Residents fighting back after rats run rampant in Christchurch’s Port Hills - 'filthy little fellows'

Rats have been running rampant in the Christchurch Port Hills, destroying native bird life, and damaging homes.

A year ago, however, the community said enough is enough.

Predator Free Sumner was formed and has set 350 traps across the hills, which have claimed the lives of 500 pests in the first year alone.

Sumner resident Phil Loughan, who has six traps along the Sumner esplanade, has caught 150 since Christmas and says: "They're voracious breeders and voracious eaters so the more of these you get rid of the better."

It's believed cleared red zone land, and homes left derelict following the earthquakes, have contributed to the growth of the rat population.

Sumner resident Paul Harrow has dealt with the frustration of rats chewing through his electrical wires year after year, but now he's set his own traps.

He's killed 40 rats since the start of the year and says: "They're filthy little fellows and there's just so many of them, or there were so many of them."

Now he's encouraging more of his neighbours to get traps too.

Predator Free Sumner's Paul Cragg says the goal is to have 4000 traps in the Port Hills in the next couple of years to get rid of all the pests.

"They're killers - possums, rats, stoats sadly - they're introduced killers."

Mr Cragg says once they're gone he hopes birds like the tui will start to return.

A year ago Sumner residents decided to do something about the vermin infestation, trapping hundreds in a bid to save wildlife, and their homes. Source: 1 NEWS



'Massive potential' for medicinal cannabis industry in NZ, if MPs 'get their act together' - Chlöe Swarbrick

New Zealand's rulemakers need to "get their act together" on medicinal cannabis, as business and education providers prepare for potentially a "massive economic opportunity", says Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick. 

Ms Swarbrick visited the small town of Ruatoria, near Gisborne last week, after Hikurangi Cannabis Enterprises was the first business granted a licence for cultivating medicinal cannabis.

The company expects to create 120 jobs in the small East Coast town as it sets up a 10,000sqm greenhouse facility.

It works with Ruatoria's Eastern Institute of Technology branch, which runs a course focused on industrial hemp.

Medicinal cannabis seedlings.
Source: Supplied

Ms Swarbrick said it was hoped that as soon as there was established regulation around medicinal cannabis there would be a work force ready in the area.

The Ruatoria company has just become the first business in New Zealand granted a licence to cultivate the plants. Source: Breakfast

"They are learning about the regulatory schemes and licencing scheme and how you go about growing the best product.

"I really had to drive it home to them that they were the only people in the country right now who are doing this, that was absolutely mind-boggling.... that they were on the precipice of informing how the rest of the country would go about capitalising on what could be a massive economic boom for New Zealand if we get the regulations right."

MPs needed to get their act together to ensure the best environment is established, and to keep up with public sentiment, Ms Swarbrick told 1 NEWS.

"What we're looking at now is a massive economic opportunity. The people know change is coming."

The Green MP read out the experience of one woman who looks after her father who has a neurotoxic brain injury. Source: Parliament TV

She said this could be the "starting point of what could be some really incredible economic opportunities, particularly in the regions".

"In places like Ruatoria, where they have this incredible leading model regarding education, and enterprises such as Hikorangi that are set up to feed back into the community... there's just massive potential."

On the Bill that is going through Parliament, Ms Swarbrick said: "We have the opportunity to create something that is evidenced based, world leading and that can ensure we get the best outcome in terms of harm reduction, patients having access to affordable products and also ensure there is job creation here.

She said it was important the Ministry of Health took into account the best international practice, "but placing it in a very New Zealand context".

"This is all part of flipping drug harm on its head and going, if we bring this issue out of the shadows and into the light, and there is a way to regulate this such that we're not only reducing harm but we're getting the best outcomes for communities across this country."

Background:

Ms Swarbrick's own medicinal cannabis member's bill was voted down on January 31. It went further than the Government's bill and would have allowed patients who are dying and those with chronic pain to grow their own cannabis.

The Government's bill, that is currently before Parliament, would mean terminally ill people could take cannabis medicinally if they have less than 12 months to live and the approval of a doctor.

The Acting Prime Minister said appropriate changes can still be made to the Government’s medicinal cannabis bill. Source: Q+A

Health Minister David Clark said last year the bill "does not make it legal for the terminally ill to use cannabis, but it means that they will not be criminalised for doing so."

Cannabidiol, a pharmaceutical grade medicinal cannabis product, would also no longer be classified as a controlled drug.

Click here to read the Government's amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

National Party leader Simon Bridges said the current bill "utterly fails" at creating the right regulatory and legislative controls.

It comes as National pulls its support for the Government’s own medicinal cannabis bill. Source: 1 NEWS

"It includes only minor improvements to how cannabidiol products are treated, which the previous National Government had already facilitated," he said in a statement.

National MP Shane Reti put forward his own members bill, which Mr Bridges called "a blend of international best practice, tailored to New Zealand". 

Winston Peters told National it could still make a "constructive contribution" as the Government's medicinal cannabis bill passes different stages.

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick at Gisborne's Sustainable Horticulture course.
Green MP Chloe Swarbrick with students from Ruatoria's Sustainable Horticulture course Source: Supplied


Uber's new rules on sex, drugs and vomiting coming into force in New Zealand

Taxi company Uber has spelled out the reasons you could lose access to its service, including for sex, drugs and vomiting.

According to the New Zealand Herald, new rules are coming into force here later this month.

One is the ‘no sex rule’ which states there must be no physical contact with the driver or fellow riders.

The company says, "As our community guidelines make clear, you shouldn't touch or flirt with other people in the car. As a reminder, Uber has a no sex rule. That's no sexual conduct with drivers or fellow riders, no matter what.”

It also states that nobody should hurt a driver or other passengers. Use of inappropriate language and gestures is also banned.

The rules also include damage to property - including damaging the car, spilling food or drink, smoking, or vomiting due to consuming too much alcohol.

Uber says breaking the law while using the taxi service is a definite no-no.

This includes bringing open containers of alcohol or drugs into the car, travelling in large groups that exceed the number of seat belts in the car, or using Uber to commit a crime.

Uber also prohibits riders and drivers from carrying firearms in a vehicle.

Uber says that if it is made aware of these kinds of problem behaviours, it will contact the rider and investigate them.

If a user is under an investigation Uber can put a hold on their account.

It is not only users that have been targeted in this crackdown, drivers have been too.

Uber says the main things they take seriously are quality, fraud, safety and discrimination.

Fraudulent activity, safety related breaches and use of drugs and alcohol can lead to bans for drivers.

Uber gives advice to both riders and drivers and says everyone should be treated with respect.

"It's common courtesy not to shout, swear or slam the car door. And by tidying up after yourself — whether it's taking your trash home or cleaning up a spilled drink — you'll keep the car in good condition and ensure the next person has a pleasant ride too."

The Uber service began in New Zealand in 2014 with 485,000 active riders and 6500 active drivers here.

A new star rating system will be introduced on September 19.

Some drivers are getting hit with a court summons and demerit points, as Seven Sharp explains.
Source: 1 NEWS

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Pacific leaders making pact on climate change and more security issues

Pacific leaders meeting in Nauru are expected today to sign a security agreement that addresses climate change and crimes such as drug smuggling and illegal fishing that cross borders.

Leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum have said they consider climate change their nations' biggest security threat, since low-lying Pacific islands would cease to exist as sea levels rise.

The signing of the security declaration, which also addresses cybercrime and health concerns such as communicable diseases and pandemics, is the centerpiece of the three-day meeting. 

The issue of refugees is dominating the Prime Minister’s visit. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrived today to attend an all-day leader's retreat and the signing ceremony.

Earlier today Pacific fishing and community groups signed an agreement with the European Union to improve sustainable fishing and ocean governance in the region.

Under the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership, the EU will provide 35 million euros ($NZ61.9 million) and Sweden will provide 10 million euros ($NZ17.7 million) over five years. The program will provide direct assistance to regional organisations.

Tensions over China and refugees have been running high at the forum after Nauru yesterday accused a Chinese official of bullying and temporarily detained a New Zealand journalist.

Nauru President Baron Waqa said a Chinese official had demanded to be heard when other leaders were due to speak, and had been "very insolent" about it.

"Maybe because he was from a big country he wanted to bully us," Waqa said.

Nauru recognises Taiwan and doesn't have diplomatic relations with China.

Nauru police detained Television New Zealand journalist Barbara Dreaver for about three hours after she was spotted interviewing a refugee outside a restaurant. Nauru has been eager to limit discussion during the forum of the more than 600 refugees who live on the tiny island under a controversial agreement with Australia.

Dreaver, the 1 NEWS Pacific correspondent, said she was just doing her job.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi, right, chats with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern before Pacific leaders gather for a photo opportunity during the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru. Source: Associated Press


Watch: Paula Bennett calls Jacinda Ardern's handling of recent ministerial issues 'absolutely disgraceful' in fiery speech to Parliament

Paula Bennett has labelled Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's handling of recent ministerial employment issues "absolutely disgraceful" in a fiery speech to Parliament this afternoon.

The National Party's deputy leader was addressing the recent controversies surrounding Labour MPs Clare Curran and Meka Whaitiri when she made the scathing remarks.

"To stand up and not have the conviction of the high standards she should have with her ministers is absolutely disgraceful.

"To hide behind employment issues and yet another investigation to work out what actually happened, I challenge the Prime Minister to stand up and have standards for both Clare Curran and for Meka Whaitiri," Ms Bennett said passionately.

She went on to say that Ms Ardern lacked "courage as a boss".

"Any of the previous three Prime Minister's that I have known would have sat her down (Whaitiri), looked her in the eye and told me exactly what happened, made a judgment if that is a standard that she would expect in Cabinet and made a call on it."

Background:

At the end of last month Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern removed Clare Curran from Cabinet and accepted her offer to resign from the Government Digital Services portfolio and Open Government responsibilities, following a second failure to properly declare a meeting.

In February this year Ms Curran met with tech entrepreneur Derek Handley at her Beehive office in her capacity as Minister of Government Digital Services to discuss Mr Handley’s interest in the vacant Chief Technology Officer role.

The meeting was not recorded in the minister's diary and neither the Minister’s staff nor officials were made aware of it.

Minister Curran will retain her responsibilities as Minister for Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, and as Associate Minister for ACC, but will now sit outside Cabinet.

In the case of Meka Whaitiri, she was stood down as Customs Minister last week over what 1 NEWS understands is an allegation of assault on a staff member levelled against her.

Ms Whaitiri is a protege of former Labour Minister Parekura Horomia.

A source close to Mr Horomia's office told 1 NEWS that during the time Ms Whaitiri worked as a senior private secretary, she allegedly used threatening behaviour to staff and then Prime Minister Helen Clark's office was forced to step in.

Ministerial services are undertaking an investigation but there's no date yet on when it will be completed.