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First-place Mt Albert Grammar and runners-up Manurewa High School pulled out all the stops. Source: 1 NEWS


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'Our son Nicky suffered from a serious mental illness but it shouldn’t have been a death sentence'

An inquest has begun into the 2015 death of mental health patient Nicky Stevens.

The body of the 21-year-old was found in the Waikato River three years ago, after he was allowed to walk out of a secure unit unsupervised, apparently to go for a cigarette.

Today’s opening day of the inquest in the Hamilton High Court included his mother, Jane Stevens, saying how her son had a history of attempted suicide and she believes he was let down by those supposed to be looking after him.

His mother described to the coroner how schizophrenia had overtaken her son’s life in his late teens and he believed he was possessed.

Stevens was last seen alive on March 9, 2015, caught on CCTV after leaving the Henry Bennett centre’s medium security wing. He was admitted to the facility in February.

Just days before he died Nicky told his mother he wanted to end his life.

“Our son Nicky suffered from a serious mental illness but it shouldn’t have been a death sentence,” Jane Stevens said. “He was very open with me about his intent to kill himself just as he had been open about his attempt the previous week.”

Two nights before he disappeared, Jane Stevens described how at a birthday dinner for his dad, Nicky’s behaviour deteriorated further. But despite her concerns, Jane says hospital staff still allowed Nicky to take unsupervised cigarette breaks.

It took hospital staff an hour to realise he was missing.

The coroner heard over three hours after Nicky walked off, only one staff member had searched beyond the perimeter fence. It would be 48 hours before police began their search.

A day later his body was found in the river.

Jane Stevens says the Waikato District Health Board failed her son. The inquest is expected to end on Friday.

For help or advice

Need to talk? 1737 – Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline – 0800 543 354
Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
Healthline – 0800 611 116
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 or www.depression.org.nz
The Lowdown: A website to help young New Zealanders recognise and understand depression or anxiety. www.thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626
SPARX.org.nz – Online e-therapy tool provided by the University of Auckland that helps young people learn skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed
OUTLine NZ – 0800 688 5463 for support related to sexual orientation or gender identity
 


Mr Stevens died at 21 when he was allowed to walk out of a mental health unit unsupervised. An inquest is being held into his death. Source: 1 NEWS

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Cost of vegetables could rise because of flooding in Gisborne and Hawke's Bay, supplier warns

The cost of vegetables could rise as a result of the recent flooding in Gisborne and Hawke's Bay. 

A supplier to the big supermarkets has suffered significant crop losses and is warning of a shortage of greens. 

After two weeks of flooding, land is saturated, and some crops have been written off. 

"There will be significant losses. Broccoli, salad leaf, lettuce. And it ranges from complete losses to planting gaps that we've essentially missed for harvest in three months' time," Gordon McPhail, general manager of grower Leaderbrand Farming told 1 NEWS.

And that may drive up the prices for greens. 

"Certainly there's going to be reduced availability over the next three to four months, I would've thought," Mr McPhail said. 

Asked does that effectively push prices up, he said," You'd have to think so. It's just a supply and demand model."

Leaderbrand also supplies a fast food chain, and will now have to import and onsell lettuce from Australia. 

Basically when we are stranded by floodwaters at both ends we are virtually an island - Te Karaka fire chief Jamie Simpson

Its employees face reduced hours, but the company says it will look after them. 

This week's storm has left many in the region counting the cost. 

As rivers overflowed, Mike Newman's house was saved by a stopbank, but he went swimming to try and help save his neighbour's sheep. 

"I managed to grab one. It was a bit later, [I] tried to give it sort of mouth to nose resuscitation but I didn't manage on that one," he said. 

Te Karaka, which was cut off by flooded roads, is open again, but some parts are covered in silt. 

"The paddocks which are badly affected will be out of commission I think until the spring. We need a lot of sunshine on those paddocks to shrink that silt," said Ian Smith, Te Karaka resident.

For some Te Karaka residents, like Ellen Randall, it's a survival story. 

"No food. And my brothers were quite worried 'cause we could see the river rising and things like that," she said.

Others have raised questions about why roads aren't built higher, so they don't flood. 

Te Karaka fire chief Jamie Simpson says access out of the town needs to be improved, "because basically when we are stranded by floodwaters at both ends we are virtually an island".

After being battered by storm after storm, some calm there is a welcome relief. 

Leaderbrand, which supplies the big supermarkets, saw significant crop losses and is warning of a supply shortage. Source: 1 NEWS