Video: Grieving Tongans sing as Queen Mother's body is carried onto plane for final journey home

Tonga's Queen Mother, Halaevalu Mata'aho, has begun her last journey home to Tonga today, accompanied by her loved ones.

A group of grieving Tongans gathered at Whenuapai Airport in Auckland where they sang mournfully as the Queen Mother's body was carried onto the plane that will take her home.

The body of Queen Halaevalu Mata'aho is heading back to Tonga to be laid to rest. Source: 1 NEWS

The flight departed for Tonga at 9.25am.

The 90-year-old matriarch died in Auckland on Sunday, February 19.

1 NEWS Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver was given exclusive access to the royal family at Tonga's official residence in Auckland.

Princess Pilolevu Tuita is not just the Kingdom of Tonga's princess, she's also a daughter who has just lost her mother, Dreaver reported.

Tomorrow the late Queen Mother makes her last journey home to Tonga accompanied by her loved ones. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's been a shock because we did not realise that she was going to leave us so soon," Princess Pilolevu Tuita said.

Queen Halaevalu Mata'aho lay in the next room, flanked by two royal undertakers, as her grandchildren and family sat close by, keeping her company.

"When there were family tragedies and troubles, we remember that she was really the backbone much of the time," Princess Pilolevu said.

Auckland's Tongan community is also in mourning and last Sunday night thousands gathered to remember a queen who worked tirelessly behind the scenes for charity.

"It is a great loss and it has united all Tongans in New Zealand," said Reverend Seneti Fiusati of the New Zealand Wesleyan Church.

Despite the changing times, there's no sign the royal family has lost any of its support here, Dreaver reported.

"My mother said 'we can never stop change, what we should do is try and prepare for change',"  Princess Pilolevu said.

"I would like to see us go forward very strong in our traditional bonds."

Princess Pilolevu says she promised her mother she would continue some of her work.

"She always knew what to do and she got up and did it. So I'm afraid I still have a lot to learn and to aspire to," Princess Pilolevu said.

The royals say their role now is to comfort their people, their own mourning starts after the funeral

"A strong family will create a strong country. I believe in that," Princess Pilolevu said.

The Tongan royal family say their role now is to comfort their people and their own mourning starts after the funeral.

The body of Queen Halaevalu Mata'aho is heading back to Tonga to be laid to rest, following her death in Auckland earlier this month. Source: 1 NEWS

Serious crash leaves one person in critical condition, closes section of SH2 near Upper Hutt

A serious crash has left one person in critical condition and a section of State Highway 2 closed in both directions near Kaitoke, Upper Hutt.

Police say there are likely to be lengthy delays and motorists are asked to avoid the area if possible.

A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle
A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle. Source: 1 NEWS

Government reveals details of emails between Clare Curran and Derek Handley

Details of the email exchange between former Digital Services Minister Clare Curran and Derek Handley were revealed today during Parliament's Question Time. 

Ms Curran said she was not aware of RNZ's policies surrounding meetings with Minister's at the time.
Source: 1 NEWS

The messages were sent over the role of chief technology officer, with Ms Curran using her private Gmail account to send the emails. 

An offer to Mr Handley for the role was retracted by the Government last week, resulting in a $100,000 pay out to the entrepreneur. 

Acting State Services Minister Grant Robertson told the House the following about three exchanges between the pair about the role. 

First exchange

August 11: 

"Derek Handley emails Clare Curran about the chief technology officer position and questions about the role of the CTO, including resourcing for the role and potential conflicts of interest."

August 14

"Clare Curran replies to that email, confirming a call to discuss these matters."

August 15

"Derek Handley replies to that, confirming times for the call."

Second exchange

August 19

"Clare Curran emails Derek Handley regarding logistics around the next step on the process of appointment, including the content of any public statements that might be made, and refers to contract discussions with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA)."

August 20

"Derek Handley responds to that email to Clare Curran about those issues, including the contact he has had with DIA and management of conflicts of interest."

Third exchange

August 21

"Clare Curran emails Derek Handley regarding issues that would be on the work plan of the chief technology officer and attaches some relevant background documents on those issues.

"On the same day, Derek Handley responds to Clare Curran, acknowledging the material and referring to the discussions that he is having with DIA."

Derek Handley says he’ll donate the compensation but is disappointed at the way the issue was handled. Source: 1 NEWS

The chief technology officer was intended to "drive a forward-looking digital agenda for New Zealand", said the then Minister for Government Digital Services Clare Curran, when the role was announced last December. 

The new Minister for Government Digital Services Megan Woods said the Government have put a "full stop" on the process.

Ms Curran was stripped of her position as Minister for Government Digital Services after not disclosing a meeting with Mr Handley previously.


Over 20 vehicles vandalised overnight in suburb on Auckland's North Shore

More than 20 vehicles have been damaged overnight in an area on Auckland's, North Shore.

Police say a number of vehicles' tyres have been vandalised in Birkdale's, Tiri Tiri Road and Woodhams Street area.

Anyone who has had their car damaged is urged to report it to police if they haven't already done so.

Police are making area enquiries and conducting scene and forensic examinations and are interested to hear from anyone who may have information.

John Healy says people drastically underestimate the risks of leaving kids or pets in their car.
Source: 1 NEWS

Vodafone's 'unlimited' mobile plan comes under Commerce Commission scrutiny

The Commerce Commission has started an investigation into Vodafone's "unlimited" mobile plan launched in July which has a number of restrictions listed on the plan's promo page.

The NZ Herald reports the question is whether the "limited" factors are sufficiently prominent. 

The news outlet's online report says the ComCom refused any comment while its investigation was open.

The restrictions are listed on Vodafone's Unlimited Mobile promo page, but only after you click a link labelled "Important things to know".

Vodafone's "Unlimited Mobile" plan is $79.99 a month and NZ Herald says like "unlimited" plans launched earlier by rivals Spark and 2degrees, it has a number of limits.

These include speed being reduced from 4G to 3G if a customer downloads more than 22GB of mobile data within a month, and streaming video restricted to standard definition.

A spokeswoman for Vodafone said the company is "working through the details with the Commission and will co-operate fully with their investigation".

The regulator last month laid 10 charges against Vodafone under the Fair Trading Act for billing beyond the date of some customers' notice period.

In another legal action, the commission is targeting Vodafone's Fibre X marketing campaign.

More companies have gone into streamlining health and safety features such as picking up your arrival using  your phone and printing out your name tag ready to go when you arrive.
Source: 1 NEWS