National to pay more attention to its backbenchers' concerns after rumours of discontent

The National Party has signalled it'll take more notice of the concerns of its backbench MPs as the caucus unites to try to get back into power at the next election.

National MPs have been on a two-day retreat in Tauranga, carrying out a post mortem on last year's election and working out how to win back power in 2020.

The MPs are all on message in support of their leader Bill English and deputy leader Paula Bennett after rumours of discontent last week.

"This is a caucus who understands that if they want to be competitive in 2020 then they need to show they can manage themselves," Mr English said.

Ms Bennett said: "I feel like I've got a role to play. I feel like I do it well and I feel like I've got the support of my caucus."

But that unity comes at a price - paying more attention to the concerns of backbench MPs.

"This is a great opportunity for everyone, including our newest MPs, to stand up and say what they think too," said Judith Collins, National MP.

Mr English said in opposition there's no hierarchy, "there's the leader and deputy leader and then there's all the MPs".

MPs have been on a two-day caucus retreat in Tauranga. Source: 1 NEWS



Canterbury dogs trained to sniff out Chilean needle grass in world first

In a world first, two Canterbury dogs have been trained to sniff out Chilean needle grass, a plant that threatens livestock and crops.

With a great sense of smell at just three years old, they are the only dogs in the world who can detect the grass in a field of other grasses.

"It's just phenomenal, their sense of smell ... that's why we use them because for humans it's really hard to find," says plant scientist Fiona Thompson.

New Zealand saw a shocking infestation of the weed in Marlborough and it could be spread to 15 million acres if it isn't checked.

"Chilean needle grass is another pest that's slowly invading Canterbury," says Lawrence Smith from Environment Canterbury.

Chilean needle grass can affect pasture and the sharp seeds can cause blindness, deafness and can travel on sheep wool. 

The plant pest threatens both stock and crops. Source: 1 NEWS

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Christchurch Lotto winner gives half his $20m prize away to family

The Christchurch electrician who won $20 million in Lotto Powerball in last Saturday's draw has already given away half of his prize money to family members in the last week.

"By giving half away, there's no chance I'll go crazy with my winnings ... It'll keep me on an even keel," the man, whose identity has not been revealed, told NZ Herald.

The man who is in 50s bought the $20m ticket from The Hub Hornby in Christchurch but held off on checking if it was a winner until the middle of the week, as he liked pretending he might of won. 

When he found out he had actually won first division he says his first thoughts were that he could now retire.

"You think you know how you're going to react when you get news like that, but to be honest all I felt was this huge sense of relief."

NZ Herald reports the man will use some of his remaining winnings to take his and his partners families on holiday next year. 

Listen to the gasps as financial advisor Hannah McQueen shares an insight into her clients' spending.
Source: Breakfast