PM-elect Jacinda Ardern, Labour to hold caucus meeting Friday morning to select Cabinet, NZ First to get four positions

Jacinda Ardern is New Zealand's next prime minister.

Labour will lead the next government in a coalition with NZ First.

The PM-elect will discuss how NZ's new government may look in the coming days. Source: 1 NEWS

The Greens are expected to back Labour on confidence and supply, giving the combined parties 63 seats, two more than the 61 majority they need.

Stepping into government brings the left out of the cold of opposition for the first time in nine years.

Despite losing the top job, Mr English was happy to offer his replacement some advice. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Ardern, who only found out the news at the same time as the rest of the country, opened her first press conference as prime minister elect by acknowledging her predecessor in the role, National leader Bill English.

"I want to thank Bill English for the role he has played in this campaign but also as prime minister and as serving in the past as NZ's finance minister," she said.

Winston Peters has thrown his support behind a Labour-led government with Jacinda Ardern as PM. Source: 1 NEWS

"Mr English has already called me this evening and acknowledged that negotiations for the National Party have now concluded."

Labour will hold a caucus meeting on Friday morning to select a cabinet. Four places will go to NZ First MPs while they will also have a parliamentary undersecretary.

The Greens are expected to have proportional representation, but given that party is still finalising arrangements Ms Ardern would not go into detail about whether those roles would be inside cabinet or not.

Mr Peters has been offered the role of deputy prime minister, pushing aside Labour's deputy Kelvin Davis, but Ms Ardern said he was still considering whether to take up that offer.

Mr English addressed the media backed by his wife Mary, deputy leader Paula Bennett and senior colleagues Steven Joyce, Todd McClay, Gerry Brownlee and Nathan Guy.

"I'm naturally disappointed for the 44.5 per cent of people who voted for us, and the team," Mr English said, gracious in defeat.

He said Ms Ardern's rise to prime minister was "remarkable" and offered the advice not to take herself too seriously.

The party will hold a caucus meeting next week to discuss the way forward. Whether Mr English continues to lead the party will be a matter for the coming weeks, he said.

He congratulated the party on an impressive campaign and election result for what they hoped would become a fourth term government, acknowledging they would be the strongest opposition New Zealand has ever seen.

While Ms Ardern was not given the good news in advance Mr English was also not given a heads up of his defeat.

His wife Mary and sons Connor and Xavier - two of six siblings - were seen arriving ahead of the announcement to offer support.

Mr Peters said the decision was owed first to the New Zealand people.

"With respect the people of this country are the ones who deserve to know first," he said, through he conceded "that would be the nice thing to do".

NZ First made the decision based on how to best mitigate, not worsen, what New Zealand is expected to face in the coming years, Mr Peters said.

Ms Ardern will lead NZ's next government after Winston Peters offered Labour his party's support. Source: 1 NEWS

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Thirty-one people recently treated at Christchurch Hospital after taking synthetic drugs, 12 this week

A total of 31 patients have been treated at Christchurch Hospital for the effects of taking synthetic drugs since September 20, with two people remaining in ICU. 

A spokesperson for the Canterbury and West Coast DHB said 12 more people have presented or were admitted to Christchurch Hospital just this week. 

"Three more patients have received intensive care following synthetic cannabinoid use, but are no longer in ICU. Two of the original three remain in ICU."

It comes a spate of admissions to Christchurch Hospital over the last three weeks of people who had taken synthetic drugs.

"There have been no synthetic cannabinoid-related deaths in Christchurch hospital during this time," the spokesperson said. 

They're calling for the drug to be classified as Class A – the most harmful and dangerous.
Source: 1 NEWS

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Wellington's much-maligned Island Bay cycleway at least a year away from being fixed

Locals enraged by the botched cycleway in the Wellington suburb of Island Bay will likely have to wait another year for it to be fixed.

The Wellington City Council agreed in September last year to revamp the cycleway after locals fiercely opposed the design which saw the cyclists riding between the curb and cars.

However, work has not started yet as the council is hoping the Transport Agency will help cover $24m of the $32m project.

But the agency won't give funding for just the Island Bay section so the council must present a plan that covers the cycleway from Island Bay to the Basin Reserve, council documents show.

Island Bay locals aren’t convinced about the unusual design, labelling it “an accident waiting to happen”. Source: 1 NEWS

It was not clear what the cost of changing the Island Bay stretch of cycleway would be but it was likely to be more than the $6m first budgeted.

Wellington City Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons said the delay is the right course of action.

"This to me is really the only responsible approach given that we can access a significant amount more in government investment to connect the Island Bay cycleway through to the centre of Wellington."

The council would use what it had learnt from the Island Bay debacle while building the rest of the cycleway, Ms Fitzimons said.

The council would continue to do maintenance on the road over summer, including repainting markings in the middle of the road, and trying to remove old markings which were still visible.

The cycleway has been mired in controversy since its inception in 2011 with more than 100 people marching through Island Bay in December last year. They were protesting against the council's proposed solution to raise the cycleway to the same level as the footpath so cars can park up against the curb.

The Island Bay Residents Association is pushing ahead with plans to file legal action against the council.

By Laura Dooney

- rnz.co.nz 

The community is calling for a return to the pre-cycleway design that wouldn't see carparks removed. Source: Breakfast

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Person airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after two-car crash in Canterbury

One person has been airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after a two-car crash in Canterbury today.

The incident occurred between a truck and a ute on Bealey Road, near the intersection with Greendale Road, Selwyn, at around 12.30pm.

The Serious Crash Unit is in attendance and traffic is being diverted around the scene.

Source: 1 NEWS


Māori cultural centre for Whangārei hopes for $5 million council grant

The long-held dream of a Māori cultural centre for Whangārei is hanging on hopes of a $5 million council grant.

Work has just begun on the first stage of the project - a big carving workshop and waka shelter, east of the Town Basin in the Hihiaua Peninsula.

But stage two, a theatre, will be competing for council funding with hotel developers across the river.

Master Carver Te Warihi Hetaraka can visualise exactly what the Hihiaua Cultural Centre will look like.

The trust he's a part of has been planning it for ten years, but it's been the dream of his elders for much longer.

"The vision of it started back in the 1980s when the kaumātua realised that kids were losing their culture fast - real fast. They saw a cultural centre as a place where they could retain a lot of the knowledge that used to be handed down and is no longer with us."

Some of those arts and skills - carving, weaving and waka building - would finally have a home in Whangārei by next April.

A former boat-building shed on the Waiarohia Stream is being converted into an art workshop space, with a waka shelter and launching gantry.

Half the $2 million cost has been covered with a grant from the Provincial Growth Fund, and the rest from the Whangarei District Council, Foundation North and Te Puni Kokiri.

But it's the next stage that will be the big one: A 700 seat theatre for the performing arts, a facility Whangārei has needed for years.

It will cost between $10m and $15m according to Hihiaua Trust secretary Janet Hetaraka.

The theatre would be versatile enough to handle many community events, Mrs Hetaraka said.

But the priority for the Trust was kapa haka.

"We have many kapa haka events throughout the year and there is no adequate venue.

"They have to use stadiums or gyms and there's never enough space for the audience. What we've designed is an indoor/outdoor stage, so we can have thousands of people seated outside on the grass with the stage open to the outdoors."

The Hihiaua Trust will apply for resource consent for the theatre in the next fortnight. It hopes to persuade the council to back the project with a $5m grant.

If it succeeds, it would be able to apply to other charities for the rest of the funds, Mrs Hetaraka said.

The Whangārei District Council has long had $10 million budgeted in its long term plan for a theatre but developers planning to build a hotel across the river are also pitching for council funding for a conference centre.

Another Hihiaua Trust member, lawyer Ryan Welsh, said the Hihiaua theatre was more in line with what the city needed.

"Not to say that a hotel wouldn't provide jobs but we are looking to showcase Māori culture and also be inclusive of the whole community in terms of its use."

Both developments are intended to work in with the Hundertwasser Art Centre now under construction at the other end of town.

The Hihiaua Trust said the cultural centre would complement the Hundertwasser, which included a Māori fine arts' gallery.

Hihiaua trustees held off applying for council and charitable funding for several years, to let the $28m Hundertwasser take precedent.

But the trust and the hotel developers could yet be in for a wait.

Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai said the council was in the process of developing a new events and venues strategy and would not be handing out any money until it was decided where the venue gaps were in the city.

- By Radio New Zealand's Lois Williams

Boats moored at Whangarei Marina in the town basin. Northland, New Zealand, NZ.
Whangārei's Town Basin. (file picture). Source: istock.com