Kiwis warned to prepare for possible power cuts, road closures as Cyclone Gita tipped to hit Tuesday

Civil Defence is warning people to prepare for the possibility of power cuts, water outages and road closures caused by Cyclone Gita which is expected to make landfall in New Zealand on Tuesday.

The cyclone is expected to bring heavy rain and high winds when it hits the country.

MetService is predicting its probable track is across central New Zealand or the top of the South Island on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Cyclone Gita has the potential to pack a punch and cause a lot of disruption. Now is the perfect time to plan ahead," said the ministry's director, Sarah Stuart-Black.

"This means preparing for the possibility of power cuts, water outages and road closures that could leave you or your loved ones stranded," she said this afternoon. 

"It's also a good idea to have a grab bag ready in case you need to evacuate. If you don't have a household emergency plan, now's the time to sit down with your family or flatmates and get it done."

Ms Stuart-Black advises people to try and run any important errands before the weather hits so you won’t need to do any non-essential travel in treacherous conditions, and make sure you secure outdoor furniture well in advance.

She says the ministry will be monitoring the situation and is ready to coordinate assistance if it is needed.

Storm tips: 

• Secure, or move inside, anything that could cause damage in strong winds.
• Close windows and doors, close curtains to prevent injury from breaking windows.
• Stay inside and bring your pets inside. If you have to leave, take them with you.
• Listen to the radio and follow the instructions of emergency services.
• Avoid non-essential travel during severe weather, and never drive through floodwaters.

For more information on how to prepare for Cyclone Gita visit here

You can find the latest weather forecast here.

Cyclone Gita could cause power cuts, flooding and closed roads when it hits on Tuesday. Source: 1 NEWS


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Eight cattle die after 1080 drop in Waikato as DOC work to increase numbers of endangered kokāko

Eight cattle have died in the Waikato following a 1080 drop there.

1 NEWS has been provided with video from a concerned local showing a dead cow lying in the 1080 drop zone.

The Department of Conservation said it appears the cattle escaped their paddock through a broken fence line, wandering into the Mapara Wildlife Reserve where the poison was dropped.

"We have been working closely with the landowner concerned to confirm exactly what happened, and also to support them as any good neighbour would under these circumstances with the burial of the animals and feed for the others," DOC Operations Director David Speirs said.

Officials emphasised that the area is "one of their most important strongholds for kōkako (an endangered native bird) on mainland New Zealand" due to 30 years of pest control in the area, including the controversial 1080 programme.

The latest drop, focusing on the eradication of rates, possums and stoats, took place 6 September.

The cattle had been spotted in the drop zone during a pre-flight two weeks earlier, and the farmer who owned the animals was advised, officials said.

"No stock should ever be allowed within the pest control operational area," DOC said in a statement.

Department of Conservation staff say in the past month they've had their car tyres slashed and wheel nuts loosened. Source: 1 NEWS

The animal deaths come at an especially sensitive time for the Department of Conservation, as anti-1080 activists step up protests.

The government agency has suggested many of the protestors have been influenced by fake news and misrepresented photos on social media.

With the increased publicity has come a torrent of online threats an abuse of workers, DOC threatened species ambassador Nicola Toki told RNZ yesterday.

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Sky Tower turns violet tonight to mark women's suffrage anniversary

For one week starting tonight, the Sky Tower will be violet to commemorate the 125th anniversary of women's right to vote in New Zealand.

The Auckland landmark will also be adorned with a 13-metre high projection of Suffrage 125 - Whakatū Wāhine logo.

Following a hard fought suffrage movement, both men and women went to the polls on 19 September 1893 - making New Zealand the first nation in the world in which women had the right to vote.

"The colour violet represents dignity and self-respect and the white camellia of the Suffrage 125 logo was worn by people supporting women's right to vote in New Zealand," SkyCity officials said in a statement.

Touted as the Southern Hemisphere's tallest free-standing structure, the Sky Tower often projects different colours onto its spire to commemorate special occasions such as Matariki and Anzac Day, or to express solidarity with other nations in the wake of natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

Tim Wilson joined members of the armed services as they flicked the switch tonight. Source: Seven Sharp

Irish pubs are preparing to open early as New Zealand gets into the Irish spirit. Source: 1 NEWS

The Auckland skyscraper lit up in red, white and blue in tribute to the French. Source: 1 NEWS

Sky Tower marks 20 years of operating on Thursday and it’s watched Auckland grow up around it. Source: Seven Sharp

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Government takes first step to freeze MPs' pay

The Government will take the first steps to freeze MP pay, in an attempt to share "New Zealand's prosperity more fairly", Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. 

A bill to freeze pay will be introduced to Parliament, which will freeze MP salaries and allowances until July 2019 "while we develop a fairer formula for future pay increases".

"MP salaries have risen at a rate that is out of proportion with wage growth of most New Zealanders," she said. 

It comes after the Remuneration Authority, that sets MPs' pay rates, had recommended a three per cent pay rise for MPs in August. 

Ms Ardern said at the time it was "just not appropriate for MPs to be the subject of such an increase".

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said over the next year "officials will look at the settings for determining future MP pay increases, with possible further changes in place before next year’s review". 

"Because of the timing of the annual salary review process set in law, the Government must initiate this process to freeze pay quickly."

The Prime Minister said Cabinet confirmed a decision to freeze MPs salaries and allowances for a year. Source: 1 NEWS