Vodafone providing free calls, texts to cyclone-hit Tonga, launches text donations

Telco Vodafone is providing free calls and texts to cyclone-ravaged Tonga for 48 hours and enabling text donations to a Red Cross Pacific Disaster Fund.

Vodafone Consumer Director Matt Williams says with Cyclone Gita being labelled the worst storm to hit Tonga in 60 years, it's important for the company to open up the lines.

He says with reports of widespread devastation, Vodafone doesn't want people with family and friends in Tonga worrying about how they have fared, so is making it as easy as possible for them to get in touch. 

From 5pm this evening, all calls and texts to Tonga will be free for 48 hours for all Vodafone customers. 

That includes all Vodafone mobile plans such as prepay, as well as business customers and home phones.

Call and text credits will be automatically applied to customers' accounts on the next plan cycle, Mr Williams said.

"We'd recommend texting for the time being, as this is a lighter load for networks to manage," he said.

Meanwhile, the Vodafone Foundation has moved to set up a Red Cross Pacific Disaster Fund text to donate campaign, to get aid to the region as quickly as possible.

Cyclone Gita hit Tonga overnight leaving widespread destruction including flooding and power outages. Source: 1 NEWS

Texting RED CROSS to 4644 will enable an automatic $3 donation to the Red Cross Pacific Disaster Fund, regardless of which mobile provider you are with. 

The Vodafone Foundation says its text to donate campaign will see 100 per cent of all money donated go directly to the disaster response. 

Follow 1 NEWS NOW's live updates of Cyclone Gita.

Kathryn Dalziel says you should only use your cellphone in a meeting when conducting business.
Source: Breakfast

CCTV footage captures terrifying moment group of youths attempt to rob Huntly liquor store

The owner of a liquor store in Huntly is blaming "synthetics (drugs) 100 per cent" for the actions of a violent group of youths that attempted to rob his store before stealing his cousin's vehicle and fleeing the scene.

CCTV footage captured the moment a gang of seven youths rushed toward the owner, his visiting cousin and two staff members on Friday night as they were closing the store in the Waikato town.

The video shows the youths running into shot and facing off with the liquor store owner and the others before the innocent parties back off and retreat to the safety of a vehicle.

"They timed it to perfection but failed because I decided to close the store five minutes earlier."

"I got the worst scare of my life," the owner who wishes to remain anonymous told the NZ Herald.

"No one got hurt luckily but they stole my cousin's car and damaged my ute by kicking it in badly."

The store owner went on to tell the NZ Herald he was "100 per cent" sure that synthetics were to blame for the attempted robbery.

Police are investigating the incident.


Nelson teacher inspiring young women to achieve in science wins $100k award for school

A Nelson teacher is being recognised for her winning formula in the classroom, which has seen an increasing number of young women succeed in science.

Today Sarah Johns received the 2017 Prime Minister's Science Teacher Prize, winning $100,000 dollars for Nelson College for Girls and $50,000 for herself.

"I try to make it inclusive that science is everywhere and everything," Mrs Johns told 1 NEWS.

"And it's not pure, like science relies on creativity, and it relies on innovation and it relies on risk taking and that's something kids generally aren't afraid of."

In the nine years Mrs Johns has been teaching at the school, more students have become involved in science. Around 70 now take part in the region's Science and Technology Fair Awards.

Sarah Johns.
Sarah Johns. Source: 1 NEWS

"When I'm in here and I talk to my girls, I'm not trying to talk you into being a scientist or to study science. I am preparing you, coaching you, for the world that you're gonna step into".

Her teaching style is proving popular with students.

"She doesn't just talk about hypothetical stuff, she talks about real stuff,"  Year 11 student Sophie Craw told 1 NEWS.

"Like with chemistry she might talk about, like detergent or soap or something that we would know about".

Mrs Johns has embarked on her own learning experiences outside the classroom, working in Antarctica, Nepal and Samoa.

Nelson College for Girls Principal Cathy Ewing says Mrs Johns has brought back "practical applications" from those experiences, showing students what science can do for them in terms of future careers.

"And really emphasising the role that women can play in terms of what they might be able to go on and do," Mrs Ewing said.

Sarah Johns received the Prime Minister’s Science Teachers Prize. Source: 1 NEWS