'These schools are going really well' – staff, students and parents frustrated over future of charter schools

Advocates for the schools say there has been a lack of transparency about their future. Source: 1 NEWS

Police staff are getting snapped by speed cameras at twice the rate of last year

Police staff have received more speed camera tickets in the first half of this year than they did during all of 2017.

Police's Road Policing Driver Offence Data statistics, released this month, shows the total number of police vehicles caught speeding by cameras each year.

Some of the incidents involve vehicles being driven in the line of duty to urgent jobs, and those tickets are waived, but if police are unable to justify the camera detection, they receive a fine like anyone else.

In 2015, the total number of offences not waived was 220, in 2016 it was 263, and last year it was 244.

This year, the statistics show police staff have already exceeded last year's total as of June 30, with a total of 260 offences recorded.

If police continue to be caught speeding at this rate, the total for 2018 could reach 520, which would nearly equal the 524 recorded in 2011 - the highest number of offences recorded in a year since 2009.

A disclaimer included with the release says "police employees who travel in excess of the speed limit are treated no differently to members of the public, and depending on the circumstances may be subject to further disciplinary action".

Police say they do not maintain an internal register of the officers who receive speeding fines.

The way police decide which fines are waived changed in 2014 - before then, any speed camera photo of a police vehicle with flashing red and blue lights on was deemed to be on duty, and the fine was waived automatically, but officers are now asked to explain the situation in all cases.

This change led to a significant rise in the number of detections, but the number of offences not waived stayed about the same.

The average number of speed camera detections against police vehicles (which were not waived) between 2009 and 2017 was was 357 per year.

Police have been asked for comment.

A digital speed camera in place on a New Zealand road.
A digital speed camera in place on a New Zealand road. Source: 1 NEWS


Otago University proctor who confiscated bongs from student flat was unlawful

The Otago University proctor had no authority to enter a student flat unannounced and confiscate bongs used for smoking cannabis, says a criminal lawyer.

Mr Scott took it upon himself to uplift water pipes and bongs from a student flat earlier this month, after he let himself in to deliver some pamphlets, the student magazine Critic reported.

The Leith Street flat was reportedly empty apart from one resident who was sleeping upstairs.

Criminal lawyer Michael Bott told Morning Report Dave Scott's behaviour is unlawful, and could be seen as an act of burglary.

"You've got no authority, just because you've got the door ajar around the back, to go and walk in there, have a snoop around," he said.

"The proctor says he was going around there to drop of leaflets. There are things called letterboxes, which I assume houses in Dunedin have, he could have left the leaflets there."

Mr Bott said it sounds like an unlawful, traditional old police search.

He said the proctor's actions were silly and draconian.

He said New Zealanders are allowed to buy bongs and the use of them is a different matter.

Police have an obligation to investigate all crimes, he said.

"Just because you're a student, you don't forfeit your rights to be free from an unlawful search or seizure or somehow you give the university a license to commit acts of theft on your property."

In a statement yesterday, a university spokesperson said Mr Scott's actions were unusual and unlikely to be repeated.

Neither the proctor nor the university claimed a right to search private premises, but Mr Scott's actions were carried out in a way which the university was confident was to the students' advantage, the statement said.

Mr Scott judged that the occupants of the flat would rather deal with him informally than have the police search their home, the statement said.

"I am focussed on helping students gain degrees and not criminal convictions," he said.

An earlier "possible draft statement" was accidentally sent to RNZ in an email from a media and communication advisor for the university.

In it, Otago university's team leader for media engagement, Jo Galer, suggested the university consider admitting its proctor was "incorrect" to confiscate drug equipment from a student flat.

"The proctor is for the most part comfortable with the action he took in this case - however acknowledging that briefly entering the flat (when) no-one was there instead of contacting the police was technically incorrect," the draft statement read.

The earlier version also included a long quote from Mr Scott, stating that his actions were "in good faith".

However Ms Galer said the draft "does not represent the views of the university".

She said the draft was the initial view of a PR advisor who was trying to formulate a response and the final result was different because it was altered by the people who do represent the university.

Students at the university are planning to protest in the wake of the controversy.

Otago University Students' Association recreation officer Josh Smythe organised a student protest for Friday after the proctor cancelled a scheduled meeting with him today.

In a public Facebook post, he said he had received four reports of flats having bongs taken by the proctor this year.

He told Morning Report the proctor's actions are despicable.

"I think the fact that the university thinks that type of action is in the best interest of the students, is ridiculous."

Mr Smythe said Mr Scott walked around the back of the flat and let himself in an unlocked door.

"That's unbelievable really, he's an ex-cop, he should know better."

He said the issue students have is that the proctor entered onto the property without permission.

"It sets a pretty chilling precedent, it means that he could potentially, under his perception of his role, walk into any student's flat, any private property throughout the entirety of Dunedin."

Students want the university to question whether Mr Scott is right for the role of proctor.

"It seems he's taken it above and beyond what it needs to be and instead of building positive relationships with the local community, he's taken it upon himself to intimidate local students."

Mr Smythe believes the proctor should stand down.

Mr Scott - a former police officer - has been proctor since 2016.


Otago University proctor Dave Scott. Source: rnz.co.nz


Meka Whaitiri says she accepts PM's call to sack her as she faces media barrage on return

Meka Whaitiri accepts Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s decision to sack her as a minister, saying she is committed to self-improvement as she returned to parliament.

Ms Whaitiri was sacked as Customs Minister after an investigation by ministerial services into an alleged assault of a staffer during an event in Gisborne in late August.

The Prime Minister says she took action after an investigation deemed an incident did happen. Source: 1 NEWS

She batted away repeated questions from the media about the investigation and its findings, which she disputes.

“It’s been a debilitating time, but I really want to reflect on what I need to do to improve myself, to regain the confidence of the prime minister,” she said.

“I’m absolutely gutted, but I accept the prime minister’s decision but I’m going to work really hard and reflect on what I need to do to improve myself.”

“I can’t talk about the report until it’s released but like I said, I accept the prime minister’s decision.”

Ms Whaitiri, the MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, said she was grateful for the support from Māori caucus and others.

“Willie has declared and so have my Māori caucus members that they continue to have confidence in me to do the job that I was elected to do,” she said.

“You know, I’ve got a lot of work to do here on behalf of the people of Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.”

“I’m very humbled by the support of the Māori caucus and those that have sent support but I’m here to do a job.”

“As I travel throughout the electorate we’re having meetings and I will tell them when I see them face-to-face my plans going forward.”

Whaitiri says she is determined to earn the Prime Minister’s trust back, and work hard for her electorate, after her sacking as a minister. Source: 1 NEWS

Fair Go: Relief at last for Taranaki woman who went two years without a flushing toilet or sewage system

Around 18 months ago Waitara woman Vicki Gundensen came to Fair Go with a unique problem.

"Yeah I had no toilet or sewage," she says as she showed us around her section. Vicki has a kitchen, living area, bedroom - everything a house needs apart from a bathroom, toilet and shower.

Vicki purchased the section two years ago. She put her life savings, $80,000, into it and checked with a number of people about whether the sewage was hooked up.

"Between the neighbour behind me, the real estate (agent), the previous owner and the photo I got from the [New Plymouth District] Council, I really did think the sewage was here."

The Council photo showed the pipe going into her house. Then when she went to dig for it she couldn’t find it.

"This is really frustrating. I've been digging all day," she said.

"I rang that fella at Council and he said it's definitely there. It was there in 2010."

She was puzzled.

"Maybe someone's pinched it," she says with a laugh.

"Then [the Council] rang me up and say oh really sorry; sometimes people make a mistake. That was their answer; they had made a mistake."

Vicki Gundensen’s sewage connection didn’t exist. The Council’s David Langford says the map has a disclaimer accepting no responsibility for its accuracy because it’s based on historic information.

"We encourage people to get a LIM report. The reasons for that is LIM reports are prepared with a higher degree of accuracy."

Following her appearance on Fair Go, Vicki received a phone call from the Council and ultimately a visit from some contractors.

"The very next day the Council rang me and had people coming around to get quotes to put the sewage on."

So Vicki went shopping.

"I went out and bought a toilet."

The Council paid for her sewage connection. The first flush was ceremonial.

"Oh it was exciting and we all stood around. My sister in Australia wanted to hear it flush so I flushed it for her."

Vicki wanted to thank the New Plymouth District Council. She tells us from her loo, she loves her throne so much she keeps the door open.

"It’s a loo with a view," she says with a wide grin.

Around 18 months ago a Waitara woman came to Fair Go with a unique problem. Source: Fair Go