Watch: The touching moment Jacinda Ardern helps schoolboy deliver speech on the scourge of plastic bags

The kids have always known it, single use plastic bags are a plague on the environment, and one primary school student politely let Jacinda Ardern know today in no uncertain terms.

Announcing the Government's policy to phase out single use plastic bags within the next year, the Prime Minister said the number one issue she receives letters about is plastic bags, and the majority of them are from kids.

To acknowledge that, Ms Ardern had several children up on the podium to read their letters about the destructive environmental impact plastic bags have.

"We all love the beach, it’s New Zealand, we are basically a beach, but we are destroying our beach, we are littering on our beach, it’s become a dump," the primary school boy said.

At one point Ms Ardern helped direct the boy with his speech notes.

"All sorts of fish are dying. So I’m writing this because we did a beach clean up at the beach and it was terrible."

"I couldn't believe the beach looked like that. At stores people use plastic bags, they are single use plastic which gets thrown away and turtles all eat them because they think it’s jellyfish.

"So I think you should ban plastic bags from stores, put tote bags.

"Did you know when fish eat single use plastic and we catch the fish and eat it, we’re eating plastic which can’t be good. We picked up an estimated 400 litres of rubbish which is crazy, and there’s more."

Plastic bag phase out

Alongside Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage, the Prime Minister announced the move to phase out the bags over the next year, with a six month phase-out period proposed.

The move comes after a petition with 65,000 signatures called for a ban on the single-use bags.

"We use hundreds of millions of single-use plastic bags, many of which end up polluting our precious coastal and marine environments and cause serious harm to all kinds of marine life, and all of this when there are viable alternatives for consumers and business," Ms Ardern said.

She said it was "important we take the time now to get this right" so Kiwis could adjust shopping habits.

Ms Sage was confident New Zealand would embrace the change, with the Government working alongside retailers to help with the transition.

"New Zealanders are proud of our country’s clean, green reputation and we want to help ensure we live up to it. Phasing out single-use plastic bags helps do that."

The public are able to give their views on the change until September 14, which includes options when the complete phase-out date should be and retailers that should be exempt. 

The youngster spoke at the Prime Minister's press conference on banning plastic bags. Source: 1 NEWS

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Search suspended for crew member missing from Sealord vessel off Wairarapa coast

The search for a missing crew member from a Sealord vessel off the coast of Wairarapa has been suspended due to deteriorating weather conditions today.

Sealord said they realised yesterday morning the crew member did not report for duty, and reported this to authorities immediately.

The crew member was not on active duty at the time of disappearance and the reason for the disappearance is still unknown at this stage, said the company.

Four vessels were sent out and involved in the search last night, however, due to deteriorating weather conditions this morning the search has been stopped until further notice. 

A decision will be made later on whether to resume the search.

Sealord's Otakou
Sealord's Otakou Source: Sealord

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Person dies after being hit by vehicle near Otaki

One person has died after being hit by a vehicle south of Otaki on the Kapiti Coast this morning. 

Police were called to the incident at around 5am.

The Serious Crash Unit is investigating and the road will be closed for some time.

Diversions are in place on Addington Road for southbound traffic and Te Waka Road for northbound traffic.

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


Former prisoners say they're having to lie to employers to secure a job

People who have been in prison say they are having to lie to employers to secure a job.

Just under a third of people who leave prison are back behind bars within their first year of release.

The Department of Corrections said gaining employment can reduce reoffending and it urged employers to give former prisoners a chance.

A woman, who wanted to be known only as Mihi, said she enjoyed her night-shift cleaning job in Auckland.

She said her colleagues were great and her boss was good too, which made it difficult for her to keep lying to him.

She did not want to use her real name because she did not want her boss to find out she had spent time in jail.

"I am quite an honest person and I would rather he knows - because he's really good," she said.

"Since I have been working there in June I have been wanting to tell him but I am scared that he might let me go.

"I need this job or a job."

Mihi served six months in Arohata prison for a string of convictions, including assault, breaching protection orders and benefit fraud.

She was released in January and said she has been turned down by countless employers when she has been honest about her past.

"I ended up mentioning that I just got released from prison - that that was the reason why I did not have any referees - he told me to get out," she said.

Another recruitment agency told her that no one would employ her, so she was wasting their time.

"It is stressful, it is hard, especially if you have been in prison - I did not realise how hard it was. No one wants to help you."

Mihi said employment was keeping her on the straight and narrow and she could turn to drugs and alcohol if she lost her job.

Patricia Walsh had racked up sentences amounting to 20 years imprisonment and had been to jail five times.

She has been out of prison since 2009 and said she lied to get her first job too.

But it put her on a path to get her Bachelor of Social Work and she speaks publicly about how to improve the system.

"Once I got off the P, I felt like maybe I could get a job," she said.

"But I lied - I said I didn't have a criminal conviction - but hey I got myself a cleaning job and I ended up cleaning the wānanga.

"I said to one of the students, 'How do I be one of you?"

Second chance

A reintegration worker who has completed her PhD on life after prison Joy Bullen said it should not be this way.

"For anyone that goes to prison they find that employment means they begin to be imprisoned all over again, they can't get employed because you are a risk," she said.

"So we don't say 'you've served your time, let's move on', we go 'no, you can't be employed because you are risk'."

The Department of Corrections has programmes in place to get prisoners work ready and to help them secure jobs on the outside.

In September, it managed to source jobs for 158 offenders who had been in prison or on community based-sentences.

It's director of employment and reintegration, Stephen Cunningham, said employers were getting on board but not enough of them.

On Tuesday, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis held two hui in Palmerston North where he discussed reintegrating offenders into society.

He urged employers there to take a chance and give jobs to former offenders.

You can hear more about life after prison on Insight, after the 8am news on Sunday with Wallace Chapmam on RNZ.

By Leigh-Marama McLachlan

rnz.co.nz

Prisoner (file picture)
Source: istock.com