Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Brazilian Air Force roundelImage via Wikipedia

A shipwrecked Kiwi teenager rescued from a Canadian sailing ship that sank off the coast of Brazil, has had an emotionl reunion with her dad and is on her way home with him.

Seventeen year old Mei Barry was one of 64 onboard the three masted sailing ship, Concordia, which was carrying high school and university students on a 10 month round the world trip.

A distress signal was picked up from the ship last Friday and a Brazilian Air Force plane spotted liferafts 500 km off the coast from Rio de Janeiro.

Ms Barry, formerly from Long Bay College on Auckland's North Shore, said she was doing her homework when the ship capsized
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Former NZ PM Helen Clark receives nation's highest award...

Incorporates changes to existing photo. Croppe...Image via Wikipedia

Former NZ PM Helen Clark receives nation's highest award...

Only twenty living New Zealanders can hold the award at one time.

However since the last Labour Government abolished knighthoods, despite the new National Government reinstating them, Helen Clark will not be known as Dame Helen. Her investiture was in recognition of her being the fifth longest serving prime minister in New Zealand's history. She served three, three year terms.

The NZ Governor General, Sir Anand Satyanand praised Ms Clark as always doing her best for New Zealand. Definately so, and for the New Zealand people too. I had cause to seek her help in a family matter ; she responded quickly and decisively within a week. Thank you Helen Clark!

She also received an honary Doctororate of Laws degree from Auckland University as well. She is 60 years old and will continue her role with the United Nations Development Programme for the next few years. She met with the new prime minister, John Key on her return to New Zealand. They have a very cordial relationship stemming from her very cooperative handover of power after Labour lost the last elections

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hutt Valley Mental Health services approaching crisis point...

Hutt Valley Mental Health services are approaching crisis point...

Nero AE Sestertius. 64-66 AD. NERO CLAVDIVS CA...Image via Wikipedia

Community mental health services in the Hutt Valley, especially the Maori Focus team, are reportedly reaching crisis point - not my words, but those of the people involved, and Nero (the Hutt Valley DHB) fiddles while Rome burns!

Last year the Hutt Valley DHB, for reasons never fully explained, scrapped the Maori Mental health Service, and most of the staff there have since left and found jobs elsewhere, a number in the Wellington Coast DHB area. Only one or two remain.

At present doctors, nurses and support staff are overworked and patients are beginning to suffer. They are under stress. Our particular family member couldn't see his doctor for five weeks, and communication was made through a temporary senior nurse. This is not satisfactory at all! He saw his doctor a couple of days ago - the first appointment since he was discharged from the TWA mental health unit at Hutt Hospital.

But the Hutt Valley DHB lives in its own little fantasy world, believing everything was under control. TWA has been under investigation from inspectors for some time because it's operating standards were inadequate and services had suffered as a consequence. But Nero continues to fiddle while Rome still burns!

Methinks its time for the Minister of Health to take himself and his pinstripe suit down to Hutt Hospital and sort things out before the mental health services in the Hutt Valley collapse under their own weight. Perhaps Wellington needs to take over in this particular area, because overall the Hutt Valley DHB appears to be managing well.

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Lowering the drinking age down to 18 years was a mistake...

Some typical alcoholic beverages.Image via Wikipedia

Lowering the drinking age down to 18 years was a mistake...

Most New Zealanders think lowering the drinking age to 18 a decade ago has had a negative impact on society, a Research New Zealand poll has found.

Three-quarters of the poll's 500 respondents said changing the drinking age had had a negative effect, five percent said it had a positive effect, and 17 percent said it had no effect at all.

Older people and higher income households were most likely to say lowering the drinking age had a negative effect.

Respondents were split down the middle on whether they agreed with the recommendation of a report by the Law Commission in July of a split purchasing age, where 18-year-olds could buy alcohol at bars and restaurants but had to be 20 to buy it at stores.

Fifty-one percent agreed with the recommendation while 46 percent disagreed.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents agreed with another commission recommendation – that anyone found drunk in a public place should receive an instant fine.

The drinking age was controversially lowered from 20 to 18 in 1999 and since then attempts to reverse the decision have failed.

Commission president Sir Geoffrey Palmer released a discussion paper in late July with a raft of recommendations for liquor law reform to be studied by ministers.

"New Zealand has some serious problems with the use of alcohol," he said.

"Not everyone drinks in a manner that is harmful but the consequences of harmful drinking affect us all."

Sir Geoffrey said the evidence indicated heavy drinking and drunkenness were generating the most acute harm.

He wanted public submissions on the discussion paper over the next three months.

The commission's recommendations would have a significant impact on liquor laws if the Government decided to implement some or all of them.

They include:

* Increase excise tax overall on alcohol or reduce it for low-alcohol products;

* Set a minimum price below which alcohol products can't be sold – a measure being developed in Scotland;

* Splitting the purchase age, leaving it at 18 for on-licence and raising it to 20 for off-licence;

* Making it an offence for an adult to supply liquor to a young person unless it is at a private social gathering, and the adult has the consent of the young person's parent or guardian;

* Putting the Liquor Licensing Authority under a District Court judge and increasing its powers to monitor trends and obtain data;

* Strengthen law enforcement by giving senior police officers the power to close bars; and

* Consider making it an infringement offence to drink in a public place

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All Black Dan Carter named NZ Man of the Year

All Black Dan Carter named NZ Man of the Year

New Zealand’s pin-up rugby legend, Dan Cater, has sprinted past other sporting heroes, the Prime Minister, movie gods and television presenters to take the coveted Man of the Year title in the 2010 M2 Magazine Best Awards.

Being a world-class rugby player, successful fashion model, businessman, and considered to be a healthy role model — Dan Carter is now officially the man Kiwi men admire most.

Dan Carter is an extremely popular choice for Man of the Year, says Andre Rowell, editor of the men’s lifestyle magazine.

“There is, quite simply, just so much to like about Dan Carter,” says Rowell. “Not only does he possess incredible sporting talent, he’s also softly-spoken, humble and an exceptionally hard worker.

“His business achievements are as impressive as his sporting achievements – it’s easy to see why New Zealand men consider him someone to really look up to.”

Carter beat out fellow All Black Richie McCaw, Prime Minister John Key, film-maker Peter Jackson and television presenter Paul Henry for the top spot, deposing last year’s winner Scott Dixon.

But while Kiwi men continue to rate sporting prowess when choosing their Man of the Year, they value brains, beauty and skill in front of the camera when choosing their Woman of the Year.

Television 3 reporter and former Nightline presenter Samantha Hayes is the woman they most admire, ahead of international music success Ladyhawke, television presenters Pippa Wetzell (the 2009 Woman of the Year), Alison Mau and comedian and actress Jacqui Brown.

“Samantha Hayes is one of the few women in New Zealand who can cause a furore simply by changing her hair colour,” said Rowell. “But she is more than an attractive and a stylish woman — she also has brains and can hold her own as a reporter on complex and weighty issues such as the environment.

“A pattern is emerging in the winners and top nominees of the Woman of the Year award – Kiwi men obviously value the full package of beauty and brains.”

Readers were given a totally free vote in each category – they were not asked to choose from a predetermined shortlist. The voting took place from October to December.

The M2 Magazine Best Awards are insight into the hearts and minds of urban New Zealand men, says Rowell. “These awards show just what our readership of 25- to 49-year-old Kiwi men value.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

A beer a day keeps the doctor away...

A beer a day keeps the doctor away...

NZ skipper faces prison in Japan for protests in Antarctic waters..

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 24:  Ben O'Dea...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

NZ skipper could face prison in Japan for protests that occurred in Antarctic waters...

A spokesman for the Japanese whalers who have detained a New Zealander in Antarctic waters say he could go to prison when the ship he boarded returns to Japan.

Pete Bethune boarded the Shonan Maru 2 which collided with his protest boat Ady Gil last month.

After boarding the Japanese whaling ship in darkness Mr Buthune approached the bridge of the ship he claims sent his vessel to the bottom of Antarctic waters.

He was there to make a citizens arrest and to hand the captain a bill for US$3 million.

He then entered the bridge – the last time we're likely to see Mr Buthune for months.

The next time we're likely to hear from him is when he's taken to Japan, where the Government reacted swiftly overnight.

“The incident was regretful,” said Japanese state secretary for foreign affairs Tetsuro Fukuyama.

“We have not yet clarified his intention. Once we confirm this fact and the nationality of the ship he belongs to, we will post a strong protest and will take appropriate action.”

Mr Bethune's boarding of the ship comes after the incident last month when the Shonan Maru 2 collided with, and subsequently sunk, the Ady Gil.

The New Zealand Government confirmed this morning that high level talks between the two countries are underway.

“He's held under Japanese law, so we sent the New Zealand High Commissioner in Toyko yesterday to see the authorities,” says John Key.

“We're talking to them about what happens next. That's unknown at this time.”

But anti-whaling activists are calling for immediate action.

“I find it absolutely outrageous that New Zealand would allow this to happen,” says Paul Watson.

“It hasn't been since world war two that the Japanese would take a prisoner back to Japan.”

A spokesman for the government-sponsored Japanese whalers says that's exactly where Mr Bethune is heading – and claims prison could await him when the ship docks in about eight weeks.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Who will own the foreshore under proposed changes to the S&B Ac...

John Key, leader of the New Zealand National PartyImage via Wikipedia

Who will own the foreshore under proposed changes to the S&B Act?

Neither the Government nor Maori would own the nation's beaches under a proposal to settle the dispute over laws governing the foreshore and seabed.

The proposal is one of several on the table, the Government told the Iwi Leaders Forum at Waitangi.

It is understood Maori kaitiakitanga (guardianship) over an area - which would allow greater decision-making by tangata whenua - could also be provided for if the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed Act is repealed.

The act gave ownership to the Crown and denied Maori the chance to test their claims to the foreshore and seabed in court.

Repealing the legislation is the issue that brought the Maori Party into Parliament, and a degree of realism on both sides could see that happening this year, Prime Minister John Key has said.

Sources close to negotiations have said it would be a huge shift for the Crown to take the foreshore and seabed off its books, but this was a crucial starting point for a new law because it would emphasise "shared" interests.

"It's a Treaty partnership working in action without the [ownership] hassles around it," one source said. [Therefore] everyone's rights are protected."

Read further

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Morbidly obese woman insulted by surgeon

Tariana Turia at a MaraeImage via Wikipedia

Morbidly obese woman insulted by surgeon:

Health & Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson says a morbidly obese woman was insulted and demeaned by a surgeon who used foul language when she consulted him last year about gastric bypass surgery.

She was also removed the woman from the waiting list after she complained.

Mr Paterson says the surgeon used the 'f' word when the woman said she wanted to take a holistic approach after the surgery, rather than focusing on diet.

He says the surgeon showed disrespect for the patient and removing her from the waiting list appeared to be in retribution for her complaint.

Mr Paterson says the surgeon should attend a course in communication skills, and his employer at a district health board should have done more about his behaviour.

Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia says the surgeon abused his role and power by using such language and showed no respect at all.

Mrs Turia, who is the woman's MP, says the DHB should now arrange for the operation to be done elsewhere and pay the bill.

Radio New Zealand's health correspondent says the woman, 44, was morbidly obese, with a body mass index, or BMI, of 68.

According to the Health Ministry website, anything over 32 is considered obese for Maori adults

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Champion Crusaders face another Super 14 rugby season ...

Todd's men ready to launch new crusade - champion Crusaders face another Super 14 season...

With the Rebel Sport Super 14 kicking off for the Crusaders against the Highlanders at AMI Stadium on Saturday night, Todd Blackadder will take his fabulous team into a 2010 campaign again with the pedigree and squad to challenge for yet another title.

If the Crusaders could achieve what they have become very accomplished at doing and win another championship, it would be their eighth overall.

Such is their record that they have precisely a 50 percent chance of winning based on their seven titles in the fourteen years of Super rugby competition.

In the professional era, the world has seen some dominant periods from powerhouse provinces and domestic teams. In the North, both Toulouse, Munster and the Leicester Tigers have won multiple Heineken Cups and league titles to stake claims. Closer to home the Brumbies were once the foundation in which the Wallabies built their golden reign a decade ago.

Of course in New Zealand, Auckland still holds a place as quite possibly the greatest provincial team ever with some fantastic title reigns.

But Canterbury in a short amount of time has established a dynasty.

Only on three occasions have they not finished in the top four, and they currently boast a record of eight consecutive semi final appearances. They also have two grand final appearances to go with their seven titles, and hold most of the records that are etched in the annals of Super rugby.

They approach 2010 with a squad that is as strong as ever, with 11 capped All Blacks. Their twin masterpieces of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter (pictured) will be fit to commence the season, although the New Zealand test captain will be rested in the early stages of the competition.

And all the essential platforms are there.

The province won the Air New Zealand Cup last year, and Blackadder has a year under his belt. Many expected the local legend to struggle in his first year in charge, but he took his side, without the services of many key players, into yet another semi final.

But what makes the red and blacks so dangerous is that they have all of the qualities that many teams will never have, irrespective of all the coaches, personal or money spent.

They know how to win, can peak at the right time, are adept at closing a game out, and play a precision style that is very difficult to overcome. A strategy that puts immense pressure on the opposition - any team that plays the Crusaders know that if they commit mistakes they will be severely punished.

If they were to have a weakness, perhaps it is the fact that they are so used to achieving, that maybe an aberration awaits. Maybe the bubble could burst and a new cycle could begin.

Or so their opposition would hope.

Within the forwards, there will be much interest on their buttressed front row stocks, with Wyatt Crockett and Owen Franks both part of the new breed of the countries test props. Corey Flynn will commence the new season, after making it back into national colours after a bad run with injuries.

In the second row, the Crusaders will have no less than three All Black locks to choose from. There is much anticipation in how Chris Jacks “assimilates” back into New Zealand rugby, but based on his recent performances for Western Province in South Africa, he will quickly settle back in. Brad Thorn, the ageless workhorse, will be a pivotal pack leader, while Isaac Ross has a big future.

The back row will be powerful, led by McCaw, and supported by provincial captain George Whitelock and impressive “tank engine” Thomas Waldrom. Kieran Read will be closely monitored, as he is now considered the country’s leading Number eight and will look to continue what has been a meteoric rise in the last two years.

Andy Ellis will look to fight his way back into a crowded national queue, with the Canterbury scrum half one of five players featured at All Black level in the position in the last two years (every New Zealand franchise will feature an test capped number nine). He will be backed up by Kahn Fotuali'i.

At first five, Dan Carter, who will rejoin the Crusaders for the first time since 2008, will be crucial to their campaign. Young Daniel Bowden – the sides only draft players - will back him up.

In the three quarters, Sean Maitland, who had a brilliant season with Canterbury this year, will guide their attacking efforts. Joined by new All Black wing Zac Guildford and standby test player Colin Slade, the Crusaders will also have the services of young Jared Payne who was brilliant for Northland this season.

However, despite the young talent out wide, they will not field as decorated or experienced a backline as other sides in the competition.

The Crusaders will open their campaign with a local derby against the Highlanders. This match will see numerous Canterbury and Southland players cross for the first time since the Southerners famous Shield victory, ensuring a passionate opening to both side’s 2010 seasons.

The Crusaders then travel to Brisbane to play the Queensland Reds, before returning home to play the Sharks and then play another big game clash against old rivals the Blues.

A week later they travel north to play the Chiefs, who usurped them in 2009 as the best New Zealand team in the competition. They will then return home to play the Lions before taking their bye in week seven.

They then play another derby with a big game in Wellington against the Hurricanes, before returning home to host the Waratahs and the Cheetahs.

They then finish the season in challenging circumstances. They will travel to play the Force in Perth, before playing the Stormers in Cape Town and the reigning champions in Pretoria. Their final match of the regular season will be against the Brumbies at home.


Home ground: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Coach: Todd Blackadder
Captain: Richie McCaw

2009: 4th

Hookers: Corey Flynn, Ti'I Paulo
Props: Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Peter Borlase
Locks: Brad Thorn, Isaac Ross, Chris Jack, Sam Whitelock
Loose forwards: Thomas Waldrom, Richie McCaw, George Whitelock, Jonathan Poff, Kieran Read
Halfbacks: Andrew Ellis, Kahn Fotuali'i
First five-eighth: Dan Carter, Daniel Bowden
Centres: Tim Bateman, Ryan Crotty, Robert Fruean
Wingers: Zac Guildford, Kade Poki, Sean Maitland, Adam Whitelock
Fullbacks: Colin Slade, Jared Payne

Crusaders Super Rugby record

Super 12 placing

Year Played Win Draw Loss Diff BP Points Place
1996 11 2 1 8 -144 3 13 12th
1997 11 5 1 5 37 4 26 6th
1998 11 8 0 3 80 9 41 1st defeated Blues in final
1999 11 7 1 3 62 3 33 1st defeated Highlanders in final
2000 11 8 0 3 76 7 39 1st defeated Brumbies in final
2001 11 4 0 7 -24 7 23 10th
2002 11 11 0 0 205 7 51 1st defeated Brumbies in final
2003 11 8 0 3 95 8 40 2nd lost final to Blues
2004 11 7 0 4 42 6 34 2nd lost final to Brumbies
2005 11 9 0 2 178 8 44 1st defeated Waratahs in final

Super 14 placing

Year Played Win Draw Loss Diff BP Points Place
2006 13 11 1 1 202 5 51 1st defeated Hurricanes in final
2007 13 8 0 5 147 10 42 3rd Lost to the Bulls in semi
2008 13 11 0 2 193 8 52 1st defeated Waratahs in final
2009 13 8 1 4 33 7 41 4th Lost to the Bulls in semi

The Crusaders

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Red Ruler has won the 2010 running of the Wellington Cup at Trentham in the Hutt Valley...

Red Ruler has won the 2010 running of the Wellington Cup at Trentham in the Hutt Valley...

Red Ruler, a five year old gelding, has just won the Wellington Galloping Cup at Trentham Racecourse in the Hutt Valley, just a few miles outside of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. It was a fine riding performance by South African born jockey, Mark Du Plessis, and a great staying performance by the horse who had been eased behind the pacemakers, and finished with a powerful sprint to win the 2400 metre event going away. He is undoubtably the best stayer racing in New Zealand at present. He won the lead up race a week ago, and the City of Auckland Cup over a similar distance at New Years. The horse has also raced in Australia with distinction.
While this race has undoubtably been the premier staying event in New Zealand for decades, despite Auckland having higher stakes and the glitz and glamour of being our biggest city, and having an inferior race track as well, the Wellington Cup was inexplicably reduced in distance to 2400 metres and downgraded to Group Two last year, 2009. This will have detrimental effects on NZ racing as well, considering Auckland decided to transfer its cup meeting to March in the autumn a few years ago. Its obvious that North Island racing clubs don't really understand the historical significance of time honoured races, something the Christchurch, and other South Island clubs undoubtably do.

In my humble opinion, as somebody who has followed racing closely in this area for forty years, the Wellington Cup run over 3200 metres was second only to the Melbourne Cup, raced at Flemington in Melbourne, Austraia.

As fine clothes don't necessarily make the man, higher stakes don't necessarily make a race superior to one with lower stakes. That has been proven time and time again!

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Wellington Rugby Sevens party might be over after next year...

The Wellington Rugby Sevens party might be over after next year...

Wellington applied for a permanent place as host of the New Zealand Sevens. They have hosted the tournament for ten years. Its been a great place for top games and great fun for two days every January.

But the New Zealand Rugby Union has told them they must reapply along with all the other main centres. Dunedin which is in the process of constructing an indoor stadium, has applied along with Auckland and Christchurch, both of whom are revamping their stadiums for the Rugby World Cup in NZ in 2011.

All is not lost for Wellington, after all their great party has been going for ten years. Auckland doesn't have a great record organising anything, Dunedin are new at that sort of thing, and Christchurch the home of the champion Crusaders Super 14 franchise, could be the dark horse. We will all find out next year. In the meantime the semis and finals continue tonight, without New Zealand. Party party!

Wellington Sevens party

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Change the flag and anthem when New Zealand become's an inevitable republic...

Change the flag and anthem when New Zealand becomes an inevitable republic...

Kiwis have been quick to voice their views in the Herald-inspired national debate about whether our present flag has had its day.

The issue has split opinion, with traditionalists defending the Union Jack's history and others calling for a fresh start.

Feedback has poured into our Your Views forum on the subject, onto our Facebook and on Twitter.

Our editorial, suggesting a change in the flag but not naming any specific design, argued that New Zealand's flag "says virtually nothing about how this country sees itself today and how it wishes to be seen".

Many readers think the Union Jack belongs to Britain and a popular suggestion for a replacement is the silver fern on a black background.

However, around two-thirds don't want to see a change.

In our Your Views debate, Frances Copland sums up the view of those who feel passionate about the current design. "I love our flag and our history. Leave it well alone."

Weston Lowe thinks it's disrespectful to suggest a change. "My granduncles went to war under the flag you want to change. It is built in to our history. It's part of our heritage and culture."

But Bruce argues that the present flag has had its day: "Our flag is colonial nonsense. It represents a bygone era and a lingering perception of our place in the world that no longer exists and is not representative of NZ in 1980, let alone 2010."

Julie Brock is among the voices who want a change and she doesn't mince words. "No question about it. Black flag with Silver Fern."

However, Dave Upfold has a different take on what we should do.

"The future for a better New Zealand is to become a province of Australia," he writes. "Then we can talk about our new flag."

Some expats are especially nostalgic about our flag when contemplating it from distant shores.

Bruce Brander in Colorado Springs considers the New Zealand flag "a beautiful banner well-known around the world." He argues that the Union Jack in the corner "aptly reflects a distinguished history, much as the Union Jack on the present flag of the American state of Hawaii tells of its part".

Writing from Australia, Adrian Clince says he was "born under that flag and I will also die under that flag. I'm in Australia and that flag keeps the Kiwi spirit alive. If they change it, it will have no meaning".

There is also strong support for our present flag on our Facebook page.

Ron Hamilton says: "Leave our flag alone! Why cater to people too ignorant to distinguish our flag from other flags?" And it won't be the Maori Party flag either.

Acknowledgements - NZHERALD STAFF