Kiwi volcanologist says rising Mt Ruapehu temperatures 'typical' but there is 'potential for it to erupt'

It may be rumbling a tad more than usual and its crater lake is warming, but Mt Ruapehu is no more likely to erupt right now than any time in the last year, a Kiwi volcanologist says. 

GNS scientist Graham Leonard has laid to rest excessive fears that Mt Ruapehu is on the brink of eruption after its crater lake has rose one degree every day since last Tuesday.

"It's not something we need to be worrying about any more than last week at the moment. But it is showing a little bit of a change which is quite normal," Mr Leonard said.

Mt Ruapehu goes through a typical cycle of crater lake heating and cooling over a period of months, fluctuating between 12 degrees up to 40 degrees, Mr Leonard said.

"It's quite typical of the last 15 years of Ruapehu to be in this cycle," he said.

But although the North Island's largest mountain has sat at the lowest volcanic alert level for a year now, Mr Leonard did admit it could erupt at any time.

"The thing about volcanoes is their eruptions are not regular, they're uneven in time, so like shuffling a deck of cards you can get a whole bunch of kings, or a whole bunch of eruptions closely spaced in time but it doesn't mean that they're linked," Mr Leonard said.

"They're a long way apart and they're coming from very shallow magma chambers.

"So it's a coincidence that we're seeing eruptions in Hawaii and Central America and Vanuatu at the moment."

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 one, 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 the crater lake this week.

The Crater Lake on Mt Ruapehu.

Microplastics, native tree diseases among scientific studies given a $249 million Government cash injection

New Zealand's most prestigious science grant has just been awarded to 69 new research projects at a cost of $249 million, the Government has announced.

Among the projects given the green light today are a $12.5 million, five-year study into the impact of microplastics and a $13 million, five-year study into protecting our forests from plant diseases like myrtle rust.

"This year the Endeavour Fund is investing in improving our resilience to climate change, our transition to a low-emissions economy, monitoring of natural disasters, and protecting our biodiversity," Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods said in a statement announcing the big expenditure.

The programme is intended to boost research "that makes a vital contribution to New Zealand's future" - including our economy, our environmental sustainability and "the strength of our society".

Other projects included in today's list included a $1 million University of Auckland study into "thermal shielding" while returning small payloads from space, a $6 million supercomputing project out of Victoria University of Wellington, a $1 million look by NIWA into eel spawning sites, and a $2.2 million University of Waikato study into violence prevention and intervention through "Māori cultural frameworks".

The research projects were chosen by the MBIE's seven-member Science Board.

Myrtle Rust found in NZ
Source: Te Karere

Cop breaks leg after being hit by police car during early morning Rotorua pursuit

A police officer suffered a broken leg after being struck by a police car at the conclusion of a police pursuit in Rotorua this morning.

The male officer was stepping out of his vehicle to arrest the driver after road spikes had successfully stopped the vehicle at the intersection of State Highway 29 and McLaren Falls.

A second police car struck the officer before going on to collide with a third police vehicle.

The officer was sent to hospital, with no other injuries in the incident. 

The pursuit had begun at about 2.40am when police had attempted to stop a speeding vehicle on Ngongotaha Road.

A 31-year-old man with two outstanding warrants was arrested and charged with driving while disqualified, dangerous driving, failing to stop and possession of a knife in a public place.

He is due to appear in Tauranga District Court today.

"Drivers who choose not to pull over for Police when instructed put themselves, other members of the public and our staff at risk,"Rotorua Area Commander Inspector Anaru Pewhairangi said.

"The message is clear, anyone who is signalled to stop by Police should pull over immediately."

A Serious Crash Unit investigation is underway.

Police car night generic
Police car (File picture). Source: 1 NEWS


Gerry Brownlee defends phone call to law firm in which he's accused of bullying junior solicitor

A law firm is accusing Gerry Brownlee of phone bullying after a 15 minute call he made to their offices, but the National MP says how can you bully a law firm?

A junior solicitor at Adina Thorn fielded the call from Mr Brownlee who was calling to note his concern about a letter from the firm warning Christchurch residents about dodgy steel mesh and inviting residents to join a class action.

Mr Brownlee rejects many of the claims the firm has made in a press release publicising the matter and told Morning Report he was not angry or ranting during the call.

"I was very keen to understand what the basis of the pleading was.

"This is a law firm, asking people to sign up with them, saying they're going to stand before the court and plead a case on their behalf for compensation for ... what?"

He said by signing up to the class action, people would effectively be identifying themselves as having a problem which could have a long term impact well beyond compensation they might get from a court.

"Was it for product failure, or potential product failure, or catastrophic failure in the event of an earthquake or was it because the Commerce Commission had fined steel companies for inappropriately labelling their products and that people might have bought it inappropriately?

"They are not unreasonable questions to answer."

Mr Brownlee said he thought he was speaking to Adina Thorn and did not identify himself in the phone call.

"They wrote to me as a householder so I spoke to them as a householder."

He said he assumed the call was recorded and welcomes the release of the taped call.

"That would demonstrate that there was certainly no ranting and no bullying.

"Had I identified myself right up front, would they have had different answers for me?"

He said the law firm has not contacted him since the phone call despite having concerns for its staff member.

The National MP for Ilam strongly denies what he calls “outrageous accusations”, saying he was just doing his job.
Gerry Brownlee. Source: 1 NEWS

British dance group Rudimental coming to New Zealand to headline festival

British chart topper Rudimental is headed to our shores for the first time in several years.

The drum and bass outfit, known for their collaboration with Ed Sheeran and other artists, will be among the headliners at Christchurch's Electric Avenue music festival in February, festival organisers announced today.

The festival is expected to attract a crowd of about 15,000 as the band performs a DJ set with live vocalists and instrumentalists.

"Bringing major international artists to Christchurch is a key factor in the Festival's future growth," said festival director Callam Mitchell.

"Christchurch has definitely missed out on being able to host big international artists a lot recently, so we try to fill that gap."

Rudimental first scored a hit in 2012 for their collaboration with singer John Newman on Feel the Love. In 2015 the band released Lay it All On Me, which featured Ed Sheeran.

Other headliners headed to Christchurch on 23 February for Electric Avenue include Netsky, Orbital and The Correspondents.

Early bird tickets for the festival go on sale at midday on Monday.

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 10: British dance act Rudimental perform at Lollapalooza Berlin on September 10, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.(Photo by Ant Palmer/Getty Images)
British dance act Rudimental perform at Lollapalooza Berlin in September 2017. Source: Getty