Lack of signs leaves Canterbury swimmers unaware of toxic algae that can make them ill

It kills dogs and is dangerous to humans, but 1 NEWS has found swimmers aren't being warned about a toxic algae deemed unsafe by authorities.

Parts of Canterbury's Selwyn River are in red alert mode due to dangerously high levels of the algae.

But most families, some with their pets, cooling off in the river at Glentunnel over the warm weekend were completely unaware of the risks.

The potentially toxic algal blooms, called cyanobacteria, can make people very sick.

And Environment Canterbury has detected it along sections of the Selwyn this summer at Glentunnel and Chamberlains Ford. 

"If you ingest them, strange and unusual effects are produced.  They might get tingly feelings in their fingers and their legs or they might get unusual rashes or cramping in their stomach, vomiting and diarrhoea," said Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health. 

No one has died in this country from the anatoxin the bacteria produces, but many pets have.  

"It does kill dogs. We've had at least 100 dogs killed by these algal blooms," Dr Humphrey said. 

The only signage 1 NEWS could find at the river's entrance was one saying the algae may be present and to look out for it.

But the sign signalling the water as 'high risk' was 200 metres away, on the road. 

"There is a second sign closer to the water edge, but clearly it's not being seen by people when they're in there. We're open to improve and put additional signage if that'll help get the message through," said Douglas Marshall if Selwyn District Council.  

If you're unsure whether to dive in, the Land Air Water Aotearoa website lists up-to-date data on just how safe New Zealand's swimming spots are. 

Parts of the Selwyn River are in red alert mode due to the algae. Source: 1 NEWS

Maori education success due to targets set to previous government - National's Todd Muller

The National Party are saying recent progress made by Maori in education is due targets they set while in they were in government. 

National Party’s spokesperson for Crown/Maori Todd Muller told TVNZ1's Te Karere that in 2008 "Maori were leaving school, about half of them just on 50 per cent with no NCEA level 2 qualifications."

"We said that it had to be a focus, we put it in a better public service target and now that's a 75 per cent."

He said setting targets was the root of the success. 

"Firstly, the debate here is around these – what we call – better public service targets and we hold the view that if you actually want to change the conditions for people you need to actually have a very explicit target that you want to drive towards."

But Labour Party deputy leader Kelvin Davis says despite Mr Muller saying Maori were doing better in education, "we know that many of them aren't getting jobs, many of them are not mentally well, and many of them are committing suicide". 

The amount of unemployed Maori has decreased to nine per cent, but Mr Davis says they are still not "seeing any of that progress in the community". 

In the area of law and order Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says so long as rates of Maori in prison is disproportionate "to everyone else ... we have failed".

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Labour's Kelvin Davis says they are still not 'seeing any of that progress in the community'. Source: Te Karere


Highly unusual antibiotic resistant bug discovered at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital

The discovery of a highly unusual bug resistant to many antibiotics has forced the national burns centre at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital to limit admissions.

There have been three patients infected with the bug, first detected in December, with the third case identified on Saturday.

The organism is believed to have come from overseas, and can give vulnerable patients severe infections.

"The skin loss to infection is large anyway so they (burns victims) often do have a lot of infection as part of their course of illness during part of their healing," Middlemore Hospital acting chief medical officer Vanessa Thornton said.

"These ones have this particular organism which is more resistant to antibiotics and that's the concern."

While there's a low chance visitors and most patients will become infected, regional centres will now take on extra burns victims.

Three patients have caught the bug, first detected in December. Source: 1 NEWS