Taupō teens praised for alerting neighbourhood as massive sinkhole opened up

A large sinkhole that has opened up in Taupō after a water main broke could take weeks to fix.

Two teenage boys raised the alarm about 5.30pm yesterday after they noticed a water leak on Arrowsmith Avenue - between Chesham Avenue and Weka Road.

Emergency services were called and found water pouring down the gully and a significant part of the road washed out.

Up to 12 engineers and council staff are on site today to assess the damage left by the hole, which the council said was 10 metres by 8 metres and up to 8 metres deep.

"We've had damage to the water main, the council water storm water, and down through the gully we've had considerable amount of pumice that has washed down through," Taupō District Council water asset manager Tom Swindells said.

A couple of houses had had pumice wash through their sections and one of the properties had some go through their garage and lower floor area, he said.

The cleanup and repair costs would be significant, he said.

The asbestos cement pipe that burst was likely old and probably needed replacing, he said.

"Within our district we do have a considerable number of asbestos water mains in the ground."

While the council plans to replace those, it could not be done overnight, he said.

The teenagers who raised the alarm acting quickly by calling emergency services and alerting neighbours, he said.

"It was an exciting but scary moment for them but they did all right things."

About 20 properties had their water supply disrupted last night but that was reinstated to all but two properties within three hours.

Repairs could take weeks and he urged the public to avoid the area.

The sinkhole, over six metres deep, took out half the road outside two Taupo homes last night. Source: 1 NEWS

David Seymour wants Māori seats abolished, MP numbers reduced

ACT leader David Seymour Party has told his party's annual conference he wants to abolish the Māori seats and reduce the number of MPs.

Mr Seymour told party faithful at the conference Remuera today there was simply no place for one group of people to be treated differently under the law.

And he said he hoped to introduce legislation to reduce the size of Parliament from 120 MPs to 100, and also cut the number of ministers in government.

Mr Seymour said two decades of growth in the size of government had not delivered better outcomes for New Zealand.

He said we need smaller, smarter government.

Under ACT's policy the number of government ministers would be reduced from the current 31 to 20.

The policy would also require all list candidates to stand in an electorate.

New name, brand on agenda at conference

Mr Seymour said yesterday a name change and a brand re-launch was on the agenda today.

He said some members thought the name lacked clarity, but others worried a re-brand was too risky.

"There are some members who say that the name is a detraction, and doesn't have a clear enough meaning.

"And there other people who say 'at least people know the name, and renaming an organisation is the most dangerous maneuver you can perform in marketing."

Mr Seymour said the conference would also consider how best to battle big taxes and big government.

Despite cracking the one per cent mark in the 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll, ACT needs to boost its popularity. Source: 1 NEWS


Whakatāne girl undergoes emergency surgery to reduce chance of brain damage while on US holiday

A Whakatāne girl underwent emergency brain surgery to reduce the chances of brain damage after suffering a head injury while on holiday in the US.

According to the Givealittle page set up to raise funds for her family, Alyssa Ledbetter, 11, complained of a severe headache, neck pain, blurry vision and numbness in her legs after swimming with family on July 21

As she emerged from the water her father said they knew from the symptoms it was likely to be a spinal or head injury.

They got her to the lifeguard tower, where a doctor nearby assisted but Alyssa’s condition deteriorated quickly.

She lost control of her bodily functions and began to have uncontrollable seizures.

The brain surgery doctors said Alyssa had two arteriovenous malformations (AVM) in the frontal cortex of her brain.

Alyssa was taken to surgery immediately where they drilled through her skull to relieve the pressure and drain the fluids.  She remained in the intensive care unit while her brain slowly healed.

Once discharged from the hospital, she would have to complete an outpatient treatment programme before being allowed to return to New Zealand.

The Givealittle page is helping the family raise money to cover medical expenses, including the cost of surgery, ongoing CT and MRI scans, medications and various travel and accommodation expenses.

Alyssa Ledbetter. Source: Give A Little.