'I wouldn't in a million years' – National criticises Ron Mark's NZDF aircraft use

National say Defence Minister Ron Mark inappropriately used a military aircraft to travel and from his home to official engagements.

Former Defence Force Minister Mark Mitchell said Mr Mark shouldn't be using that kind of defence asset to fly over to the Waiarapa, "just because it's a bit more convenient for him". 

He said he accepted the assets were used for official defence force, but Mr Mitchell said he "wouldn't in a million years... ask them to pick me up because it was more convenient for me, had they offered I would have declined".

Mr Mark thought it would only be acceptable for the Prime Minister, "and at a stretch" the deputy PM to use the same kind of assets. 

Ron Mark says he was flying to official engagements. Source: 1 NEWS

"I would hate to see any government decide that Ministers would just use defence assets and personnel as an Uber service just because they happen to be out doing some training

Yesterday, Mr Mark defended using military aircraft to get to and from home.

Mr Mark provided 1 NEWS with a list of all the New Zealand Defence Force flights he has taken to and from Masterton.

A spokesman said it's cheaper for him to take the flights than take Crown car to Defence Force airports. He said he has also declined to take some flights because of "the optics".

In October Mr Mark hopped on a B200 flight from his home to Woodbourne airbase - and then flew back again - as part of an official visit to watch a military exercise.

Ms Martin made the quip on the Chatham Islands before the Defence Minister came under fire for his use of military aircraft. Source: 1 NEWS

And then in December he flew to and from Masterton to Waiouru to watch a military graduation on an NH90 helicopter.

"As Minister of Defence I'm acutely aware of perception when taking NZDF flights. I am making available a list of the flights I have taken, " Mr Mark said in a statement.

"Each of the flights was taken to an official engagement. For two of the seven commitments I embarked and disembarked in Masterton. I live in Carterton. 

"Please note one of these flights was a regular scheduled flight that would have departed with, or without me. 

"On several occasions I have declined NZDF's offer of transport. 

"I wish to emphasise that none of these flights was for personal use. Please note that on a number of these flights I have been accompanied by NZDF officials, MPs from other parties, and/or media representatives. If at any point the Defence Force advises me that such travel is inappropriate or outside policy then I would naturally comply."

National's Mark Mitchell said it would only be acceptable for the Prime Minister, "and at a stretch" the deputy PM to use the same kind of assets. Source: Breakfast


Victoria University's council votes in favour of name change but there's opposition from some students

Victoria University is pushing forward with a name change to become University of Wellington.

The university's council made its final decision at a packed-out meeting today.

Councillors voted nine votes to two in support of the name change.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins will need to see "demonstrable support" for the name change to sign-off the move.

A spokesperson for Toihuarewa, which represents Māori academic interests, said the proposal to adopt Te Herenga Waka as the Māori name for the university has been received postively by the community and said it was a good step.

While stakeholders like Wellington City Council support the university's name changing to University of Wellington, the majority of past and present students that have submitted on the proposal have opposed the move.

Victoria University Students Association present Marlon Drake said consultation seemed like a box-ticking exercise and most of the university's 22,000 students had not submitted on the proposal.

For those that did, some of the reasons they oppose the change was that the cost would be better spent on improving education and mental health support, that consultation hasn't been carried out sufficiently and that the reputation that comes with Victoria University's name will be lost.

In a previous meeting, the university's council said commissioned research showed it was a good move with reported positive effects from other universities that had moved to simplified names.

Vice-Chancellor Grant Guilford said he sympathised with those that held a strong connection to the university's current name but called the change to University of Wellington a "fundamental step" in holding a "strong global reputation" in a time when universities around the world are facing financial pressure.

Mr Guilford called the current name a key constraint that causes confusion.

He said Victoria University does not reflect the university and it's connection with Wellington.

"We don't believe we have been submissive. We have read every single submission... The fact that we don't agree shouldn't be a sign that we have been dismissive," he said.

Professor Geoff McLay criticised the consultation process during today's meeting, saying it was "frankly a document that screws the scrum".

He said significant opposition from the community has not been considered and strongly opposed the planned name change himself.

"This is not a matter of nostalgia or romanticism although the Vice-Chancellor may discourage it as some," he said.

"The submissions have told you a similar story of identity from thousands."

He said international students, the very people the name change was hoped to attract, opposed the move.

Wellington, New Zealand - February 25, 2013: Victoria University of Wellington on February 25, 2013. Victoria has been ranked 225th in the World's Top 500 universities by the QS World University Ranking(2010).
Victoria University. Source: istock.com


'Disgusting' treatment says woman forced to give birth to dead baby at Rotorua Hospital with no help

A complaint has been made to the Health and Disability Commission over the case of a woman who was forced to give birth to a stillborn child with no medical help at Rotorua Hospital.

Jamie Bowman sat in the room holding her dead baby boy for 25 minutes afterwards.

Stuff reports the Taupō woman's ordeal started eight days earlier, on March 1, when she had a scan and found her baby's heart had stopped beating.

She was referred to Rotorua Hospital obstetrics the next day for a dilation and curettage.

Ms Bowman said she had to explain to four or five staff members why she was there, was told another scan was, then wasn't needed, and eventually told to go home by an obstetrician who said he was only training.

Ms Bowman returned to Rotorua Hospital five days later to take the first of two pills that manage late miscarriages.

"By then he had already been dead inside me for who knows how long," Ms Bowman said.

Her mother drove her to Rotorua Hospital for her second dose on March 8, but she went into labour on the way and was told on arrival the nurses were changing shifts and would help when they could.

Ms Bowman gave birth soon after with only her mother there.

"It is absolutely disgusting people can treat mothers this way and get away with it. We were left completely alone and not a single person wanted to help," Ms Bowman said.

A complaint has been made to the Health and Disability Commission.

Lakes District Health Board said Ms Bowman's treatment is being investigated.

"Lakes DHB always regrets when patients do not have a good experience during their visit to one of our hospitals," the board's risk and clinical governance director Dr Sharon Kletchko told Stuff.

"We sincerely regret any distress for this patient and her partner." 



Washout could affect Napier to Wairoa railway reopening

Kiwirail could have to delay the re-opening of the Napier to Wairoa railway line after recent severe weather has washed out part of the track.

An section of the track is suspended in mid-air after heavy rain earlier this month washed the earth out from beneath it.

"The washout happened just north of Raupunga during the severe weather which hit the region earlier this month. It extends over a distance of around 45 metres," a spokesperson from Kiwirail said.

"Our teams are continuing to assess the damage and any impact it may have on the planned reopening date for the line."

Kiwirail initially stated the mothballed logging line would be back in action by December. 

About 50 metres of track was undermined by heavy rain, potentially delaying the line's reopening. Source: 1 NEWS

Iwi's 'pain and anguish' at plan to rename Great Barrier Island

An iwi which has occupied Great Barrier Island since the 1700s is outraged another group of iwi will officially rename the island.

The island, which lies off Hauraki Gulf and about 100km north-east of Auckland, will be renamed Aotea - Great Barrier Island by a group of Hauraki iwi, based from North Auckland to Coromandel.

It is one of 52 geographic sites across the North Island being renamed as part of the Pare Hauraki treaty settlement.

It's a small change on paper, but to the people of Ngātiwai ki Aotea, it means much more.

Ngātiwai Iwi trustee Aperahama Edwards said Hauraki had no right to make decisions over the island.

"It's almost impossible to describe the pain, the anguish [and] the grief that we are already feeling.

"Rights and interests have been afforded to Hauraki tribes by way of redress and one of them is the right to re-name Great Barrier Island. We believe that's our privilege, that's our right."

The name-change dispute adds to a long list of overlapping claims among iwi.

They occur when two or more iwi have ties to the same area of land, but the Crown recognises one group's rights to the land over another through settlement redress.

Mr Edwards said Ngātiwai had occupied Great Barrier Island for centuries.

"We have two marae there, we have whānau who remain there and keep the fires burning, our fires have never been extinguished.

"We're the only people that live there, everything. From a tikanga-based perspective it's our whānau that place rāhui and all of those sorts of things."

Ngātiwai are not the first iwi to oppose the Hauraki treaty settlement, which was signed last month.

In opposition to the settlement, 16 claims have been filed to the Waitangi Tribunal.

Pare Hauraki lead negotiator Paul Majurey has fiercely defended the iwi's historic connections and rights to different areas in the North Island.

And he continues to defend their rights on Great Barrier Island too.

He wouldn't be interviewed, but sent through a statement made by the Māori Land Court in 1998 that shows the iwi of Hauraki do have historic connections to the island - and have established wāhi tapu or sacred places there.

Ngātiwai kaumātua Opo Ngawaka lives on the island.

He said he was completely blindsided by the redress included in the Hauraki settlement.

"It's about our rights to make decisions on what goes forward here, and not something that sits behind closed doors.

"All of a sudden we get this picture of what they intend to do, and that's the difficult part of it."

Mr Ngawaka said Ngātiwai had made numerous attempts to meet with the people of Hauraki.

"There hasn't been any discussion back on our marae with them and if there is going to be a name-change come and talk to us on our whenua and on our marae and discuss this out.

"We would never do that to anyone else, it's not in our nature."

He said a tikanga-based process, where iwi resolved issues among themselves without the Crown involved, had been forgotten.

By Te Aniwa Hurihanganui


Sam Wallace takes a look at one of the best views Great Barrier Island has to offer.
Source: Breakfast