'Take it to the islands' - Sir Gordon Tietjens suggests overseas venue for Sevens after record low Wellington crowd

The future of one of New Zealand's biggest sporting events is looking bleak, with ticket sales for the Wellington Sevens tournament at a record low.

The New Zealand Rugby football union estimates 10,000 people went to the event each day over the weekend, compared to sell-out crowds in recent years.

Former All Black Sevens Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens, who now coaches Samoa, says the event should be taken off New Zealand completely.

"Take it to the islands, I'm sure they'd love it… take it somewhere they really see the value of having a sevens tournament in their country," he says.

He says the tournament has died out.

"To be truthful, it was sad really in some ways. There was just no atmosphere, just no people there," he told 1 NEWS.

"If you look back over the past few years, Wellington…. It was just really awesome to play.

"The whole team gets up when you're playing in front of a huge crowd like that. Not to have anyone there this year was sad, because it used to be a good tournament.

"This year I really noticed it."

Wellington mayor Justin Lester went to the tournament with his family and says the lack of people there was disappointing.

"Clearly ticket sales and attendance are disappointing," he said.

He says the council will now look at all the options and talk to NZR about the tournament's future.

"We've had 18 successful years of Sevens in Wellington. It's an iconic part of Wellington's history, the question is, is it a part of the city’s future?"

The WCC will also contribute to a review of the tournament, which is currently underway.  

Nigel Cass, NZR chief strategy operations officer, accepts not enough people came through the gates.

He won't say if the tournament is still financially viable and wouldn't comment on moving it to another venue.

"Nothing is ruled in, nothing is ruled out," he told 1 NEWS.

The tournament has been held in Wellington for 18 years, with two years left still on the Wellington contract.

When asked if they would look at cancelling the event in Wellington for next year, Mr Cass said they're not ruling it out and that a review would determine the decision.

The review outcome should be known by the end of March.

Photo Gallery: Winter has final sting in its tail, blasts Queenstown region with snow

Central Otago woke up to an early spring snow dump this morning, with the white stuff visible across the Wakatipu Basin.

Glenorchy has seen heavy snow, while flurries are light in Queenstown and on the Lindis Pass.

Queenstown. Source: Thomas Martin

Vision captured by 1 NEWS in Arrowtown shows a heavy blanket of snow. 

Arrowtown saw an early spring snowfall overnight, 17 September 2018. Source: Sophia Purdon

Nineteen flights, both domestic and international, have been cancelled at Queenstown Airport, although it remains open. 

Source: James Penwell

All schools in the Wakatipu Basin are closed. 

Crown Range Source: NZTA

Power outages caused by snow-loaded tree branches have been reported in Glenorchy, Te Anau, Queenstown, Franktown, Arrowtown and Dalefield.

Arrowtown. Source: Jesse Van Grinsven

"Power will be restored as quickly as is safely possible but extreme conditions are hampering our response," an Aurora Energy spokesperson said.

Bridesdale Queenstown. Source: Kate Tonks

A spokesperson from Metservice has told 1 NEWS of heavy snow fall in the Crown Ranges, with many campervans being snowed in.

Camper vans in Te Anau. Source: MetService

Arrowtown. Source: Jess Van Grinsven

Cardrona Ski Field has had 35 centimetres of snow this morning and counting. However, graders have been unable to clear the road in time for opening today. 

Usually snow is a good thing for a ski field, but it couldn’t clear the roads fast enough to open this morning. Source: 1 NEWS

An early spring dump of snow fell on Te Anau overnight, 17 September 2018. Source: Alana Pullar

"Where the snow hasn't fallen, water has. A lot of it," the Queenstown Lakes District Council warned this morning.

"We've got roads affected by surface water from all the rain so watch out for flooding and ponding wherever you're headed today."

Te Anau. Source: Phillip Robertson

Trust Power is reporting an outage in Frankton as a result of the weather. 

Arrowtown saw an early spring snowfall overnight, 17 September 2018. Source: Sophia Purdon

Motorists heading over the Crown Range today will need to bring chains with them.

Images from viewers also show thick coats of snow in Arrowtown and Te Anau.

Snow on the Crown Range. Source: NZTA

SH94 from Te Anau to Milford Sound is closed due to a high avalanche risk. 

The road will be closed for some time due to snow and fallen trees.

Arrowtown saw an early spring snowfall overnight, 17 September 2018. Source: Sophia Purdon

Do you have a photo or video of today's snow? Send it to news@tvnz.co.nz.

In many places power was cut, schools were closed and flights cancelled. Source: 1 NEWS

Watch: Simon Bridges responds to Jacinda Ardern’s big speech – ‘Ultimately there was nothing there’

Winston Peters rules the roost and New Zealanders are starting to wake up to the fact that NZ First is leading the coalition government and not Labour, according to National leader Simon Bridges.

Mr Bridges said Ms Ardern’s announcement yesterday of the Government’s priorities for NZ over the next 30 years was devoid of substance.

The Prime Minister gave details of the Government plan during a speech in Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS

“They’ve had a shambolic few weeks, so they wanted to all come together and show unity, have a sort of pep rally, Kumbaya session, the problem I think was ultimately there was nothing there,” he told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

“There was nothing in it basically, that I or any MP in Parliament couldn’t go along with, it was so high level.”

Read more: Jacinda Ardern outlines Government's top 12 priorities for New Zealand over next 30 years

The opposition leader said the reason for that was that Mr Peters had to approve of everything done by the Government.

“The reason for that is the Prime Minister knows she can’t get a lot of agreement on a lot of things, so she has to be airy-fairy, in the clouds on stuff,” he said.

“The reason for that ultimately, which New Zealanders are waking up to, is that Winston Peters runs the roost on this stuff.”

"Unless he agrees, and there’s a lot he won’t agree to, most of it actually, then it doesn’t happen, we’re starting to see a NZ First-led coalition rather than a Labour-led one."

Mr Bridges categorically rejected the notion that this was an MMP government in action, with partners working through the issues in cabinet.

"It is insulting to the MMP governments that have gone before, they were MMP governments, they had to manage these things, they were always Labour-led or National-led, that’s not what we’ve got here.

"I think the real tragedy is ultimately, nearly a year in, past the platitudes, where is the seriously detailed plan and actions for New Zealanders on things that matter?

"Like an economic downturn, like cost of living going up more than wages, and petrol prices and rents and so on, we didn’t see any real stuff there."

Asked what he would have as priorities for New Zealand over the next three decades, Mr Bridges highlighted changes to industrial laws and dealing with overseas investment.

“Reversing the ones (taxes) they have done because that’s putting up petrol prices that are hurting Kiwi families, that’s affecting on rental prices, all these things that Kiwis are starting to really feel.”

Mr Bridges accused unions of “clipping the ticket” to no real benefit for the workers. 

The National leader said the Prime Minister was simply dealing in platitudes, not actions that matter.


Three brave male survivors of childhood sex abuse speak about what they endured, and how they are healing

The Harvey Weinstein case exposed an ugly side of our culture.

Finally, victims of sexual assault and harassment are speaking up. But where are the voices of men?

Thousands of Kiwi guys bear the scars of childhood sexual abuse. They’re our dads, brothers, partners and mates – but many suffer in silence.

This week, three brave men tell SUNDAY what they endured, and how they’re starting to heal.

If you want to talk to anyone about the issues raised in this story, Safe to Talk is the number to call - 0800 044 334

The Harvey Weinstein saga exposed an ugly side of our culture. TVNZ’s Sunday hears from some male victims. Source: Sunday

Government to step in to resolve planning stoush hampering farmers

Woodhaven Gardens owner John Clarke grows seventeen different vegetables on about 200 acres of fertile soil in the Horowhenua District.

The vegetables are eaten around the North Island and a small amount reach the south.

But there’s currently no consent for this work as the nitrogen run-off and leaching is too great to meet limits set by Horizon Regional Council’s One Plan.

“To some degree, it’s out of our hands, we can only try and introduce the best practices we can and farm according to those,” Mr Clarke said.

Last year, the Environment Court ruled the way the council issued consents was unlawful.

That’s left 155 intensive land users in the Manawatu-Whanganui region, made up of 115 dairy farmers and 40 horticulturists, without consents and waiting for the council to act.

“Of course we’d like to have some certainty around this but I don’t think we can ask to have that straight away,” Mr Clarke said.

The council, Fish and Game and the Environmental Defence Society met with Environment Minister David Parker this year, with the minister hoping to end a ‘stalemate'.

“There’s been no progress made towards the solution despite the fact that the status quo was unacceptable so I’ve tried to intercede and provide some help so that the matter can be resolved,” Mr Parker said.

Mr Parker said the Government will fund lawyers and planners to help the council.

Following calls from the public for a commissioner to be appointed to the council, council chairman Bruce Gordon said he’d made an offer to David Parker to investigate.

“Come in and investigate the processes which our council has followed, the advice that we’ve been given and if we’ve been seen to be lacking in anyway, appoint a commissioner but until that becomes evident that we’ve failed in any way I stand by the fact that our councillors made the right decisions,” Mr Gordon said.

In mid-August the council announced its plan to alter consent regulation.

Mr Gordon said a proposed change to nitrogen limits, due to the OnePlan’s nitrogen allowances being set by out-of-date technology, should see 70 dairy farmers gain consent this year.

“There are people that have got nitrogen limits/leachings that are not going to be acceptable and there’s going to have to be some changes made and yes, I accept that going forward there will be some pain felt by some people within our community,” Mr Gordon said.

The council’s aiming to make further changes to make “a practicable consenting pathway” by the middle of next year at the latest, he said.

There’ll also be further work and community consultation on the council’s freshwater management for seven catchments in the area.

“Of course once we get onto plan change three, yes, it will be running into the millions again – it will be very, very expensive for that third process,” Mr Gordon said.

Mr Gordon said creation of the council’s proposed One Plan in 2007, which was taken to the Environment Court, cost $10 million and the total cost of the latest proposed changes will be impacted by Government resource management changes.

The council’s aiming to have work complete by 2025, in line with the Government policy on freshwater.

At Woodhaven Gardens, flax and grass has been planted near crops to act as a filter for nutrient run-off.

John Clarke’s also using a new test to monitor nitrogen levels in crops as vegetables are growing.

“With the mitigation work that we have planned around silt control and nitrogen use I think, yes, our business is certainly in a lot better place.”

Mr Clarke said he’s trying to take a positive approach to the need for change.

“I can see better things to us, to the environment and to our business out of it.”

Federated Farmers Manawatu/Rangitikei president Richard Morrison said the lobby group is supporting farmers in the area and working with the council on possible solutions.

Mr Morrison said there’s angst and uncertainty in the area with hundreds of farmers, including those without consents and those that will need to re-apply for one in the future, concerned their business won’t be able to continue due to the financial impact of change.

Horizons chairman Bruce Gordon said district councils could also be impacted.

“We’ve got all these upgrades done with wastewater treatment plants, district councils having done the right thing and bought land, done further treatment and applied for a discharge to land that cannot meet the (nitrogen limit) tables,” he said.

Mr Gordon said the council had to find a middle-road on the situation.

“You can’t ignore economic impact and you can’t go 100 per cent the other way either,” he said.

He’s calling for the community to support the council’s proposed changes and affected farmers and growers.

“We’re not about to shut any of our market growers down, it’s just a matter of working through this process and coming out with robust evidence that can vindicate their continuance,” he said.

Environmental Defence Society chairman Gary Taylor said the council needs to hurry up as there’s been no material change to the plan since the “overdue wake-up call” from the Environment Court eighteen months ago.

“It’s not just a question of the council getting itself into compliance with the law, it’s actually providing certainty and clarity to its people,” Mr Taylor said.

He said a reduction of intensive land use is required around the country to be compliant with freshwater limits.

“At present, catchments in the Horizons and in other regions in the country are over-allocated for contaminants… in layman’s terms – pollution.”

He said nitrogen leaching is responsible for algal blooms that kill native fish and lake nitrification.

A spokesperson for Fish and Game said while nitrogen limits will be altered by the council, a complete new plan isn’t necessary.

“What is needed is proper implementation of the One Plan as the Environment Court told it to do,” he said.

This comes after it was found Horizons Council had been issuing consents illegally. Source: 1 NEWS