'It's listening to their story' - initiative gives helping hand to at-risk Southland families with babies

An innovative pilot scheme in Invercargill is helping new parents provide better lives for their babies - and, in turn, a better future for the community.

The 1000 Days Trust focuses on the idea that the first three years of an infant's life are crucial.

It has found that when relationships between parents and families are healthy, the baby's health follows suit.

Referred at-risk babies and their families spend a week living in the 1000 Days House with a team-member who helps them deal with their specific issues.

Specialist services covering everything from financial advice to psychological care are on hand if needed.

"True whanau ora, it's not about me, or the programme, or this whare. It's about the family that walks through the door, and it's listening to their story, it's being with that family," said community liaison Megan Pearson.

Jointly funded by government and community - it's the first holistic programme of its kind in New Zealand.

"For us it was around providing a space, a place where parents could be with their children learn about their children, without any of the outside influences that were causing them a lot of stress," said 1000 Days Trust chairwoman Prue Halstead.

Anyone who needs their help is welcome.

"One really touched my heart where a mum and dad had been written off by quite a few agencies saying that they weren't good enough parents, and this is a space that we could actually work with that family and give them confidence to be parents," said Ms Pearson.

The programme is still in its pilot stage, but the trust already thinks it should be everywhere.

"We think it's a very empowering form of help that these families, that the whole community can buy into," said Ms Halstead. 

The 1000 Days Trust focuses on the idea that the first three years of an infant's life are crucial. Source: 1 NEWS



Party leaders draw battle lines on Government's new spying bill

MPs are worried about who will be watching the watchers as they prepare to debate a new spying bill.

"We won't be voting for it to first reading. We don't think that it properly protects New Zealander's privacy and their right to be free from unjustified surveillance," said Greens co-leader Metiria Turei.

A parliamentary committee oversees the work of the spy agencies behind closed doors.

At the moment only National ministers and Labour MPs sit on that committee.

Over the last century, it's formed five Labour governments - but can Andrew Little form the next one?
Labour leader Andrew Little. Source: 1 NEWS

"I think the Greens and New Zealand First should be represented on the committee," said Labour leader Andrew Little.

"I think the question for Labour if they want to put the Greens on there is: 'Do the Greens believe in the agencies?'" said Prime Minister John Key.

Labour will vote for the bill so the public can make their submissions at a select committee.

But the party is worried that spy agencies will get direct access to a wide range of information - from birth, deaths and marriage records to customs, immigration and tax databases.

Labour's also not comfortable with undercover agents getting immunity from prosecution.

"We will be advocating fiercely to ensure that we have a piece of legislation that fits the bill," said Mr Little.

Government coalition partner Peter Dunne will not vote for the bill.

"There is still a culture within the GCSB that they are above the law and the law is merely an inconvenience that they have to get around," said United Future leader Peter Dunne.

The Maori Party is still making up its mind, and New Zealand First says it will support the bill to first reading.

The Government hopes to pass its new spy bill before next year's election.

The law would boost surveillance powers over New Zealanders thought to threaten national security. Source: 1 NEWS

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Video: Cheeky kiwi caught jumping around excitedly at breakfast time near feed station

A hyperactive kiwi bird at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary was caught on camera scurrying around with glee just before its bedtime. 

The video was taken early this morning at one of the feeding stations at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary in Dunedin. 

The nocturnal bird bowls into the shot, shakes its tail feathers quickly, and rushes out again.

It bounds around on its two feet, toppling over once in its enthusiasm.