Watch: Hundreds turn out to watch first train pass through Kaikoura since last November's earthquake

A milestone in the rebuilding efforts following last year's Kaikoura earthquake has been reached today with the first freight train since last year's natural disaster using the fixed South Island Main North Line.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

A crowd of around 200 awaited arrival of the first freight train into Kaikoura from Picton following the November 14 quake.

Train driver Paul Foskett spoke to the crowd after he came to a stop of how he thought saying "the 737 was the last train I would ever drive on the line," when the quake devastated the the vital railway.

For months now Kaikoura has been a town overtaken by fluro jackets and grubby work utes. Source: Seven Sharp

"How wrong was I... driving into Kaikoura this morning I cannot believe the work that has been done."

Minister of Transport Simon Bridges says the rail services, even in a limited capacity, will take approximately 2000 trucks off the road each month, building to 4000 trucks when the line is fully operating again by the end of the year.

"Keeping freight flowing easily and efficiently around New Zealand is critical to our economic growth and keeping our communities connected," Mr Bridges said.

It's hoped the reconnection will take pressure off the overloaded inland route. Source: 1 NEWS

"Having this key freight service running again is an immense achievement, which will take pressure off the inland routes while helping with the rebuild of State Highway 1 during the day."

Following the 7.8 magnitude quake, tunnels, approximately 60 bridges and embankments needed repairing along the line with the railway buried in different parts by a further 100 slips and landslides.

"Over 1500 workers from KiwiRail, the NZ Transport Agency and their partners in the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance (NCTIR) have done a fantastic job in what have been challenging conditions," Mr Bridges said.

Mr Foskett will continue his ride along the line carrying goods to Christchurch at 2pm today.

The line will be opened for five nights of service per week in its limited functionality.

The Picton to Christchurch railway line has officially reopened. Source: 1 NEWS



Sunday preview: What is the future for whitebait?

By Matt Chisholm

Whitebait are being wiped out but people can’t agree on how much of an impact fishing has on these species Source: Sunday

Saturday morning at the market. I bite the bullet, line up and buy one. It's a delicious, piping-hot, wee taste of home, but boy do I feel guilty. Not guilty enough to stop at one, though. I go back for a second. Then a third.

I've read the headlines. Read the entire stories. Whitebait are being wiped out because of people like me. They could soon be gone forever - and it's my fault. Or is it?

According to a Department of Conservation report released last year, three of the five whitebait species are "at risk/declining" and one species is "threatened".

Everyone agrees humans are having a huge impact on whitebait habitat, but people don't agree on how much of an impact fishing has on these species.

To help protect these native fish Forest and Bird are calling for recreational catch limits and a complete commercial ban on whitebaiting.

"Here is a species that are in trouble and there's no limit at all to the amount that you can catch" says Forest and Bird's Kevin Hague.

But Dr Mike Hickford, a marine ecologist at the University of Canterbury says fears of wiping out whitebait are grossly overblown. "I don't think we will ever wipe out whitebait" he says.

Hickford says a distinction needs to be made between adult and the post-larvae fish. "There's no doubt that the adult stage of these fish are in trouble, but it doesn't translate to the whitebait".

Hickford says there's no evidence to suggest at this stage that whitebaiting affects the threatened adult population, which spawn in such huge numbers.

"The majority of those whitebaits that are coming back in to the river, they're going to die anyway, they always have died and they still will die in the future no matter what we do".

Despite a lack of clear evidence, Kevin Hague says restrictions on how we catch whitebait, how much we can catch and the sale of whitebait should be introduced before the start of next 3-month long season (Sept-Nov).

"We don't want to interfere with someone's ability to go and get a feed for their family, but we just think there should be some tools that we use to actually reduce the pressure on these species".

Cascade Whitebait, one of New Zealand's biggest commercial whitebaiters, fish each season on the isolated Cascade river, just south of Haast.

Nan Brown, whose parents helped set up the operation 70 years ago, says their records don't show any decline in whitebait catch.   She wants to hold on to their fishery and says, "It would be unfair to let the guillotine drop on something you don't know enough about.” 

Watch the full story tomorrow night AT 7.30pm on SUNDAY TVNZ1 or TVNZOnDemand

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Man in serious condition following assault near Christchurch mall

A 41-year-old man is in a serious but stable condition in a Christchurch hospital, following an attack in the early hours this morning.

Police have cordoned off an area beside the Hornby Mall, on Shands Road, for a scene examination.

It is expected to be cleared by midday today.

Police are continuing to investigate the scene to establish what occurred.

Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Police in stand-off with man barricaded in Huntly house

Police are currently involved in an ongoing stand-off in Huntly, which started around 2am this morning.

The eight-hour stand off began when police were called to a home on Harris St, where a man and woman had been fighting.

Upon arriving at the scene, police found the man had locked himself inside and was refusing to come out. 

At 9am, he was still refusing to come out of the home and police negotiators are currently on site, Waikato police Senior Sergeant Charles Burgess told Stuff.

"He's barricaded himself in the house and is threatening to harm himself," Senior Sergeant Burgess said.

He's not known to have access to any guns, Burgess said but does have access to knives and other items inside the home. 

"A police negotiation team are trying to speak to the man so we can bring an end to this event."

A section of the road has been cordoned off and detours are in place.

No one else is inside the home and no one has been injured.

Police emergency scene
Police emergency scene Source: 1 NEWS


Truck rolls on Pahiatua Aokautere Road, causing road closure in Tararua

A truck has rolled in Tararua and is blocking lanes in both directions.

The truck rolled on Pahiatua Aokautere Road, also known as the Pahiatua Track, about 7.40am this morning.

The driver sustained moderate injuries. 

No other vehicles were involved.

Police are advising motorists to use an alternative route.

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