The ruptured pipeline that caused so much trouble for airlines has now been fixed, but is the saga all over?

Residents close to the Ruakaka are still evacuated after an oil pipe burst near their homes last month 

On September 14, the pipeline from Marsden Point Oil Refinery to Wiri, a lifeline for the aviation industry, burst.

It caused major disruption to flights and financial losses for Air New Zealand and a loss of around $10 million for refining New Zealand.

For residents still evacuated and Ruakaka locals there is a lot of speculation about why things have gone quiet around the incident.

"There are a lot of questions and not a lot of answers," Bob Hislop told Q+A.

"We're not getting a lot of clarity about the process form here on in."

A month after the fuel crisis, the regional council still hasn't talked to the owner of the land where the pipe ruptured.

In a statement to Q+A, the Northland Regional Council said that it has "spoken with neighbours who advised that diggers had been on the property from time to time over the last several years".

Talk in the area about what to do now has moved onto legal action and who's liable.

Law professor Bill Hodge says the first step is to know who the defendants are.

"The first possible defendant is the operator of that digging machine, that seems to be the person who is right on the spot doing something stupid," he says.

Mr Hodge says the refinery could potentially sue for physical damage and loss of profits.

Refining New Zealand says nothing has come to light to change their initial assessment that a digger caused the damage.

However, there is speculation that there may be precedents overseas.

"Caltex had a pipeline over in Sydney the pipeline was broken and Caltex had an open and shut case for damage to the pipeline," Mr Hodge says.

"The more difficult questions are the economic loses to those downstream users for example Air New Zealand for example every international airline for example passengers who had to pay a hotel bill because they couldn't fly.

"So there is a whole range of downstream potential plaintiffs."

On a hill over looking the harbour and the refinery, Ani Pitan explained how her iwi has concerns over the refinery's infrastructure and has been monitoring oil spills into the environment. 

The land the oil refinery is on was confiscated from her iwi, Patuharakeke, by the government. 

"This is the third major environmental incident...there was about 70 - 90 weeks since the last incident which was an oil spill at Marsden Point at North Port and then 50 weeks prior to that, another oil spill from a bunker...that leaked into the harbour," Ms Pitan said. 

At the rupture site, contaminated water is still being trucked in tankers to the refinery ponds and the soil trucked south to a landfill for contaminants where the leachate will be collected. 

The clean up at the site is expected to continue to at least the end of the year. 

The council has six months to investigate the rupture and taken enforcement action.

Last week the council tested bored around the Ruakaka district and found no tract of petrol hydro carbons but despite reassurances, there are those in the community who aren't so confident. 

"We are the Kaitiaki here and we're completely concerned about what the impact's going to be," Ms Pitan said. 

-By Q+A reporter Whena Owen

Q+A reporter Whena Owen went to Ruakaka and found there are still many questions yet to be answered. Source: Q+A



John Armstrong's opinion: Simon Bridges would've been castigated as incompetent if he didn't expose Jami-Lee Ross as leaker

The confirmation — surprise, surprise — that indeed it was Jami-Lee Ross who leaked embarrassing details of Simon Bridges' travel expenses to the media has vindicated the widely-scorned decision by the National Party leader to hunt down the culprit forthwith.

Simon Bridges has copped an inordinate, unfair and just plain wrong amount of stick for what his many critics have deemed to be amateur-hour handling of something which should have been brushed aside with barely a moment’s thought such was its insignificance in the grand scheme of things. And even more so given the information in question was about to be released by authorities into the public domain anyway.

In keeping alive something which succeeded in only shifting the focus away from matters which Bridges and his colleagues should have been talking about, the former poured more petrol on the funeral pyre that has been under construction since the opinion polls indicated that the replacement for Sir Bill English was not capturing the public’s imagination.

The Opposition leader launched an inquiry into the leak of his expenses earlier this year. Source: 1 NEWS

Even though he is not to blame for the two months that it has taken consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers to complete their investigation of the leak, Bridges should have expected the exercise would take far longer to complete than initially envisaged. That is always the case.

The flow of events has all added up to more ammunition for those who have convinced themselves that Bridges not only lacks the personal characteristics that a modern-day leader needs to win elections, he is also in deficit when it comes to the possession of the necessary political skills.

That those who feel that way are less forthcoming when it comes to declaring who exactly should replace him, that discrepancy has not diminished their desire that Bridges be dumped before election season returns.

If there is any failure of judgment on Bridges’ part, however, it is more evident on the part of Bridges’ detractors.

When it came to managing his way out of the kind of mess in which National is currently donkey-deep, Sir John Key unfailingly applied what he considered to be a golden rule: namely think hard about the counter-factual. In other words, assess what was likely to happen if a possible course of action was not taken.

The material leaked by Ross might have been of little significance. The act of leaking was another matter entirely. It was gross disloyalty on the part of the Botany MP and now ex-spokesman on transport and infrastructure matters.

That is something no leader can tolerate. It is something no caucus can tolerate. When the source of a leak remains unidentified, trust between caucus members inevitably suffers. The caucus cannot function properly. The freedom to discuss matters of crucial import to a political party is inevitably constrained by the fear that what is regarded as confidential will end up online or on the front pages of the following day’s newspapers.

Both Bridges and Ross have now made it patently obvious that the working relationship between National’s leader and his seventh-ranked MP had broken down completely since the former secured the party’s top job back in February.

Ross might have been No 7 in the caucus, but he was clearly No 1 on list of those suspected of possibly being the leaker.

Had Bridges taken the advice of his critics and chosen not to expose the source of the leak, he would have been pilloried by those same critics had Ross repeated the act of treachery.

Bridges would have been portrayed as weak. He would have been castigated as incompetent.

Bridges could not gamble on Ross not leaking again. Given Ross’s state of mind, the risks involved in doing nothing were exponentially increased.

Bridges would have realised that at some point he was going to have to confront Ross. To delay that day of reckoning was to damage both himself and the party.

As it is, Bridges is paying a price for simply doing what had to be done.

Voters will be wondering whether Ross was operating alone or in cahoots with others. They will wonder whether Bridges was being straight with them with his previous insistence that there was no connection between the leak investigation and Ross taking an extended leave of absence from Parliament for "personal health issues".

They will wonder whether this episode speaks of what life is really like in the National caucus and whether it is a veritable vipers’ nest of over-sized egos and over-inflated ambition united only by its members’ insatiable greed for power.

Above all, it will leave voters wondering just how robust is Bridges’ grip on the leadership.

The voters will not have to wonder where Ross now stands in all of this, however. He won’t have any standing. It is odds-on will be expelled from the caucus and will subsequently have his membership of the party rescinded by the board of the National Party very shortly thereafter.

Anything less punitive than that course of action would risk being interpreted by friend and fie alike as a vote of no confidence in Bridges.

National would then be looking for a new leader. While there is still much uncertainty as to how the following days might play out before this messy distraction has finally run its ugly course, that is one thing which is most definitely not going to happen.

Jessica Mutch McKay says Simon Bridges faces a "long, drawn out and embarrassing process to try and get rid of him". Source: 1 NEWS


Four facing charges after massive illegal pāua bust

A massive illegal haul of pāua, mostly undersized, has been uncovered in Taranaki following an operation by the police and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Fishery officers and police discovered four people with a total of 736 pāua, 703 of which were undersized after they were stopped at a checkpoint.

A vehicle and a set net have been seized. They now face serious charges.

The Taranaki region has a lower minimum size for pāua because the shellfish are naturally small and never reach the minimum legal size that applies to the rest of the country.

Fishery officers have returned all of the shellfish to the sea.

Paua Source:


Kiwi and Aussie police dogs fighting it out to be crowned the best in Australasia

The trans-Tasman rivalry between New Zealand and Australia will hit another gear this week, with both nations' police dogs fighting it out for the title of Australasia's best.

New Zealand's Paw Blacks are looking to defend their title, with the Australian team in Wellington looking to pinch the Kiwi's crown.

However, for those in the industry, the competition is more about setting standards than trans-Tasman oneupmanship.

"It's around benchmarking we all work together very closely with the Australians so for each state and each dog section it's just seeing how we are and of course there's a friendly rivalry as well," NZ dog coordinator Todd Southall told 1 NEWS.

For the competition though, the Australians are looking to restore some pride, with the likes of the Kiwis and Silver Ferns claiming success over their arch rivals already this week.

"All we've coped since we got here is mentions of the sporting prowess of New Zealand at the moment so we are looking to maybe right that in some very small way," Australia's Craig Charles said.

The top dog will be revealed on Thursday night.

For the first time in 20 years New Zealand’s playing host to the trans-Tasman canine competition. Source: 1 NEWS


Wild weather forces longest delay in 40 years for Kiwi scientists journeying to Antarctica

New Zealand scientists' trip to Antarctica has been delayed, with wild weather battering the icy continent.

With winds lashing snow and sleet into an icy storm, activity at the McMurdo Sound airfields have come to a screeching halt, leaving planes grounded on the Christchurch tarmac.

The weather has caused the longest delay in 40 years, setting scientists back a further two weeks.

However, a slight break in the weather has left the Kiwi team scrambling to depart as soon as possible.

Officials are hopeful that two flights, holding around 20 logistics staff will depart tomorrow, optimistic a further five can take off by Friday.

Weather permitting, scientists will take off in two weeks, where they can finally get to work.

The start of the science season is already two weeks behind schedule. Source: 1 NEWS