'We didn't know' - Simon Bridges says National was unaware of Middlemore Hospital's faulty building issues, shifts blame to DHB

National Party Leader Simon Bridges says former health minister Jonathan Coleman was definitely not told of the issues at Middlemore Hospital, and says the blame lies with Counties Manukau DHB.

Mr Bridges, speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast, said the mould, leaks and power issues at the south Auckland hospital are "not good enough" and that "the reality is we didn't know".

"It sounds like we should have," he said - "it wasn't brought to the minister's attention."

Counties Manukau DHB knew of the rot inside walls and potentially dangerous mould as early as 2012 in four leaking buildings - Scott Building, the McIndoe Building, Kidz First and the SuperClinic Complex.

Counties Manukau DHB insists it doesn't have a reliability problem but others are critical. Source: 1 NEWS

A facilities stocktake reported by RNZ has shown a total of 16 hospital buildings considered to be in the high or medium-concern categories.

The issues will likely cost tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to fix, and Mr Bridges says the current government should "get on with things".

"They could do a PPP (public-private partnership) on something like Middlemore if that's what's required," Mr Bridges said.

"They've got to get on and do it."

David Clark told 1 NEWS “the conversation is on-going with what needs to be done”. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Bridges said the blame in this situation would appear to lie with Manukau DHB.

Former facilities manager at CMDHB has told RNZ that the board lacked the funding the maintain the buildings, and that the water, sewage and underground services are outdated.

The Auckland hospital has leaky buildings and the problem could be worse than initially thought Source: 1 NEWS

The CMDHB board made no mention of any of the issues at their first public meeting since news of the issues broke, RNZ reports, and have only issued a statement saying they are "completing a paper which addresses these questions".

National’s leader says former health minister Jonathan Coleman was never briefed on defective buildings by Counties Manukau DHB – but should have been. Source: Breakfast

Hot compost caused medical event at Wairarapa school where students needed to be treated by paramedics, police say

The medical event at a Wairarapa school where students and staff had to be treated by paramedics on Friday was caused by hot compost that was delivered to a neighbouring property, and a wind shift.

Wairarapa Area Commander Inspector Scott Miller said the fresh compost, which was heated to 80 degrees Celsius, caused the strong sulphur smell that people experienced at South End School.

The supplier of the compost confirmed that the product can cause a strong sulphur smell.

Emergency services were called to South End School after reports of an unpleasant smell.

Paramedics treated 40 other people - children and adults - with minor symptoms and over 100 people had to go through a decontamination process.

There were reports of a plane flying overhead at the time, but police ruled that out as the cause.

An assembly was held this morning to update the school community on the situation at the Wairarapa town.

A plane is suspected of accidentally spraying the school with pesticide and several children have been hospitalised.
Source: 1 NEWS


Hundreds of Fraser High School students stage mass protest after principal's anti-truancy speech

Nearly 150 students have staged a "wagging protest" following a controversial speech by a Hamilton principal.

Students from Fraser High School gathered at the gates and told 1 NEWS how they felt, following comments made by principal Virginia Crawford last week.

Read more: Hamilton principal slammed for speech saying truants were highly likely to become rape victims

Many said the speech had been taken out of context, while others said the principal's message was out of line.

However, another group of students opposed the action taken by their classmates, backing their principal's truancy message.

"These guys don't even know how to protest," one student told 1 NEWS.

"If they were protesting, they wouldn't be smoking, trying to make our school look bad.

"They didn't understand the message the principal gave - even if it was harsh.

"I'd just love it if everyone goes back to class, gets back to their learning. They're not going to learn anything from protesting if they don't know how to protest."

A flyer for the planned protest.



Colin Craig, Rachel MacGregor return to court in defamation action

Colin Craig and Rachel MacGregor are back at the High Court in Auckland.

The former Conservative Party leader and his press secretary are suing each other for defamation.

MacGregor had been employed by the party prior to the 2011 election but resigned just days before the 2014 election.

She filed a sexual harassment complaint against Craig, and the pair reached an out of court settlement which included a confidentiality agreement.

The Human Rights Tribunal ordered Craig to pay MacGregor $120,000 after it ruled that he had breached the agreement by talking about her in media interviews.

Craig then filed defamation proceedings against MacGregor and she responded with a counter claim.

The trial has been set down for two weeks.

The former Conservative Party leader says that defending a defamation case taken against him is all about protecting his reputation.
Source: 1 NEWS

Christchurch house-hunters warned not to rely on seller's building reports

A warning has gone out to house hunters in Christchurch not to rely on building reports supplied by those selling homes.

For sale sign outside of house. Source: 1 NEWS

In April the Earthquake Commision (EQC) admitted the cost of fixing botched repairs had hit $270 million and was likely to continue increasing as further problems were identified.

Legal experts said the potential hidden damage meant house hunters should get homes thoroughly checked, now more important than ever.

On the day RNZ visited a Harcourts auction in Christchurch, John Stowell was nervously waiting for bidding to start on what could be his family's dream home.

"You're either going to get a house in half an hour, or you're not."

The home he was bidding on had repairs done to its foundations thanks to a payout from EQC.

Mr Stowell had two weeks to get all of the necessary checks done and on this occasion had decided to rely on the building inspection the seller had made available on the property.

"Otherwise we had to go and get our own building reports done which is a cost factor. You know it's up to $500 depending."

Christchurch property lawyer and chair of the Law Society's property law section, Duncan Terris, said Mr Stowell could end up in trouble if he found problems with the house and tried to sue the building inspector.

"If you're buying at auction and you're relying on a building report that was commissioned by that current owner and there's a subsequent problem, you've got limited rights of recourse against the person that did that inspection report because it must be commissioned by you."

Trying to save on the cost of building inspections was a false economy, he said.

"The irony is everyone is out to cost save, understandably, but it needs to be kept in perspective.

"If you miss something and you have to front the repairs yourself, that could be a very expensive oversight."

Prominent earthquake claims lawyer Peter Woods said the sheer number of botched EQC repairs - about 11,000 - meant extra checks to hunt out defective repairs or undiagnosed damage were essential.

He recommended hiring a structural engineer, costing upwards of about $4000.

"And it is very hard for any inspector to look at the house because a purchaser can't have an inspector do some invasive testing, you can't start taking samples out of the house. They can only be as good as a visual inspection. So it's difficult."

The experience with leaky homes showed the risk was not just theoretical, he said.

"There's no end of inspectors that were sued as part of the leaky homes crisis. I think we're now in a creaky homes crisis and the same thing is likely to happen."

Those who had ended up with a lemon and had then found their insurer unwilling to cover the cost of fixing their quake damage, would want to watch out for a Supreme Court test case against the country's largest insurer, IAG in November.

If it finds in favour of the claimant, insurers across the board could be forced to pay out for quake damage discovered by the subsequent purchaser of a home.

- By Conan Young