Kauri tree classified as threatened by DOC

New Zealand’s plants and trees are facing an increasing number of threats.

The latest New Zealand Threat Classification System report from the Department of Conservation checks in with the risks to nearly 3000 known native species.

About 80 per cent of native plants are unique to New Zealand but according to the report, an increasing number of them are in trouble.

This latest report has reclassified another 113 plants as ‘threatened’, bringing the total to 402.

Among them is the the kauri plant.

DOC’s acting director for terrestrial ecosystems Matt Barnett says “threats like kauri dieback, browsing by possums, goats, rabbits and other animals, and changes in land use, particularly in the eastern South Island, have caused the observed decline of 61 plant species, which are now in a worse state than five years ago”.

The news hasn’t gone down well with Forest and Bird, who are calling for urgent action, and want track closures and upgrades to prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease.

They say MPI is failing in its fight against the disease.

In December a national pest management plan was announced, with the Government planning on taking a harder approach when fighting kauri dieback.

This included extra funding and tighter regulations around infected sites.

But Forest and Bird argues the two-year timeframe for the plan won’t be enough to save the native plant.

It is calling for the closure of all healthy kauri forests, in order to save the species.

Nick Beveridge, Forest and Bird Auckland, and Northland Regional Manager says they need to be closed “until they have upgraded tracks that stop the movement of even one speck of mud”.

He claims MPI has ‘systematically failed’ over the last decade to address the kauri dieback outbreak.

Forest and Bird is currently talking to all their branches about closing reserves with kauri on them.

It comes as calls intensify for new leadership in fighting the disease. Source: 1 NEWS

Malcolm Rewa seeks to avoid third murder trial over death of Susan Burdett

Serial rapist Malcolm Rewa is seeking to avoid a third murder trial.

Rewa is serving preventive detention with a minimum non-parole period of 22 years for rape and other offending against 25 women.

He now faces a third trial for the murder of Susan Burdett who was found raped and bludgeoned to death in her South Auckland home in 1992.

Rewa's lawyer, Paul Chambers, has previously said his client cannot get a fair trial because of media publicity about his client.

He is now seeking a permanent stay in proceedings that, if successful, would bring an end to the case.

Justice Woolford set the argument down for July.

Rewa's DNA was found at the scene, but two juries failed to reach a unanimous verdict on the murder charge.

The Attorney General issued a stay 20 years ago, meaning no further prosecution of Rewa would go ahead.

But after Teina Pora's convictions were quashed by the Privy Council, attorney general David Parker effectively lifted the stay.

Mr Chambers challenged that decision, but a decision released last month by chief High Court judge Justice Venning confirmed the Attorney General could lift a stay.

Justice Venning ruled there was no procedural bar to lifting a stay. He found that while the decision to lift a stay could be reviewed by the court, he declined to review this particular decision.

Pora's convictions for Ms Burdett's murder were quashed by the Privy Council in 2015. He was convicted after a false confession.

The judgement also provided insight into the Solicitor General Una Jagose's reasons to try Rewa for a third time and were set out in full in Justice Venning's decision.

Ms Jagose said after Mr Pora's convictions were quashed, no one had been held accountable for the murder and there was sufficient evidence to support the murder charge against Rewa. There was also public interest in the case.

Justice Venning said although third trials were rare, they had happened before.

Rewa's case will come back to the High Court next month where Rewa's lawyer is expected to notify the court on whether there are any other pre-trial issues. That could include an application to dismiss the prosecution.

A trial has been set down for eight weeks, beginning in February next year.

- By Edward Gay

Malcolm Rewa in the dock at the High Court in Auckland in December 2017.
Malcolm Rewa in the dock at the High Court in Auckland in December 2017. Photo: RNZ/Edward Gay Source: rnz.co.nz


Mt Ruapehu experiencing 'minor volcanic unrest', Crater Lake's temperature rising

The North Island's largest mountain Mt Ruapehu is currently experiencing a "minor volcanic unrest", with an increasing temperature on its Crater Lake over the past week.

GNS Science who produced the assessment of Mt Ruapehu said a Volcanic Alert Level 1 is in place - which is the lowest alert level for volcanoes.

GNS says over the past two months the lake has cooled to 20 degrees, but since Tuesday last week it has started heating again at a rate of 1 degree per day.

Mt Ruapehu is also experiencing an increase in volcanic tremor, and while GNS says the mountain doesn't show any "unusual signs" of unrest they say it is a useful reminder that eruptions can occur with little or no warning.

Volcanic unrest hazards, which are possible from a Volcanic Alert Level 1, occur on and near the volcano.

They may include: steam eruptions, volcanic gases, earthquakes, landslides, uplift, subsidence, changes to hot springs, and/or mudflows.

GNS hopes to collect water and gas samples from Mt Ruapehu's Crater Lake this week.

Mt Ruapehu's crater lake. Source: 1 NEWS