'There's no miracles in it' - Dog trainer recognised for her work turning man's best friend into invaluable helpers

Dog trainer Janice Kirk has spent her entire career proving man's best friend can be much more.

Ms Kirk has been nominated for this year’s Kiwibank Local Hero awards.

She helped train a dog, Delta, for Afghanistan veteran Dion Taka after he was injured in the 2012 battle of Baghak.

He says getting Delta has changed his life.

"The sleep patterns, the nightmares, the dreams – they've all settled down," Mr Taka says.

The little white shepherd has helped him manage his symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"The change that she's made to my life is huge. She's given me back some quality of life," he says.

Delta's now close to becoming a fully-qualified assistance dog and, thanks to Ms Kirk, it's all been free of charge.

Now the Kotuku Foundation, which provides dogs like Delta, has nominated Janice for one of this year's Kiwibank Local Hero awards.

Ms Kirk, a trainer with Tevra Dog Training, remains humble over her work.

"I can't train the dogs, I can only teach. The people train the dogs and there's no miracles in it,"  she says.

While dogs like Delta are used worldwide, Delta is the first of her kind in New Zealand.

Her success may become a model for more support dogs across the country.

Janice Kirk is a recipient of this year's Kiwibank Local Hero Awards. Source: 1 NEWS

Unusually dry weather may see water restrictions in place for Southland

Southland is the latest region feeling the heat with a dry start to summer.

With river levels slow, considerable restrictions on water use are in the pipeline if the hot weather continues.

The arid weather is also adding stress to farmers sowing new grass and crops.

One of the farmers affected is Clinton-based Hamish McGregor, who says rainfall would make his crops "good as gold".

"Sort of need that rain to germinate things a wee bit, but can't hold off forever so sort of need to get it in the ground as soon as possible," Mr McGregor says.

It's been weeks since any significant rainfall in Gore, prompting water restrictions and calls to minimise its use in the region.

Gore District Council's chief executive, Steve Parry, says the water levels are much lower than normal.

"The river here is probably about 45 per cent lower than it what it normally is at this time of year. Our water wells we draw water from are about 35 per cent lower than what they normally are," Mr Parry says.

Environment Southland says the region has had only 81 per cent of its annual rainfall so far this year.

Meanwhile, NIWA's long-term forecast is for lower than average rainfall during summer.

Environment Southland's director of science and planning, Graham Sevicke-Jones, says the unusually dry weather is a cause for concern.

"You've got river levels dropping, aquifers not recharging so they can drop a lot faster than we would have expected, so we're trying to raise concern with people," he says.

Water restrictions are in the pipeline if conditions don't change. Source: 1 NEWS


Video: Jacinda Ardern fawns over police pup – 'You I would take home in a second!'

A police puppy named Hana was treated to pats and compliments from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, as she attended the police and custom dog graduation in Porirua today. 

"You I would take home in a second," she said to Hana, who has not yet completed her training. 

Ms Ardern presented the dog and police officer with their graduation certificate, with a dog named 'Skudder' after New Zealand rugby star Nehe Milner-Skudder, up first. 

"You're such a vital force for us," Ms Ardern said during her speech. 

Ms Ardern, who came from a policing family, finished her speech saying, "I hope you don't mind if I always continue to see myself as a member of your wider family."

It comes after the US recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Source: 1 NEWS

It's a step back from the Green Party's policy to make te reo compulsory in schools. Source: 1 NEWS

After the graduation, Ms Ardern spoke to the media about her view on Donald Trump's move to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and the possibility of compulsory Te Reo Maori education in schools. 

Watch the full clip here. 

The daughter of a policeman, the PM says she still considers herself part of the policing family during police and custom dog graduation. Source: 1 NEWS