Seed lab using liquid nitrogen to save natives opens in Wellington

Surrounded by bush in a botanic garden in Wellington, scientist Karin van der Walt is experimenting with liquid nitrogen and tree seeds.

A seed lab has opened at Otari-Wilton's Bush, funded by Karori Lions Club, meaning Ms van der Walt can work on ensuring a future for some of our at-risk native trees every day.

"It's overwhelming but also very exciting to be able to contribute," the scientist said.

The science is ground-breaking for New Zealand.

The experiment uses liquid nitrogen to store fleshy seeds from the swamp maire, which is threatened by the potentially-fatal myrtle rust disease. The traditional drying and freezing method kills the seeds.

The pressure's also on to successfully store the seeds because climate change is expected to have an effect on plant diseases in New Zealand.

Ms van der Walt said the lab and opportunity to bring other staff to the lab to help with the experiment during the swamp maire's next seeding period means she'll be able to find the right method quicker.

"I'm really positive we'll have an answer, we will get survival by next year," she said.

Australia, the Pacific and Asia are set to benefit from the results of the experiment, as these areas all have syzygium species at risk from myrtle rust, Ms van der Walt said.

At the moment, none of the seeds in the lab have made it through the second liquid nitrogen application.

Other natives that can be stored traditionally will also benefit from cryopreservation as it's more effective at freezing metabolic activity inside the seed and means seeds can be stored for much longer than the traditional method, Ms van der Walt said.

Ms van der Walt is also experimenting with Bartlett's rata, which has been grown in the lab after hand-pollination between genetically diverse trees.

The lab is also working with Te Papa Museum to boost stock of the species, which is New Zealand's rarest and also at risk of myrtle rust.

There's now more seedlings in the lab then trees left in the wild.

"They won't recover in the wild, they will literally go extinct if we do no work like this," Otari-Wilton's Bush team manager Rewi Elliot said.

There's already been success in the lab for another project - improving the germination of the Hinau tree.

Wellington City Council's plant nursery has only had one seedling in a seven year period when seeds from the tree were planted.

But in the lab, soaking and drilling into the seeds has led to better results.

"In two months already... five seedlings germinating in our experiment so showing we're down the right track with that one," Ms van der Walt said.

Orchid species are the next natives on the list in need of a boost from science.

"The end goal would be that we don't have a need for the seed lab... we put ourselves out of business," Rewi Elliot said.

With plant diseases likely to be affected by climate change, guaranteeing a future for some of New Zealand’s rarest species cannot happen soon enough. Source: 1 NEWS



Watch: Three re-entry options for Pike River Mine explained in 3D graphic

Mining experts are gathered in Greymouth to look at the risks involved in the three re-entry options for the Pike River Mine, and 1 NEWS has explained the options using a 3D graphic.

The bodies of 29 men remain in the West Coast mine following an explosion on November 19  2010. Re-entry would allow experts to search for the bodies and gather evidence about the disaster.

The project is so unique the army have been called on to help with planning. Source: 1 NEWS

The graphic shows the lie of the land above the mine and two distinct areas of the mine underground.

The mine drift, or access tunnel, starts from the entrance to the mine and runs 2.29 kilometres to what's known as the workings.

The workings are where the coal was being extracted and were the last locations of the 29 miners. The workings area contains a network of more than four kilometres of tunnels.

The first re-entry option is going in through the current entrance as it is now, with no secondary exit.

The second is the same but with a large bore hole made to provide a means of escape.

The other option is to create a new two-metre by two-metre tunnel about 200 metres long from up on a hill, to connect with another area for ventilation and a second exit.

Safety is the biggest priority and the findings will be reviewed over the next month.

After an explosion at the West Coast mine on 19 November 2010, the bodies of 29 men remain in the mine. Source: 1 NEWS

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Taranaki man denies killing Waitara teenager in crash

A Taranaki man charged with dangerous driving causing death following an accident that killed a Waitara teenager last month has denied the offence.

The 37-year-old appeared in the New Plymouth District Court today where he also pleaded not guilty to charges of possession of cannabis, possession of utensils to consume methamphetamine, speeding and refusing to give a blood sample.

On 28 August, Olivia Renee Keightley-Trigg, 18, died after the man allegedly crashed into her on State Highway 3 between New Plymouth and Waitara.

The court heard that at about 6am the defendant was travelling towards New Plymouth when he crossed double yellow lines while overtaking another vehicle and drove into the path of Ms Keightley-Trigg.

Keightley-Trigg is one of 12 people to have been killed on the stretch of SH3 in the last 10 years.

The defendant was granted interim name suppression until 26 September, pending an appeal being filed over its potential lifting.

Defence counsel Paul Keegan argued that publication of the defendant's name could prejudice his right to a fair trial.

But Crown prosecutor Detective Sergeant Dave MacKenzie disagreed, telling the court that the defendant's right to a fair trial could be protected via other means.

Judge Garry Barkle said he was inclined to lift the name suppression in the interests of open justice but noted Mr Keegan had signalled his intention to appeal any such decision.

Judge Barkle therefore extended interim name suppression until 4pm on 26 September, pending an appeal.

The defendant, who has elected trial by jury, was remanded in custody to reappear on 22 November for a case review.

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Olivia Renee Keightley-Trigg.
Olivia Renee Keightley-Trigg. Source: NZ Police

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Christchurch Hospital sees seven people suffering severe affects of synthetic cannabis in 24 hours

Seven people have been treated in the last 24 hours at Christchurch Hospital's Emergency Department who're thought be be severely affected by synthetic cannabis.

In a statement the hospital says the emergency department has seen a number of people suffering from "probable severe synthetic cannabis toxicity, with seven people treated in the past 24 hours and three needing admission to the Intensive Care Unit".

Paul Gee, Emergency Medicine Specialist, Canterbury DHB says there has been a noticeable increase in patient attendances at the Emergency Department for side effects of synthetic cannabis use. 

He says some have minor adverse effects but others are more serious. Last month a man suffered a cardiac arrest after using synthetic cannabis but was successfully resuscitated.

Toxicology analysis has identified the substance taken by the patients as either AMB-FUBINACA or AB-FUBINACA.

AMB-FUBINACA has been linked to numerous deaths in the North Island during the past year.

"There are dangerous synthetic drugs available and taking them could seriously harm or kill you," Dr Gee said.

Drug and addiction help can be accessed at Tuhauora, Christchurch’s Central Coordination Service chchaod@odysseychch.org.nz or call the Alcohol and Drug Helpline 0800 787 797.

They're calling for the drug to be classified as Class A – the most harmful and dangerous.
Source: 1 NEWS


Preparations are underway as more refugees set to make New Zealand home

Preparations are underway to accommodate more refugees in New Zealand after the Government announced it'll increase the quota by 500 people.

This means there will be changes for how and where we welcome refugees. Which starts with six weeks at the Mangere Refugee Centre in Auckland.

Mohamad Hasan’s son was born in an Indonesian refugee camp and Hasan has been stateless since fleeing Somalia in 1990.

"It's like moving from the cage to the world, I feel like that."

Qemajl Murati from the Refugee Resettlement Centre says the centre operates like a small village.

But now it is a growing village after the Government confirmed it is raising the refugee quota to 1500.

"I almost cried because there are so many people who are waiting," Mr Hasan said.

Mr Murati said, "We will have to look at the delivery model at the moment we have six intakes we may need to change to seven intakes."

The centre currently has 196 beds across six blocks, but it’s expanding to meet the demand. New building projects will take up to 250-260 beds.

New Zealand takes on refugees based on referrals from the UN.

In the last decade we've taken on more refugees originally from Myanmar and Bhutan than anywhere else - 1070 from Bhutan and 2434 from Myanmar.

More recently New Zealand have taken refugees from conflict zones like Syria and Afghanistan.  944 from Syria and 935 from Lebanon.

New Zealand ranks 95th in the world for its intake with Australia taking more than 18,000.

Meg de Ronde from Amnesty International New Zealand says, "I do think we need to step up as far as the numbers of people that we bring in, this has been an increase that has been 30 years in the making.”

Refugees are resettled in five regions, but six more are being opened up.

It comes after the Government announced it will increase the quota by 500. Source: 1 NEWS