What's the damage? North Island waking to damage after being battered by gale-force winds overnight

Those in the North Island are this morning waking up to fallen trees, power outages, blocked roads and property damage after powerful gale-force winds battered many areas.

A Fire and Emergency NZ spokesperson said they had been called out to 450 weather-related jobs last night as of 3am, and about 1600 111 calls had been received.

Winds of more than 100km/h pulled down powerlines leaving many homes cut off. Source: Breakfast

Large trees have fallen in many parts of Auckland and property damage was visible on city streets as of 5am.

Vector reports that crews have been working through the night to fix more than 150 outages due to power line damage.

More than 100,000 homes and business have lost power throughout the course of the night.

Auckland Transport reports that the storm is causing issues on the rail network, with western line services terminating in Henderson with some bus replacements.

There may also be delays at other stations because power may be out, AT said, and the network is being assessed.

Conditions are easing across the North Island but there's still a chance of heavy rain around Taranaki, Whanganui and the Hawke's Bay hill country.

No state highways are closed, except the Desert Road which is closed due to snow.

A large tree which fell on to a property on Hobson Street in central Auckland.
A large tree which fell on to a property on Hobson Street in central Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS

Auckland Airport flights appear to be returning to normal, but passengers are advised to check the airport's website for current flight information.

In the South Island, snow showers have eased or stopped in most places, although sleet showers and rain are still forecast over the next couple of days.

The persistent southerly wind will keep snow already on the ground in place, with temperatures in elevated areas likely to stay below freezing.

Road snow warning are in place for all of the alpine passes - Lewis, Arthurs, Porters, Haast and Lindis.

There are also warnings in place for the Crown Range Road, Milford Road, Dunedin to Waitati Highway, SH80 and SH77.

Numerous trees fell overnight, with many falling on to property or vehicles. Source: 1 NEWS


Victoria University student told she couldn’t return to hostel after she tried to kill herself

Warning: This story discusses details of assault and suicide that may be triggering.

A first-year Victoria University student was evicted from her hostel the day after she tried to commit suicide.

Dani tried to end her life in October 2017 at Cumberland House, in Wellington.

Her father flew down from Tauranga to be with her.

Hours after being discharged from hospital the next day, the hall manager told her she could not stay because of health and safety reasons.

"Me and dad went back to the hall and the hall manager asked to meet with us. She did the whole mandatory 'are you okay' thing, but was then like 'okay, you can't stay here, we don't want you to stay here'".

"I understood it as there were exams going on which were stressful, obviously a lot of gossip, but my dad asked 'whose health and safety are we talking about here?'."

In a statement Victoria University Student and Campus Living Director Rainsforth Dix said the hall environment was not conducive to Dani's recovery.

"The University has to weigh up the rights of individuals against the collective good of the hall community and the potential impact on other students," she said.

"In this case, following an incident, the Head of Hall met with the student and a parent. They were told that after a critical incident, the counselling service recommends a period of respite before returning to the hall.

"They were also advised that in this case, the hall environment was not considered conducive to the student's recovery."

The hall also kept the remaining weeks of her rent which she had paid in advance.

After her father emailed university management, the money was refunded.

"That was only because my dad pushed. They were willing to keep my money that I'd paid up until November 18. They run it as a business."

Accepting a place at Cumberland House in October 2016, she filled out all the paperwork - including disclosing under the medical conditions section - that she had been clinically diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, depression and anxiety.

Dani said the hall staff and Residential Assistants were ill-equipped to deal with the "real and gritty" issues she had faced.

At the start of 2017, a few weeks after she moved in, she was sexually assaulted.

A short time after that she requested a room change due to a falling out with her roommate.

She was moved three doors down from the person who had assaulted her at the start of the year.

Some months passed and Dani started dating another student; shortly after she became pregnant, and miscarried.

"I had to go through this experience on a really gross student hall bathroom floor, it wasn't fun. And I didn't feel that I could go to any of the staff and be like - 'hey this has just happened, what do I do'."

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson said evicting someone because they have had a mental health crisis was not appropriate.

He said people under 25 were the age group that experienced the highest levels of psychological distress and that the highest rate of suicide in New Zealand was among those aged between 15 and 24.

He said the eviction likely caused significant distress at a time when Dani needed kindness and understanding.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

By Emma Hatton


Dani had a tough first-year at University. Source: rnz.co.nz


Infighting puts Māori Women's Welfare league at risk amid annual conference

Infighting is threatening to mar the Māori Women's Welfare League's annual conference this week. 

It was once spearheading social change, courted by governments and led by legends.

Now, plagued by internal strife, the group is now facing questions around its relevancy.

"There are so many fights to be fought and I don't think that's the place where we want to be having a fight," social commentator Hayley Putaranui told 1 NEWS.

This week's annual conference is shaping up to be a contentious one.

On the agenda is a motion to dismiss some members, and Mere Mangu is one of them.

"They are actions that are foreign to tikanga Māori and we can follow it up in the legal system. But at the end of the day responsibility rests with our national president," Ms Mangu said.

She says it's payback for supporting ongoing High Court action questioning whether the president can legitimately serve more than one three-year term. 

Prue Kapua was voted in for a second term last year. 

"I wouldn't have ever anticipated it would have gotten to this point," Ms Kapua said.

The cost of the division is that younger women are not engaging and questioning the league's relevance. 

"Looking forward to 2020-2030 what is the league's place there? Why would I want to be associated with it and what would I get out of it as well, And what could I give back?" Ms Putaranui said.

Ms Kapua said: "We can only do that when we're internally well organised and working well together."

The Māori Women's Welfare League has a proud past but its future at risk as the infighting drags on.

Plagued by internal strife the group’s now facing questions around its relevancy. Source: 1 NEWS


Calls for foreigners to be able to legally operate in New Zealand's sex work industry

Immigration New Zealand says illegal sex work is on the rise in New Zealand.

"The noise in the industry and what we're hearing indicate to us that the numbers have gone up and that's concerning because it is very much an underground industry and people can be exploited," Immigration New Zealand assistant compliance general manager Peter Devoy says.

Immigration New Zealand has announced an investigation into the issue as part of a wider focus on exploitation.

The programme's aim is to find out how illegal sex workers are getting into the country, how widespread the issue is and where exploitation is happening and how it can be stopped.

Immigration officers will hear views on the issues from the sex industry, provide education and carry out regulation.

Figures released to 1 NEWS by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show 179 suspected sex workers were barred from entering the country in the last year to August. Of those, 79 came from Brazil, the biggest group, and a significant number came from Asia.

"On some of the inspection of their goods by New Zealand customs service or looking into their phones it becomes obvious that they are sex workers," Mr Devoy said.

In the past three years, 38 migrant sex workers were sent deportations warning notices, and five were deported.

Voluntary departures, where people cooperate with Immigration New Zealand, were made by 22 people.

"There are migrants from all around the world coming here... different pathways in, they might be coming in as students and supporting themselves by working part-time in the sex industry… there are a number of reasons why," Mr Devoy said.

Prostitution in New Zealand was decriminalised for New Zealanders in 2003, but remains illegal for migrant sex workers.

Mr Devoy said society has changed a lot since then, and evidence from the investigation could lead to fresh discussion over the law on migrant sex work.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said this law is part of the country's obligations to the United Nations "to do everything we can to stop the trafficking of persons".

"It is in part a good measure to prevent the exploitation of foreign sex workers coming to New Zealand," Mr Little said.

Human Rights Commission’s Rebekah Armstrong said while the law was made as a trafficking safeguard, it may be putting migrant sex workers at risk of trafficking and exploitation as migrants feel they cannot report exploitative employers due to the risk of deportation.

Ms Armstrong says The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has recommended that the illegal status of migrant sex workers should be removed "to reduce its negative impact on women".

A Japanese sex worker living in New Zealand says the fear of deportation is stopping her from working here, but she would if she had no other way to get money.

"It should be legal. I think one of the main concerns people talk about why it's illegal for migrants is people are concerned about human trafficking… but also people who desperately need to work would work anyway and if that’s people working in illegal conditions, it might more likely be unsafe and risky," she told 1 NEWS.

"I think it would be harder to speak up if you're in trouble because even if you got bad clients or been an issue and if you want to report it somewhere… but if you're working illegally it's risking yourself and your right to be here as well."

Some of those involved in the domestic sex industry also want to see migrant sex work decriminalised.

New Zealand Prostitutes Collective co-founder Catherine Healy said she’s heard from illegal workers who have had earnings withheld by brothel operators, and others who have been raped and are too scared to seek support or report incidents to police.

"We think this section (of the Prostitution Reform Act) has actually contributed to creating those conditions that make it very difficult for people to speak out about exploitation," co-founder Dame Catherine Healy said.

Dame Catherine said she was looking forward to seeing the findings of Immigration New Zealand's report.

Mary, a Wellington-based madam, said sex work should be legal for those on work visas, calling it a matter of human rights.

"We have a world-leading model of decriminalisation but sex work is the only occupation that is singled out to be illegal for people with work visas," Mary said.

Illegal sex work by people from overseas is on the rise here. Source: 1 NEWS

Government's handling of Meka Whaitiri incident questioned in urgent Parliamentary debate

National has called out the coalition Government's handling of the Meka Whaitiri incident, in an urgent debate at Parliament this afternoon.

Ms Whaitiri was involved in an altercation with her press secretary at an event in Gisborne in August. That was investigated and last week Ms Whaitiri was stripped of her ministerial responsibilities.

Mrs Whaitiri arrived back in Parliament today, saying she accepted the prime minister's decision to take her ministerial portfolios away from her.

National Party MP Amy Adams asked for the debate this afternoon, and used Parliamentary privilege to question the Government's morality in its handling of the matter, and its approach to violence and bullying in the workplace.

"We have Meka Whaitiri accused of assaulting a staff member, we understand leaving bruising on her. An assault, members of the Government if you've forgotten, is a criminal offence," Ms Adams said.

"On what planet is it okay for a member who assaults a staff member to remain as a member of Parliament?" she asked the House.

The report on which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern based her decision to sack Ms Whaitiri as a minister is still under wraps, but she has directed the Department of Internal Affairs to release it.

She has admitted that could take weeks, but Ms Adams said that was just not good enough.

"So far we've had nothing. No proper statement of what happened. No proper statement from Ms Whaitiri. We've had no apology to the staff member concerned."

It was Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis' job to respond.

"The facts of the case are disputed and this is where this sort of little legal feature of natural justice needs to come into play. It's important that someone is given the benefit of the doubt and is innocent until proven guilty."

National's former Clutha Southland MP Todd Barclay was dragged into the debate - he was forced to resign under Bill English's leadership for secretly taping a former electorate staffer.

The resignation of National's Richard Worth during a police investigation into his conduct towards women was brought up, as was National's Pansy Wong's resignation over her husband's misuse of her ministerial travel perks for private business.

Mr Davis also asked why National MP Judith Collins was still at Parliament, which she quickly called on Speaker Trevor Mallard to make right.

"The member has yet again referred to a matter where I was completely exonerated by the Chisholm inquiry led by retired Justice Chisholm, and that is totally inappropriate for this particular debate," she said.

The Government continues to back Ms Whaitiri as an MP, despite the allegations against her.

Labour's Māori caucus co-chair Willie Jackson told the House he came from a community where forgiveness came first - and they were backing their own.

"As a Māori caucus we stand behind the prime minister, we stand behind Meka Whaitiri, we stand behind the victim if the victim has been hurt," he said.

National's Simon O'Connor rounded out the debate, rebuffing the comments made by the coalition defending Ms Whaitiri.

He said this had nothing to do with whether Ms Whaitiri was a mother, Māori or a woman, and everything to do with a claim that someone was assaulted in their workplace.

"That is why we continue to have the problems in our society, even around this debate, because people make excuses.

"They make excuses for those who abuse, those who bully. So to the previous speaker, it will stop, when we as Kiwis stop making excuses."

Earlier today, Ms Whaitiri said she had work to do for her electorate and work to do on herself as a result of the allegation made against her by a former staffer.

The Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP said she was gutted about the incident, but would not reveal any further detail.

"I can't talk about the report until it's released, but like I said I accept the prime minister's decision. It's been a debilitating time, but I really want to work and reflect on what I need to do to improve myself."

Ms Whaitiri remains co-chair of Labour's Māori caucus, alongside Mr Jackson.

"I'm very humbled by the support of the Māori caucus, and those that have sent support," she said.

- Gia Garrick


Ms Whaitiri returned to the Beehive today as a local MP, in support of a treaty settlement.
Source: 1 NEWS