Watch: What will it mean for Great Barrier? Kiwi island to become a star-gazers delight with new Dark Sky Sanctuary recognition

The pitch-black night skies of Great Barrier Island look set to become a magnet for star-gazers after being recognised with a rare award.

Great Barrier set to become a mecca for stargazers from around the world. Source: 1 NEWS

The island, also known as Aotea, is the third place in the world to be named an International Dark Sky Sanctuary.

Island residents Richard and Gendie Somerville-Ryan assisted with the application to the International Dark Sky Association and are delighted at the outcome.

"Chuffed is probably a mild word," says Mr Somerville-Ryan

"We're completely over the moon, if you'll excuse the bad pun.

"We need to share it," says Mrs Somerville-Ryan.

"We've got Aucklanders sitting here who have never seen a night's sky like we have on the Barrier, to say nothing of the international visitors."

She says the skies are dark on Great Barrier Island because the lack of mains power restricts the amount of light that's generated.

"We don't have outdoor lights, we're very parsimonious with indoor lights even. People carry torches to get around. It's a different way of living off the grid."

Mr Somerville-Ryan says about 5000 stars are visible on a clear night on Great Barrier Island, about 10 times as many as can be seen in Auckland.

The team submitted scientific readings of the darkness on Great Barrier Island.

Great Barrier Local Board Chair, Izzy Fordham, says the measurements showed what residents of the island had long suspected – that the skies were as perfect as possible.

"Sanctuary status is reserved for the most isolated, and dark locations in the word and this designation is specifically designed to increase awareness of fragile sites and promote their long-term conservation," she says.

The only other place in New Zealand recognised by the International Dark Sky Association is the Mackenzie Basin, in the centre of the South Island.

It was designated as a Dark Sky Reserve in 2012, and is now one of 11 places to carry that status.

'Reserve' means the region boasts exceptionally starry skies, which are specifically protected by local planning regulations.

It is expected tourist interest in Great Barrier Island will increase however numbers to the island will be limited by the lack of transport links and accommodation.

The island is the third place in the world to be named an International Dark Sky Sanctuary. Source: 1 NEWS

Motorcyclist in critical condition after crash near Upper Hutt

A serious crash has left a motorcyclist in critical condition and caused a section of State Highway 2 to close for a time near Kaitoke, Upper Hutt.

Police say a motorcyclist hit a barrier at Kaitoke this afternoon about 4:30pm.

The male rider was taken to hospital via helicopter in a critical condition.

The road at SH2 Kaitoke, Upper Hutt is now open again after closing for a time.

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