Power lines association says out-dated tree legislation needs review to stop Auckland powercut happening again

The Electricity Networks Association says legislation from 2003 is restricting their ability to get high risk trees away from power lines - and it contributed to last week's huge outage in Auckland.

About 900 properties are still without power a week after a powerful storm battered Auckland, leaving about 180,000 properties without power at its peak.

ENA CEO Graeme Peters, speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast, said lines companies have a problem because they are "very restricted by the 2003 tree regulations".

"We've got a problem with the way we manage trees around power lines and we need to fix that," Mr Peters said.

Mr Peters said it's difficult at the moment to get risky or old trees near powerlines removed and called on the government to review the effectiveness of the Act - namely the Electricity (Hazards from Trees) Regulations 2003.

At the moment, trees within half a metre of a power lines must be trimmed back to 1.5m - but that approach is "too prescriptive", Mr Peters said, and said high-risk trees should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

"Is that line supplying power to schools and hospitals?" Mr Peters said.

Mr Peters said underground lines are an option, but are expensive, and that they can actually be more difficult to fix than overhead wires because the faults are hard to find.

Graeme Peters of the Electricity Networks Association says lines companies have their hands tied when it comes to dealing with risky trees near lines. Source: Breakfast


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Timelapse shows demolition of the Kings Arms Tavern after 130 years in operation

Auckland's Kings Arms Tavern has been demolished after 130 years in operation to make way for 102 new apartments.

The demolition was completed on Monday, and a video timelapse of the demolition was posted by new owner Urban Collective last night.

Developer Kelly McEwan said he realised the footage could be a bit nostalgic for some.

"I think it's a shame it's gone, but it does provide opportunities to take its place," Mr McEwan said.

Some of the comments on the post were negative, including one person who wrote: "When all of Auckland's live venues have been knocked down for apartments ... what is there going to be left to do for a night out?"

Mr McEwan said he understood that fans and denizens of the pub would be upset, but the wishes of late owner Maureen Gordon should be respected.

The Kings Arms Tavern has launched the careers of countless Kiwi bands, but it's being destroyed to make way for apartments. Source: 1 NEWS

"Maureen put the pub up for sale and there were no takers," Urban Collective posted on the video.

"People had the opportunity on the open market to 'step up' but the numbers just didn't work anymore.

"She wished to take care of her interests before she passed and this needs to be respected.

"She was a legend and the Kings Arms was a fantastic venue that had its time and place ... all of our team certainly had many a good night there!"

Mr McEwan said Ms Gorden herself, who passed away late last year, aged 86, had actually put a deposit on one of the new apartments herself before she passed.

“The Kings Arms is dead,” Voom singer Buzz Moller said to the crowd after the final song. Source: 1 NEWS

The venue and grounds were sold to Urban Collective for $7.4m in 2016 and the pub closed its doors this year on February 28.

The building had no heritage designation despite being more than a century old, and Mr McEwan said he suspected many parts of the building were in fact un-compliant.

An artist's rendering of how the 59 France Street site will look when completed.
An artist's rendering of how the 59 France Street site will look when completed. Source: Supplied/Urban Collective

The new apartment complex on the site will be extensive, incorporating 102 industrial-themed apartments along with ground-level commercial sites.

Apartments in the building will sell for between $645,000 and $2.39 million and they are due to be completed in mid-2020.

The Auckland stalwart will be replaced with stylish new apartments after more than 130 years in operation. Source: Urban Collective

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Auckland hospitals write off $53m in treatment costs for overseas patients

Three Auckland district health boards have written off debts of $53.5 million run up by ineligible overseas patients in the past five years.

Counties Manukau wrote off $31m, having recouped only a third of treatment costs from patients themselves and their insurers.

A spokesperson said it appeared more people were visiting its area with existing health conditions and without medical insurance.

As of last month, 10 patients were receiving dialysis at the Counties Manukau DHB, with a total patient debt of more than $1.7m.

A spokesperson said patients requiring treatment for an acute injury or illness were treated, regardless of their eligibility for funded services, and unrecovered costs were passed to a debt collection agency.

At Auckland DHB, more than 100 ineligible patients are seen each year at its Greenlane eye clinic alone.

The DHB had more than $14.5m of unpaid treatment costs of which $10.9m was paid for by the Ministry of Health and $3.6m by the DHB itself.

Some patients repay money owing, either personally or through insurance policies.

Auckland and Counties Manukau receive partial refunds from the Ministry of Health because of the extent of their debts. The DHBs pay for the rest of the debt out of their general operating budget.

Waitemata DHB, which wrote off $8m, gets no extra from the ministry.

Counties Manukau said it received $3.6 million this year to recognise the unpaid debts.

The health board had a higher proportion of non-eligible patients than other regions, but it wasn't clear why, a spokesperson said in a statement.

"However, many people in our community are in New Zealand on visas and/or on a short-stay basis. This includes a large new-immigrant community, people with extended family visiting from overseas, particularly from the Pacific, and people travelling via Auckland International airport.

"It is possible, (but not provable) that in our district, more people are visiting with already compromised health status, delay seeking early medical care, do not understand where to access healthcare in NZ, are here without travel/medical insurance to cover medical costs during their stay, and/or have immigration sponsors with their own limited financial resources."

By Gill Bonnett

rnz.co.nz

Auckland, Counties Manukau and Waitemata DHBs had $53m in unpaid treatment costs to overseas patients in the last five years. (Dan Cook) Source: rnz.co.nz

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Police chases remain close to all-time high, but crash numbers are falling

A more cautious approach by New Zealand Police towards chasing fleeing drivers may be leading to fewer crashes, but the total number of chases remains close to an all-time high.

Half-year statistics released this month by police suggest the number of pursuits taking place is similar to last year, while the number abandoned has increased and the number of crashes has dropped by about 10 per cent.

Fleeing driver incidents have been in the spotlight in recent years, with their number increasing by 64 per cent between 2013 and 2017, going from 2308 chases in a year up to 3796.

Police adopted a more cautious approach to chases two years ago, including leaving the decision to continue or abandon a chase in the hands of a pursuit controller at the station rather than the officer driving.

The chase forced a police officer to run for his life as the car swerved to the wrong side of the road Source: 1 NEWS

The statistics detail the number of incidents, abandonments and crashes in the first six months of 2018 to June 30.

Incidents are steady, with 1892 chases recorded. If they continue at that rate, the 2018 total will be 3784 - just 12 fewer than last year.

A graph showing the number of police pursuit (fleeing driver) incidents per year. Data source is NZ Police, graph by 1 NEWS.
A graph showing the number of police pursuit (fleeing driver) incidents per year. Data source is NZ Police, graph by 1 NEWS. Source: 1 NEWS/NZ Police

Abandonments are up about six per cent, with 1119 chases called off up to June 30. That makes the end-of-year projection about 2238, compared with last year's 2105.

The number of crashes in relation to chases has fallen by about 10 per cent. There were 283 in the first half of this year, giving a projected total of 566 for the year - considerably down from 2017's total of 626.

The numbers suggest police will abandon almost 60 per cent of chases this year for safety reasons, up from about 55 per cent last year.

There were 12 deaths last year that involved police pursuits, and there have already been eight deaths in the first half of 2018.

The Serious Crash Unit is investigating the fatal incident, while Road Policing Manager Steve Greally says more people are failing to wear a seat belt.
Road Policing Manager Steve Greally. Source: 1 NEWS

Superintendent Steve Greally, the national road policing manager, said police use robust processes to assess the risks posed by chasing a fleeing driver.

"The decision whether to start, continue or abandon a pursuit of a fleeing driver is based on police’s risk assessment tool, TENR (Threat-Exposure-Necessity-Response)," he said.

"Police will abandon a pursuit if the risk is assessed as too dangerous ... This is continually reassessed throughout the incident."

Mr Greally said the fact that more people have chosen to flee from police over the past few years is disappointing.

Three people were taken to hospital after the crash, which happened after an hour-long chase. Source: Tony Alexander

"The one thing we want everybody to understand is if they're signalled by police to stop, they should pull over and stop ... It is not worth putting your life, your passenger's life or anyone else's life at risk.

"Whatever it is that you think you will get in trouble for that is making you decide to flee from police, we can always talk about it."

Police's pursuit policy is currently being reviewed by the Independent Police Conduct Authority for the seventh time in the past 20 years.

A report is expected before the end of the year.

It comes as the chase policy is reviewed by the police watchdog, with eight deaths already this year. Source: 1 NEWS


Air NZ unveils new Airbuses packed with 46 more seats, wi-fi and bigger screens

Air New Zealand has unveiled its new Airbuses, which will begin joining the fleet later this year.

The Kiwi carrier confirmed today 20 planes, including seven A321neo (new engine option) and six A320neo aircraft, will replace the current A320 fleet that operates Tasman and Pacific Island services. Flights start in mid-November.

The remaining seven A321neo planes will be used for "anticipated domestic network growth", the company said in a statement.

The A321neo aircraft feature a new layout with 214 seats - 46 more than the current international A32 fleet Air NZ is using.

Air NZ CEO Christopher Luxon said the new fleet, which is worth approximately $2.8 billion, is a significant step for the airline's short haul approach.

"Australia and the Pacific Islands are a vitally important part of our Pacific Rim network," he said.

"These new aircraft are key to enabling us to grow our short-haul network while offering our customers a great in-flight experience."

Air NZ also said customer feedback played a significant role in the fleet's new-look cabin interior.

Seats are 3cm wider at the middle seat and 1cm wider on the aisle and window.

Other enhancements include around 25 per cent more overhead locker space, a new in-flight entertainment system with a larger 10-inch screen, high power USB charging points and wi-fi connectivity.

"We extensively tested and refined the neo in-flight experience with customers to ensure we could incorporate their feedback while meeting regulatory and operating requirements and we're confident we’ve delivered an in-flight experience our customers are going to enjoy," Mr Luxon said.

The first two A321neo planes will enter commercial service in mid-November, while the first A320neo is scheduled to debut in February next year.

Remaining aircraft will join the fleet throughout 2019, with the domestic A321neo aeroplanes expected to be delivered between 2020 and 2024.

Air New Zealand's new A321 Airubuses will enter commercial service in mid-November.
Air New Zealand's new A321 Airubuses will enter commercial service in mid-November. Source: Air New Zealand