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



Watch: Phil Twyford slams Judith Collins' attitude to compo for Housing NZ tenants evicted under bogus meth testing

Housing Minister Phil Twyford has hit back at hardline questions from National MP Judith Collins about today's decision by Housing New Zealand to compensate hundreds of tenants it evicted from state homes on the basis of bogus methamphetamine testing.

A report to the Minister found about 800 tenants suffered as a result of Housing New Zealand's policy of evicting tenants for using P or allowing its use in their homes.

Affected tenants are expected to receive between $2500 and $3000 in compensation. 

In Parliament Ms Collins asked where meth testing showed residues exceeding standards, could this meth have gotten into the Housing New Zealand house any way other than smoking or baking the drug.

"No," Mr Twyford replied. "But there was no consistent baseline testing done in any Housing New Zealand houses over those years," he added. 

"There is no way of knowing whether the hundreds of people who were made homeless under this policy had any personal responsibility for the contamination of those houses. And frankly I'm shocked that the member, who used to be a lawyer, would think that that is ok. Is this the modern compassionate face of the National Party?"

Ms Collins then asked will people who smoked meth in Housing New Zealand houses now be given two to three thousand dollars compensation.

"The point of the compensation is to compensate people who wrongly had their tenancies terminated and their possessions destroyed and in some cases made homeless. Those are the people who will receive payment under the assistance programme," Mr Twyford replied.

Ms Collins asked will people who sold meth in Housing New Zealand houses now be given the compensation.

"No," Mr Twyford replied, to shouts from National MPs of "How would you know? How would you know?"

Earlier in the exchange, Ms Collins asked was the Minister saying it's wrong to end a tenancy when someone is using the house to break the law.

"We're saying that it's wrong to make innocent people homeless on the basis of bogus science and no decent evidence of responsibility or culpability," Mr Twyford responded. 

"Hundreds of people were made homeless under this policy, people that in some cases were vulnerable, people with addictions who were made homeless. The worse possible thing that you could do to someone who has an addiction is to make them homeless," he said.

Asked by Ms Collins is it acceptable for Housing New Zealand tenants to smoke methamphetamine in state houses, Mr Twyford said the Government does not condone the smoking of methamphetamine anywhere, but it is not acceptable for any government to throw tenants onto the street and make them homeless. 

"We recognise that making people homeless does not solve a tenant's problems or help someone overcome addiction. It just moves the problem to somewhere else and makes it worse for the person involved, for their family, their children, the community and the taxpayer," he said.

The Housing Minister defended the compensation decision against the National MP's hardline questions. Source: 1 NEWS

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MP Meka Whaitiri dumped as Customs Minister after investigation into alleged misconduct

Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri has been dumped as Customs Minister after an investigation by ministerial services into an incident with a staffer during an event in Gisborne in late August.

Ms Whaitiri returned to the Beehive today as a local MP, in support of a treaty settlement.
Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Whaitiri, the MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, was alleged to have assaulted a staff member at the event, 1 NEWS reported last month.

Asked about the incident on her return to Parliament a few days later, Ms Whaitiri told media: "I'm cooperating fully with the investigation. I've got no further comment," she told media. "I am here as the MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti."

But today, after ministerial services returned their findings to Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister dropped the axe.

"Based on the context and conclusions of the report I no longer have confidence in Mika Whaitiri as minister at this time," Ms Ardern said this afternoon.

She said the decision was based solely on the Gisborne incident, which Ms Whaitiri was disputing. 

"I'm not getting into any details around the incident. I've asked DIA (Department of Internal Affairs) to prepare a version of the report that can be released in order to address some outstanding questions."

When pushed on whether this was a pattern of behaviour often exhibited by Ms Whaitiri, Ms Ardern refused to say whether she'd learned of other incidents involving Ms Whaitiri.

"The minister has not had any other grievances raised against her. I've made a decision based on this incident and this report.

"Kris Faafoi will retain the role of Minister of Customs and Mika Whaitiri's associate minister responsibilities will sit with the lead portfolio ministers.

"There are no plans to undertake a cabinet reshuffle," Ms Ardern said.

Ms Ardern said Ms Whaitiri continued to defend herself but had accepted her decision and was keen to stay on as the MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti.

"I spoke to Mika Whaitiri this morning.

"I have been advised by colleagues in her caucus that they wish to still support her in that role [speaking of Maori caucus co-chairwoman role].

"I have confidence in her continuing as a member of Parliament and in those roles as member of Parliament."

She said Ms Whaitiri was likely to return to Parliament next week.

"I have a view that the member works incredibly hard across Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, that she will continue to be able to fulfil those roles, however based on what I have seen, I do not have confidence in her retaining her role as minister," Ms Ardern reiterated.


It comes after the MP was accused of assaulting a staff member in Gisborne. Source: 1 NEWS


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Police investigating after body found on Auckland beach

A body has been found on a South Auckland beach today.

A police spokesperson told 1 NEWS the body was found on Weymouth Beach after being notified at 1.10pm.

They say details around the circumstances of the death are unclear and at this stage and inquiries are underway to establish what has happened.

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


Six 'cowboy' car traders banned for five years amid increased online trading

Six rogue car dealers have been banned from trading for five years for serious breaches, including failing to comply with orders from the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal.

Car keys

In the past year, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment prosecuted and fined 18 traders for unregistered trading, including seven in the last month alone.

The Registrar of Motor Vehicle Traders and manager of Trading Standards, Stephen O'Brien, said the number of "cowboy" traders was increasing, largely due to the growing online motor vehicle market.

"The purchase of a motor vehicle is likely to be one of the largest purchases a consumer will make and it is vital that consumers have confidence in the industry," Mr O'Brien said.

"Unregistered motor vehicle traders are not subject to the checks that apply to those who are registered and consumers may have less protection when something goes wrong."

Under the Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003, registered motor vehicle traders are required to display a Consumer Information Notice, keep a record of the contract for sale, and prohibit tampering with the odometers of a motor vehicle.

Mr O'Brien said the ministry's main objective was to get "voluntary compliance" from traders.

"In the cases where the trader does not engage with the registrar, or refuses to comply, we will investigate and take the necessary action."

Consumers can check if a trader is registered online through Trading Standards Motor Trader website.

rnz.co.nz