

Conditions are easing across the North Island but there's still a chance of heavy rain around Taranaki, Whanganui and the Hawke's Bay hill country.

No state highways are closed, except the Desert Road which is closed due to snow.

A large tree which fell on to a property on Hobson Street in central Auckland.
A large tree which fell on to a property on Hobson Street in central Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS

Auckland Airport flights appear to be returning to normal, but passengers are advised to check the airport's website for current flight information.

In the South Island, snow showers have eased or stopped in most places, although sleet showers and rain are still forecast over the next couple of days.

The persistent southerly wind will keep snow already on the ground in place, with temperatures in elevated areas likely to stay below freezing.

Road snow warning are in place for all of the alpine passes - Lewis, Arthurs, Porters, Haast and Lindis.

There are also warnings in place for the Crown Range Road, Milford Road, Dunedin to Waitati Highway, SH80 and SH77.

Numerous trees fell overnight, with many falling on to property or vehicles. Source: 1 NEWS