Nelson company partner with Israeli biotech firm to produce valuable algae

The innovation sector is set for a boost, with the government announcing new tax incentives for research and development.

It's hoped a tax break will encourage more companies to invest in the area which critics say has been underfunded for decades.

“One of the reasons we're struggling now to pay for infrastructure and core social services is that we didn't invest in research and development (R and D) twenty years ago,” says science commentator Shaun Hendy.

In a survey by MYOB, close to a quarter of medium sized businesses said they spent less than one per cent on R and D and a further 29 per cent didn't budget for it at all.

The new Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods wants to motivate those groups by introducing a 12.5 per cent tax credit.

“Currently New Zealand’s gross expenditure on R and D is 1.28 per cent of GDP – much lower than the OECD average of 2.38 per cent. We need new ideas, new innovations and new ways of looking at the world if we are to build a sustainable and productive economy that delivers for all New Zealanders,” Ms Woods says.

Nelson biotech company Supreme Health is being held up as an example of how more funding in research and development could bring greater benefits to the economy.  The business is at the forefront of new technology, growing a strain of algae at Cawthron Institute to create new health products with the antioxidant astaxanthin.

“This is just emerging as a new area, the next generation of natural health products for the world,” Supreme Health chief executive Kerry Paul told 1 NEWS.

Supreme Health has recently partnered with a major Israeli biotech firm which could let it tap into a growing multi-billion dollar industry.

“Then we have the opportunity of transferring the technology from Israel back to New Zealand. We'll finish up, jumping 20 years.” Mr Paul says.

Shaun Hendy says more firms should follow suit, “reaching out to the best science overseas, the best technologies overseas”.

Businesses have until June to give feedback on the government’s plan.

The partnership comes as the government announces new tax incentives for research and development in the innovation sector. Source: 1 NEWS

John Armstrong's opinion: Northcote byelection to become a question of trust

National will win the Northcote byelection. That is a dead cert. Moreover, the margin of National’s victory will more than likely be quite comfortable.

True, Labour’s candidate trimmed Jonathan Coleman’s majority by more than a third at last year’s general election. 

Source: 1 NEWS

That minor shift in votes really only marked a return to the status quo which operated prior to the collapse in support for Labour across the country at the 2014 election.

Labour will continue to peddle the line that it seriously weakened Coleman’s grip on the seat which he captured from National’s old foe in 2005 and held onto through four subsequent elections prior to his retirement from Parliament earlier this month.

What you won’t hear from Labour is reference to the former Minister of Health capturing close to 53 per cent of the constituency vote in last September’s ballot.

In doing so, Coleman ended up with a massive 17 percentage point lead over his Labour rival.

The National Party leader says Mr Bidois went from "high school dropout" to a Harvard University graduate. Source: Breakfast

For Labour to have even a remote chance of winning back the seat in the byelection triggered by Coleman’s exit, some things will have to happen which are simply not going to happen.

For starters, there would have to be a massive surge in tactical voting. It would require every individual who cast their electorate vote for either the Greens or New Zealand First in 2017 to back Labour’s byelection candidate.

That is not going to happen. Even if it did happen, Labour would still be quite a long way short of closing the gap on National’s replacement for Coleman.

To do so would require an accompanying shift of a substantial chunk of those who backed Coleman in last year’s constituency contest to switch their support to Labour’s wannabe MP.

That is not going to happen either. As confirmed by Monday’s 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll, backing for National has remained rock solid during the seven months which have passed since the election. 

That National is continuing to poll in the vicinity of 43 to 45 per cent is of more significance beyond the obvious.

The party’s big fear was that its continued high rating in the polls was a function of the Sir John Key-Bill English duopoly. The worry was that once the pair had quit the political stage, a sizeable portion of National’s support would decamp with them.

That has not happened. Instead, Simon Bridges has made a reasonable debut as National’s leader in the preferred prime minister ratings, hitting 10 per cent in the 1 NEWS poll. 

National MP and former Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has resigned from Parliament after nine years. Source: 1 NEWS

The poll also hints at the possibility that backing for Jacinda Ardern may have plateaued at around 40 per cent.

If confirmed by subsequent polls, Ardern will be rating well below the levels registered by Key at the height of his popularity— and even Helen Clark for that matter at the height of hers.

If the past month’s worth of mishap, mistake and mishandling exhibited by Ardern, her colleagues and her party have done nothing else, they have put a big dent in what was previously her seeming invincibility.

Losing a byelection — even one it had no real chance of winning— will do nothing for Labour morale.

Having been dragged through the wringer for a fair part of the last month or so as mishap piled on crisis which piled on blunder which piled on scandal, Ardern somehow has to regain control of the political agenda. And even more so given her six-week stint in a very different role draws ever closer and will drag her out of the political limelight, if not the media spotlight.

Not that you would notice, Labour is readying for the fightback.

Labour may not be able to win the byelection. But it can win the preceding campaign. 

For once, luck seems to be on its side.

Mr Coleman said he is thankful for his time as an MP and cabinet minister, but the role at Acurity was too good to turn down. Source: 1 NEWS

Bridges will have been understanding of Coleman’s wish to leave Parliament just a few months into the current three-year term.

From Bridges’ point of view, however, Coleman’s timing could hardly be worse.

The date on which any byelection is held is determined by the prime minister.

Labour has used that advantage to schedule the Northcote byelection three weeks after the delivery of this year’s Budget.

This timetable will enable Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson to sustain their attack on National’s “nine years of neglect” in failing to replace what is literally rotting social infrastructure in the form of dilapidated hospitals, ancient school building and poorly maintained state houses.

It is more than happy coincidence for Labour that Coleman’s signature is at the bottom of letters sent by him in his capacity as Minister of Health demanding that district health boards such as Counties Manukau, which runs the third world-like disgrace which is Middlemore Hospital, “assist” the then National Government to remain in Budget surplus by continually pursuing “efficiency gains”.

National thus stands accused of putting staff and patients’ health at risk to fund tax cuts for people who did not need them. And who it would seem —judging from this week’s 1 NEWS poll — no longer want them.

It is also more than happy coincidence that Coleman effectively pleaded guilty to that charge by declaring there should be no more tax cuts until health and education were “properly funded”.

That wish — expressed after he threw his hat into the caucus ring as a candidate in what turned out to be a non-contest for the job of National’s leader — was ignored by Bill English who got that job and Steven Joyce who took over the Finance portfolio.

National is now paying a big price for failing to wean itself off the political dividend that tax cuts were always expected to deliver, but which have become proof of the law of diminishing returns.

As a political weapon, tax cuts have been neutered. Labour lost many battles in getting to this point. But it has won the war. Voters want the deficit in New Zealand’s social infrastructure fixed. 

The 1 NEWS poll had 30 per cent of respondents citing health as the main priority for any extra spending in the coming Budget, against 13 per cent favouring education and 10 per cent preferring anything extra be diverted to housing.

Only one per cent said tax cuts were the priority. 

Those numbers are highly advantageous to Labour’s cause. National's great strength is the party’s capacity to adapt to changing circumstances, however.

It won’t be long before National starts lashing Labour for being too slow in getting various infrastructure projects under way. Indeed in areas such as the construction of so-called “affordable” housing, National is already tiring to call the shots from the vantage point of Opposition.

To shut National out of the debate, Labour needs to turn the whole issue of deteriorating social services into a question of trust.

Labour needs to ask voters in Northcote whether they can afford to trust a political party which sucked money out of a DHB which services many of the country’s highest scoring suburbs when it comes to measures of socio-economic deprivation.

That has to be Labour’s byelection message. If Ardern and other Cabinet ministers can get that message to resonate with voters on the campaign trail, then Labour may be able to retain a glimmer of hope that victory on June 9 is not completely out of the question.

If it doesn’t strike such a chord then the by-election will be over before it has barely begun.

The by-election has been set for June 9 and will come during a busy time for the Prime Minister. Source: 1 NEWS


Watch: New Zealand's biggest pumpkin being dropped from a 45 metre crane, live on Seven Sharp

In what is becoming an annual tradition on Seven Sharp, the biggest pumpkin grown on Kiwi soil was celebrated - and then smashed from a great height.

Morrinsville farmer Tim Harris has for the third time broken the New Zealand record for pumpkin size.

Last year his biggest pumpkin weighed in at a whopping 789.5kg - and it's even bigger this year at 808kg.

Tim Harris grew NZ's largest pumpkin at his dairy farm in Morrinsville, and now his son Alex is plotting his dad’s demise. Source: Seven Sharp

To acknowledge Tim's achievements in 2017, Seven Sharp asked the public what to do with the mighty squash he had grown, and the consensus was a pumpkin carriage.

But for reporter Lucas De Jong, that was far too boring.

This year, the public had no input, and Tim's huge pumpkin was dropped from a crane from 45 metres in the air.

And just to reassure people, the giant pumpkins Tim grows are inedible - so don't worry about any food being wasted in this spectacle.

But this does also pose the question - why would he go to the effort of growing a pumpkin this large you can't eat.

The southern hemisphere's largest pumpkin has been turned, by popular vote, into a Cinderella carriage. Source: Seven Sharp

"Every man's gotta have his hobby," Tim says.

A west Auckland carpark was the scene of a massive mess. Source: Seven Sharp