New schemes to help get young ex-offenders into work announced by Government

New schemes have been announced by the Government today to help young ex-offenders into jobs.

The schemes will help young former inmates get their driver's licences and develop manuka and kanuka products with help from the Provincial Growth Fund, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis announced in Kerikeri today.

The New Zealand Howard League for Penal Reform, a charity aiming to reduce reoffending, will receive a $7.5 million investment by the Provincial Growth Fund to expand its driver's licence programme in targeted regions, including Northland.

"The future flow-on effects from the Howard League investment are huge. Many entry level jobs require a driver's licence so getting one is essential to getting employment," Mr Jones said.

"The regions will have safer roads with fewer unlicensed drivers, a supply of young work-ready people, higher levels of employment and therefore more local spending. This programme also will help meet labour shortages in forestry, kiwifruit and pipfruit industries, construction and transport."

The Northland Region Corrections Facility and the Ngati Rangi Ahu Whenua Trust will receive an extra $70,000 in funding from the PGF, as well as another $23,000 from the Department of Corrections to study the potential for producing manuka, kanuka oil and other products as part of the scheme.

"Establishing an oil distillery, likely to be in Kaikohe, will provide training and long-term employment opportunities for the local community and inmates at the Northland Region Corrections Facility. I’m confident this will help reduce reoffending over time," Mr Davis said.

"This Government is pleased to support both projects as they have the potential to create real social and economic benefits in the local community while the oil project will also contribute to the Government’s One Billion Trees planting programme."

Source: 1 NEWS



Fonterra's interim CEO admits performance must improve as $196 million loss announced today

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra has just announced a massive $196 million net loss, after tax.

The Fiscal Year 2018 results come after a tumultuous year for the company that saw CEO Theo Spierings announce his resignation in March and chairman John Wilson step down after a health scare in July.

Interim CEO Miles Hurrell, who was appointed last month, said of the results that the co-operative's business performance must improve.

"There's no two ways about it, these results don't meet the standards we need to live up to," he said in a statement announcing the loss. "We needed to deliver an outstanding third and fourth quarter, after an extremely strong second quarter for sales and earnings - but that didn't happen."

The company's woes over the past year have also included a $232 million payment to French food giant Danone following years of legal wrangling over the 2013 botulism scare. The international arbitration tribunal decision last December first prompted Fonterra to cut its earnings forecast.

The botulism scare stemmed from Fonterra quarantining several batches of whey protein concentrate after there were concerns they could have been contaminated with clostridium bacteria.

Danone, then a buyer of Fonterra products, began a large-scale recall which they said cost about $610 million, and ceased doing business with Fonterra. It was later confirmed there had been no food safety risk to the public.

"We have learned from this experience and as a result have made improvements to our escalation, product traceability and recall processes, and incident management systems," Mr Spierings said in December.

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"Fonterra is in a strong financial position and is able to meet the recall costs," he added.

Mr Hurrell said today that there were four other reasons, in addition to the Danone decision, for the gloomy year-end results. The company's forecasting was "too optimistic", butter prices remained higher than anticipated, there were increased operating costs in some parts of the business and the company was hurt by an increase in the forecast Farmgate Milk Price late in the season, he explained.   

However, the silver lining of the report today was the business' performance in China, Mr Hurrell said.

"Of particular note, our Consumer business in China broke even this year, two years ahead of schedule," he said. "A big contributor to this success is the popularity of Anchor, which is now the number one brand of imported UHT milk in both online and offline sales in China."

Fonterra's Darfield plant.
Fonterra's Darfield plant. Source: Fonterra


Photos: Sneak peek at the 25 new KiwiBuild homes announced today for Auckland's Onehunga

Construction on 25 new KiwiBuild apartments in the Auckland suburb of Onehunga starts today. And balloting for the highly sought after dwellings begins next week, officials announced this morning.

Apartments priced up to $600,000 are available, but the opposition says it’s not the kind of housing families want. Source: 1 NEWS

"This is a unique opportunity for those who have been locked out of the property market to buy a modern, new home in an increasingly popular area that might otherwise have been out of reach for first home buyers," Housing Minister Phil Twyford said in a statement.

An artist's rendering of the @340 Onehunga KiwiBuild development planned for Auckland.
An artist's rendering of the @340 Onehunga KiwiBuild development planned for Auckland.

The homes, which are expected to take a year to build, include six studio apartments, 12 one-bedroom apartments and seven two-bedroom apartments. They will range in price from $380,000 to $600,000, and include washer/dryers and dishwashers – "high quality fittings" described by Mr Twyford as "often hidden costs for first home buyers".

The Government has set a goal of building 10,000 KiwiBuild homes, targeting first time homebuyers or people deemed
"second chancers", by June 2021.

The planned interior for apartments at @340 Onehunga KiwiBuild, a new KiwiBuild development in Auckland.
The planned interior for apartments at @340 Onehunga KiwiBuild, a new KiwiBuild development in Auckland.

Earlier this week, the ballot began for the first 18 homes in Auckland – stand-alone dwellings in Papakura selling for $579,000 for three bedrooms and $649,000 for four bedrooms.

The 18 homes at the McLennan development in Papakura will be sold through a ballot. Source: 1 NEWS

"Our Government is opening the door to families locked out of home ownership by building affordable starter homes where the market failed to do so," Prime Minister said earlier this week.

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The latest development, named @340 Onehunga, has been praised for its central location and it's proximity to public transportation – including a planned light rail route.

Open days at 340 Onehunga Mall begin this weekend. They will remain open from 11am to 2pm daily until the ballot closes on 15 October.

Those who win the ballot will be required to pay a 10 per cent deposit while the homes are being built. Only those who have an income of less than $120,000 for a single buyer, or no more than $180,000 for more than one purchaser, are eligible.

An artist's rendering of @340 Onehunga apartments, a KiwiBuild project in Auckland.

They must also be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, or a resident visa holder who is "ordinarily resident in New Zealand" and must intend to own and live in the home as their primary place of residence for at least three years.

Construction has started on 25 apartments in Auckland’s Onehunga. Source: 1 NEWS

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Recall after needles found in strawberries purchased in three Australian states

Consumers are being urged to throw out strawberries purchased over the past week in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria after needles were found inside the fruit.

Health officials and police on Wednesday said sewing needles were hidden in at least three punnets of strawberries supplied to Woolworths from a southeast Queensland farm.

Those strawberries were bought in Queensland and Victoria, but it is unclear if the brands involved, Berry Obsession and Berry Liscious, are supplied to other retailers.

"I'm out here today to advise people if they've brought any strawberries in Queensland, NSW or Victoria since early last week, that they should dispose of them," Queensland Health's chief health officer Jeanette Young said.

"If someone were to swallow a sewing needle it could get caught up in their gut."

Police launched an investigation on Sunday after a Queensland man reported swallowing a contaminated berry.

"I found a needle, bit into it by accident and it snapped in half - or what felt like it snapped in half - and my knee jerk reaction was to swallow," the man told 7 News.

"I found the other half of the needle in the strawberry. I was in complete shock."

Two people in Victoria have since come forward after similar experiences.

Acting Chief Superintendent Terry Lawrence would not say at what point in the supply chain police believe the needles were planted.

He declined to name the farm involved but said investigators had been in contact with its operator and Woolworths representatives.
"It's been some time for us to look at this sort of investigation, quite some time," he said.

Woolworths removed strawberries from its shelves on Wednesday and consumers can be confident in purchasing them from today onwards, Dr Young added.



Water meters likely for all New Zealand households in the future, expert says

New Zealand may be blessed with a plentiful supply of fresh water, but our system for getting it to our taps leaves a lot to be desired.

In places like Wellington, our pipe system has a water leakage rate of roughly 15 to 20 per cent, Water New Zealand CEO John Pfahlert told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

"It's a fairly aging piping network, quite leaky," he said, adding that the situation isn't any different in "many, many communities" throughout Aotearoa. "You compare that, for example, to places like the Netherlands where you'd probably have less than 3 per cent leakage - a much higher investment in their reticulation network."

And as scientists predict more extreme weather events in coming decades, including extreme drought, that inefficiency paired with our "excessive consumption" throughout the country will have big consequences if we don't prepare for it now, he predicted.

Mr Pfahlert's warnings come as a report in Wellington suggests demand for water there will outstrip supply by 2040 if residents keep consuming at their current rate.

While replacing the piping networks throughout New Zealand is expensive, there is one way to dramatically cut down our consumption, Mr Pfahlert said. Install water meters and charge for it.

The measure is already in place in Auckland, where it costs about $1.80 per cubic metre of water.

"When those meters were introduced, there was an immediate reduction in water consumption by people of about 30 per cent," he said.

"When they did the same thing on the Kapiti Coast a few years ago, they were facing the necessity to build a water treatment plant at a cost of something like $50 million," he added. "They installed water meters, and (there was) an immediate 30 per cent drop in consumption in water by locals.

"It does drive behaviour."

There has been some opposition to installing meters in Wellington, with fears - unfounded, officials say - that it could lead to privatisation of the water supply. But the measure seems inevitable, not just for Wellington but for all of New Zealand, Mr Pfahlert told Breakfast.

"As we approach a world where the weather's going to be drier, I suspect it's going to be something that most communities are forced to do," he said. "It just makes good common sense. It's not only a means of conserving water, it's just a good way to behave in terms of treating the environment."

Our water supply might be abundant, but our pipe systems are inefficient and leaky, says Water NZ CEO John Pfahlert. Source: Breakfast