New Zealand's first transgender weightlifter to compete internationally

New Zealand's first transgender weightlifter will enter the international arena this weekend, but her team mates and opposition have expressed mixed views on her involvement. 

Laurel Hubbard, 39, formally Gavin Hubbard, is competing at this year's Australian International.

Hubbard has claimed Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Tracey Lambrech's spot in the over 90kg group, forcing Lambrech to drop down a weight division. 

"I'm still not 100 per cent happy about it, but you know I'm glad Laurel is happy doing what she's doing. I fully support her choice in doing what she's doing in a sporting arena... I'm still not convinced it's the right thing."

"There have been a few whispers around and stuff but the weightlifting community is quite small and quite strong, so I'm sure she'll have nothing but support," Lambrech said. 

In 2015, the International Olympic Committee updated its policy on transgender athletes to allow them to compete in international sporting competitions without having surgery.

It states women have to have keep testosterone levels below a certain threshold for 12 months before competition.

However debate is raging over whether Hubbard, who transitioned in her mid-thirties, retains a physical advantage. 

Sports scientist and exercise physiologist Dr Simon Sostaric said if an athlete is transitioning in their 20s or early 30s, "They've already had the benefits of higher levels of testosterone than a female and you're not going to lose that muscle mass in a hurry."

Those outside the New Zealand team are taking a pragmatic approach.

New South Wales weightlifter Leah Poulton said it was just another regulation. 

"It's not my business whether it's fair or not. I'm not a scientist, I'm not an expert in that field, so if they say it's fair then I'll compete against her."

"It's the same as me going and being tested for a drug and not testing positive and therefore being able to compete," Poulton said. 

It is an issue being wrestled with around the world.

Back in Melbourne, Hubbard is preparing to compete on Sunday. She is expected to do well and is a probable for the New Zealand team in next year's Commonwealth Games. 


Laurel Hubbard will compete in the women's over 90kg group, despite raging debate about her participation. Source: 1 NEWS

Exclusive: US embassy won't allow cops to speak to diplomat who fled Lower Hutt property with broken nose

Details of a diplomatic wrangle that's been playing out between US and New Zealand authorities have been revealed by 1 NEWS.

The case involves an American embassy employee who police want to question over an incident in Lower Hutt.

But police have come up against a diplomatic brick wall.

Chris White is an American diplomat wanted for questioning by New Zealand police after an incident in the Lower Hutt suburb of Tirohanga.

But police can't arrest Mr White because the US Government won't waive his diplomatic immunity.

"Sometimes some countries also say 'our diplomats are subject to our own criminal law and if we bring them home we will make sure they are properly charged'," said Colin Keating, former United Nations Ambassador.

Police were called to an address on Sunday, but Alabama-born Chris White had left, apparently nursing a broken nose and a black eye.

So police asked the Ministry of Foreign affairs to intervene.

The Chief of Protocol, Mark Swain met with the Acting US Ambassador, Candy Green, on Monday.

Today Foreign affairs told 1 NEWS: "The United States Government has today declined to waive the diplomat's immunity. Therefore MFAT has asked the United States to withdraw the staff member in question from New Zealand."

It's not the first time this has happened.

Disgraced Malaysian diplomat Mohammed Rizalman fled New Zealand before he could stand trial in 2014. 

But he was eventually brought back and convicted of indecent assault on a Wellington woman. 

"What we're seeing at the moment is an increasing trend to waiver immunity and a recognition that that's normal," Mr Keating said.

Chris White and his wife work at the embassy in Wellington. Mr White as a technical attache. 

1 NEWS understands he was working closely with the GCSB spy agency.

But neither the agency nor the embassy would confirm that.

In a statement the embassy told us: "We take seriously any suggestion that our staff have fallen short of the high standards of conduct expected of US Government personnel.

"Any allegations of wrongdoing are always fully investigated."

Police want to speak with US diplomat Colin White over an incident in Lower Hutt, but his government won't waive his immunity. Source: 1 NEWS


Rules may stop GM super grass developed by Kiwi scientists ever being grown in NZ

A super grass developed here by Kiwi scientists may never be grown in a New Zealand paddock.

AgResearch scientists have been working on genetically modifying a rye grass for the past 15 years at their Palmerston North laboratories.

Laboratory tests show the High Metabolisable Energy (HME) grass can not only grow faster in dry conditions but it also reduces the amount of nitrogen leaching into waterways and methane going into the atmosphere.

That could be a lifesaver for farmers in the drought plagued areas of New Zealand such as Hawke's Bay and Canterbury.

It could also be good news for the environment as nitrogen is one of the main pollutants of our waterways and the majority of our greenhouse gasses come from livestock methane emissions.

It's off to America next week for field trials because our strict regulations around GM make it too difficult to test in New Zealand paddocks.

Federated Farmers say the choice of using GM technology has been taken away from our farmers because of our strict regulations and the creation of GM Free zones.  

More about this on SUNDAY this week 7.30 on TVNZ1 and later on TVNZOnDemand.

By Sunday reporter Mark Crysell

"It's actually almost unprecedented that anyone has made such a breakthrough of enhancing photosynthesis in crops," Sunday is told. Source: Sunday