'Lots of love!' - Supporters turn out for woman accused of helping ill 77-year-old commit suicide

The trial for a woman accused of helping her friend to commit suicide is getting underway in the High Court in Wellington.

Susan Austen is accused of assisting suicide and importing a class-C drug, a Pentobarbital sold as Nembutal, into New Zealand.

The drug can cause death in high doses and has been used to carry out executions of criminals in the US.

Supporters stand outside the Wellington High Court.
Supporters stand outside the Wellington High Court. Source: 1 NEWS

Annemarie Niesje Treadwell, 77, died last year after suffering from crippling arthritis and memory loss.

About 50 supporters gathered outside the High Court this morning holding placards and wearing hearts with "Suzy" written on them.

Her supporters cheered as the 65-year-old arrived at court this morning, with her son and other family members.

The trial comes as an IPCA investigation is still underway, after police set up a check point in Lower Hutt in October 2016 to try and identify people attending a pro-euthanasia group meeting.  

The jury in the trial, which is set down for around two weeks, are being impaneled this morning.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail.

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Susan Austen is accused of helping a 77-year-old woman, who was suffering from health issues, commit suicide. Source: 1 NEWS

'I will always stand up for the mana of our children' - Woman who started Sir Bob knighthood petition seeking legal help

The woman who started a petition calling for Sir Bob Jones to be stripped of his knighthood after a column he wrote for the NBR on Waitangi Day is seeking legal help after Sir Bob threatened to sue her.

More than 47,000 people have now signed Renae Maihi's Change.org petition, which said "Bob Jones no longer deserves to carry the title of 'Sir'".

'I won't sue her for a lot because that would seem like I'm bullying': Sir Bob Jones explains why he's suing woman who wants him stripped of knighthood

Sir Bob Jones. Source: 1 NEWS

The petition began: "On Waitangi Day 2018 the NBR published a vile racist rant by "Sir" Bob Jones on their website ... this pitiful and severely uneducated attack is not to be tolerated in New Zealand, Aotearoa: a country founded on a partnership between 2 peoples."

Sir Bob's column, which was removed by the NBR after readers complained it was offensive, contained passages seemingly derogatory to Maori, but that Sir Bob has since said was a "piss take".

"While on the subject of Maoridom, rather than make kids learn the language, here's a much better idea. We should introduce a new public holiday, Maori Gratitude Day, in place of a much disdained Waitangi Day," Sir Bob wrote in the column.

The column continued: "As there are no full-blooded Maori's in existence it indisputably follows that had it not of been for migrants, mainly Brits, not a single Maori today, including Professor Temaru, would have existed. So excluding individuals who might be miserably suicidal, and instead like 99.999% of us actually like being alive, its long overdue for some appreciation.

"I have in mind a public holiday where Maoris bring us breakfast in bed or weed our gardens, wash & polish our cars & so on, out of gratitude for existing. And if any Maori tries arguing that if he/she didn't have a slight infection of Irish blood or whatever, they might be better for it, the answer is no sunshine."

Sir Bob has now threatened to sue Ms Maihi for "about $20,000" due to her starting the petition.

"You have to be sick to not see (what he wrote) was a p*sstake," Sir Bob told 1 NEWS yesterday.

"I won't sue her for a lot because that would seem like I'm bullying her."

Writing on her Facebook page yesterday, Ms Maihi said "any legal advice from a lawyer is welcome".

"I have a right to reflect my belief that this man does not deserve a Knighthood for his comments about our children ... 40,000 people agree," she wrote.

"He knew about this petition from the beginning and called it "infantile" ... now it's something he wishes to sue me over.

"Support welcome, I'll need it - clearly he's one of the wealthiest men in this country and I am not.

"I will always stand up for the mana of our children."

Some people suggested that Ms Maihi set up a givealittle cause in order to help her fund her legal defence, but she said she was only focusing on the outcome of the petition at the moment.

Ms Maihi has said she will "speak later" on the issue and has told 1 NEWS she has not yet been contacted by lawyers representing Sir Bob.

The petition follows a column he wrote for the National Business Review calling for a “Maori Gratitude Day”. Source: 1 NEWS



Road between Fox Glacier and Franz Josef closed following slip

State Highway 6 between Fox Glacier and Franz Josef has been closed following a slip.

Contractors are on site working to clear the slip.

No detour is available given the road layout.

An update will be posted on the NZ Transport Agency website and social media pages as soon as the road is able to be reopened.