'Shock to the system' - Kiwis warned to brace for coldest winter 'for quite some time'

The sharp dip in temperatures this week does point to one of the coldest New Zealand winters in years, according to a MetService meteorologist.

The entire country has has awoken in a chill this morning, with the warmest national temperature as of 6am today a miserable 12.5C in Kaitaia - everywhere else is colder.

MetService meteorologist Georgina Griffiths says the stormy chill this week is forecast to continue into next week - which should be "unusually cold even for June".

"Very sunny in the afternoon, but cold, and frost, next week looks very frosty, so we're going to have to watch out for frost next week," Ms Griffiths says. 

Ms Griffiths said it is true to say 2018 has so far been a year of extremes, and at least for June that will be continuing.

Snow is still falling on Cadrona ski filed. Source: Twitter / Snow Forecast

"The first part of this year was abnormally warm. Now all of the drivers for abnormal warmth have gone, in fact they diminished about six weeks ago so the trend is down," Ms Griffiths said.

"Once we hit June, of course, we may see the back half of June looking closer to (monthly) average but that doesn't matter because we're into June."

But it isn't all bad, depending on your outdoor hobbies.

"There are some silver linings to this cold. The ski fields have been extremely happy this week with two or three really deep dumps of snow in the south so far," Ms Griffiths said.

"We know the roads are closed. The North Island has also seen some sprinkles, so excellent stuff.

"We've seen good snow, early snow down south. We've had depth of snow now, we'll get another 40cm or so today. We're at that point of the year where it will lie now."

With heavy snow warnings in force again across much of the country today, it is set to be cold leading into, and continuing through, the weekend.

Auckland's relatively warm 17C today compared to the rest of the country looks like 15C by Saturday.

Christchurch will be lucky to hit 10C tomorrow, with a southerly wind that will make that feel much colder.  

This morning it's about 0C in Queenstown, with a frosty high of 7C.

Looking further ahead, the 2018 winter looks closer to a historically average temperature for the season - which may be a shock to Kiwis after two years of unusually mild winters.

"We haven't had a winter that's been near average for quite some time," Ms Griffiths said.

"So 2016 was really abnormally warm, last year more of less warm until the end of June, so I think it might be a bit of a shock to the system, not to mention the power bill."

MetServices’s Georgina Griffiths says this week’s chill is set to stay, in what’s predicted to be the coldest winter in years. Source: Breakfast


Police investigating after needles found in strawberries at Auckland Countdown

Police say they have started an investigation with the Ministry for Primary Industries after needles were found in strawberries at an Auckland Countdown.

A police spokesperson told 1 NEWS that police are taking the report seriously and are investigating together with MPI.

They also stated that the person who reported the incident was not harmed as the needles were found before anyone had eaten them.

The investigation comes after needles were found in a punnet of strawberries sourced from Western Australia, which was bought in a Countdown supermarket in St Lukes, Auckland according to MPI.

Countdown has withdrawn a brand of Australian strawberries from sale as a precautionary measure, and is advising customers to cut up strawberries before consuming them.

The Choice brand of strawberries was sold nationwide last week.

MPI says this brand has not been implicated in the Australian contamination incident and associated recalls.  

In a press release today Countdown says "we take food safety very seriously and we have withdrawn any remaining Choice strawberries from sale from Countdown, SuperValue and FreshChoice supermarkets while we investigate this with our suppliers.

"Customers can return any Choice brand of strawberries they may have at home to Countdown for peace of mind and a full refund.

"As an extra precaution and following similar advice from public health authorities in Australia, customers should cut up any Australian strawberries before eating them.

"There have been no reports of any illness or injury in New Zealand. The strawberries affected by this withdrawal have not previously had any issues of this nature reported and had not been withdrawn from sale in Australia."

NSW authorities are investigating more than 20 incidents of needles found in strawberries. Source: Breakfast

Countdown is in contact with both New Zealand and Australian authorities as they investigate this matter.

A spokesperson from Foodstuffs NZ told 1 NEWS that Pak'nSave and New World do not stock the brand of strawberries in question.

Foodstuffs NZ say they have already pulled all Australian-sourced strawberries from their shelves.

The halt comes after needles were found in different brands in Australia. Source: 1 NEWS

Anyone who finds anything suspicious in their food is asked to contact police immediately.

Countdown says the strawberries came from Western Australia. Source: 1 NEWS


Proposed law would give police power to spot fine shoplifters

A New Zealand First MP has submitted a bill to Parliament, which would give police the power to hit shoplifters with an immediate fine.

If pulled from the member's bill ballot and passed, Darroch Ball's bill would give police the power to fine shoplifters up to one-and-a-half times the price of the item.

"What the bill does is introduce a new offence, which would be shoplifting, which is defined as the petty theft of anything under $1000," Mr Ball said.

"It gives police the option to use their discretion on whether to give an instant fine ... for those petty thefts and those shoplifters."

He said that would free up police and court time, while giving retailers a greater ability to have thieves dealt with.

Sixty-eight percent of shoplifting incidents currently go un-reported because retailers don't believe those responsible will ever face prosecution, Mr Ball said.

"For the most part [shoplifters] don't get prosecuted or the punishments against, or any action against those offenders is quite minimal, if they have any at all," he said.

"So what this will do is it will give the retailers the confidence that when they do call police, and they do have that evidence, there that something can be done immediately."

And the bill's got the seal of approval from Retail New Zealand.

Its spokesperson Greg Harford said petty theft was a problem right across the sector, and this bill would go a long way to remedying it.

He said New Zealand loses around $1 billion a year because of shoplifting.

"We think this bill will absolutely act as a deterrent against shoplifting. One of the reasons that people actually shoplift now is that they think there are no consequences for the activity," he said.

"This will mean that there are consequences, those consequences will be proportionate for the offence and it will be a really good way of discouraging people from beginning a life of crime through shoplifting."


Midsection of man hiding jeans in jacket at store
Midsection of man hiding jeans in jacket at store. Source: istock.com


Sunday Feature: What is the future for whitebait?

Saturday morning at the market. I bite the bullet, line up and buy one. It's a delicious, piping-hot, wee taste of home, but boy do I feel guilty. Not guilty enough to stop at one, though. I go back for a second. Then a third.

I've read the headlines. Read the entire stories. Whitebait are being wiped out because of people like me. They could soon be gone forever - and it's my fault. Or is it?

According to a Department of Conservation report released last year, three of the five whitebait species are "at risk/declining" and one species is "threatened".

Everyone agrees humans are having a huge impact on whitebait habitat, but people don't agree on how much of an impact fishing has on these species.

To help protect these native fish Forest and Bird are calling for recreational catch limits and a complete commercial ban on whitebaiting.

"Here is a species that are in trouble and there's no limit at all to the amount that you can catch" says Forest and Bird's Kevin Hague.

But Dr Mike Hickford, a marine ecologist at the University of Canterbury says fears of wiping out whitebait are grossly overblown. "I don't think we will ever wipe out whitebait" he says.

Hickford says a distinction needs to be made between adult and the post-larvae fish. "There's no doubt that the adult stage of these fish are in trouble, but it doesn't translate to the whitebait".

Hickford says there's no evidence to suggest at this stage that whitebaiting affects the threatened adult population, which spawn in such huge numbers.

"The majority of those whitebaits that are coming back in to the river, they're going to die anyway, they always have died and they still will die in the future no matter what we do".

Despite a lack of clear evidence, Kevin Hague says restrictions on how we catch whitebait, how much we can catch and the sale of whitebait should be introduced before the start of next 3-month long season (Sept-Nov).

"We don't want to interfere with someone's ability to go and get a feed for their family, but we just think there should be some tools that we use to actually reduce the pressure on these species".

Cascade Whitebait, one of New Zealand's biggest commercial whitebaiters, fish each season on the isolated Cascade river, just south of Haast.

Nan Brown, whose parents helped set up the operation 70 years ago, says their records don't show any decline in whitebait catch.

She wants to hold on to their fishery and says, "It would be unfair to let the guillotine drop on something you don't know enough about."

By Matt Chisholm

Whitebait are being wiped out and it's the fault of people like me, or is it? Sunday's Matt Chisholm finds out. Source: Sunday


Good Sorts: Meet the 12-year-old who is obsessed with helping hard up chickens

Daniel Parsons has saved so many of his feathered friends his home can get rather crowded.

This week Good Sorts met the Bay of Plenty 12-year-old who is obsessed with helping hard up chickens.

Watch the video above to see what makes Daniel such a good sort.

Daniel Parsons has saved so many of his feathered friends his home can get rather crowded. Source: 1 NEWS