Residents of Tauranga's failed Bella Vista subdivision still in limbo as compensation day looms

A petition is calling for the Tauranga City Council to purchase the properties of a failed subdivison by the end of this month.

In March, 21 properties in the Bella Vista subdivision were served eviction notices saying they had to evacuate their homes as Cycone Hola approached.

Andre and Chloe Stewart say the Bella Vista saga has left their dreams in tatters. Source: 1 NEWS

Last month a damning report commissioned by the council found major failings, siding with the "innocent" home owners, and council would purchase the ruined homes within months.

The petition signed by more than 480 people claims "no negotiations have commenced".

A homeowner who didn’t want to be named told 1 NEWS there has been "no meeting with council" since June.

He says his family hopes "the council will be fair on market value" when purchasing the damaged homes.

This follows a day of tears and high emotions as affected residents told their stories. Source: 1 NEWS

At the time of the report's release Taurnanga City Council Chief Executive, Gary Poole told 1 NEWS he expected to "resolve this issue in a matter of months, not six months or longer".

The homeowner says council staff "are all going on holidays, and still have not offered us a price".

Mr Poole told 1 NEWS in a written statement: "Since 6 June 2018, when Council resolved to purchase the properties, we have been in regular dialogue with the homeowners’ lawyers and all involved are working hard to progress matters for the homeowners."

"Every effort is being made to progress things as quickly as possible. This is a complex matter that the Council wants to ensure is resolved properly."

A damning report into the Bella Vista residences has called for an inquiry. Source: 1 NEWS

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Record number of asylum seekers in NZ last year

More asylum seekers claimed refuge once they were in New Zealand last year than in any year on record.

China had the highest number of approvals, followed by Russia and Turkey.

Asylum claims grew to 438, but a higher number were rejected compared to previous years.

China has been in the top three countries for asylum approvals for the past 10 years.

Asylum seekers either apply to the Refugee Status Branch once they arrive in New Zealand, or UNHCR-mandated refugees are brought in under the Government refugee quota.

Among refugees who entered through the quota, Syria, Myanmar, Colombia and Afghanistan accounted for three quarters of last year's 1000-strong intake.

The quota will rise to 1500 refugees in 2020.

The most common settlement areas last year were Wellington with 246 refugees and Otago with 182.

Southland had its first 43 Colombian arrivals through the new settlement scheme there.

More than half of Wellington's quota refugees came from Syria and Iran.

No refugees were placed in Canterbury.

Christchurch needed more infrastructure rebuilding before it could become a suitable refugee settlement location again, Immigration New Zealand said last year.

About 20 quota refugees from Afghanistan and Eritrea will be resettled in the city in March next year, with 40 more in the rest of 2019.

There are now seven places where refugees are settled long-term in New Zealand: Auckland, Hamilton, Manawatū, Wellington, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill.

The government pulled back the number of quota refugees settling in Auckland in 2016, due to the lack of affordable housing.

Almost 300 were settled there in 2008 compared to 86 last year.

The Government is considering setting up additional settlement locations to accommodate the increase in refugees.

rnz.co.nz

New Zealand had a record number of asylum seekers last year. Source: rnz.co.nz

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Police name man killed in fatal Rotorua motorcycle crash

Police have released the name of the person who died in a motorcycle crash in Rotorua earlier this week.

Police car
Police car Source: 1 NEWS

The man was 47-year-old Thomas Hunuhunu of Rotorua.

Police were called to a crash on Deven Street West around 2am on Thursday morning after a motorcycle collided with a tree.

The motorcycle was the only vehicle involved in the crash and the driver died at the scene.

The Serious Crash Unit is still investigating the fatal accident.

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Drug testing legalisation at NZ festivals on the cards

The Government is considering legalising drug-testing services at festivals.

A community organisation, Know Your Stuff, said the law hindered people's access to pill testing at events, which put users at risk.

Its managing director Wendy Allison said section 12 of the Misuse of Drugs Act made it a criminal offence to permit a venue to be used for drug consumption, so the presence of pill testing would demonstrate that the event organisers knew that people use drugs.

"Section 12 was never intended to prevent harm reduction services from happening at events."

"An unintended consequence of the Section has been to deter event organisers from providing harm reduction services such as pill testing, removing this barrier is an obvious step towards keeping people safe."

Health Minister David Clark said the coalition Government was dealing with drug use as a health and harm reduction issue.

"In light of this, I've had initial discussions with the Justice Minister about 'drug checking' services.

"Through him, I've asked for advice on the legislative and criminal justice issues around such services."

rnz.co.nz- Chris Bramwell

Johann Hari, who spent several years researching drug use, addiction and treatment for his book, says we’ve misunderstood addiction.
Source: 1 NEWS


Tertiary students tackle social, cultural and environmental issues in dazzling Auckland light show

Unitec Institute of Technology is using innovative electric vehicle technology to power students’ light installations at this year’s GLOW@Artweek festival on Devonport’s Windsor Reserve.

Unitec partnered with Auckland energy company Vector for the light show where installations by students look at different issues in society.

The festival also prides itself on being environmentally friendly, with energy being taken from two Nissan Leaf G2 electric cars to provide the power needed to run the nine different light projects.

The cars act as a rechargeable and mobile renewable energy source for the duration of the festival.

Vector’s New Technology Lead, Moonis Vegdani, says, “Two-way EV chargers are an example of the future of energy. They basically transform electric vehicles into mobile storage batteries, enabling energy to be charged or discharged anywhere there is a two-way charger. It’s perfect for a temporary light installation such as GLOW@Artweek.”

Nine teams of second-year Unitec Architecture students designed a diverse range of interactive light installations on Devonport’s Windsor Reserve for the event, working to a zero-waste, zero-budget brief.

Students sought sponsorship for their designs, which also featured a range of sustainable materials.

"Sustainability is a key factor in the design and construction of the students’ works and having access to an alternative, rechargeable power source in a large-scale outdoor venue is extremely exciting," Unitec Architecture lecturer Ainsley O'Connell said. 

Devonport came to life thanks to the work of Unitec architecture students in “Glow”. Source: 1 NEWS