Iwi wants Auckland's Waitakere Ranges completely closed to public as kauri 'facing extinction' through dieback

Local iwi and community members say the Government is moving too slowly to protect Kauri trees from dieback in Auckland's Waitakere Ranges.

Hundreds of people continue to make their way into the ranges despite the area being heavily infected with kauri dieback, a disease spread by people walking though the forest.

1 NEWS found many of them unaware of the cultural restriction, or "rahui", put in place by local iwi Te Kawerau a Maki to keep people out.

That's frustrating for the iwi, with spokesman Edward Ashby saying the kauri could be extinct within a generation.

"They're facing extinction. Let's not mince words, they could be gone with in a generation," he said. 

The iwi is calling for a stop to the confusion and for the entire forest to be officially closed to the public, but Auckland Council has only moved to close the tracks most at risk.

Forty-two of the 140 tracks in the Waitakere Ranges have now been closed because of kauri dieback. All the closed tracks have clear signage and some even have physical barriers. But locals say that hasn't stopped some people from going in. 

"The last few days, I've noticed that the carparks at all the entrances have been chocca-block, like more than ever I've seen before. It's very disappointing and I think we need to do a lot of education," said John Edgar of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society.

Auckland Council wants to boost its spending on kauri dieback, and the Government is developing a national pest management plan to combat the disease.

"What we've been doing in the last few years clearly hasn't stopped the spread of the disease and it's getting worse. So we are going to have to take a bit of a review, a step back, and and have a look at what we're doing," said Andrew Little, the Government's duty minister. 

But the iwi says that action needs to come now. 

"We need the Crown to come and help with something like a controlled area notice because that gives you your legal enforcement. So people can be pulled up for spreading this pathogen around," Mr Ashby said.

A mighty native species is facing an uncertain future, not only because of disease but humans too.

Iwi and West Auckland community members say the government are moving too slowly. Source: 1 NEWS



'Wow what an experience!' Rare Hector's dolphins delight boaties in Golden Bay

A pod of three rare Hector's dolphins has thrilled people on a boat in Golden Bay, swimming around the vessel.

A Golden Bay boatie captured footage of the pod swimming in front of the boat as well as underwater and provided the video to conservation organisation Forest & Bird anonymously.

The vision shows one dolphin swimming fast in front of the boat, followed by shots of it underwater before all three dolphins come into view in front of the vessel.

'Wow what an experience!" a man on the boat is heard saying.

Forest & Bird says the footage of the rare dolphins has locals worried the resident dolphins could be killed in set and trawl nets.

While delighted by the find, Forest and Bird is worried about their future, due to a lack of protection in Golden Bay. Source: 1 NEWS

“Golden Bay Hector’s are much more important that we previously thought,” Forest & Bird marine specialist Anton van Helden said.

“These small populations with little or no protection from human impacts such as fishing nets need our attention.

"Little pods like these ones in Golden Bay could be genetic 'stepping stone' groups between larger populations, like those on the east and west of the South Island," he said.

A pod of Hector's was killed last year in a set net near Bank’s Peninsula, and 200 fluttering shearwaters were reportedly found in a single set net in Auckland earlier this year.


Fake 1080 pellets and dead birds left on Parliament steps

Fake 1080 pellets and dead birds were placed on the steps of Parliament today by Ban 1080 protesters. 

The fake 1080, which was said to contain porridge, was scattered on the steps of Parliament in Wellington. 

1 NEWS was told by protesters from the West Coast that the dead birds were collected over time, then left on the top step of Parliament. 

Environment Minister David Parker spoke to the protesters, and said he affirmed their right to protest. 

Senior Sergeant Braydon Lenihan said police attended the protest today, which comes after a large protest on Saturday by anti-1080 demonstrators, who wrote their message in chalk across the fence and grounds at the front of Parliament. 

"Following on from the good interaction between protesters and police on the weekend, no one was arrested and Police did not need to intervene at any stage," he said. 

Director-General for DOC Mervyn English said he respected people's right to protest, however there was "significant science behind the safe use of 1080 and its effectiveness in reducing predators that kill our native wildlife in the wilderness".

"During August, DOC staff have faced more abuse than normal," he said. "There have been eight incidents where staff have been physically confronted, abused and harassed. There have been seven incidents of abusive phone calls or emails. There have been countless incidents of social media threats and abuse."

The DOC, OSPRI (TBFree NZ), Federated Farmers, Forest and Bird and WWF-NZ back the use of the pesticide, calling 1080 an "effective, safe and valuable tool in the fight to protect New Zealand's forests and native birds, bats, insects and lizards".

"1080 is saving our birds, plants and insects. We have a choice between rats, stoats and possums or our unique native species. The situation is urgent and we have a predator crisis," Mr English said. 

Fake 1080
Workers picking up fake 1080 pellets left on the steps of Parliament. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch: Jacinda Ardern says Simon Bridges is 'jealous' of Government during heated exchange over starting wage

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said National leader Simon Bridges is "jealous" of the Government, during a heated exchange over the starting wage in Parliament's Question Time today.

Mr Bridges was seeking clarification on whether the starting wage (also known as the youth rate) would be abolished in October, after he said a press statement from Iain Lees-Galloway in December stated this would be the case.

Ms Ardern didn't answer the question directly, instead giving a passionate defence of her Government's processes.

"It's clear that we have established policy between this coalition Government that is set out in the public domain, everything else goes through a Cabinet process.

"Now I know the member continues to be jealous that he is not on this side of the House in the position to make the changes that this Government has made and that we have achieved in one year more than that government achieved in nine, but we stick to a process," she said.

National's deputy leader Paula Bennett could then be heard saying that "the fairy dust has settled" before Mr Bridges continued to press the Prime Minister.

"So when Iain Lees-Galloway said in December in a ministerial press statement that we will abolish starting out wages by October 2018 was that just a personal commitment?" he asked.

Ms Ardern answered again that the coalition Government follows a process, saying Mr Bridges might find it hard to understand how three parties can work together.

"So can we no longer believe ministerial press statements unless they are signed off by Mr Peters?" Mr Bridges replied.

"No, ridiculous," was Ms Ardern's brief response.

The starting-out wage applies solely to workers aged between 16 and 19 and who are entering the workforce for the first time and is currently set at $13.20 per hour.


 


New World's reusable container promotion backfires after microwave mishaps

A promotion by the New World supermarket chain intended to attract eco-conscious New Zealanders has somewhat backfired.

The New Zealand-based company has issued an apology to customers on its website after receiving reports that some of their reusable food storage "pods" were becoming "damaged" in the microwave.

"This is a serious issue and has our full attention," the company said. "Firstly, we would like to reassure customers that there is no food safety issue and we have been working with MPI and other experts on this."

New World launched the container promotion earlier this month, giving them away free to customers who spent a certain amount on groceries. The items, which come with a vacuum pump, have been promoted as a way to make food last longer - reducing food waste.

"New Zealand homes throw away 122,547 tonnes of food per year, all of which could have been eaten," the company pointed out. "This is enough food to feed the whole of Dunedin for two years!"

But now the narrative has changed, with New World promising it is "advising customers through as many channels as possible" that the pods shouldn't go in the microwave.

"We would like to reassure members, staff and customers that there is no food safety issue," the company said on its website. "We have verified this with independent industry experts."

The pods were safety tested prior to the promotion, but it wasn't until two customers brought the microwave issue to the company's attention that it was realised something had gone wrong.

New World said it has launched an investigation into how the error occurred.

New World's reusable food container promotion was intended to target food waste. Source: New World