Man dies, woman seriously injured when car plunges off overbridge onto train tracks south of Auckland

A man has died and a woman is in a serious condition after a car plunged off an overbridge onto train tracks in Pukekohe south of Auckland tonight.

Police say the car went off an overbridge onto tracks off Stadium Drive, just before 7.15pm.

It appears the male driver may have suffered a medical event, and he was unable to be revived by emergency services, police said.

His passenger, a woman, was reportedly trapped and in a serious condition, they said.

Police car
Police car Source: 1 NEWS


Lime e-scooter test ride: Do they live up to the hype?

The latest wave of GPS-tracked travel options has hit New Zealand in the form of Lime scooters, and they're a lot of fun, but they're also not without their pitfalls.

There are easy instructions available on how to sign up - they just take your details from Facebook and you then add a credit card - they've even built Apple Pay into their app.

I found a free scooter after a two-minute walk and decided to take it for a quick ride around central Auckland's Victoria Park to see what they can do.

But before we get into the ride, lets just talk about the cost.

Importantly, the app tried to put me on a recurring charge scheme when I signed up and I had to opt out. Bad form, Lime - it should always be opt-in - that's really sketchy behaviour.

I rode a Lime scooter for 38 minutes, travelled 3km, and the total price was $11.40, with a $1 discount applied for some reason. Much, much more than I was expecting.

These scooters are definitely not as cheap as you might imagine - lists the price for a 3km UberX ride at $8-11, so just bear that in mind.

OK, so how do they handle?

If you have never ridden a scooter, skateboard, or even a bike before, you'll want to be really cautious the first time you set off.

These things are fairly big, the non-adjustable handle bars are quite tall, and they are a lot heavier than they look.

They feel bottom heavy with the handle bars so high off ground, and it takes a while to get a feel for them, so don't go straight on to a busy footpath like I did.

These scooters have relatively small wheels compared to a bike, and you really feel any bumps in the road - there's no suspension on these bad boys.

They are deceptively quick to accelerate downhill or even on flat land, so be careful. The throttle button has no middle ground - it's either off, or on full-blast.

You are allowed to ride these things on the footpath legally without a helmet, but whether you actually should is a different matter.

I definitely got a few scornful looks from pedestrians as I zoomed down Victoria Street, and the bell attached to the Lime-S is too quiet for purpose. 

Honestly, I felt really out of place riding on the sidewalk, borderline irresponsible, and I definitely felt like if I was a pedestrian, I would consider yelling "get off the footpath!" at someone like me.

On the flat, on a nice smooth piece of concrete, my speed topped out at 27.6km/h, and I weigh about 90kg. The handling at top speed is ... precarious at best.

Uphill, it really struggled. I went up Victoria Street West heading east, a pretty average slope by Auckland standards, and I actually needed to push the scooter a bit like a skateboard to help it along.

It has a small LED light mounted on the front, but I definitely wouldn't count on that to give you any type of actual lighting - it's more of a warning for people in front of you.

The rear (and only) brake seems to work as advertised and I never felt like it was going to let me down.

In the interests of journalism, I verified that you can, in fact,  do a pretty decent skid on these scooters, because the brakes will lock up if you pull them hard enough.

These scooters are definitely not safely ride-able with one hand, so if you're thinking about taking one to grab a coffee on your lunch break, best of luck to you.

All in all, I think they're good for a bit of fun, and come with a certain "look at me" novelty factor, but considering they cost similar to a taxi, are a menace to pedestrians, are legitimately dangerous if you fall off, and will struggle on hills, I'm not overly impressed.

Five out of ten.

The scooters are being launched in Auckland and Christchurch, and can be found using a smartphone app. Source: 1 NEWS


MP Jami-Lee Ross says 'I'm expendable' as Simon Bridges names him as leaker

The investigation into who leaked details of National Party leader Simon Bridges' expenses points to MP Jami-Lee Ross leaking the information. 

Mr Bridges said the report pointed to Mr Ross as sending an anonymous text. 

The PWC report said it had not identified the leaker with certainty, however, "the evidence we have points to Mr Ross". 

The Opposition leader launched an inquiry into the leak of his expenses earlier this year. Source: 1 NEWS

As the National Party leader was about to make the announcement, Mr Ross posted a number of tweets in which he said he had fallen out with Mr Bridges some months ago.

Mr Ross said in his tweets that he had become "expendable" and that Mr Bridges was about to "pin his leak inquiry on me".

"He can not find who the actual leak is," Mr Ross wrote.

He claimed Mr Bridges was attempting to use contact with Mr Ross' local police area commander and a journalist he is friends with as evidence that he is "somehow involved".

"I have said they are unrelated - he does not wish to believe that. Some months ago I fell out with Simon. I have internally been questioning leadership decisions he was making, and his personal poll ratings which show he is becoming more and more unlikable in the public’s eyes."

Mr Ross then made an accusation saying he had recorded the National Party leader "discussing with me unlawful activity that he was involved in".

In his tweets Mr Ross added: "Working on his instruction, he asked me to do things with election donations that broke the law".

Mr Bridges denied all of Mr Ross' accusations and called Mr Ross' tweets "false comments".

"He would say those things, given the situation… I've released the report… and it speaks for itself."

Mr Bridges said suspension of Mr Ross from the National Party caucus was an option.

The inquiry came after the National Party leader's expenses were released earlier than scheduled, revealing $113,973 was spent on travel and accommodation between April and June.

Last week, an independent review found no evidence that staff in the office of Parliament's speaker, Speaker Trevor Mallard, or Parliamentary Service finance and corporate staff released details. 

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

Earlier this month, Mr Ross took time off from Parliament for health reasons, with Mr Bridges saying it was unrelated to the leak inquiry. 

Read More: National launches internal inquiry into Simon Bridges' expenses leak

A PWC report pointed the finger at MP Jami-Lee Ross as the person who leaked Simon Bridges’ expenses. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand Defence Force facing fresh allegations of cover-ups and abuse

Investigative writer Nicky Hager says sources from the Defence Force have exposed a culture of bullying, sexual violence, drinking and cover-ups in the military.

In Mr Hager's 12-page investigation, published in the North & South magazine today, he details how a source revealed that an SAS soldier - known as Corporal B for privacy reasons - was awarded the second-highest military honour despite previously being considered for court-martial action for killing two children in Afghanistan.

"The Americans asked the SAS commander if they could take one of the New Zealand medical staff, a medic, on a raid they were doing on a Afghanistan compound," said Mr Hager.

Medics fall under a protected status in war battles and strict rules are imposed on them under the Geneva Convention, he said.

"Specifically, a medic can only ever shoot in self-defence or to protect wounded people under their care. These are very important and long-standing rules of war," Mr Hager's report stated.

"But they can't defend the American forces around them or something, and that's where it all went wrong," he told Morning Report.

Mr Hager said the soldier got involved in a firefight and later found he had shot two young boys, who joined the adults in defending the compound.

"[Corporal B] saw that the people he had shot were just little boys that [they were] some boys 12 or 13 [years old], the same age as his children."

He said the Americans suggested Corporal B should get a medal for his assistance, but when he returned to base, the soldier was told he could be court-martialled.

"So he was thinking 'oh no, I've killed children', and the Americans were saying 'great work man, you helped protect us, we might give you a medal'.

"And then when he got back to base he became a very unhappy and confused person, because the SAS commander was saying 'well hang on a moment, you've broken all the rules here, we're gonna court-martial you'.

"There was this man who was upset about hurting children, was angry at the military for sending him into a situation where it could happen like that with the American forces, and he was incredibly disillusioned because they were going to charge him for... having broken international law."

However, the Defence Force said it did not consider court-martialling Corporal B. Mr Hager said the Defence Force also did not confirm the source's story on Corporal B either.

Mr Hager said no such trial took place and Corporal B was eventually awarded a New Zealand Gallantry Decoration.

"It was also the same period where the Willie Apiata raid had happened and they were getting ready to give him a VC and they decided exactly the same thing with this soldier.

"They forgot that he had done things wrong, they actually covered up the whole thing and didn't do any investigations into the war crimes side of it, the Geneva convention side."

Mr Hager's investigation states Corporal B had left the SAS and NZDF by the time of the award.

Claims of 'dry theatre of operations' breach

Military members who went to Afghanistan operated under "dry theatre of operations" - a strict ban on alcohol in war areas - in the early stages of war.

Mr Hager said some of the NZDF members respected those rules, however, the SAS ignored the ban.

"This is an example of how there's a culture of the rules that apply to other people that don't really have to apply to them [SAS] and they'll keep it secret," Mr Hager said.

"What I was told, again by this SAS man who was there during it, was that the troops around them, and even the American troops, didn't have alcohol."

Instead: "When supplies were flown from New Zealand on large pallets, the outer layer of the pallets would be boxes of ration packs, made up by a firm at Linton. But most of the load, hidden inside the ration packs, the source says, was 'beer, spirits, everything. You name it, it was in there. The [SAS] unit organised it all'," the report detailed.

"They'd have huge screaming wonderful parties from their point of view and they'd invite the other nations to come along to them but they were totally breaking the rules," Mr Hager told Morning Report.

The NZDF told North & South "small quantities of NZSAS-branded wine and spirits, brought and paid for privately by Papakura Camp Mess members, were taken into Afghanistan for consumption and used as gifts for coalition partners and friends".

Claims sexual assault ignored

The same year NZDF released a report on sexual abuse in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, Mr Hager said, a woman came forward to report a complaint on sexual assault.

"This is a story [that took place] in Ohakea three years ago, in 2015, where a woman who was a civilian worker there went to a Friday night party of the staff who she worked with and two of the other men there on the air force base decided they'd get her," he said.

"One came up in front of her and grabbed her by the breast while the other one shoved himself behind her and they pinned her between them, in a way which they thought was a hoot and she felt really terrible and was very unhappy about."

However, her seniors did not take her complaint seriously, Mr Hager said.

"She did exactly what the military says that people should do in its documents... she went to her boss and said 'I'm laying a formal complaint about this, I'm not happy with what happened' and he just shrugged it off and so she went to her boss' boss at Ohakea and said 'this has happened to me, I want you to take some action, I'm not happy with what's been done to me' and again she got shrugged off."

The woman pursued the matter but still was getting pushed off, Mr Hager said.

"She went to the defence force lawyers, she went to the deputy chief of the air force, and then she went up to the chief of the air force - and at every level they said 'no' and the reason they were saying no, according to the people who knew about it who were involved, was because the two men who had done it to her were part of an at-risk trade group.

"They didn't want something to happen to them, like to be fired for what they had done, because it was hard to get those particular skills.

"The final thing is that when she couldn't even get the chief of the air force to do anything about it, the defence lawyers on her behalf took it to the chief of staff, Tim Keating, and he refused to act as well."

An NZDF spokesperson told North & South appropriate action had been taken "in accordance with the established policies and procedures in place at the time". No further comment would be made "because to do so may breach the complainant's privacy".

Mr Hager, along with John Stephenson, wrote the Hit & Run book which claims six civilians were killed and 15 injured in a raid on two Afghan villages by the elite New Zealand soldiers.

New Zealand Defence Force in training session. Source: