'That's unbelievable cheese!' – Kiwi cheesemaker debuts latest creation after finding mould in strange location

Otago based Whitestone Cheese have hit the jackpot with their new blue cheese creation, finding a local source of a special mould usually found in damp limestone caves.

Whitestone Cheese chief executive Simon Berry told TVNZ1's Breakfast his company found the penicillium roqueforti mould somewhere completely unexpected.

"The mould is the original blue strain named over the Roquefort caves in the south of France, so we started looking in our limestone caves here in north Otago and sending our samples off to a lab in Christchurch but after six or so samples we had no luck."

The lab told Mr Berry they would keep a look out for any potential penicillium roqueforti mould that was sent their way and after six months' time Mr Berry received a call from them.

"You'll never guess what I've got some roqueforti in front of me, it's come in from a farmer's hay bale up in Fairleigh," Mr Berry recounted.

Luckily the farmer had sent in the mould to be tested for toxicity and when it tested negative but positive as penicillium roqueforti, the Whitestone Cheese chief executive was the lab's first port of call.

"Now we're bringing it into the cheese world, it's a totally different flavour it's quite mild," Mr Berry said.

He hopes to take the new creation to the World Cheese Championship in Wisconsin next March.

Kiwis should be able to get a taste of it earlier though as Whitestone Cheese hope to launch it here in January.

Breakfast's Hilary Barry gave the prototype the thumbs up this morning saying: "That is unbelievable cheese!"

Penicillium roqueforti, a mould needed for a special kind of blue cheese, is normally found in limestone caves, but not this time. Source: Breakfast

Who is eligible for free tertiary study revealed by Prime Minister

After much speculation, the eligibility criteria of the government's fees-free policy has been announced, with 50,000 students expected to take up the scheme. 

She wants the fees-free plan to create "the kind of skills New Zealanders need". Source: 1 NEWS

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today at Porirua's Aotea College. 

Around 80,000 students across the country will be affected. Source: 1 NEWS

"You will be the first, but you wont be the last," she told students who would get their first year free. 

She said the majority of those who would get their first year free would be people who have not studied before, at any age, and people who would go onto vocational training.

"That's the kind of skills New Zealanders need," she told the students. 

Ms Ardern likened the implementation of tertiary fees-free to the historical changes to secondary school in New Zealand. 

"There was a time where we didn't have secondary school available for everybody. It was back then a Labour government said 'hang on, our students need more than that', so we made a change."

Education Minister Chris Hipkins released a statement today which said: "If you're a New Zealander who finished school in 2017, or if you will finish school during 2018, you qualify for a year of free provider based tertiary education or industry training in 2018."

"If you're not a recent school leaver, and you've done less than half a full time year of education or training, you also qualify."

Eligibility criteria

Industry training students will get up to two years free for eligible programmes. Kiwi students studying from overseas will be eligible.

However students enrolled at a tertiary education not recognised in New Zealand are not eligible, it is unclear if this will impact Kiwi students on exchange programmes overseas.

The government will fund up to $12,000 for study in a year, it will also cover compulsory student service fees.

The Tertiary Education Commission will pay fees to the tertiary institute, students will not need to apply to Student Link to access the fees-free policy, but would for living costs or allowances.

Australian students will need to have lived in Australia for three years to be eligible.

Students must also enroll in a programme funded by the Tertiary Education Commission, be recognised by New Zealand Qualifications Authority, be at Level 3 or above and for industry training be at least 120 credits.

The Tertiary Education Commission will implement the policy. 

"I appreciate that enrolled and prospective learners have had to wait some time before seeing the final details of the fees-free policy and I thank them for their patience; however, I'm sure learners will be happy with the result," Mr Hipkins said.

He said 80,000 people will be eligible for the scheme next year. 

"We expect the policy to halt, and over time reverse the current trend of fewer people going into post-school training and education. We have budgeted for a three per cent increase in equivalent full-time students in 2018, equating to about 2000 extra students.

"The Government has budgeted for up to $380 million in the current financial year across the fees-free policy and the $50 increases to student loans and allowances," Mr Hipkins said. 

She told press today she is interested in the predicted uptake of the scheme by students. 

"Predominately out expectation is people accessing apprenticeships, industry training, polytechnics, private training institutions and wānanga, and that's where you’ll see the majority of the likely uptake."

It was expected this would make up 50,000 of the eligible students, with the reminder going to university. 

The students of Aotea College in Porirua erupted into applause as the PM told them of the plan. Source: 1 NEWS


Anger in Southland over storage of thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste from Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter

Frustrations are growing in Southland over thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste from the Tiwai aluminum smelter being stored in the region.

The old Mataura paper mill is the latest location to store the waste after producing company Taha International went into liquidation last year.

Opponents said if the material inside gets wet it will create a toxic ammonia cloud and could poison the nearby river.

The waste is coming from the Tiwai Aluminium Smelter, with concerns growing about storage following the closure of a processing company. Source: 1 NEWS

Mataura resident Winston McCone said there has ”been some wicked actions".

“I think it’s been a very, very poor action that ever allowed for this dross to be transferred from the smelter and stored here in our town. Towns aren't for dross.”

A closed door meeting was held yesterday at the Invercargill City Council.

A spokesperson for the receivers told 1 NEWS they hope to make a decision on what to do with the waste in the next few days.

Residents fear the waste will poison waterways and the air. Source: 1 NEWS