Striking Lyttelton port workers set to get back around negotiating table

Striking Lyttelton dock workers are set to get back around the negotiating table tomorrow, after progress in their standoff with the port company.

At New Zealand's third largest port, 200 workers yesterday went on strike after pay and safety talks reached a stalemate.

Today, the workers were taking their demands to the street, picketing outside a Christchurch City Holdings board meeting.

They were appealing to the body which effectively owns the port to intervene in the industrial dispute, and it eventually brought chairperson Jeremy Smith down to meet them.

Although he accepted their letter, his board can't intervene.

"We don't have the rights to step in and resolve it," Mr Smith said.

The union's offer was to suspend strike action for the next two days, which led to a mediation meeting with the port tomorrow.

"We're hoping they'll come to the table in a positive frame of mind and that we can cut a deal," Union member John Kerr said.

Despite agreeing to mediation tomorrow, the port company has asked the workers if they will extend the withdrawal of strike action until March 20 so they have time to get ships back into the port.

The union has agreed to that request but is standing firm on demanding the same pay deal offered to the port's other union.

"If Lyttelton gets away with it you can bet your bottom dollar every other port a New Zealand will try the same thing so we have to nip this in the bud," union general secretary Wayne Butson said.

But many Canterbury business are already losing patience, and money.

Workers numbering 200 brought the country's third largest port to a standstill yesterday. Source: 1 NEWS



Did 'distracted' Jacinda Ardern's radio remarks cause the NZ dollar to rise?

The New Zealand dollar saw a slight rise today - from 65.78 to 65.84 US cents. But was the quiver unjustly caused by a misstatement by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern?

That was the accusation from Opposition leader Simon Bridges today as he spoke with reporters in Parliament, just hours after the PM made a statement on Newstalk ZB that she insists wasn't an error.

"I am very pleased with the way we are tracking," she told host Mike Hosking, also stating that she'd been given "a hint" ahead of the second quarter gross domestic product figures set to be released in two days.

The Opposition says it shows the Prime Minister is distracted. Source: 1 NEWS

But she was referring to the government's unaudited financial accounts, Ms Ardern later clarified. She doesn't have advanced access to GDP figures and so won't be able to comment on them until they're released on Thursday, she said.

Mr Bridges, however, referred to it as a serious "misstep".

"This matters, because these are possibly the most -- or certainly up there as the most - important figures," he said, adding that he listened to the interview live and the question seemed clearly to him to be about GDP. "They move the dollar. They move a bunch of other economic indicators. She needs to get that right.

"That she didn't I think shows that she is distracted. She's focused on the shambles of the coalition rather than what matters to New Zealanders."

The PM says her answer about the economy was correct but misunderstood while speaking on a radio show today. Source: 1 NEWS

During her own chat with reporters at Parliament this morning, Ms Ardern held firm that the misunderstanding was on the part of Mike Hosking and Newstalk ZB.

"I know what I was talking about. Unfortunately, the question that was being asked was something different," she said. "I accept I was thinking about one thing, he was talking about another.

"Of course the Prime Minister does not get the GDP figures, nor should they. I could not comment on them because I haven't seen them."

Despite the criticism. Mr Bridges has acknowledged the fluctuation in the Kiwi dollar value is unlikely to be anything more than a minor blip because the Prime Minister's interview was clarified so quickly.

The Kiwi dollar rose slightly this morning following a radio interview in which some thought the PM had a sneak peek of Thursday’s figures. Source: 1 NEWS


Do you who this is? Public help sought after aggravated robbery in Porirua

Police are turning to the public for help after an aggravated robbery in Porirua.

On September 6, a man holding a firearm demanded money and cigarettes from the Corinna Superette, on Corinna St. 

He was wearing a brown t-shirt, red sleeves and with a white hood. The alleged offender also had on ripped jeans, red Chuck Taylor shoes and had a tattoo on his left index finger and thumb. 

Anyone with information can call Porirua Police on 04 238 1400 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. 

Robbery in porirua
Source: Supplied

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Photos: NZDF spot over 100 whales during census of NZ's southern right whales

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has carried out a census of southern right whales, or tohora, in the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands, the agency said in a statement.

Air Commodore Tim Walshe, the NZDF's Air Component Commander, said more than 100 whales were spotted during a surveillance patrol by a Royal New Zealand Air Force p-3K2 Orion aircraft at Auckland Islands and Campbell Island.

"In this Orion patrol, we took aerial photos to assist the Department of Conservation (DOC) in tracking individual whales, building a better picture of the species as a whole and monitoring the recovery of these protected species," Air Commodore Walshe said.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) sighted more than 100 whales during a surveillance patrol at Auckland Islands and Campbell Island. Source: NZDF

DOC Manager Marine Species and Threats Ian Angus said the census results found that the southern right whale population, which is classified as 'nationally vulnerable', is continuing to recover from the significant impact of whaling and other threats.

Whaling decimated the southern right whale population from more than 30,000 at the turn of the 20th century to less than 150 in 1920, DOC said. Their number was estimated at 2000 in 2009.

"We've always known that the southern right whales spend the winter and spring around the Sub-Antarctic Islands but getting down there at this time of the year is challenging," Mr Angus said.

Aerial photos were taken to assist the Department of Conservation (DOC) in tracking individual southern right whales. Source: NZDF

"In partnership with the NZDF, we have been able to monitor some of our wildlife and continue to understand when and how southern right whales are using the Sub-Antarctic Islands.

"We're looking forward to working with the NZDF and other researchers to glean all the information from the many images that were taken."

The New Zealand Defence Force deployed an Orion aircraft to carry out a census of southern right whales in the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands. Source: NZDF


Police reject claims of Maori bias in pursuits

Police deny bias is largely to blame for the high number of Māori involved in police pursuits.

Inspector Dave Simpson of Counties Manukau Police reveals more shocking details about the fatal crash in South Auckland this morning.

Figures show that in the last four years more Māori were warned, charged, and killed in police pursuits than any other ethnic group.

Lawyer Moana Jackson said bias in the police force was largely to blame, but Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Andy Coster rejected that.

"Māori make up more than half of drivers who flee from police so it's a really important figure to note that there is an alignment between people who flee and people who are charged.

"For the most part we don't get the opportunity to know the ethnicity of the driver before we take steps to stop the vehicle."

Police figures show the second most common reason police engage in pursuits is because of suspicious vehicle behaviour.

"It could be a vehicle that's seen in circumstances perhaps we're patrolling in an area for relation to a burglary or some other offence," Mr Coster said.

"Maybe a vehicle that observes a police car and ducks off down a side street suddenly."

Lawyer Deborah Manning, who has advised families of people killed in police pursuits, said Māori may not be getting the same level of discretion as others when police choose to pursue a vehicle.

"When you look at the categories of reasons for engaging in a pursuit of a fleeing driver they include discretionary assessments from officers including 'suspicious behaviour' so there are matter for discretion.

"It's very clear that there is a problem that Māori are over-represented and that this really needs to be looked at and faced head-on."

She is convinced ethnic bias was at play.

"I just have to reiterate what others have said about possible reasons for this, in terms of unconscious bias.

"Just hearing on the radio time and time again about essentially young Māori men winding up killed after a police pursuit."

The death of 15-year-old Morocco Tai following a police pursuit in October last year added to the alarming Māori death toll .

Thirteen people have died in police pursuits since 2014 - nine of them Māori.

His mother, Jo-Ann Stevens, said she was unsure about bias in the police, but said the police took no responsibility and blamed the family for the death of her son.

"To be honest it just felt like they pushed it under the carpet and they were blaming the family because he was a troubled teen.

"I also think they need to apologise to all these families that have been in the same situation. I've never heard anything from the police since my son had died."

A review of the police pursuit policy is due to be released by the end of the year.

- Reporting by Te Aniwa Hurihanganui, Te Manu Korihi Reporter

www.rnz.co.nz


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