'People may lose their lives' – some Northland fire brigades critically short of volunteers

Some Northland brigades are relying on neighbouring crews to answer 111 calls due to a lack of staff.

Some Northland brigades are relying on neighbouring crews to answer 111 calls due to a lack of staff. Source: 1 NEWS



NZTA contractors caught dumping rubble in Whangārei stream

New Zealand Transport Agency contractors have been caught dumping rubble from road works into a stream that feeds into Whangārei Harbour.

The agency has been forced to clean up its act after a local MP raised the matter with Northland Regional Council.

National MP for Whangarei Shane Reti was contacted by a constituent worried about a number of problems to do with roading near his house, which backs onto State Highway 1, about 15 minutes from the city.

The resident showed the MP the Oakleigh River Bridge, which had two metre wide expansion strips cut out across it.

About 30 pieces of road had been cut off the highway and pushed straight into the stream underneath, Dr Reti said.

"They still had fluorescent markings on them. They were on both sides of the dropline so they'd clearly been pushed off the bridge directly into the stream below," he said.

Dr Reti and the local who raised the problem were angry with the situation.

"At best it's lazy, at worst it's environmental vandalism.

"It wasn't hard to put a drop sheet or a gatherer on either side of the bridge, but no, it seemed the most convenient thing is just to brush it off and brush it into the stream below."

Roading was a pollutant in the stream that feeds directly into the harbour, he said.

Rubble from road works pictured beside a stream.
Rubble from road works pictured beside a stream. Source: MP Shane Reti

Dr Reti immediately contacted Northland Regional Council which got on to the transport agency.

The council told him the rubble was promptly removed, and the agency made it clear to its staff and contractors that the situation was unacceptable.

Ngātiwai Trust Board chairperson Haydn Edmonds said the dumping by New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) contractors was not good enough.

"It shouldn't have happened, a sub-contractor should have been monitored by at least a sign-off from NZTA," Mr Edmonds said.

Staff at the transport agency refused to be interviewed, but said in a statement the contractors did not follow process.

The situation had since been rectified and it would work with its contractors to ensure it did not happen again, the agency said.

Dr Reti said monitoring needed to be done across the country to make sure care was taken with the environment after roading projects.

By Kate Gudsell

- RNZ.CO.NZ

Road slabs thrown by a stream that feeds into Whangārei Harbour
Road slabs thrown by a stream that feeds into Whangārei Harbour Source: MP Shane Reti

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Court of Appeal blocks media merger proposal between NZME and Fairfax

NZME Ltd, the owner of New Zealand's top-selling newspaper, says the Court Of Appeals had blocked its bid to merge with Fairfax Media Ltd's New Zealand unit.

The company said its appeal against the High Court's decision to block the merger was unsuccessful. NZME had decided to contest the High Court decision last February.

The Court Of Appeals is the second highest appeals court In the country, behind the Supreme Court. NZME said it would consider the judgment and "review its options."

NZME Chief Executive Michael Boggs said he was disappointed by the decision.

The deal, first announced in 2016, would have seen NZME purchasing Fairfax's New Zealand subsidiary, Stuff Ltd.

It was initially blocked by New Zealand's competition regulator on concerns it would have led to unprecedented local media influence, a decision upheld by the country's High Court.

All eyes are now on the next moves from NZME and Fairfax after a merger was rejected.
Source: 1 NEWS

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‘He led the struggle’ – Jacinda Ardern pays tribute to Nelson Mandela at UN speech

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern helped honor the memory of Nelson Mandela at a peace summit for the late South African leader.

Mandela, who led South Africa's transition from the apartheid system of white minority rule over the majority black population was a "living embodiment of the United Nation's values," Ardern said.

In the year since she took office, Ardern, 38, has enjoyed unprecedented global attention for a leader from this nation of fewer than 5 million people.

Yet at home, she's faced political pressure as she tries to keep control of a coalition government that sometimes threatens to come apart.

Internationally, Ardern in many ways offers a counterpoint to President Donald Trump: She is young, liberal and espouses an empathetic approach to leadership.

She's also pushed the boundaries for women by becoming just the second world leader in modern times to give birth while in office.

Mandela, who led South Africa's transition from the apartheid was a "living embodiment of the United Nation's values," Ardern said Source: Associated Press


Fair Go: How many companies does it take to change a Wellington street light bulb?

How many times have you taken a small problem, phoned a call centre and felt completely powerless when it gets you nowhere?

Alan Knowles had a small problem – his street light had gone out.

"I would like my bulb replaced," he said.

Alan had been in the dark, navigating a steep path down to his house since Christmas and no amount of calling was changing that.

Trouble was, the bulb is a legal but private street light he'd paid to have fitted to a Wellington City Council pole in the early 1990s.

Alan had been paying Genesis Energy for at least a decade to keep the light on. A monthly charge on his bill of six or seven dollars covered everything.

"The maintenance in 25, or 26 or 27 years has been changing one bulb," Mr Knowles said.

Round after round of calls to Genesis, the Council, and five other companies brought little joy.

"All I get is the call centre people and anybody on the staff is hiding behind the wall of call centre people. They don’t seem to care about people with little problems like mine," Mr Knowles said.

So, he dropped Fair Go a line instead.

Within nine hours, a problem that had dragged out over nine months was sorted in a blaze of brand new LED lighting.

Alan was jubilant. Fair Go likes to dig deeper and happily, so does the Council and Genesis.

Wellington City Council said it was, "really sorry that Mr Knowles has had to go through his ordeal".

Carefully omitting any blame, its statement added:

"Mr Knowles appears to have been the unwitting victim of information not properly shared between a number of organisations."

Genesis told Fair Go the Council had decided on its own initiative to take responsibility for Mr Knowles' streetlight - six years ago.

Genesis’ spokesman says the Council hadn’t told anyone when it did so, leaving records out of date; but admits Genesis hadn’t chased it up either.

"For Genesis' role, we're sorry for that," Genesis’ James Magill said.

"I'd like to have thought we could have been more proactive in finding a solution so, hands up we're very sorry and we can get better," Mr Magill said.

Of course, this also means Genesis has been charging Alan for six years for something the Council was meant to be providing for free.

Genesis offered Alan a refund of all charges plus interest and he accepted.

To make Alan’s joy complete, the Council says it will keep the light on and cover the cost.

Too many it seems, until Fair Go gets involved that is. Source: Fair Go