Warning that NZ's precious whitebait and long-fin eel stocks could be gone by 2050

When Kiwi fisherman Trent Robertson heard that the species of fish which was key to his livelihood was endangered, he retorted "there's plenty of them".

The fourth generation fisherman spends most of his days out on the river catching short and long-finned eels for export. An average haul a week is 300kg.

"A day of 100 to 150 kilograms is a good day, some days more, some days less," he said.

The whitebait season has kicked off, and with it comes a warning the delicacy is in decline. Source: Seven Sharp

He told Seven Sharp he loves eels, and occasionally bunked school to take lessons "on the river".

But Forest and Bird specialists paint a different story to Mr Robertson's perception that stocks were plentiful.

New research suggests that long and short-fin eels, and whitebait stocks, could be all gone by 2050 because of water quality and commercial over-fishing.

Mr Robertson doesn't agree with that analysis, telling Seven Sharp "nah, there's plenty of them".

Bird and Forest specialist Al Fleming however said numbers were declining, and that there needed to be a ban on the take of all long-fin tuna so they could recover.

He also said whitebait was actually the juveniles of five different fish - four of which were under threat due to water quality and over-fishing.

"What will happen is whitebaiters will see a slow decline and all of a sudden, they'll be gone," Mr Fleming said.

"Whitebait and long-fin eel are as Kiwi as our flightless parrot the Kakapo... people would be very concerned at the commercial sale of the Kakapo for the purpose of eating.

"So, we should not do that for our endangered freshwater fish."

Mr Robertson, who is also a whitebaiter, insisted there was only one number that was changing.

"The catches might be going down, but divide-up between however many people fishing it hasn't gone down," he said.

"Back in the day there used to be 10 people doing it, now there's 100... they're all still getting a feed or more."

In 1990, 20 per cent of 40 native New Zealand fishes were endangered, according to statistics obtained by Seven Sharp.

Now, around 75 per cent are in danger.


Cyclist rides free after breaking boy's leg in Dunedin

A cyclist who rode into a boy near a Dunedin park will not face any charges after he contacted police.

The boy was hit near Marlow Park, also known as the dinosaur park, last week.

At the time, the family said the cyclist swore at them and rode off without providing his details.

But Senior Sergeant Jared Kirk, of Dunedin, said the 64-year-old man stopped to provide assistance.

"He did not realise the child had been seriously injured and was advised by a family member that the child was ok and he should continue on his way," Mr Kirk said.

"At no time did he swear at the child or any of the child's family members."

An independent witness had confirmed the cyclist's account, Mr Kirk said.

"The man is devastated at the injuries suffered by the child."

The cyclist has been issued with an infringement notice for cycling on the footpath. No charges will be laid.

Dunedin police had spoken to the injured child's family and they were satisfied with the outcome, he said.


Terminally ill Kiwi mum forced to pay nearly $6500 a month for unfunded drugs for her lung cancer

Imagine knowing that your life could be prolonged by a wonder drug that you simply can't afford.

It's Pharmac's job to fund those drugs for New Zealanders - they have almost a billion dollars to spend each year to do so.

Over $200 million of that goes to cancer medicines, with around $50 million spent on Herceptin for breast cancer and Keytruda for melanoma.

But some of the most revolutionary drugs aren't being picked up, meaning terminally-ill patients like 40-year-old mum Karyn Robson are being crippled by bills.

They say you can't put a price on your health. Well Karyn Robson can - $6497.50 a month. That's the price she pays each month for the drugs to treat her lung cancer which was diagnosed in 2016.

"I've never smoked in my life. I haven't even held a cigarette. To hear that I had lung cancer just totally caught me off guard," she told Seven Sharp.

'My parents were with me and they said, 'Well, we want you around. We want you around for your daughter. We'll get whatever money we can together as a family collectively and see how long we can make it stretch'."

Chris Atkinson, medical director of  the Lung Foundation NZ, said the two drugs Ms Robson has had are not yet funded for her type of lung cancer, "and they should be". 

The hope is that the money the family has raised might stretch to the adulthood of Ms Robson's daughter Danica.

"Sometimes it just doesn't feel like it's real, like it hasn't fully hit me that it's happening," Danica said.

Her mother's treatment with the drug has seen her cancer reduce.

"My oncologist called me and he said, 'you've had a complete response in three months.' I couldn't quite believe my ears. I just hung up the phone and burst into tears. I honestly felt like I'd won the Lotto," Ms Robson said.

The drugs will only be available for as long as her family can pay for it.

"I think we've forgotten that lung cancer kills more New Zealanders than any other cancer - 1800 a year. That's five times the road toll. More Kiwis die of lung cancer than breast, melanoma and prostate cancer combined," Mr Atkinson said.

"We have to do better, because we're actually third world in New Zealand now compared with our closest neighbours and compared with many others. That doesn't make me proud after 40 years looking after people with cancer," he said.

Like anyone with a terminal illness, Ms Robson has a bucket list and so does Danica.

"She keeps saying, 'we need to go have a holiday together mum - we've never done that'. And I'm like - I can't," Ms Robson said.

Every dollar goes towards buying another day as a daughter and a mum. 

A Givealittle page has been set up to help continue Karyn Robson's treatment.

Karyn Robson and her family are paying $6000 for her medication but time and funds are running out. Source: Seven Sharp



Health expert slams Health Star system, wants it disbanded - 'It's worse than useless!'

We're all trying to eat healthier, but how do you know what's healthy when you're doing your supermarket shopping?

One way is to use the Health Star system that's run by the Ministry of Primary Industries.

But one professor of public health says it's a waste of time.

AUT University's Grant Schofield is calling the system "worse than useless" and the "fake news" of food health, while calling for the system to be disbanded.

Seven Sharp’s Tim Wilson met with both sides to find some proof in the pudding.

Grant Schofield reckons the scheme run by MPI is the ‘fake news’ of food health. Source: Seven Sharp

Woman tells court she was attacked nearly every day for four weeks

A woman who says she was repeatedly raped over four weeks has denied a suggestion from a defence lawyer that her attacker turned up with chocolates and flowers.

Justice Source: 1 NEWS

The woman told the High Court in Auckland that she answered a personal advertisement in the local newspaper and a short time later, a man turned up at her door.

She said he stayed for four weeks, attacked her nearly every day and on one occasion forced her to perform a sex act in a car while her children sat in the backseat.

The man, aged in his 70s, has name suppression and faces 12 charges relating to the rape of three women and a girl.

The woman said the man turned up on her doorstep with an overnight bag.

The solo mother of three young children said she did not want him to stay and described him as looking "creepy". The man ended up staying four weeks.

She said she was scared of the man and he eventually made her walk down to the local shops to use a pay phone and quit her job. Asked what she thought of her job, she said she loved it.

She said the man wanted sex every day and she had no choice in the matter.

The woman said on one occasion she was so scared she called out to her children. She said the man put his arm around her neck. He told her that in one move he could break her neck.

There were constant threats.

She described how the man touched her daughter on her chest as they sat in the lounge room on the couch.

She called her daughter away. The woman said she kept telling the man to leave.

The woman said eventually she spotted an opportunity to escape.

She noticed the man was far enough away from her not to be able to catch her. She rushed out of the house and called out to her neighbour next door.

Her neighbour came over and the man left in a taxi a short time later.

Under cross-examination by the man's lawyer Andrew McKenzie, the woman was asked if the man bought chocolates and flowers. He also asked if her children were excited by the man's arrival. The woman said "absolutely not".

She confirmed she had originally told police she saw the man with his hand on her daughter's shoulder but got that wrong.

Mr McKenzie suggested she was making up the allegations against his client. The woman said that made her really angry and the allegations were true.

When Mr McKenzie said he had no further questions, the woman replied: "Thank God."

The woman's daughter is expected to give evidence on Friday.

The trial, before Justice Lang and a jury, is due to finish in three weeks' time.


- Reporting by Edward Gay