Sentencing begins for owner of Northland lodge who drugged, spooned and took photos of guests

The sentencing is underway for the owner of the Kaitaia backpackers lodge who drugged, spooned and took photographs of his young male visitors.

Michael Harris offended against at least 14 tourists, most of them Europeans, over a space of 10 years while at the Mainstreet Lodge in Kaitaia.

Harris' lawyer Doug Blackie told the High Court at Whangarei his client wasn't climbing into bed with the men for sexual gratification but he wanted to feel closer to them.

The Kaitaia lodge owner arrested for indecent assault is one of a string of cases for the region. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Blackie says Harris had a rough upbringing and was raised by his brother who was four years older then him.

He said Harris would often climb into bed and cuddle with his brother and suggests that Harris was trying to recreate those moments with his victims.

Harris was arrested in 2014 after two German backpackers became suspicious and went to the police.

He pleaded guilty shortly before he was due to stand trial against the charges last year.

He's been in custody ever since.

The victim says he felt 'dirty and gross' after being attacked by Michael Harris, whose sentencing today was delayed. Source: 1 NEWS

Australasia suffers the highest cancer rate in the world

Men are most at risk of the 35,897 new cases of cancer expected in New Zealand in 2018, says the World Health Organisation.


Close to half the men in New Zealand and Australia are at risk of getting cancer, giving Australasia the highest regional rate in the world, latest estimates from The World Health Organisation (WHO) show.

WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) estimates the risk of New Zealand men developing cancer before the age of 75 years is 46.27 per cent.

The agency estimates the risk for women in New Zealand at a third.

"The increasing cancer burden is due to several factors including population growth and ageing, as well as the changing prevalence of certain causes of cancer linked to social and economic development," the agency's report said.

"This is particularly true in rapidly growing economies, where a shift is observed from cancers related to poverty and infections to cancers associated with lifestyles more typical of industrialised countries."

Cancer Society of New Zealand chief executive Mike Kernaghan said an ageing population and lifestyle factors including diet and exercise were contributing to the rising risk of getting the disease.

"All of those factors contribute, as we get older, to an increased risk of cancer and the concern is that we don't appear to be paying enough attention here in New Zealand to those issues," Mr Kernaghan said.

He said cancer caused 30 per cent of deaths in New Zealand with lung cancer and prostate cancer the most prevalent.

"Survival rates are… improving because of new treatments that are available and the care available.

"Having said that… we've still got a long way to go in terms of improving our performance here in New Zealand."

Mr Kernaghan said access to new and proven medicines in New Zealand lagged behind other countries around the world, particularly Australia.

The IARC report also highlighted a worrying rise in lung cancer in women, with highest incidence rates in Hungary, North America, China, Australia and New Zealand.


Protesters block major Tauranga highway to call on government to fix deadly stretch of road - 'stop letting people die like this'

Protesters have blocked a major Tauranga highway today to call for major safety updates to be made to a deadly stretch of road.

Busy weekend traffic came to a halt as hundreds marched across Wairoa Bridge, which has already claimed dozens of lives.

Fix the Bloody Road safety campaigner Andrew Hollis said, "I've spoken personally with tow truck drivers that tow trucks away still with bodies in them. It's happening about once every quarter."

The protesters blocked State Highway 2 for half an hour to call for upgrades to the road.

"Just fix the road, man. Stop letting people die like this for no reason," one protester said.

In the last six years to March 2018, 21 people have been killed on the 37-kilometre stretch of road between Katikati and Tauranga.

While the National Land Transport programme recently allocated billions to improve regional roads, the Tauranga road is still under evaluation to see how it can be made safer – a process which could take four months.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said, "that bit of road is about to get significant safety improvements. We're investing in 26 intersection upgrades, side barriers and widening the central barrier."

$100 million will be spent on safety between Waihi and Omokoroa, but protesters say a four-lane highway must be built.

"What we're trying to do is get four lanes with a median strip from Takatimu Drive in Tauranga to Francis Road in Omokoroa," Mr Hollis said.

The government says they do not want more lives to be lost and has acknowledged that the infrastructure is not up to speed.

Hundreds of campaigners marched across Wairoa Bridge today. Source: 1 NEWS


‘Not enough is being done’ – homeless advocacy groups warn demand is on the rise

The group charged with housing the homeless in Auckland is warning the demand is on the rise.

It comes just a day before hundreds of volunteers hit the city’s streets to work out just how many people are living without a permanent shelter.

People like Clinton who ran away from home when he was just 13 and ended up sleeping rough in Auckland, including a feedbox and under a building.

It’s not known just how many people are currently living like this and that is why the tomorrow night’s count is so important.

“Until we have that data it makes it very hard to know how to accurately resource the response,” says Fiona Hamilton from Housing First Auckland.

Ms Hamilton’s organisation tried to find permanent homes for those without them and she says the demand is only growing.

“It’s all about resourcing and funding levels, so we basically need and have been advocating that that needs to be ramped up so that we can house more people,” she says.

Housing First got Clinton into this apartment earlier this year and it plans to help almost 1500 people nationwide over four years.

The government has put aside $63 million for the programme in this year’s budget, but the Salvation Army says more work is needed.

“Not enough is being done even though the government’s doing a lot it’s not doing enough quickly enough to address or steam the tide,” says Salvation Army’s Ian Hutson.

The warning comes a day before the first rough sleeper count takes place in Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS

Good Sorts: Meet the craft beer brewers from Kapiti who aren't letting intellectual disability stopping them thrive

This week’s Good Sort is a group of enthusiastic craft brewers from Kapiti.

They all have an intellectual disability and were stuck at home on the benefit.

They hated not doing anything so when an opportunity presented itself, they got brewing.

Watch Hadyn Jones’ full interview above.

Not wanting to not do anything at home, these Good Sorts hopped right into this opportunity. Source: 1 NEWS