Most read story: 'Not if but when' - Alpine Fault preparations continue for when the big one hits South Island

Note: This story was first published on Thursday May 17

Project AF8 - the South Island-wide efforts towards preparing for a powerful earthquake along the Alpine Fault - has released a series of new videos as it marks two years of preparation.

The project has now also completed its draft South Island Alpine Fault Earthquake Response (SAFER) framework, which puts into place procedures for when the enormous fault ruptures.

According to AF8 steering group chair Angus McKay, carbon dating shows the Alpine Fault last ruptured around 1717, and it was expected to rupture about every 300 years - meaning it is now due.

When it does rupture, the earthquake is expected to be magnitude 8 or above, which is likely to affect almost all of the South Island badly.

"Some of New Zealand's best scientific minds from universities, Crown Research Institutes and GNS Science have worked together to produce a credible scenario for what will happen with the next major earthquake on the Alpine Fault," Mr McKay said.

"We have used that scenario to work with our partners to identify the foreseeable impacts on communities and critical infrastructure across the South Island."

The videos give first-hand accounts of the impacts of the Canterbury Earthquakes, as well as insight into how Civil Defence actually responds to - or plans to respond to - such large events.

One of the major pushes from the group is for people to be prepared themselves, including keeping up-to-date emergency kits, having plans in place, and designing their homes and businesses to be resilient.

Finalised frameworks for the response to such an event will begin being implemented from July 1, and the framework will also be posted at projectAF8.co.nz.


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Breast cancer sufferers march on Parliament calling on Pharmac to fund two 'game-changer' drugs

Women with breast cancer and their supporters marched to Parliament today calling for Pharmac to fund two drugs for those in the advanced stages of the disease.

More than 29,000 signatures were delivered, calling on Health Minister David Parker and Pharmac to fund the Ibrance medicine, as well as more than 1500 signatures calling for funding of another drug called Kadcyla.

Petition organiser Terre Nicholson is reported as calling both drugs "game-changers" and said it can extend the lives of women with advanced breast cancer by two years.

"It’s literally a lifetime for us. We all have very important reasons to want extra time - time to spend with our family and other loved-ones…" she said in a post on the Breast Cancer Coalition Aotearoa website.

"With rapid advances in research, a cure or something close to it may only be a few years away.  We want to be alive to see it," she said.

Women taking Ibrance at the moment are paying more than $5500 a month for the drug, BCCA reported.

March organiser Wiki Mulholland said today’s march was a chance for women with advanced breast cancer and their whanau and friends to be heard.

"We want Pharmac to do better. We think whether you’re rich or poor, it shouldn’t matter, you should have access to the life-extending drugs that you need," she said.

Ms Mulholland said the number of signatures gathered was heartening.

"No one’s perfect so I’m hoping that from the message that we put out today that Pharmac are able to take a look at themselves, to be able to maybe put in a review and see is there a better way to do this - is there a way that all New Zealanders can access what they need instead of just the rich or some."

Labour MP Louisa Wall thanked those who delivered the petition on behalf of the health select committee.

"We will have to look at the system that currently is not providing what some people would say are the most effective medications for people who need access to those medications, it will mean that we will scrutinise Pharmac’s role and their ability to provide medications to all New Zealanders who need them," she said.

Health Minister David Clark said in a statement that it is not up to politicians to "second guess" the experts at Pharmac on which drugs are funded.

"This Government respects the independence and impartiality of Pharmac," he said.

Mr Clark said while the petition is "completely understandable," strong evidence is needed to support the case.

"When comparing New Zealand’s per capita spending on drugs with other countries, it’s worth bearing in mind the Pharmac model makes drugs more affordable to the taxpayer."

National MP Jo Hayes said she believes the funding process is outdated.

"If, as a politician, the last legacy that I leave in this House is help to drive through legislation to free up these drugs for our whanau and whanau whanui (extended family) then you know, I will have done something great in this House," she said. 

Pharmac chief executive Sarah Fitt said the Government agency was unable to say if or when a funding decision would be made for Ibrance or Kadcyla.

"Ultimately, we want to continue making the best choices we can, expanding available treatments for all New Zealanders based on a robust, evidence-based approach," she said.

Ms Fitt said there’s a range of factors that affect how much of a priority funding a specific drug is, including health benefits, the amount of funding available, clinical trial results, supplier negotiations and other funding applications on the table.

A funding application was received for Kadcyla in August last year.

In February this year, a funding application was received for Ibrance.

Last year, the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee recommended funding Kadcyla was a low priority.

Pharmac asked the Cancer Treatments subcommittee for further advice on the drug, as well as advice on Ibrance, last month.

The advice from this is yet to be published on the agency’s website.

Ms Fitt said the funding systems between countries are often not comparable, in response to those petitioning that say New Zealand is lagging behind other OECD countries when it comes to funding some modern medicines.

March organiser Wiki Mulholland says many stage four breast cancer patients turned out, while Labour's Louisa Wall says the funding system will be scrutinised. Source: 1 NEWS

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Simon Bridges on caucus support: '55 MPs today say he [Jami-Lee Ross] is wrong'

National Party leader Simon Bridges is adamant the party is united under him after now-ousted member Jami-Lee Ross criticised his leadership.

Mr Bridges has addressed media after Mr Ross stepped forward earlier today with his claims that the leader had broken electoral donation law.

It follows on from yesterday when the party leader said an inquiry into a leak on his expenses identified Mr Ross as the likely culprit.

Mr Ross denied those claims and said Mr Bridges was attempting to use his contact with a local police area commander and a journalist as evidence that he was somehow involved.

Mr Ross questioned Mr Bridges' leadership and criticised him heavily. He claimed he was not alone, with other members of the party not satisfied, but said they would remain silent.

After a caucus meeting that was being held during Mr Ross' press conference, the party leader announced that by unanimous vote Mr Ross was expelled.

"As the strongest possible action that the caucus can take and that's because we are united, we are strong in the interest of New Zealanders and we are not going to tolerate that kind of appalling behaviour we've seen from Jami-Lee Ross, where he has put himself above both caucus but also New Zealanders," Mr Bridges said.

"Fifty-five MPs today say he is wrong, 55 MPs today won't tolerate anything about Jami-Lee Ross, he is not longer a part of our caucus, he is irrelevant as far as we're concerned.

In Parliament today Mr Mallard said Mr Ross will now be regarded as independent MP. Source: 1 NEWS

"I have the unanimous support of my caucus, we have dealt with a lone wolf MP, who has leak, lied, made a number of wild allegations, we're now putting a line on that and moving on."

He said the party would continue to be united and look ahead to the future.

"Jami-Lee Ross is no longer part of National in terms of our caucus going forward and we'll be resolutely strong and united and focused on the things that matter to New Zealand."

However, Mr Ross this morning had already announced he will resign from his seat, step down from the party, and will stand as an independent in any by-election for his Botany seat.

Mr Ross said he once thought Mr Bridges was capable of being Prime Minister, "but now that I see what he's really like it is clear that he's not".

Mr Ross made a number of claims about the National Party leader in relation to donations. Mr Bridges has denied any wrongdoing. Source: 1 NEWS

"I believe Simon Bridges is a corrupt politician."

Mr Ross also alleged Mr Bridges asked him to collect a $100,000 donation from a wealthy businessman and was at pains to point out the donation should not be made public. He said the donation was split into smaller amounts below the $15,000 declaration threshold.

However, Mr Bridges said Mr Ross' law breach claims were "baseless, false but serious allegations".

"I invite Jami-Lee Ross to take those matters to the police and I invite the police to investigate them fully and promptly, because they have zero chance of success given that they are false," he said. "I hope [police] get on to it very quickly because I have done nothing wrong."

"He is completely wrong, this is now and should be a matter for the police, for him to put up and for them to investigate it. It has zero chance of success because it's wrong.

Mr Bridges said he would not delve into the details of the alleged $100,000 donation and whether he was aware it was made or not.

"Everything that Jami-Lee Ross has been saying, because we are talking about guy who is lying, who is leaking, who is lashing out... I have done absolutely nothing wrong and that will be shown to be the case."

On the other hand, Mr Bridges insisted that he had been compliant of electoral laws.

"I've complied with electoral laws at every single moment, and nothing will come of this," Mr Bridges said.

"We have followed all of the rules here in terms of the National Party and that will be shown."

Mr Bridges said he would not pursue legal action against Mr Ross.

rnz.co.nz 

The National Party leader today made a statement defending his position and welcoming a police inquiry into claims of electoral donation fraud. Source: 1 NEWS

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Check on your elderly neighbours, police urge, after two men discovered dead in their Napier homes

Hawke's Bay police are urging communities to keep an eye on elderly neighbours, following two separate discoveries of deceased elderly men in their homes.

The two men were found dead in their Napier homes over the past two months.

Detective Mike Signal has spoken about the importance of regularly checking on neighbours, especially if you haven't seen them for a while.

"As the weather gets hotter and the holiday season begins, it is a good time to reflect on friends, neighbours and family and to make sure of their welfare, especially those who are known to be in poor health and living alone," he told Stuff.

"It's both sad and concerning to police that there are older members of the community who don't have anyone looking out for their wellbeing."

Both men had been in their seventies and were discovered by neighbours, with no suspicion of foul play in the deaths.

One man was found after neighbours noticed an unusual smell, while the other was discovered after the neighbour checked on the man's house after he wasn't seen for a while.

Senior Woman Alone in Dark Room.
Source: istock.com


Aucklanders urged to be on lookout for counterfeit $100 notes after charges laid against man

Waitemata Police are appealing to retailers for any information about customers paying for goods with counterfeit money, following the arrest of a 26-year old man.

A number of items, predominantly in west Auckland, have been purchased using fake $100 notes, although Police are concerned that the offending may be wider spread.

Products such as petrol, food and cigarettes are among those to have been purchased using the counterfeit currency.

"The majority of the offending has occurred in the Henderson, Titirangi, Te Atatu and Avondale areas, however we believe there may be more in counterfeit notes currently in circulation and we're urging retailers to contact us if they believe they are in possession of these notes," said Constable Rebecca Brown.

"The notes are very poor quality and relatively easy to spot as counterfeit money, they do not have a clear panel and the paper they are printed on does not feel legitimate.

"On close inspection you can see they have roughly cut edges and black lines - it's not too difficult for anyone to see they are not genuine."

Police have charged a 26-year old man over the offences. He is due to appear in the Waitakere District Court later this month.

File image of $50 and $100 notes. Source: 1 NEWS