Teachers' union accuses Government of 'alternative facts' on school funding

Election year and the lobbying is in full swing with teachers' unions calling out the Government for making what they say are misleading claims about school funding increases.  

Lynda Stuart told reporters that schools aren't seeing Government funding coming through. Source: 1 NEWS

The NZEI and the PPTA say their research shows only a 2.3 per cent real per pupil spending increase from 2009 to the end of 2015, and question why the Education Minister is talking up a 35 per cent increase. 

The national secretary of NZEI, Paul Goulter, said the Government is offering up what are essentially alternative facts.  

"In our schools, students' learning and teaching is being severely hampered now by what is becoming very quickly a funding crisis in schools," he said.

Mr Goulter said the Government needs to address the funding squeeze in the upcoming Budget. 

The Education Minister's office released a statement in response, saying there is no conspiracy and the Government's figure of a 35 per cent increase since 2008 comes from Treasury. That figure refers to total funding for the portfolio. 

The union’s president, Lynda Stuart, said schools aren't seeing the funding come through.    

"You almost start to wonder is there something that I’m doing wrong or is there something that isn’t matching up? And there certainly is something that isn’t matching up," she said. 

Ms Stuart said as a school principal, she has to make sacrifices to whittle down the budget. 

"I can't touch the electricity. Those bills have to be paid. If the swimming pool has a leak I’ve got to go there.

"So actually the things that I have to touch are the support staff who work directly with children or the curriculum resources that our teachers use."

Mr Goulter said parents are being increasingly asked to make up the shortfall, with 16 per cent of principals expecting to increase donations or fees. 

Needles found in strawberries at Auckland Countdown

Needles were found in a punnet of strawberries sourced from Western Australia, which was bought in a Countdown supermarket in Auckland.

Countdown has withdrawn a brand of Australian strawberries from sale as a precautionary measure, and is advising customers to cut up strawberries before consuming them.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

In a press release today Countdown says "we take food safety very seriously and we have withdrawn any remaining Choice strawberries from sale from Countdown, SuperValue and FreshChoice supermarkets while we investigate this with our suppliers.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

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

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

The news comes after a spate of similar incidents in Australia led to a young boy being arrested after police say he admitted to putting needles in strawberries.

NSW Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said detectives had arrested one young boy over an incident that "could be a prank", 7 NEWS reports.

"Obviously in the last few days we found a young person has admitted to a prank, including putting needles in strawberries, and he’ll be dealt with under the youth cautioning system," the acting assistant commissioner said.

Anyone found guilty of contaminating food could soon face a maximum of 15 years in prison, up from 10 years in Australia.

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



Auckland Council says anti-1080 protesters trapped staff

Anti-1080 protesters allegedly locked Auckland Council staff members in the Hunua Ranges Regional Park last night.

The council dropped 1080 in the ranges earlier today after an interim junction stopping the drop lapsed on Friday evening.

Auckland Council parks, sports and recreation manager, Mace Ward, said they were trapped in the park for more than an hour.

"We were able to remove those chains and exit the park safely and secure the park overnight. What also happened overnight we had graffiti on signage and some of our toilets and facilities."

Mr Ward said following today's drop, staff would now clear tracks and test water quality in the ranges.

The council was given the go ahead to drop the poison after the interim injunction lapsed on Friday evening.

The Friends of Sherwood Trust won a temporary injunction in the Environment Court halting the major pest control programme two weeks ago.

However, on Friday the court refused the Trust's bid to further halt the drop.

Mr Ward said the first block of the operation, which covers 16,000 hectares, was set to be completed today.

Department of Conservation staff say in the past month they've had their car tyres slashed and wheel nuts loosened. Source: 1 NEWS

The pre-feed drop, which was completed before the drop was temporarily suspended, did not need to be repeated, Mr Ward said.

Following today's drop, staff will then work to clear tracks and test water quality in the ranges, he said.

On Friday, council staff phoned more than 100 households near the drop site to give them the required notice.

The action follows a recent spike in anti-1080 protests including one last week when dead birds were placed on the steps of Parliament, with activists claiming they were poisoned by the toxin.

However, after police were called in to investigate if the birds had in fact been bludgeoned, one of the protesters admitted some were actually road kill.

But a community board member said many residents in the Hunua Ranges did not oppose 1080 being dropped in the area.

Franklin Local Board member Malcolm Bell said no one wants to drop the toxin, but it needs to be done.

"We're in the situation where if we don't then wildlife, particularly the birds, are likely to be reduced drastically in numbers to the point actually where we probably won't have any native birds in the Hunua Ranges if we don't take action," he said.

There is a small minority of individuals in the area who oppose the drop, Mr Bell said.


Source: rnz.co.nz


Warnings as more heavy snow on the way for South Island

Motorists are being warned about several roads that are forecast to be hit with heavy snow tonight and tomorrow.

A cold front is forecast to move north across the country tomorrow, while a low develops to the east of the South Island and then moves away to the east late Tuesday.

A drop in temperatures, showers and snow was forecast over the South Island for tomorrow, and possibly across the lower and central North Island on Tuesday.

MetService said the cold snap was expected to affect many higher roads and farms in those areas, and there was a moderate risk the snow would reach warning criteria about inland Canterbury and Kaikōura from Monday evening.

According to Metservice, rain is expected to turn to snow tomorrow at several passes, including Lewis Pass (State Highway 7), Arthur's Pass (State Highway 73), Porters Pass (State Highway 73), Haast Pass (State Highway 6), Lindis Pass (State Highway 8).

Meanwhile, this evening snow is also expected to hit Crown Range Road, and the Milford Road (State Highway 94) tunnel.

A heavy snow watch was also in place north and south of the Rangitata River, North and Central Otago, and Dunedin.

The road snow warnings follow on from last week's snow blitz in Queenstown, when hundreds of people were left without power after trees knocked down power poles and numerous roads were shut.


But residents and stranded tourists made the most of the big dump. Source: 1 NEWS

Man charged with murder over fatal Tauranga stabbing

A man has been charged with murder following the death of a 48-year-old man in Papamoa, Tauranga yesterday.

Police say the 22-year-old man charged was known to the victim and will be appearing in Tauranga District Court tomorrow.

The police investigation is ongoing but no-one else is being sought in relation to the death.

Police still want to hear from anyone who was walking in the Harding Street area between 7.30am and 9am yesterday.

Neighbour Todd Madden, who was walking to their car on the front lawn with his six-year-old at the time of the incident, told the NZ Herald they saw a "young guy covered in blood" in a driveway.

"[He] yelled at me to call the police.

"Police arrived and he laid down on the ground and I grabbed the two kids."

The children told him there was a victim inside "laying in a pool of blood".

"They had been crying loudly for about 30 minutes but I just thought they were being naughty - I wished I had've gone over earlier."

Anyone with information should call Tauranga Police on (07) 577 4300 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS