Jonathan Coleman adamant he was never told of Middlemore Hospital's rotting buildings as health minister

Former health minister Jonathan Coleman is adamant he was never told of rotting buildings at Middlemore Hospital.

In recent weeks, it has been revealed buildings at the hospital have been affected by mould, leaks, power issues, asbestos and even raw sewage.

"Look,  if someone had said there were four buildings with leaky building issues at Middlmore, that would have gone straight to the top of the priority list," Dr Coleman told 1 NEWS this afternoon.

He said he was talking to a clinician at Middlemore over the weekend and they didn't know there were problems at the hospital.

Dr Coleman says if he had been told "that would have gone straight to the top of the priority list". Source: 1 NEWS

Dr Coleman also said the Counties Manukau District Health Board was before Parliament's Health Select committee about six weeks ago on February 21, and "there was no mention of these major building problems". 

"So no, I did not know. And I can't know unless I'm told by officials."

Asked why officials didn't alert him to the issues, Dr Coleman said he would expect an issue that affects patient care to be raised.

"There's a clear process for raising capital bids up to the capital investment committee. It just is not credible to say that they were in some way scared of me and wouldn't have raised the issues."

The DHB refused to comment on the matter today.

Health Minister David Clark said Dr Coleman, "should have asked the right questions," but the problems at Middlemore Hospital go back to underfunding.

Dr Coleman is due to leave Parliament soon to take up a new role as CEO of a private health group.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told today's post-Cabinet news conference that "to call the deficit that our health services are facing an accounting issue is ludicrous and wrong".

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the unederfunding of health would take at least two election cycles to deal with. 

"We talked about a six-year plan to try and get back the $2.4 billion that the previous government had underfunded health by," he said.

The former Health Minister is under fire for his claimed ignorance of four leaky buildings in the Auckland hospital. Source: 1 NEWS



Washout could affect Napier to Wairoa railway reopening

Kiwirail could have to delay the re-opening of the Napier to Wairoa railway line after recent severe weather has washed out part of the track.

An section of the track is suspended in mid-air after heavy rain earlier this month washed the earth out from beneath it.

"The washout happened just north of Raupunga during the severe weather which hit the region earlier this month. It extends over a distance of around 45 metres," a spokesperson from Kiwirail said.

"Our teams are continuing to assess the damage and any impact it may have on the planned reopening date for the line."

Kiwirail initially stated the mothballed logging line would be back in action by December. 

About 50 metres of track was undermined by heavy rain, potentially delaying the line's reopening. Source: 1 NEWS

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Iwi's 'pain and anguish' at plan to rename Great Barrier Island

An iwi which has occupied Great Barrier Island since the 1700s is outraged another group of iwi will officially rename the island.

The island, which lies off Hauraki Gulf and about 100km north-east of Auckland, will be renamed Aotea - Great Barrier Island by a group of Hauraki iwi, based from North Auckland to Coromandel.

It is one of 52 geographic sites across the North Island being renamed as part of the Pare Hauraki treaty settlement.

It's a small change on paper, but to the people of Ngātiwai ki Aotea, it means much more.

Ngātiwai Iwi trustee Aperahama Edwards said Hauraki had no right to make decisions over the island.

"It's almost impossible to describe the pain, the anguish [and] the grief that we are already feeling.

"Rights and interests have been afforded to Hauraki tribes by way of redress and one of them is the right to re-name Great Barrier Island. We believe that's our privilege, that's our right."

The name-change dispute adds to a long list of overlapping claims among iwi.

They occur when two or more iwi have ties to the same area of land, but the Crown recognises one group's rights to the land over another through settlement redress.

Mr Edwards said Ngātiwai had occupied Great Barrier Island for centuries.

"We have two marae there, we have whānau who remain there and keep the fires burning, our fires have never been extinguished.

"We're the only people that live there, everything. From a tikanga-based perspective it's our whānau that place rāhui and all of those sorts of things."

Ngātiwai are not the first iwi to oppose the Hauraki treaty settlement, which was signed last month.

In opposition to the settlement, 16 claims have been filed to the Waitangi Tribunal.

Pare Hauraki lead negotiator Paul Majurey has fiercely defended the iwi's historic connections and rights to different areas in the North Island.

And he continues to defend their rights on Great Barrier Island too.

He wouldn't be interviewed, but sent through a statement made by the Māori Land Court in 1998 that shows the iwi of Hauraki do have historic connections to the island - and have established wāhi tapu or sacred places there.

Ngātiwai kaumātua Opo Ngawaka lives on the island.

He said he was completely blindsided by the redress included in the Hauraki settlement.

"It's about our rights to make decisions on what goes forward here, and not something that sits behind closed doors.

"All of a sudden we get this picture of what they intend to do, and that's the difficult part of it."

Mr Ngawaka said Ngātiwai had made numerous attempts to meet with the people of Hauraki.

"There hasn't been any discussion back on our marae with them and if there is going to be a name-change come and talk to us on our whenua and on our marae and discuss this out.

"We would never do that to anyone else, it's not in our nature."

He said a tikanga-based process, where iwi resolved issues among themselves without the Crown involved, had been forgotten.

By Te Aniwa Hurihanganui

rnz.co.nz

Sam Wallace takes a look at one of the best views Great Barrier Island has to offer.
Source: Breakfast

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Students excluded from Canterbury school after 'serious assault'

Two students have been excluded from the school after footage of them assaulting another student emerged last week.

The incident took place at Darfield High School in Canterbury last Tuesday and was captured on camera by another student.

The video shows two boys punching another boy and standing over him before kicking him in the backside after being told to leave the scene.

It appears the boy was punched in the head twice by the same boy where he lay on the ground.

Today, Darfield High school released a statement outlining the action they have taken over the incident.

"On Tuesday 18 September a student was seriously assaulted at school by two other students.

"Following an investigation, the students were suspended from school pending a Board of Trustees disciplinary meeting. On Friday evening at the disciplinary meeting the Board of Trustees decided to exclude the students.

"This means they may not return to Darfield High School. Due to the confidential nature of the discipline meetings no further details can be released.

"Support has been offered to the victim and the school is liaising with the family to support him on his return to school.

"A complaint has been laid with the Police who are investigating the incident with the cooperation of the school."


 

Darfield High School’s principal says police were notified shortly after the incident happened. Source: Supplied


Strawberry crisis: Our strawberries are not the problem say New Zealand growers

As New Zealand authorities try to find the source of a "sordid and sick" strawberry needle contamination, the country's growers are talking down the discovery as an issue for the Australian industry.

NSW authorities are investigating more than 20 incidents of needles found in strawberries.
Source: 1 NEWS

Woolworths-owned supermarket chain Countdown on Sunday announced it was removing Choice brand strawberries, imported from Western Australia, from shelves across NZ after an Auckland customer reported discovering needles in their fruit.

It is the first such case reported across the Tasman.

The company said it had alerted authorities in Australia while NZ police and government agencies have also launched their own investigations.

Greg Newbold told Breakfast that copycat cases were inevitable. Source: Breakfast

It was not yet clear whether the needles had been inserted in Australia or after export, New Zealand Minister for Primary Industries Damien O'Connor told Radio NZ on Monday.

"It's the kind of sordid and sick proposition that does arise when these situations are publicised ... We hope that it would not be a New Zealander doing a copycat ... these will be the things that will be discovered," he said.

Mr O'Connor said he'd be looking at whether additional security measures had been taken around Australian product and whether there were any simple short- term steps that could be taken to assure consumers.

But while reports have suggested some New Zealand growers had already been eyeing metal detectors before the discovery, Strawberry Growers NZ executive manager Michael Ahern on Monday tried to allay the concerns of local consumers, talking the issue down as an Australian one.

"It is a concern, but we don't want to overcook it ... it's Australian product that's involved here," he said.

"We feel for the Aussie growers, so I don't like having to make such a blatant distinction ... But we need to remind our consumers that it's business as usual as far as we can see."

Earlier, in a message to potential copycats on the AM Show, Mr Ahern said there was a lot at stake.

"We've got a number of growers with their livelihoods on the line," he said.

No New Zealand-grown strawberries have been reported as contaminated. The local product comes into season in September and has begun appearing on supermarket shelves.

Countdown early last week announced it had halted imports of Australia strawberries to NZ for the season while competitor Foodstuffs ceased shipping them to its stores.

More than 100 reports of tampered fruit are being investigated by police across Australia, many of which are thought to be fake or copycat cases, while the federal government has ramped up penalties for so-called "food terrorists".