Sheep farming success in the Mackenzie Country entering uncharted territory

Farming sheep in the Mackenzie Country is certainly nothing new but its success is entering uncharted territory.

Every February, buyers stream into the high country to load up on lambs - this year with record numbers.

Legend has it Scotsman, James Mackenzie, stole a thousand sheep 160 something years ago - and that's where the region got its name from.

And while in the past buyers have come to Mackenzie looking for a steal, this year has been a very different story.

"It's the first time in probably 20 years actually the farmers are finally being rewarded for their sheep, those people have persevered and stuck with it," auctioneer Joe Higgins says.

"There's been a lot of people getting out of it over the past 20 years and the diehards have stuck with it and they're being rewarded for it."

Diehards like Alistair Munro, who helped start this annual auction 24 years ago. It's grown steadily ever since.

"Well I'm 70 years old and I was born here. There's twelve vendors over nine properties," Mr Munro says.

Joe Higgins welcomes 22,000 lambs, stopping at each farm, and auctioneers lots of lambs to a convoy of buyers.

"It could be the biggest in the South Island - I'm not saying it is I don't know. It's certainly the biggest one we have here," he says.

"And we look forward to it every year, it's quite an occasion for us."

It is for farmers too, because on this day they'll make up 90 per cent of their yearly income.

"Like I'd say just this last place here these lambs in front of us, two years ago we'd have been selling them for half that price," one farmer says.

"So they've doubled their income and every place has been the same."

But just as lamb and mint sauce go together, so too does caution and optimism among the farmers.

"In the past what's happened with the sheep industry is we've seen high prices come, 12 months later they've gone back down,"

"As long as they can make enough money to pay the bills and do it again next year. You know there's not many people that would swap places with that."

Lamb buyers have turned out in record numbers this year. Source: Seven Sharp



Sexual assault allegations by female law students levelled at top Wellington firm

Victoria University student societies are assessing their relationship with top law firm Russell McVeagh after allegations of sexual assault against its female law students.

The incidents reportedly took place two years ago at social functions, and involved more than one woman.

Victoria University Vice Chancellor, Grant Guilford, told RNZ today, two older lawyers were involved in the incidents, and it had lasting effects on the young women.

"[It] leads to all sorts of emotion - the loss of self confidence," he said.

"But also, guilt, which of course is completely an inappropriate emotion, but is what many of these young women feel."

The police were involved but no charges have resulted.

Newsroom.co.nz, which revealed the allegations on Wednesday, said two incidents happened at Christmas functions and another at the El Horno Bar in Wellington.

The New Zealand Law Society, meanwhile, was unable to confirm whether or not a sexual misconduct complaint has been laid.

Law Society President Kathryn Beck says any form of sexual harassment is totally unacceptable in legal workplaces and there is no doubt that it is covered by legislation, but she was unable to disclose any information about complaints made.

"The purposes of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 are to maintain public confidence in the provision of legal services, to protect consumers of legal services and to recognise the status of the legal profession."

A senior partner at Russell McVeagh, Pip Greenwood, told RNZ the firm's board were aware of the allegations and conducted an internal investigation.

The men involved no longer work at the company, she said.

Some employees at Russell McVeagh were accused of inappropriate behaviour towards two student interns two years ago. Source: 1 NEWS

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Thousands of Kiwis eligible for taxpayer-funded Hepatitis C drug aren't accessing it

Thousands of New Zealanders who are eligible for a taxpayer funded Hepatitis C drug are not accessing it as they don't know it exists.

There are more than 50,000 people in New Zealand have Hepatitis C and a staggering half of them, 25,000, are thought to be undiagnosed.

The drug Viekira Pak is used to treat Hepatitis C and claims to have a 95 per cent cure rate.

The drug became fully funded by taxpayers in 2016 and since then 2,500 have been treated.

Around 9,000 people who are eligible for the drug have not come forward.

Hepatitis C is carried by the blood and can be picked up by those who have injected drugs, received a tattoo or piercing which isn't sterile, been in prison, or had a blood transfusion before 1992.

Pharmac Deputy Medical Director, Dr Bryan Betty says: "If you do have Hepatitis there is now an effective cure for the disease. So yes there is a lot of activity going on in this sector to actually raise awareness about the need for testing for high risk patients."

There are more than 50,000 people in NZ diagnosed with the illness. Source: 1 NEWS