NZ's horror road toll: What's happening on our roads? 89 people have already died this year, way up on 2017

New Zealand's road toll is heading towards being one of the worst in recent years, with 89 people having already lost their lives on the road since the beginning of the year to March 18. 

It is 14 more than the same period last year. 

Seventy-five people had lost their lives between January 1 and March 18 in 2017, and 77 in 2016, according to NZTA

A total of 380 people lost their lives in 2017 and 327 in 2016. 

The highest recent road toll was in 2009, when 384 people died on the road. 

Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter told 1 NEWS today that this year's road toll has been "devastating".

"The number of preventable deaths on our roads is devastating and not something we should tolerate as a country.

"We are in the process of reviewing the government's transport funding strategy, but what I can say now is that there will be a much greater focus on improving the safety of our roads.

"Mistakes on the road are sadly inevitable. However, we can reduce the number that result in tragedy by simply making our roads safer, with improvements like median barriers, rumble strips and safer speed limits," Ms Genter said.

With a few hours still to go, the road toll for 2017 was 378, up from 327 in 2016. Source: 1 NEWS

 

With the highest NZ annual road toll in nearly a decade, a simple but extensive plan has been put in place to stop the carnage. Source: 1 NEWS

The government put an additional $22.5 million into improvements on rural state highways across the country. 

Ms Genter previously said the number of people dying on our roads has continued to increase over the past four years and making the roads safer will be a major priority for the Government in 2018.

"It will be obvious to many people driving this summer that the level of safety on many rural roads and even urban streets simply isn't good enough," Ms Genter said.

Ms Genter said she also intended to hold a road safety summit early this year so she can hear directly from councils about opportunities for improving road safety.

A head on collision along SH1 near the town of Amberley has left two 16-year-olds dead this morning. Source: 1 NEWS



Education Ministry encourages parents to complain to Hamilton school if unhappy with principal's truant rape speech

The Ministry of Education is encouraging parents to complain to a Hamilton high school if they're concerned by it's principal's remarks to students that truants are highly likely to be rape or suicide victims.

Fraser High School principal Virginia Crawford's speech to a full school assembly yesterday already has some parents vowing to pull their children from the school.

In her speech which was secretly recorded by a student and uploaded to YouTube, Ms Crawford said in part: "Every student who walks out of the gate to truant is already a statistic of the worst kind - highly likely to go to prison, either commit domestic violence or be a victim of domestic violence, be illiterate, be a rape victim, be a suicide victim."

The Ministry of Education has told Newshub it has been in contact with the school following Ms Crawford's speech.

"We are aware that some of the comments made by the principal have been upsetting to some people," the ministry's deputy secretary sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said in a statement.

"The school has a complaints process in place and we would encourage any parents who are concerned about the content of the speech to contact the school directly."

In her speech, Ms Crawford said: "When I drive out of school during class time for meetings, and I see groups of students sitting outside the dairy, fish and chip shop, bus stop, some of the things I am thinking is that is another group of students without a future."

She urged students to work hard in school to make better lives for themselves.

Ms Casey said it's really important that children go to school every day, saying international surveys have shown that attendance is one of the strongest drivers of student achievement.

It appears, however that Ms Crawford's speech has backfired with angry students now said to be planning a "mass wag".

A staff member told Newshub students had mentioned they're planning on wagging next week, probably for one period.

A parent commenting on the YouTube video, said they would pull their daughter out of the school, describing the principal's speech as disturbing, revolting and tormenting.

"This revolting tormenting speech has only proven that YOU madam principal are the FAILURE in this matter. Disgusting inappropriate accusations. I'm pulling my daughter out until you are replaced," the parent wrote.

Another commenter said his stepson would no longer attend Fraser High School after hearing the speech.

“After seeing this speech I was literally shaking, this kind of offensive culture should not be permitted in New Zealand,” he wrote.

Fraser High School Board of Trustees chair Jeff Green has told Stuff the school has received a "great deal of positive feedback on the speech". 

"We consider that even if just one student reconsiders the path they are taking and takes steps in a more positive direction after this speech then that could have huge impact on their future lives and those of their family and friends and the wider community, Mr Green said in a statement. 

Meanwhile a Year 12 student, Cody Barron, told Newshub one girl started crying in the assembly. 

"When you go to a school, you don't expect to hear your principal be talking trash about suburbs 90 percent of the students come from - which seemed to be racial - and how she's so much better than us," Cody said.

A Hamilton high school principal has come under fire for a speech in which she said truants were highly likely to end up in prison, be illiterate, be a rape victim or commit suicide. Source: Dick Tater

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Doctor's stark warning after Christchurch synthetic cannabis overdoses

"There's no doubt, if you're smoking this stuff, you're gambling with your life."

That's the stark warning to users of synthetic cannabis from an emergency room doctor in Christchurch after a "nasty batch" of the drug has caused 10 people to overdose in the city in the last 48 hours.

Dr Mark Gilbert said there are eight people still critically ill and "we can’t guarantee they’ll live".

The people were unconscious when they arrived at the emergency room, the doctor said.

"When the patients come to the emergency room, we're finding they're in various states of unconsciousness, they can’'t really tell us anything, we get very little information, sometimes no information."

He offered a stark warning to people using synthetic cannabis.

"There’s no doubt, if you’re smoking this stuff, you’re gambling with your life," he said.

"We’d strongly advise that particularly at the moment, where there seems to be a bad batch in Christchurch, that people stay away from smoking even small amounts of this."

"It seems there's no safe level of this drug to smoke."

Dr Gilbert said it appeared the "bad batch" of the drug being sold was "causing particularly severe affects".

He went on to say: "The symptoms of this range in severity, but they generally start off with some agitation and confusion then precede to coma and seizures and in severe cases, cardiac rhythm disturbances and this can precede to cardiac arrest and death," he said.

Emergency department doctor Mark Gilbert says the patients have been critically unwell as a bad batch of the drug is sold. Source: 1 NEWS

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Ten children taken to hospital after plane emits unknown substance over Carterton school


Ten primary school children in Carterton have been taken to Wairarapa Hospital after a plane is thought to have accidentally sprayed the school with pesticide. 

The incident happened at approximately 1pm at South End School in the town.

Wellington Free Ambulance says 10 children with moderate symptoms have been transported to the hospital in Masterton and paramedics are treating 40 other people - children and adults - with very minor symptoms. 

Four ambulances and a Lifeflight helicopter are being used, Geoff Procter of Wellington Free Ambulance said. 

“We are taking a precautionary approach. All the children and their families are being well looked after with extra food and water," he said. 

One-hundred-and-seven people are going through a decontamination process, consisting of washing down, and fresh dry clothes, Mr Procter said. 

"The decontamination process takes a while. We’re all here and on hand to make sure everyone is safe and well.” 

Symptoms the affected children have are generally low-level, consisting of nausea, vomiting and itchy eyes, he said. 

Mr Procter advises that if anyone‘s condition deteriorates, call 111. 

Parents have been seen arriving at the school with a change of clothes and children are slowly coming out one by one in towels. 

A plane is suspected of accidentally spraying the school with pesticide and several children have been hospitalised. Source: 1 NEWS

Carterton Fire senior station officer Wayne Robinson said local people have been presenting to the local medical centre after the incident. 

A 1 NEWS reporter at the scene says there are numerous appliances there and roads are blocked in several directions. 

NZ First MP Ron Mark who lives in Carterton has told 1 NEWS it seems a plane has accidentally sprayed the school with pesticide.

Police say they are investigating and are going door to door in the area checking on residents' welfare and trying to locate the source of the smell. 

They are also searching the school's grounds.

Carterton District Mayor John Booth says parents are very worried. 

A statement on the school's Facebook page read: "A plane flew in a southward direction and one student had seen 'stuff' coming out of the plane - so we assume it was a fertiliser of some sort - several students have experienced feeling quezzy and ucky."

Parents waiting outside South End School.
Parents waiting outside South End School. Source: 1 NEWS

This follows a report of an aircraft dropping an unknown substance near the school. Source: 1 NEWS


Tauranga mussel processing plant ordered to pay nearly $280k after worker loses eye

A Tauranga mussel processing plant has been ordered to pay nearly $280,000 after a worker had to have his eye removed after an incident involving a corrosive cleaning product.

In a statement Worksafe says North Island Mussels Limited was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court today following the January 2017 incident which left their worker with life changing injuries.

The incident saw the worker decanting a cleaning product as a piece of tubing flicked him in the eye. The impact caused so much damage that the eye had to be removed, while the damage inflicted was so significant that fitting a prosthetic became impossible.

As a result, North Island Mussels Limited have been sentenced with a fine of $219,375, and ordered to pay $60,000 in reparation.

An investigation found that the cleaning product in question should not have been made available to be handled, instead should have been hardwired and plumbed for use.

"Protective equipment should not be the go to safety solution for using hazardous substances. If there is a smarter and safer way of doing a job, and it is reasonably practicable for it to be implemented then that is the expectation of the Health and Safety at Work Act" said WorkSafe's Deputy General Manager for Operations and Specialist Services Simon Humphries.

Seafood processing plant staff checking weight of mussels in small plastic container before packing
Mussel factory (file picture). Source: istock.com