'It’s an opportunity for us to take New Zealand to the rest of the world': Steve Hansen reiterates call for Government cash

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has repeated his views that the Government ought to sponsor the rugby national team, saying it’s a world-renowned brand.

Hansen revealed after last month’s Bledisloe Cup-clinching win that he had asked Grant Robertson for funding while the sports minister and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern were in the Eden Park changing rooms.

“If you think about the All Blacks and the brand, it’s important that we represent New Zealand really well, and she leads our country.” Source: 1 NEWS

Hansen reiterated those views today in Wellington, saying the brand was world renowned and that’s why he felt the Government should do more for the team and rugby in general.

"It’s not about going cap in hand to the Government, the whole point of making that comment and it’s interesting everybody has jumped on it," Hansen told media in Wellington.

"This is my opinion and people can boo hoo it if they like, I believe the All Blacks over a long time have been a great brand for New Zealand.”

READ MORE: 'Who would put that on a Prime Minister!?' Jacinda asked to choose between cash for grass roots - or keeping Beauden Barrett

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was on the hot seat today, responding to questions about Government money for the All Blacks. Source: Breakfast

"You can go anywhere in the world and people may not know New Zealand, but they’ve heard of the All Blacks, I think it’s an opportunity for us to take New Zealand to the rest of the world by using that brand, be it in tourism, business and that’s why I mentioned they should be one of our sponsors."

Hansen said in his mind, rugby continued to be an important part of New Zealand’s national identity and he felt the country’s top players were missing out on rewards.

"Rugby in this country is an important part of who we are and what we are and not all the money that we make goes to the players, it goes to grassroots and funding development and women’s rugby. I don’t know if you’ve seen the budget but we’re spending more than we’ve got and that’s not a great way to run your budget."

"If the money goes to grassroots and developing women’s rugby and developing young talent to come through and be All Blacks then maybe some of the money we get from Adidas and AIG and our other sponsors can be used to keep players here."

Hansen added that he felt that complacency did not only need to be fought within the team, but by the fans and wider country as well.

"The word complacency has been bandied around about us as a team, we’re fighting it all the time and we need to within our fans and within our country cause I’m sure there’d be a different attitude if this team wasn’t performing."

The All Blacks coach has repeated his views that the government ought to sponsor the world-renowned national team. Source: 1 NEWS



New Zealand new Ambassador to the US named

Diplomat Rosemary Banks has been announced as New Zealand's new Ambassador to the United States, taking over the role from Tim Groser.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said Ms Banks was "highly experienced diplomat and public servant who will be a consummate professional in representing New Zealand's interests in Washington". 

She currently is a Crown Negotiator in the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process and has held roles in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Ms Banks also was New Zealand's Ambassador to France and Portugal.

"The Government also wishes to acknowledge the departing Ambassador, Hon Tim Groser for his service. He has been a strong advocate for New Zealand and has been successful in cementing the relationship between our two countries," Mr Peters said. 

Rosemary Banks, Political Science and International Relations, 7.11.16
Rosemary Banks. Source: Supplied


Wallabies ready for 'very passionate' Pumas coach Merio Ledesma's challenge

The Wallabies hope they are still profiting from lessons learnt under their former forwards coach Mario Ledesma, as they prepare to face an Argentinian team now under his stewardship.

Former Pumas hooker Ledesma had a strong association with Australian rugby and especially Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

He was forwards coach at French club Stade Francais under Cheika, who brought him to Australia to help out at the NSW Waratahs and then the Wallabies.

Recently appointed Argentina's national head coach, Ledesma will lead the country of his birth into battle against Australia in Saturday's Rugby Championship match on the Gold Coast.

"Very passionate but also quite technical," Wallabies' prop Scott Sio said of Ledesma.

"He knew when to take you aside and have a one-on-one chat and then he also had the ability to really get the team up and get them going for a session.

"He was a great believer in how you train is how you're going to play on the weekend and making the most of your training.

"That was one thing we really got from him and I think hopefully it's something that we've kept."

After leaving the Wallabies in late 2017, Ledesma enjoyed success with the Jaguares, leading Argentina's Super Rugby representative to the playoffs for the first time, in his only season at the franchise.

Appointed Pumas head coach at the start of last month, they have shown promising signs in their first three outings under his leadership.

They had a 13-point away loss and a home win by the same margin in their matches against South Africa.

In their most recent game last weekend, they lost away to New Zealand by 22, a smaller margin than Australia's two defeats by the world champion All Blacks in the first two rounds.

'The scoreline didn't reflect how that game actually went on the weekend for them." Sio said.

"I thought they had some great play in attack and really challenged the All Blacks for quite a lot of time in that game.

"So just looking forward to the battle, I think it will be a physical 80 minutes and then we look forward to seeing him (Ledesma) after."

Sio revealed one aspect of the Wallabies Ledesma found hard to appreciate.

"He was never happy about the different coloured boots that we wore," Sio said.

"He was always a big believer - like my dad - in black boots all the way."

Argentina coach Mario Ledesma during the Argentina rugby team training session ahead of the Rugby Championship test match in Nelson on Saturday against the New Zealand All Blacks, Alexandra Park, Auckland. Tuesday 4 September 2018. © Copyright Image: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
Argentina rugby coach Mario Ledesma. Source: Photosport


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Green Party co-leader's 1080 comments put 'spoke in the wheel' of conversation effort - National

The National Party has criticised the Green Party for contradicting themselves over the use of 1080, after co-leader Marama Davdison said protesters had "valid concerns".

It came after 1080 protesters left dead birds and scattered fake 1080 on the steps of Parliament yesterday.  

Fake 1080
Workers picking up fake 1080 pellets left on the steps of Parliament. Source: 1 NEWS

National's conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie said Ms Davidson's comments "completely contradict" the sentiments Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage. 

"Ms Sage has consistently argued that 1080 is the best tool for protecting New Zealand’s native species and the statement by Ms Davidson that protesters have valid concerns puts a spoke in the wheel of the Government’s conservation programme," Ms Dowie said. 

Ms Davidson told media yesterday the protesters had "valid concerns and I understand they are concerned about water and they're concerned about aerial drops".

"We need to keep having considered conversations about saving our forests, our birds and our native species. We need to have a community-led conversations about this."

Ms Dowie said Ms Davidson's comments "muddy the waters and undermine the efforts and hard work of Department of Conservation staff in protecting New Zealand’s species". 

Marama Davidson said New Zealand needs "community-led conversations" about the use of 1080. Source: 1 NEWS


New Zealand should legalise drugs, treat addiction with 'compassion and love' as they have in Portugal, says researcher

When it comes to treating addiction and potentially legalising drugs, New Zealand should look at role models like Portugal where the system is based on "compassion and love", an expert has said.

Journalist Johann Hari spent several years researching addiction for his book, Chasing the Scream and is in New Zealand for a three-day conference in Rotorua where the nation's drug problems will be discussed.

Mr Hari told TVNZ1's Breakfast that he learned the common understanding of addiction is fundamentally misunderstood.

"When I started researching this question about seven years ago now, you know I was in a real state of confusion, I wanted to help the people I loved, but I couldn’t see how to do it, so I ended up going on this quite big journey all over the world," he said.

"The core of what I learned is that I, and many of us, have profoundly misunderstood what addiction is and that's led us to misguided answers here in New Zealand and across the world."

Mr Hari says research by Canadian psychology Professor Bruce Alexander showed that addiction was not simply a matter of a person craving a substance, heroin for example, that has a chemical hook.

The professor did a series of experiments in the 1970s where he gave two groups of rats the option of drinking water or water laced with heroin.

One of the groups was left alone in cages while the others were in a cage dubbed "rat park", where the rats had company, plenty of food and things to play with.

Professor Alexander found that the rats in the cage dubbed "rat heaven" never overdosed on the heroin-laced water.

"When rats have the things they need in life, they don’t find compulsive drug use compelling, and there's a lot of human parallels," Mr Hari said.

"This shows us the opposite of addiction is connection."

Dramatic turnaround in Portugal

Mr Hari said Portugal was the leading nation when it came to adopting this approach after a dramatic turnaround from 2000.

At the turn of the century, Portugal had one of the worst drug crisis in the world, with one per cent of its population addicted to heroin.

"Every year, they tried the American way more, which is followed in New Zealand but not as harshly, imprison people, shame people, give them criminal records and every year, just like here, the problem got worse," Mr Hari said.

On the advice of experts, Portugal legalised drugs and invested money into not only residential rehab but also therapy and job creation programs for addicts.

"The goal was to say to every person with an addiction problem in Portugal, we love you, we value you, we’re on your side, we want you back," Hari said.

The changes saw an 80 per cent reduction in injecting drug use and even those that had criticised the legalisation of drugs were convinced, Mr Hari.

"I went to the places that have the most loving and compassionate approaches, Portugal, Switzerland, what are the results? Their drug crises have massively reduced."

"For 100 years now, we've been singing war songs about people with addiction problems, we should have been singing love songs to them all along."

'We’ve got to start copying the models that have succeeded'

Referencing a potential referendum on the legalisation of cannabis, Mr Hari implored New Zealand to stop following models that have failed.

He said we should look at the nations who have legalised drugs, where he says, "they are not having 40 people die a year from synthetic cannabis the way you are here in New Zealand".

"New Zealand is spending a huge amount of money making people with addiction problems worse, what they did in Portugal, is they took that money and they transferred it to making people better."

"At the moment, what you guys are doing here in New Zealand, what we’re doing in my country Britain, is we’re copying the places that failed."

"At some point we’ve got to start copying the models that have succeeded and they’re based on love and compassion and bringing order to the chaos that we currently have in an illegal market."

Johann Hari, who spent several years researching drug use, addiction and treatment for his book, says we’ve misunderstood addiction. Source: Breakfast