'It's a good thing' - Auckland Anglican vicar welcomes vote for same-sex blessings

The Anglican Church in New Zealand is a step closer to recognising same-sex relationships, after a clear majority of bishops voted to allow blessings for couples.

But there's criticism the ruling doesn't yet extend to allowing same-sex marriage.

"Some people see it as being crumbs at the table," says Reverend Helen Jacobi of St Matthew in the City.

"But I guess the pragmatics amongst us also see it as being a first step, so we've got to work with it. But being very clear that we're going to keep on working towards marriage."

Not everyone in the church agreed with the change, with two members of the general synod resigning over the vote.

Reverend Helen Jacobi of St Matthew in the City sees it as a first step towards same-sex marriages in NZ Anglican churches. Source: 1 NEWS



Sunday preview: What is the future for whitebait?

Saturday morning at the market. I bite the bullet, line up and buy one. It's a delicious, piping-hot, wee taste of home, but boy do I feel guilty. Not guilty enough to stop at one, though. I go back for a second. Then a third.

I've read the headlines. Read the entire stories. Whitebait are being wiped out because of people like me. They could soon be gone forever - and it's my fault. Or is it?

According to a Department of Conservation report released last year, three of the five whitebait species are "at risk/declining" and one species is "threatened".

Everyone agrees humans are having a huge impact on whitebait habitat, but people don't agree on how much of an impact fishing has on these species.

To help protect these native fish Forest and Bird are calling for recreational catch limits and a complete commercial ban on whitebaiting.

"Here is a species that are in trouble and there's no limit at all to the amount that you can catch" says Forest and Bird's Kevin Hague.

But Dr Mike Hickford, a marine ecologist at the University of Canterbury says fears of wiping out whitebait are grossly overblown. "I don't think we will ever wipe out whitebait" he says.

Hickford says a distinction needs to be made between adult and the post-larvae fish. "There's no doubt that the adult stage of these fish are in trouble, but it doesn't translate to the whitebait".

Hickford says there's no evidence to suggest at this stage that whitebaiting affects the threatened adult population, which spawn in such huge numbers.

"The majority of those whitebaits that are coming back in to the river, they're going to die anyway, they always have died and they still will die in the future no matter what we do".

Despite a lack of clear evidence, Kevin Hague says restrictions on how we catch whitebait, how much we can catch and the sale of whitebait should be introduced before the start of next 3-month long season (Sept-Nov).

"We don't want to interfere with someone's ability to go and get a feed for their family, but we just think there should be some tools that we use to actually reduce the pressure on these species".

Cascade Whitebait, one of New Zealand's biggest commercial whitebaiters, fish each season on the isolated Cascade river, just south of Haast.

Nan Brown, whose parents helped set up the operation 70 years ago, says their records don't show any decline in whitebait catch.   She wants to hold on to their fishery and says, "It would be unfair to let the guillotine drop on something you don't know enough about.” 

Watch the full story tomorrow night AT 7.30pm on SUNDAY TVNZ1 or TVNZOnDemand

Whitebait are being wiped out but people can’t agree on how much of an impact fishing has on these species Source: Sunday

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Mormon church breaks ties with Boy Scouts over decision to allow gay members

The Mormon church's new youth program, which will roll out in 2020 when it cuts all ties with Boy Scouts of America, will still include outdoor and adventure activities even as the initiative becomes more gospel-focused, the faith confirmed Friday.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided a few more details about the initiative in a news release that said a full and detailed description will come later because different aspects of the program are still being tested.

The Utah-based faith announced in May it was leaving the Boy Scouts of America at the end of next year in a move that ends a nearly century-old relationship between two organisations that were originally brought together by shared values but diverged in recent years.

Amid declining membership, Boy Scouts of America recently opened its arms to openly gay youth members and adult volunteers as well as girls and transgender boys. The Mormon faith, which has long been the biggest sponsor of Boy Scout troops in the United States, has clung to its opposition of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

The church has also seen significant expansion in countries outside the U.S. where Boy Scouts wasn't offered and said it wanted to create its own uniform youth program it could use around the world and tailor specifically to its gospel. More than half of the church's 16 million members live outside the U.S. and Canada.

The news release reiterates that the faith's program will be similar to Scouting with an emphasis on outdoors, service work and character building. It won't have a ranking system like the one culminating in an Eagle Scout recognition that many generations of Mormons strived to achieve as a life milestone. It will be for boys and girls.

"Camps and other outdoor activities have always been and will continue to be a prominent part of gospel learning, building relationships, and strengthening faith in Jesus Christ," the release said. "Leaders, youth, and parents will be empowered to identify and provide outdoor activities that invite spiritual experiences and meet the unique needs of their children, young women, and young men."

For now, the faith is referring to the program as its new "children and youth development initiative."

The May announcement that it was unhitching from Boy Scouts didn't come as a major surprise. The faith removed 185,000 boys between the ages of 14 and 18 last year, signalling that an end to the long-time alliance was near. The remaining 425,000 boys will end Scouts at the end of 2019.


Boy scouts

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Man in serious condition following assault near Christchurch mall

A 41-year-old man is in a serious but stable condition in a Christchurch hospital, following an attack in the early hours this morning.

Police have cordoned off an area beside the Hornby Mall, on Shands Road, for a scene examination.

It is expected to be cleared by midday today.

Police are continuing to investigate the scene to establish what occurred.

File image of an Ambulance outside a hospital. Source: 1 NEWS


Police in stand-off with man barricaded in Huntly house

Police are currently involved in an ongoing stand-off in Huntly, which started around 2am this morning.

The eight-hour stand off began when police were called to a home on Harris St, where a man and woman had been fighting.

Upon arriving at the scene, police found the man had locked himself inside and was refusing to come out. 

At 9am, he was still refusing to come out of the home and police negotiators are currently on site, Waikato police Senior Sergeant Charles Burgess told Stuff.

"He's barricaded himself in the house and is threatening to harm himself," Senior Sergeant Burgess said.

He's not known to have access to any guns, Burgess said but does have access to knives and other items inside the home. 

"A police negotiation team are trying to speak to the man so we can bring an end to this event."

A section of the road has been cordoned off and detours are in place.

No one else is inside the home and no one has been injured.

Police emergency scene
Police emergency scene Source: 1 NEWS