Scientists discover new use for sheep wool – cat food

Scientists have discovered yet another application for New Zealand’s tens of millions of sheep - cat food. 

But it’s not the meat, it’s the wool which has proved to be a nutritious supplement for pets.

Experts at AgResearch have found a process called hydrolysis can reduce sheep wool into a protein-rich powder which can be added to a cats diet.

Scientists are hopeful the supplement might also be useful for other animals and, in time, will test its viability for humans.


The processed product could be a boost for flagging wool exports, and a rich source of protein. Source: 1 NEWS



Hamilton McDonald’s worker ordered to stop speaking te reo with customers

A teen employee at a Hamilton McDonald’s keen to celebrate Māori Language Week with customers had her enthusiasm dashed this week when a manager told her not to speak New Zealand's official language.

Janine Eru-Taueki, 19, was told it would be considered rude to address customers in a language other than English, she told Māori Television.

Some customers who don't speak te reo might think an employee is talking about them, a company representative told the station.

"This is the first time I've been told by anyone that I can't speak Māori," Ms Eru-Taueki said.

In 1976, the first fast food burger restaurant in NZ was opened in Porirua. Source: 1 NEWS

"I don't agree because Māori is an official language of this country. Some of the customers come up and ask if they can make their order in Māori. I was really sad the other night because I couldn't speak to them in Māori myself."

But McDonald’s officials said they are learning from the situation and will explore policies that might better support Māori Language Week in the future. The restaurant didn’t receive any customer complaints about Ms Eru-Taueki’s bilingual efforts, they confirmed.


Fluorescent whitebait unleashed near Nelson in native fish conservation effort

A school of brightly coloured whitebait are leading the way to help our native fish.

Dyed pink and orange, they've been sent swimming up a town culvert near Nelson to see if recent improvements are helping.

"They are really easy to spot in the culvert when they're bright pink or brown," said NIWA freshwater ecology technician Peter Williams.

Around 200 unmarked clear whitebait, 200 pink (Rhodamine B stained) whitebait, and 200 orange (Bismarck Brown stained) whitebait were released into the Reservoir Creek culvert in Richmond to battle upstream.

"Seventy-four per cent of New Zealand freshwater fish species are in decline and upstream barriers are stopping them from getting up to their habitat that they need to complete their life cycle," explained Mr Williams.

In April, the Tasman District Council stepped in to help, installing flexible weir baffles.

"Water goes from A to B very quickly in a natural culvert, that's what they're designed to do," said Fish and Wildlife Services' Tim Olley. "What we're looking to do is create resting pools in the culvert, low velocity areas for the fish to burst swim and rest, burst swim and rest, more or less like a stepladder."

The whitebait released have a 136-metre journey up the culvert while being monitored by NIWA, Tasman District Council and F&WS specialists over 48 hours. It's hoped the majority will make it out the other end.

NIWA and the Department of Conservation recently released national fish passage guidelines for keeping waterways swimmable. But freshwater ecologist Mike Joy says tougher rules are needed.

"A lot of these things (have) been put in and very, very little if any measurement of actually if they work or not," Mr Joy said.

"Without a doubt, the solution would be to not allow them to happen in the first place. Under the Freshwater Fisheries Act you're not allowed to impede the passage of native fish, so if you just said, 'No you couldn't do it', you wouldn't have to retrofit these things afterward."

The future of New Zealand’s native fish looks very bleak as scientists presented findings at a parliamentary select committee today. Source: 1 NEWS

Tasman District Council resource scientist Trevor James, who is also a member of the country's Fish Passage Advisory Group, agrees that "the best culvert is actually a bridge".

"So that's correct, but in the world of reality bridges are expensive - they have to be certified to take a lot of load all that sort of thing," he said.

He'd like to see all councils step up monitoring of fish passages after installation.

"Roading engineers contract out every year, every second year to monitor the culverts from an engineering point of view," he explained. "It would only be a small add-on to actually assess for fish passage."

NIWA says the guidelines have been well received by councils so far and the monitoring at the Reservoir Creek culvert will help other councils find cost-effective solutions for the future.

They’ve been seen swimming up a town culvert near Nelson to see if conservation efforts are working Source: 1 NEWS

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Major report finds half of people off the benefit in 2013/14 were back on within 18 months

A new approach is required into the type of work people on benefits go into, after it was found 50 per cent of people who left the benefit in 2013/2014 ended up back on the benefit within 18 months. 

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said the report had given the perception of a higher number of people who were coming off the benefit, following the 2012 welfare reforms. 

The report looked at what happened to people who left the benefit system in 2013/2014. 

"What the biggest finding is… is that actually 50 per cent of people who have gone off benefits, following those welfare reforms, ended up back on a benefit within 18 months," Ms Sepuloni said. 

She said it gave the perception that while there were a number of people coming off the benefit, they were not going into "meaningful, sustainable employment".

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's not just about pushing people off benefits into any old job."

Geography was a factor in the findings, with certain areas more likely to see people going back on the benefit within 18 months. 

Māori men, especially those living in the geographical areas, were also a group of people found more likely to go back on the benefit. 

"We've got to do some work," Ms Sepuloni said. 

The Social Development Minister said a new approach was needed, as it wasn’t "just about pushing people off benefits into any old job". Source: 1 NEWS


Crash between car and motorbike in the Coromandel closes section of SH25

A serious two-vehicle crash involving a car and motorcycle this morning has caused part of State Highway 25 to be closed in the Coromandel.

Police are in attendance at the crash between Waihi and Whangamata, which was reported at approximately 11.15am.

As a result, the road is blocked between Golden Valley Road and Whiritoa Beach Road with motorists asked to avoid the area.

More to come. 

Police Source: 1 NEWS