'People are leaving because of her' - claims staff at Royal NZ Ballet are unhappy with new US artistic director

There are claims staff at the Royal New Zealand Ballet are unhappy with the choice of the company's new artistic director.

American Patricia Barker started her role in June this year, but since then 10 dancers will not return in 2018.

The RNZB says three are retiring, three have signed deals to perform in Australia and four have not had their contracts renewed.

But one RNZB employee 1 NEWS has spoken with says "people are leaving because of her".

The employee says Barker's style has got on the wrong side of some of the dancers, questioning whether her American background is suited to New Zealand.

The person – who chose to remain anonymous – says the Board of Trustees has favoured foreign artistic directors over Kiwis.

The concerns are echoed by former RNZB dancer and board member Nick Carroll, who says "there's a pattern and I guess that pattern relates to the fact that the last time there was a New Zealand-born artistic director of the company was in 1971".

"It sounds like you could virtually end up with a New Zealand ballet company which is not a New Zealand ballet company," he said.

The company's executive director Frances Turner denies there's a problem, and says she backs the choice of Barker.

Ms Turner says she has backing from the Board of Trustees and staff members.

In relation to the claims made, Frances Turner says "transition can be challenging for people, so people have their views".

"I'm so confident, I'm so aware of all the support Patricia has from the board and the team," she said.

- By 1 NEWS reporter Arrun Soma

The organisation is backing the controversial artistic director, despite 10 dancers heading out the door. Source: 1 NEWS



Kiwi chocolatier Whittaker's takes leap into ice cream bars

Kiwi chocolate company Whittaker's is expanding from the lollies aisle, with an eye on dominating the freezer sections of supermarkets and dairies as well.

Starting Monday, Tip Top will offer three new flavours of ice cream bars featuring the brand: chocolate and pretzel, coffee and cacao and vanilla and cashew praline.

"It's the moment you've been waiting for...two iconic Kiwi brands coming together to combine the best of both worlds," Tip Top announced on its Facebook page this morning.

Unlike previous collaborations, the flavours are a permanent addition to the Tip Top range, a Whittaker's official told the New Zealand Herald.

"We've always had a dream to be able to create a delicious ice cream with somebody," said Whittaker's marketing manager Jasmine Currie.

Auckland fans of the brands will have an opportunity to get an early taste of the ice creams on Saturday, with a pop-up store opening at midday in Newmarket.

kiwi companies Whittaker's and Tip Top have collaborated for three new ice cream bars. Source: Tip Top

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'Some links to the Mongrel Mob' – seven charged after BOP police sting sees guns, Hilux vehicles, $21k cash, drugs seized

Police have arrested and charged seven people after executing a number of search warrants in the eastern Bay of Plenty as part of Operation Notus II.

Speaking to media today Senior Sergeant Richard Miller said the operation had "some links to the Mongrel Mob".

Operation Notus II is the second phase of a long-running investigation, led by the National Organised Crime Group, into organised crime and the supply and supplying of methamphetamine and cannabis in the eastern Bay of Plenty region.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller briefed media today. Source: 1 NEWS

Search warrants were conducted this morning in properties in Kawerau, Whakatāne and Te Teko.

The seven are facing a number of charges, including possession for supply, and supplying, methamphetamine and cannabis, as well as firearms-related offending.

They will appear in Whakatāne District Court this afternoon.

Along with methamphetamine and cannabis, 26 firearms and more than $21,000 in cash has been seized.

Three stolen Toyota Hilux utes were recovered from one address in Kawerau, along with a number of power tools.

A stolen Toyota Hilux Surf and trailer were recovered from another address.

Operation Notus, launched in October 2017, revealed the Kawerau Mongrel Mob's involvement in the commercial distribution of meth and cannabis to the community.

As a result of the investigation, 48 people were arrested and almost $3 million in assets were frozen in March 2018.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller, said, "This was a major disruption to organised crime and methamphetamine supply in EBOP".

Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty
Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Source: NZ Police

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Watch: 'Make it lit fam' - Andrew Little releases video appealing for 2019 New Plymouth youth MP

MP Andrew Little has released a video appealing for a 2019 New Plymouth youth MP.

In the video, Mr Little can be seen making digs at his political rivals - David Seymour, Gareth Morgan, Bill English and John Key - while attempting to appeal to the modern teenager.

"I'm Andrew Little. You may know me for such things as my cat (soz Gareth), beard polls, party hats and Dancing With The Stars. Just kidding. That's Not Safe for Twerk," the Justice Minister says.

"But if you're going to have a backing track, make sure it's pretty legal. So make it lit fam."

The MP can be seen making digs at his political rivals as he tries to appeal to the modern teenager. Source: Breakfast