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Morning Briefing May 31: Uncertainty in Canterbury as wild weather continues

The uncertainty in Canterbury continues as the region reels from wild weather, while Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison meets with Jacinda Ardern.

Flooding in Canterbury - photo by Paul Schwalger. Source: Supplied

Canterbury residents woke to an ongoing state of emergency this morning. 

It’s been two days since a red alert warning was issued for Canterbury, south of Amberly, after heavy rain battered the region.

The biggest risk to the Waimakariri remains the high level of the Ashley River. There is a potential for it to top over the stop banks, the Waimakariri District Council said in an update this morning. There was also concern yesterday about the Ashburton River. Numerous properties have been evacuated. 

Rainfall is expected to continue throughout the day, with rain expected to top 400mm in some parts of the region — more than half the annual rainfall Canterbury normally experiences. 

For the latest updates on the wild weather in Canterbury, check 1 NEWS’ live updates here. John Campbell will also be in Ashburton speaking to affected residents on Breakfast

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Scott Morrison visits NZ

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison touched down in Queenstown yesterday ahead of his first face-to-face leader's meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern since February 2020. 

However, tensions in the trans-Tasman relationship continue. These include the issue of deportees, the stripping of Suhayra Aden's Australian citizenship, Australia's strained relationship with China and what that means for New Zealand, as well as an offer by New Zealand that it would take 150 refugees from Australia. 

The offer was first made in 2013, but never accepted. Journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani and rugby player Sonny Bill Williams added to the pressure yesterday by asking Morrison, once again, to take the offer

Bike rally heads to Auckland's Harbour Bridge

Two northbound lanes of the Auckland Harbour Bridge were closed yesterday morning as a large group of cyclists crossed it to protest the lack of bike infrastructure. The group, Liberate the Lane, want Waka Kotahi NZTA to green light a three-month cycle lane trial on the bridge this coming summer. 

The protest brought traffic to a crawl, with an estimated 1500 people breaching a police barrier to get onto the bridge. One person was arrested. 

Waka Kotahi NZTA says it’s working on a plan to make the bridge safe for cyclists, while also considering the needs of motorists. But, the agency hasn’t said when that plan will be completed. 

It comes just a week after a group of Wellington cyclists, fed up with the lack of bike lanes, installed their own on Adelaide Road

Can NZ meet its emissions targets?

Today, the Climate Change Commission will give the Government its final recommendations about how New Zealand might meet its commitments to reducing emissions.

So, what can we expect? Its draft report (released in January, which you can find here) recommended net emissions for “long-lived gases” like carbon dioxide should start to be reduced from next year. It also proposed an immediate reduction in methane. Among its more talked-about proposals to tackle the latter was an idea that herd sizes should be reduced by 15 per cent while maintaining the same level of production. 

Q+A took a deep dive into the issue with its climate change special Milk, Meat and Motorcars yesterday. Climate Change Commission chair Rod Carr told Q+A the draft report makes it clear that the targets are possible but changes will be necessary.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the sector can “have its cake and eat it” primarily by marrying technology and dairying.  

“The ultimate job to be done is not to reduce cows here, it’s actually to reduce emissions … We’re the most efficient producers of dairy in the world in terms of the amount of carbon emitted and warming impact per unit of food produced,” he says.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw told Q+A the question of herd sizes being reduced will depend on what the sector does.

However, the Iwi Chairs Forum’s climate spokesperson Mike Smith doubts science will provide a solution to the size of, and emissions from, New Zealand’s sheep and cows, saying there was “no scientific solution to selfishness and greed”, and that farmers shouldn’t expect special treatment.

Treaty partnership in practice

Amid calls from National leader Judith Collins to have a “national conversation” about te Tiriti, change is happening on the ground. 

An example of Treaty partnership in practice is marae delivering driving licences to those sitting tests, like in Auckand’s Te Puea Marae. Leaders say too many Māori are ending up in court for low-level licence issues, and its programme is aiming to cut that link.

Partnerships are also on the up across a number of other sectors. In recent years, National established co-governance of natural resources. Under Labour, a new Māori Health Authority is on its way.

Another example — a flurry of activity at the local government level. There were just three Māori wards at the last election, now 35 councils have voted in favour of Māori wards in time for the 2022 election.

Other news of note this morning:

- A search is continuing for Jordan Kelly, a 26-year-old Kiwi, who is missing off a Brisbane coast after spending hours clinging to a surf ski.

- A key right-wing Israeli opposition party is backing a deal which could see the end of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s time in office after 12 years, the BBC reports.

- The BBC reports there’s concern about a new Covid-19 variant in Vietnam, which health authorities say spreads quickly by air.

- The Minister for Local Government has rejected Napier City Council’s request to have more time to consider Māori wards because a change in deadline would require urgent law changes, RNZ reports.

- The remains of 215 children have been found buried on the site of what was once Canada's largest Indigenous residential school — one of the institutions that held children taken from families across the nation.

Police have offered $650,000 in financial rewards in an attempt to solve crimes during the past eight years.

- The Duchess of Cambridge has received her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. It comes as the UK this week extended its Covid-19 vaccination programme to everyone over the age of 30.

And finally...

Every year refugees, some from war-torn countries, come to New Zealand, no doubt wondering what will be in store for them.

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Dunedin man Ian Baldwin is helping refugees start their new life in New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS

After his wife died eight years ago, Dunedin man Ian Baldwin turned his grief into goodwill. He helps refugees settle into the city when they arrive. While Baldwin is supposed to leave the families after six months, in many cases he's become part of their lives for good. 

So, it’s only fitting to acknowledge his kindness by naming him TVNZ's latest Good Sort