Kiwi cancer-fighting specialist booted out of Britain as rules on overseas workers tightened

A New Zealander who uses her specialist medical skills to fight cancer has been booted out of Britain because the country has tightened rules on all overseas workers, a policy that's leaving vital services like health in the lurch.

Steph Burcher, a genetic counsellor, has left London and headed back to New Zealand, but it's not of her choosing.

"I really enjoy working here and I really enjoy my job and would like to continue doing it, but unfortunately I can't without a visa," she told 1 NEWS.

That's despite the fact she helps save lives. A genetic counsellor is a specialised position which identifies people at risk of developing hereditary cancers and is a vital role in cancer prevention.

But after nearly two years on a young person's visa, her application to be sponsored and stay on was denied.

There will be women who are at risk, who could potentially be prevented from getting cancer - Professor Jayant Vaidya, breast cancer surgeon

"It was really disappointing to get confirmation," she said.

There's a cap on the number of skilled workers from outside the European Union allowed to live and work in Britain.

The rules were tightened even more last December. 

The cap covers all skilled industries, with priority given to hard-to-staff medical professions, but not genetic counsellors despite experts saying there is a workforce shortage.

"Unequivocally, waits are getting longer. It varies depending on the on hospital trust and where you are in the UK, but we are aware now of at least one trust that is about to have three empty positions," said Dr Katie Snape, consultant for cancer genetics.

And doctors say that's putting lives at risk.

Breast cancer surgeon Professor Jayant Vaidya said there will be women who are at risk, "who could potentially be prevented from getting cancer".

Steph Burcher's case is not an isolated one. A recent report warned that one in every 11 posts in the National Health Service was vacant.

Chief executive of NHS Employers, Danny Mortimer, said since December "at least 400 doctors who we've been trying to recruit to come and work in the NHS in England haven't been able to enter the country and take up posts".

Meanwhile Ms Burcher's bosses have left her job open for now, hoping her second attempt at a visa will return her lifesaving skills to Britain.

But such a move is leaving vital services like health in the lurch. Source: 1 NEWS

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Person airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after two-car crash in Canterbury

One person has been airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after a two-car crash in Canterbury today.

The incident occurred between a truck and a ute on Bealey Road, near the intersection with Greendale Road, Selwyn, at around 12.30pm.

The Serious Crash Unit is in attendance and traffic is being diverted around the scene.

Source: 1 NEWS

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Māori cultural centre for Whangārei hopes for $5 million council grant

The long-held dream of a Māori cultural centre for Whangārei is hanging on hopes of a $5 million council grant.

Work has just begun on the first stage of the project - a big carving workshop and waka shelter, east of the Town Basin in the Hihiaua Peninsula.

But stage two, a theatre, will be competing for council funding with hotel developers across the river.

Master Carver Te Warihi Hetaraka can visualise exactly what the Hihiaua Cultural Centre will look like.

The trust he's a part of has been planning it for ten years, but it's been the dream of his elders for much longer.

"The vision of it started back in the 1980s when the kaumātua realised that kids were losing their culture fast - real fast. They saw a cultural centre as a place where they could retain a lot of the knowledge that used to be handed down and is no longer with us."

Some of those arts and skills - carving, weaving and waka building - would finally have a home in Whangārei by next April.

A former boat-building shed on the Waiarohia Stream is being converted into an art workshop space, with a waka shelter and launching gantry.

Half the $2 million cost has been covered with a grant from the Provincial Growth Fund, and the rest from the Whangarei District Council, Foundation North and Te Puni Kokiri.

But it's the next stage that will be the big one: A 700 seat theatre for the performing arts, a facility Whangārei has needed for years.

It will cost between $10m and $15m according to Hihiaua Trust secretary Janet Hetaraka.

The theatre would be versatile enough to handle many community events, Mrs Hetaraka said.

But the priority for the Trust was kapa haka.

"We have many kapa haka events throughout the year and there is no adequate venue.

"They have to use stadiums or gyms and there's never enough space for the audience. What we've designed is an indoor/outdoor stage, so we can have thousands of people seated outside on the grass with the stage open to the outdoors."

The Hihiaua Trust will apply for resource consent for the theatre in the next fortnight. It hopes to persuade the council to back the project with a $5m grant.

If it succeeds, it would be able to apply to other charities for the rest of the funds, Mrs Hetaraka said.

The Whangārei District Council has long had $10 million budgeted in its long term plan for a theatre but developers planning to build a hotel across the river are also pitching for council funding for a conference centre.

Another Hihiaua Trust member, lawyer Ryan Welsh, said the Hihiaua theatre was more in line with what the city needed.

"Not to say that a hotel wouldn't provide jobs but we are looking to showcase Māori culture and also be inclusive of the whole community in terms of its use."

Both developments are intended to work in with the Hundertwasser Art Centre now under construction at the other end of town.

The Hihiaua Trust said the cultural centre would complement the Hundertwasser, which included a Māori fine arts' gallery.

Hihiaua trustees held off applying for council and charitable funding for several years, to let the $28m Hundertwasser take precedent.

But the trust and the hotel developers could yet be in for a wait.

Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai said the council was in the process of developing a new events and venues strategy and would not be handing out any money until it was decided where the venue gaps were in the city.

- By Radio New Zealand's Lois Williams

Boats moored at Whangarei Marina in the town basin. Northland, New Zealand, NZ.
Whangārei's Town Basin. (file picture). Source: istock.com

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Investigation underway after truckie films himself abusing cyclist on Dunedin road

A Dunedin company is investigating the actions of one of its employees after he filmed himself abusing a cyclist and posted it online.

The man shot a video of himself riding in the passenger seat of a truck, and can be heard urging the driver to hit the cyclist.

"Run him over Greg mate ... do it," the man says.

"Out of the way you f****** cabbage!"

The man then posted the video onto a local social media page, the Otago Daily Times reports, and another member of the page provided it to the newspaper.

A spokesperson for the trucking company, Clearwater Civil, said he is appalled.

"The video is extremely embarrassing," he told the Times.

"The allegation is viewed very seriously and there is an employment investigation under way.''

The spokesperson said he was happy to see that the driver appeared to have actually ignored his the man's words and given the cyclist plenty of room.


Who's in the right? Takapuna home owner building a wall right over popular beachfront walkway - but it's their land

A wall being constructed along the shore in Auckland's Takapuna is dividing residents, and opinions.

The wall in question, half-finished, is situated at the edge of 19 Brett Ave, and is technically located on private property.

Boundary data for 19 Brett Ave shows that the property protrudes down on to the shoreline.
Boundary data for 19 Brett Ave shows that the property protrudes down on to the shoreline. Source: LINZ/Screenshot

However, the wall would make a well-used walkway between Takapuna and Milford Beaches unusable, which has led to outcries from residents.

Colleen Bergin told Stuff she fears she'll no longer be able to walk her dog along the coast, and other residents have also voiced concerns.

"It's one thing to over-intensify building throughout the city and it's another thing to ruin an iconic walk because of one person's demands," Ms Bergin said.

A graphic showing the location of 19 Brett Ave, in relation to the eastern coastline of Takapuna in Auckland.
A graphic showing the location of 19 Brett Ave, in relation to the eastern coastline of Takapuna in Auckland. Source: Google Maps

"Council should be bargaining with these people to preserve this walkway and make it better."

After Stuff made queries to Auckland Council about the wall, it halted construction on August 1, saying a further resource consent would be needed, which is currently being processed.

With the wall in place, walkers would be forced to go further down the rocks, which Ms Bergin said could deter walkers, or even lead to injuries.

James Hunter of Christopher Hay Construction, who is in charge of building the wall, told Stuff previously his client had gone to great lengths to make the wall aesthetically pleasing, and that most people didn't realise the pathway actually crosses private property.

Mr Hunter said the owners are overseas, and do not want to comment.

A graphic showing the location of 19 Brett Ave in Takapuna.
A graphic showing the location of 19 Brett Ave in Takapuna. Source: Google Streetview/Google Maps/1 NEWS Graphic