NZ's best long drive golfer gears up for world champs - and he's just had his first lesson

Many world class sports require a variety of skills, but it turns out golfers can focus on just one element of the game and smash it.

It's called long drive golf and the aim is simple - hit the golf ball as far as possible.

Seven Sharp reports that earlier this year Alan Stroud entered New Zealand's national competition in Orewa, and to his surprise, won.

And now he's off to the world champs, fitting them in during his honeymoon.

"Three minutes, eight balls, and the person who hits the most balls the longest over the course of five days at worlds walks home with a quarter of a million US dollars," Alan said.

A week out, he has 100 yards to add to his long drive.

"At worlds we are facing guys who have hit 460 yards."

Surprisingly, Alan revealed: "On Monday I had my first ever golf lesson, one-on-one with an actual golf coach."

Alan will be interrupting his honeymoon to take part in the world champs. Source: Seven Sharp


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'They have already paid enough' - calls for no fees for sexual abuse survivors who want their automatic name suppression lifted

Brodie Joyce said she was sexually abused by her ex-stepfather for 11 years.

“I can’t remember the first instance where it happened. I just remember it like gradually building up. And then there was a period of three years when it was intense like basically every day and that was when I was like 13 to 16," she said.

“I was brought home and home-schooled. He worked from home as well, so it was like 24/7 access and that’s what he wanted anyway."

At 21, Brodie said it got to a point where she didn’t want to put up with it anymore, reporting the abuse to Wellington police. 

Her abuser pleaded guilty to charges of abuse from over several years and was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison.

“I knew that what I experienced had galvanised me into being a certain person and that I want to do something with what I've experienced and help other people. And it’s just made me realise that’s what I want to do with my life,” she said.

She has set up an advocacy service, Fight Sexual Abuse New Zealand, which pairs sexual abuse survivors with advocates that have experienced abuse for support.

“I just had the idea of if people can disclose then they can talk to someone who's been through similar circumstances and talk like friends then that could help them talk about the abuse which is really healing,” she said.

It’s hoped the advocates will be able to help the disclosers on their path to getting support, whether that’s through counselling, police or other support agencies.

Making it harder to be able to talk about it if that’s what they want to do is just prolonging that silence - Brodie Joyce

To share her story, Brodie had to get a ruling to lift her automatic name suppression. It’s a statutory prohibition for sexual abuse complainants that’s given to thousands of people in New Zealand every year. It was introduced to protect them.

“I understand some people they want to keep it quiet 'cause it’s their experience and that’s obviously 100 per cent fine. If my name suppression wasn’t lifted I probably wouldn’t be in a good place.”

But the process requires legal fees. Brodie was first quoted up to $4000, but negotiated the fee to be lower due to her advocacy work.

“People who've experienced sexual abuse, they are silenced during that abuse, you know, like if it's historical, and making it harder to be able to talk about it if that’s what they want to do is just prolonging that silence even more,” she said.

She’s calling for the process to be free, and for victim support to communicate to survivors they have a choice over their name suppression some months after the trial or sentencing.

They have already paid enough, it should not cost them financially to have the name suppression lifted - Auckland HELP executive director Kathryn McPhillips

Auckland HELP executive director Kathryn McPhillips agrees, saying it’s “outrageous” sexual abuse survivors have to pay to have their name suppression lifted.

“They have already paid enough, it should not cost them financially to have the name suppression lifted,” Ms McPhillips said.

Ms McPhillips said society is in a time of transition with more people wanting to have their name suppression lifted.

“The current process really assumes that most people would want that name suppression to stay in place forever.”

Lawyer Nikki Pender said over the last few years, more sexual abuse survivors have consulted her, asking how they can get their name suppression lifted.

“It is a very profound moment for many of them but is a very important time and the difficulty now is getting a process that works for them comfortably,” she said.

Ms Pender said court victim advisers should be given more responsibility, and could replace the need for lawyers in non-contentious suppression removal cases.

“When you do need legal counsel, when it is objected to for example, legal aid should simply be available,” she said.

Ms Pender said the Government could remove the cost through an amendment of the Legal Service Act.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said he wants to investigate all possible options.

“We need to find a way to do that and it shouldn’t be a barrier to somebody who wants that simple procedural step taken,” he said.

Mr Little said the Government could “do a lot better” with its support of sexual abuse complainants in court.

“There is a need to professionalise victim support for victims of serious crime so they’ve got court advocacy right throughout the process. And when they do get to the point where they wanted to lift suppression, name suppression of themselves, that they can do that easily and effectively,” he said.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz
What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)
Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)
Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254
Healthline: 0800 611 116
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

For some survivors, being able to speak publicly about their abuse is a very important part of their healing process. Source: 1 NEWS

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Experts warn New Zealand not prepared for a global pandemic

Experts are warning New Zealand is not prepared for a global pandemic, and the country needs to be able to close its borders quickly if one hits.

Researchers have been studying the benefits of closing New Zealand's doors, and comparing them to the consequences such as loss of tourism.

They found hundreds of lives could be saved and the positives outweigh the negatives.

"There are also huge economical benefits to New Zealand by doing this, of $8 billion to $144 billion," says University of Otago researcher Michael Baker.

"We could have pandemic influenza again, we could have something like SARS which is more infectious and spreads globally, we could have a new bio-weapon for example," he says.

The Ministry of Health says it does have a pandemic plan which considers different border options, but experts say there needs to be specific legislation to allow authorities to shut the doors within a day.

GP and immunisation expert, Dr Nikki Turner, says it's important to act quickly.

"At the start of a pandemic, in the early days we generally don't know how severe it is. At that point you need to act. If you wait and do nothing in the early days, it's too late," she says.

Ms Turner says closing the borders is no easy task.

"The world is interconnected so it's a huge challenge to consider exactly how you would effectively shut the borders.".

However, it's a challenge experts say is worth thinking about now.

Researchers are calling for new laws to be put in place, despite the potential economic costs. Source: 1 NEWS