Kiwi mum battling cancer pleas for funding to help others donate breast milk for her baby

A Kiwi mum battling cancer has pleaded with the Government for funding to help others pay for costly blood tests so they can donate their breast milk to those in need like her.

Merania French was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer just two weeks after the birth of her second son, and it means she's unable to breastfeed.

To try and solve the problem Ms French took to Facebook to seek breast milk donations and was overwhelmed by the support.

"All the people who responded back, it was overwhelming, it was great, and I thought 'cool now we're going to be sorted'," she told TVNZ1's Te Karere.

However, one of the issues she faced was that while there were many keen to donate, she says the up to $170 fee for blood testing can often be out of reach.

Ms French believes there should be funding support systems in place for people wanting to donate breast milk.

"I have heard there is funding for tinned milk for babies, if they can do that, why can't they do this one off fee for those willing to donate?"

Ms French's chemotherapy course will come to an end in the coming months, and soon after she'll be allowed to breastfeed again.

She says she'll continue to champion the issue until there's support in place for other mothers who want breast milk for their kids.

Merania French's diagnosis means she's unable to breastfeed, but costly blood tests are hampering those wanting to donate their breastmilk. Source: Te Karere


'We want people to be safer' – gun owners will soon have to pass more stringent test

It's hoped new gun rules will make it harder for firearms to fall into the wrong hands.

The new rules come as figures released to 1 NEWS show 99 per cent of firearms applications in New Zealand were approved in the past year.

That's all set to change as soon new applicants will have to pass a harder test, similar to getting a drivers licence.

"That way at least whoever's doing the testing can see that people actually point their guns in the right direction for a start," hunter Brenton Laing said.

Applicants will also have to sit a new multi-choice theory test at either the AA or VTNZ.

"We want people to be safe and this new programme offers an opportunity to improve those safety outcomes," New Zealand Police's acting Superintendent Mike McIlraith told 1 NEWS.

The NZ gun lobby is sceptical of the need for change, concerned the changes could lead to more people using guns illegally.

"It will actually, most probably increase the flow of what we call 'grey guns' to the unofficial market," Paul Clark from the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners said.

The new changes come into force on July 1.

It's hoped the new rules will make it harder for firearms to fall into the wrong hands. Source: 1 NEWS


Experts tell Government to ban cigarette sales by 2025 as smoke free goal 'a train wreck for Maori and Pasifika'

A Maori health leader and anti-smoking campaigner have today told politicians they should pass a law now to make selling cigarettes illegal by 2025.

The chief executive for Maori Public Health Lance Norman sounded a warning to the first combined meeting of the Health and Maori Affairs select committees that the goal of making New Zealand smoke free in seven years' time will not be achieved.

"We will not hit 2025 Smoke Free New Zealand,” Mr Norman said. 

"The target is five per cent and we are nowhere near that. We are currently sitting at about 16 per cent for total population. But when you look at it by ethnicity, saying it's a train wreck for Maori and Pasifika would be an understatement," he said.

Currently 35 per cent of Maori smoke and 25 per cent of Pasifika.

"We're well behind the eight ball. We've got a lot of catchup to do and we need to get this under control,” Boyd Broughton of Action on Smoking said.

One of their suggestions is to ban the sale of cigarettes. 

"You should pass legislation now to make it illegal to sell cigarettes by 2025. And you might have a phase out approach,” Mr Norman told the parliamentarians.

But not everyone is convinced by the ban suggestion.

“People should be able to smoke if they want to,” one man on a city street told 1 NEWS.

Another person said: “That's just going to make people do it secretly. Or it'll become criminalised which will make it worse.”

Other recommendations include raising the smoking age to 21, and better access to options like e-cigarettes.

The Government today wouldn’t be drawn into whether it'll fail its smoke free goal. 

“Right now we're working with the Ministry of Health on an action plan to get us to reaching 2025. I am actually very committed to it,” said Jenny Salesa, Associate Health Minister.

The Government is also looking at whether the tobacco tax is working.

But the experts who fronted the politicians warn more needs to be done, and soon, to save lives. 

Health leaders say the rates of smoking among Maori and Pacifica remain too high, with one calling for a total ban. Source: 1 NEWS