Merger could help NZ media take on Apple and Google

A leading media commentator says a joint media company comprising NZME and Fairfax would be better equipped to take on internet giants such as Google and Facebook.

APN News and Media and Fairfax Media are in negotiations to fold their New Zealand operations into a major listed company.

It would bring together major newspapers like the New Zealand Herald and DomPost as well as websites Stuff and, along with radio stations, including Newstalk ZB, around the country.

Tim Murphy, a long standing former Herald editor-in-chief, said New Zealand media was trying to operate in an industry dominated by overseas players with limitless resources.

"There's two big print and digital based news organisations and there's probably not enough room for two of those plus two television free to air networks plus other digital start ups," he told ONE News.

Google and their like were hoovering up advertising dollars and media here needed to offer audiences something different.

"The fact that click bait dominates both news sites, there's kind of a sameness about it already so it may well be that pulling the resources they can produce slightly different approaches on the news."


In a tweet, Mr Murphy suggested up to 750 jobs could go nationwide if NZME and Fairfax merge, with a cut in overall workforce from 3000 to 2250.

He said staff numbers could not be halved by the merger.

"Fairfax NZ/NZME largely operate in geographically distinct zones - big staffs in Auckland do overlap and in digital news, verticals, sales," Mr Murphy wrote on Twitter.

The Journalists Union says it fears a merger would cost jobs and stifle debate.

"This means the content of diverse major news publications will be pared back to just one key generator of comment," E tu's national media organiser Paul Tolich says.

"This would seriously affect the future of newsgathering by journalists because these assets are key sources of hard news."


Tim Murphy says by coming together, NZME and Fairfax will be in a stronger position to take on Google and Facebook. Source: 1 NEWS

Watch: Phil Twyford slams Judith Collins' attitude to compo for Housing NZ tenants evicted under bogus meth testing

Housing Minister Phil Twyford has hit back at hardline questions from National MP Judith Collins about today's decision by Housing New Zealand to compensate hundreds of tenants it evicted from state homes on the basis of bogus methamphetamine testing.

A report to the Minister found about 800 tenants suffered as a result of Housing New Zealand's policy of evicting tenants for using P or allowing its use in their homes.

Affected tenants are expected to receive between $2500 and $3000 in compensation. 

In Parliament Ms Collins asked where meth testing showed residues exceeding standards, could this meth have gotten into the Housing New Zealand house any way other than smoking or baking the drug.

"No," Mr Twyford replied. "But there was no consistent baseline testing done in any Housing New Zealand houses over those years," he added. 

"There is no way of knowing whether the hundreds of people who were made homeless under this policy had any personal responsibility for the contamination of those houses. And frankly I'm shocked that the member, who used to be a lawyer, would think that that is ok. Is this the modern compassionate face of the National Party?"

Ms Collins then asked will people who smoked meth in Housing New Zealand houses now be given two to three thousand dollars compensation.

"The point of the compensation is to compensate people who wrongly had their tenancies terminated and their possessions destroyed and in some cases made homeless. Those are the people who will receive payment under the assistance programme," Mr Twyford replied.

Ms Collins asked will people who sold meth in Housing New Zealand houses now be given the compensation.

"No," Mr Twyford replied, to shouts from National MPs of "How would you know? How would you know?"

Earlier in the exchange, Ms Collins asked was the Minister saying it's wrong to end a tenancy when someone is using the house to break the law.

"We're saying that it's wrong to make innocent people homeless on the basis of bogus science and no decent evidence of responsibility or culpability," Mr Twyford responded. 

"Hundreds of people were made homeless under this policy, people that in some cases were vulnerable, people with addictions who were made homeless. The worse possible thing that you could do to someone who has an addiction is to make them homeless," he said.

Asked by Ms Collins is it acceptable for Housing New Zealand tenants to smoke methamphetamine in state houses, Mr Twyford said the Government does not condone the smoking of methamphetamine anywhere, but it is not acceptable for any government to throw tenants onto the street and make them homeless. 

"We recognise that making people homeless does not solve a tenant's problems or help someone overcome addiction. It just moves the problem to somewhere else and makes it worse for the person involved, for their family, their children, the community and the taxpayer," he said.

The Housing Minister defended the compensation decision against the National MP's hardline questions. Source: 1 NEWS


Pike River re-entry options being evaluated present no 'show-stopping' risks

The three re-entry options to the Pike River Mine being evaluated have not presented any serious risk after the first stage of the risk assessment process taking place near Greymouth, according to the Pike River Recovery Agency.

After an explosion at the West Coast mine on 19 November 2010, the bodies of 29 men remain in the mine.

Members from the Pike River Recovery Agency, independent miners, Family Reference Group members as well as representatives from WorkSafe, New Zealand Mines Rescue, and the Department of Conservation have spent two weeks mapping risks to re-entering the mine.

Pike River Recovery Agency chief executive Dave Gawn says the process hasn't revealed any "show-stopping" reasons re-entry using any of the three options isn't possible.

"Pike River families and all New Zealanders can feel confident that the process being undertaken to ensure the safety of anyone who ends up re-entering the Pike River Mine is very thorough," he said.

"They've been poring over the ins and outs of each task required to enable re-entry via the three agreed options.

"There's still a couple of stages to go before the Agency pulls together its recommendation to the Minister, but I’m confident that at this stage, there’s nothing I’ve heard that would mean re-entry is impossible."

The three options being assessed include a single entry where the current portal would be used with "suitable safety controls" put in place.

The second option involves the construction of a small tunnel further up the hill which would be 220-250 metres in length and connect to the "Pit Bottom in Stone Area".

The third option would see a single entry with a new, large borehole created to provide a means of emergency escape.

The second stage of the risk assessment process will take place early next month before a final review is made on October 16.

Plans to enter the door doomed mine are taking yet another step forward. Source: 1 NEWS



MP Meka Whaitiri dumped as Customs Minister after investigation into alleged misconduct

Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri has been dumped as Customs Minister after an investigation by ministerial services into an incident with a staffer during an event in Gisborne in late August.

Ms Whaitiri, the MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, was alleged to have assaulted a staff member at the event, 1 NEWS reported last month.

Asked about the incident on her return to Parliament a few days later, Ms Whaitiri told media: "I'm cooperating fully with the investigation. I've got no further comment," she told media. "I am here as the MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti."

It comes after the MP was accused of assaulting a staff member in Gisborne. Source: 1 NEWS

But today, after ministerial services returned their findings to Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister dropped the axe.

"Based on the context and conclusions of the report I no longer have confidence in Meka Whaitiri as minister at this time," Ms Ardern said this afternoon.

She said the decision was based solely on the Gisborne incident, which Ms Whaitiri was disputing. 

"I'm not getting into any details around the incident. I've asked DIA (Department of Internal Affairs) to prepare a version of the report that can be released in order to address some outstanding questions."

When pushed on whether this was a pattern of behaviour often exhibited by Ms Whaitiri, Ms Ardern refused to say whether she'd learned of other incidents involving Ms Whaitiri.

"The minister has not had any other grievances raised against her. I've made a decision based on this incident and this report.

"Kris Faafoi will retain the role of Minister of Customs and Meka Whaitiri's associate minister responsibilities will sit with the lead portfolio ministers.

"There are no plans to undertake a cabinet reshuffle," Ms Ardern said.

Ms Ardern said Ms Whaitiri continued to defend herself but had accepted her decision and was keen to stay on as the MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.

"I spoke to Meka Whaitiri this morning.

"I have been advised by colleagues in her caucus that they wish to still support her in that role [speaking of Māori Caucus co-chairwoman role].

"I have confidence in her continuing as a member of Parliament and in those roles as member of Parliament."

She said Ms Whaitiri was likely to return to Parliament next week.

"I have a view that the member works incredibly hard across Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, that she will continue to be able to fulfil those roles, however based on what I have seen, I do not have confidence in her retaining her role as minister," Ms Ardern reiterated.

The Prime Minister says she took action after an investigation deemed an incident did happen. Source: 1 NEWS


Police investigating after body found on Auckland beach

A body has been found on a South Auckland beach today.

A police spokesperson told 1 NEWS the body was found on Weymouth Beach after being notified at 1.10pm.

They say details around the circumstances of the death are unclear and at this stage and inquiries are underway to establish what has happened.

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS