Watch: 3D graphic shows how kauri dieback could spread through mighty Tāne Mahuta, as scientists make breakthrough

Scientists hope seedlings taken from trees around Northland and Tauranga could be naturally resistant to kauri dieback disease and help save New Zealand's precious natives.

Kauri dieback is threatening the country's most famous tree, the majestic Tāne Mahuta in Waipoua Forest, Northland.

1 NEWS has created a 3D graphic of the planet's largest living kauri - 51.2 metres tall and estimated to be between 1250 to 2500 years old.

Landcare Research plant pathologist Stanley Bellgard told 1 NEWS scientists have deliberately infected seedlings in a glasshouse, "and we're trying to see which ones are not going to die". 

A pathogen that attaches to kauri roots and starves them from below is killing our forests at speed, but researchers say the response is picking up too.

Infected kauri don't immediately show symptoms and it used to take up to a month to test if the disease is present in the soil.  

But scientists have made a breakthrough.

Pine needles are floated over a flooded soil sample and if the pathogen is present, it swims to the needles. 

The needles are ground up, their DNA is extracted and put in a machine which in 20 minutes shows which are positive for the pathogen.

Knowing where the infections are helps researchers understand how it behaves and where it might go next.

No lab is needed, meaning it can be deployed remotely and in large numbers.

Richard Winkworth from the bio-protection research centre based at Massey University says the the long-term goal is to make it possible for a  Department of Conservation ranger or a landowner to be able to go out, test a soil sample and make management decisions immediately.

The mission is more critical than ever as the disease has been found near sacred Tāne Mahuta. 

And kauri are not the only species under threat.  

"Kauri is the keystone species, but there are many species that rely on that environment. If kauri goes, that's an entire ecosystem gone," Mr Winkworth said. 

It's a bleak thought, but our leading researchers are on it. And they say we haven't lost our forest giants just yet.  

New Zealand’s biggest tree, in Northland’s Waipoua Forest, is under threat from the disease. 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