Transport agency withholds possible opening date for Auckland's delayed Waterview Connection project

A new possible opening date for Auckland’s Waterview Connection remains a mystery, with the information redacted in documents released to 1 NEWS.

The documents provide new information about the problems that have affected the $1.4 billion project.

The twin 2.4 kilometre-long tunnels were due to open in April.

But, on March 24 the NZ Transport Agency pushed back the date to "within the next two to three months".

Eventually this pair of tunnels at the $1.4b Waterview Connection project will carry six lanes of traffic in total. Source: 1 NEWS

The organisation cited intermittent faults in safety systems which are used to respond to emergencies such as fires in the tunnels.

Internal documents released under the Official Information Act show staff became aware of the issues in the middle of March, during commissioning tests to ensure the tunnels were ready for vehicles.

A memo on March 15 shows officials had planned to open the tunnels over Easter Weekend, but says that "will not be achieved".

The document mentions a new earliest possible opening date but that information was redacted before being sent to 1 NEWS.

The memo says rubber diaphragms in 176 "deluge valves" required replacement after they became damaged during testing.

"It was later identified that the test pressure advised by the manufacturer exceeded the maximum pressure that should have been used for testing the valves."

The tunnel boring machine has completed excavation for the Waterview Connection motorway in Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS

The author said the replacement rubber diaphragms would need to be brought in from as far away as Australia and Israel.

In addition, the memo identified a malfunction in the software that controls the ventilation system and deluge pumps.

Further detail was provided in a subsequent memo:

"During the commissioning testing of the tunnel ventilation system which is primarily made up of large Jet fans mounted to the roof to the tunnels we have experienced an intermittent fault with the [redacted].

"We found on a number of occasions over time that these units were faulting which meant we lost control of the fans and only by physically going to the units and cycling the power to them could we reset them."

The $1.4b Waterview tunnels will soon complete a long awaited link in the roading network. Source: 1 NEWS

South Auckland charity The Aunties takes home top Women of Influence Award

The founder of a South Auckland charity group dubbed The Aunties has won the top honour at the Women of Influence Awards.

Jackie Clark set up the not-for-profit organisation six years ago to help vulnerable women and children who've experienced domestic violence.

The group's primary aim is to provide material needs to those they support.

"The Aunties believe everyone has the right to be safe, to have shelter, to be fed, to be loved, to dream, to read, to write, to have their say, and to be heard," the group proclaims on its Givealittle page. "Where any of those things are missing, the Aunties mission is to help provide them - the practical things, and also in terms of advocacy and pastoral care."

The group says it believes in manaakitanga - protecting the mana of the people they help so that they can find their way towards living independently, and with dignity and joy.

"Jackie and her fellow Aunties give without seeking anything in return and without judgement," said Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean, whose company co-sponsors the Women of Influence Awards. "She, and her core of other Aunties, ask vulnerable women what they need and then set about making it happen, in a completely selfless way.

"They have made an enormous contribution to our local communities at grassroots level."

The award ceremony was held last night at SkyCity in Auckland.

Here's the full list of winners:
Supreme Winner: Jackie Clark
Lifetime Achievement: Theresa Gattung
Arts and Culture: Miranda Harcourt
Board and Management: Dr Farah Palmer
Business and Enterprise: Angie Judge
Rural: Rebecca Keoghan
Public Policy: Charlotte Korte
Community/Not for Profit: Jackie Clark
Innovation and Science: Professor Wendy Larner
Diversity: Sarah Lang
Global: Sarah Vrede
Young Leader: Maddison McQueen-Davies

Jackie Clark set up the non-for-profit six years ago, which aims to help vulnerable women and children who have experienced domestic violence. Source: Breakfast


Around 360 Glenorchy homes still without power 48 hours after early spring snowfall

The Glenorchy township in Central Otago is still without power 48 hours after a spring snowfall caused major disruptions in the deep south.

Around 360 households have been affected.

Aurora Energy is hoping to have power restored to the area by this evening.

Around 360 households in the central Otago town are affected, with Aurora Energy hoping to have electricity back on by this evening. Source: Breakfast

In many places power was cut, schools were closed and flights cancelled. Source: 1 NEWS


Watch: Artist uses pyramid in central Auckland to spread some joy around town

A Kiwi artist are architect is using a pyramid in central Auckland to spread some joy.

Matt Liggins has made it his mission to ask people what makes them smile, but instead of rolling up to you on the street he's built a pyramid to help lighten people's moods.

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp's Lucas de Jong went along to take a look and share a laugh in the video above.

Matt Liggins has made it his mission to ask Kiwis what makes them smile. Source: Seven Sharp

Meet the transgender Wellington school caretaker brightening up kids' days

A transgender caretaker at a Wellington school has been using her musical talents to brighten up the kids' days.

Molly Mason was born as Michael, but soon discovered she was a female born in a man's body.

"I believe I'm a woman, and I associate as a woman, so I live my life as a woman," Molly told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Molly has a love of music that began when she was just six.

Now, in her role as caretaker at a Wellington school, she uses her talent to good effect by beat boxing with the kids at lunchtime.

"When I realised that beat boxing and making sounds was something I couldn't live without, that was it, nothing else mattered."

However, to be this woman - that little boy Michael, had a fight on his hands.

"I got bullied from primary school right through until the day I left college and left Blenheim."

Molly is now proud to be transgender and says the stage is her safe place. She performs as her drag alter ego called Bette Noir.

"Anything that makes me sad, makes me worried, makes me scared, anything that I find stressful, it's not there, it's gone." 

Seven Sharp’s Arrun Soma spoke with Molly Mason. Source: Seven Sharp