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  • gnfb1234

    gnfb1234 9:02 pm on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

      Rugby-New Zealand to resume professional rugby union games next weekend 

      WELLINGTON, June 7 (Reuters) – New Zealand will become the first country to resume professional rugby union games next weekend as governments around the world move to ease lockdown measures to fight the novel coronavirus.

      All eyes will be on the 10-week Super Rugby Aotearoa competition organised by New Zealand Rugby (NZR) as others seek to resume sporting activities after these were halted due to the coronavirus outbreak.

      The tournament, which involves New Zealand’s five teams, starts next Saturday in Dunedin and is aimed at filling the gap left by the postponement of the international competition Super Rugby – which is unlikely to restart this season.

      Super Rugby Aotearoa is likely to take place initially without fans present, like the National Rugby League and other sports that have resumed in Australia.

      But this could change if New Zealand, which has been among the most successful countries in containing the virus, announces further easing of restrictions at a government meeting on Monday.

      A public health expert told Reuters that any reopening was likely to be cautious and gradual.

      “I would imagine they would start in a relatively closed stadium situation and then maybe have a small number to check if there are any issues,” said Professor Brian Cox, an epidemiologist at the University of Otago in a recent interview.

      “We have to do it in a very slow, measured way to make sure that we’re not making an error that results in a major outbreak again.”

      New Zealand has had no new infections in the last 16 days and has just one active case.

      The competition will provide some much needed cash flow for NZR, who are forecasting a 70% decline in revenue this year.

      The tournament is also likely to be a proving ground for the resumption of test matches towards the end of the year, even if they are confined to clashes between the southern hemisphere nations.

      Rugby Australia have suggested hosting a “hub” to allow the Wallabies, Springboks, All Blacks and Pumas to play a fixture-congested Rugby Championship. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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    • gnfb1234

      gnfb1234 8:01 pm on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

        Born June 7, 1975: Shane Bond, former New Zealand cricketer | Cricket News 

        Former New Zealand cricketer Shane Bond, who is the fastest player from the country to bag 50 Test wickets, was born on this day in 1975.

        The International Cricket Council (ICC) took to its official Twitter handle and extended its warm birthday greetings to Bond, who turned 45 on Sunday.

        The world’s governing body wished Bond on his special occasion by posting a picture of him and listing down his career stats.

        The ICC also informed its followers that the former New Zealand bowler has the best bowling strike-rate in international cricket among those with at least 250 wickets.

        Known for his fiery and pacey bowling, Shane Edward Bond made his international debut for his country during a Test match against Australia in November 2001. However, it was a disappointing debut for Bond as he recorded figures of 1/135 while Australia notched up 558 runs.

        Bond received his maiden ODI cap against the same side in January 2002. His debut in the format was better than that in Test cricket as he finished with figures of three for 53 runs.

        Meanwhile, Bond’s T20I debut for New Zealand came against South Africa in 2005.

        Bond went on to take 87 wickets in 18 Test matches, 147 wickets in 82 ODIs and 25 wickets in 20 games he played in the shortest format of the game for the national side.

        The former fast bowler came to spotlight when he rattled Australia’s top order by claiming six wickets for only 23 runs in the Super Sixes match of 2003 World Cup. However, his efforts went in vain as Australia’s pace rival Brett Lee tore apart New Zealand’s batting line-up to help his side clinch 96-run win.

        Bond’s best performance came in March 2006 when he finished with brilliant figures of five for 69 in an inning as New Zealand bundled out West Indies for 263 runs in 291-run chase in a Test match in Auckland.

        As far as his records are concerned, Bond is the fastest player from his country to bag 50 wickets in the longest format of the game– a feat he achieved in 12 Tests. He is also the quickest New Zealander to cross the 100-wicket mark in ODIs and only second to former Pakistan bowler Saqlain Mushtaq in the world.

        Bond switched to coaching role following his retirement from the international cricket in May 2010. He was named as bowling coach of New Zealand team in October 2012, but he stepped down from the position after the side’s final defeat to Australia in 2015 ICC World Cup.

        He is currently serving as the bowling coach of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Mumbai Indians.


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      • gnfb1234

        gnfb1234 7:02 pm on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

          Farm pond tragedy: Three people dead, one airlifted to hospital after car submerged in pond 

          A small community is in shock this evening after a tragedy that claimed three lives when a vehicle plunged into a pond on a farm.

          Two of the victims are believed to be children who were at their grandparents’ farm in Raetihi in the central North Island. The adult who died is believed to be their grandmother.

          A 69-year-old man, believed to be their grandfather, was flown to hospital. It is unclear if he was in the vehicle or injured trying to help after it went into the water.

          Police said they were called to a report of a vehicle underwater in a farm pond just after 11am.

          “Tragically the three people were deceased when recovered from the pond by emergency services,” police said.

          “Police are working to support the family of those killed. WorkSafe has been notified.”

          Locals were visibly distraught this afternoon as most were still absorbing the news that three people had died.

          They described the family as lovely and well respected. They had been in Raetihi for about 30 years and had their own business.

          The grandparents always loved having their grandchildren over.

          “We knew them really well. They’re just a really lovely, caring family. Tight knit,” said one person who didn’t want to be named.

          “It’s their highlight to have them out for the weekend.”

          One couple were too upset to talk, simply stating the tragedy as “sad” and that the shock of what happened was still sinking in.

          A hearse leaves the Raetihi farm property this afternoon. Photo / Lewis Gardner
          A hearse leaves the Raetihi farm property this afternoon. Photo / Lewis Gardner

          Another described the deaths as “just unbelievable”.

          One resident said they knew something bad had happened when they saw the rescue helicopter land at the property after a flurry of police and St John Ambulance vehicles to the scene.

          They all described Raetihi as tight knit and although no names were being mentioned in social media, locals knew who had been affected.

          One neighbour said the “pond” referred to by police would more likely have been the farm dam, which supplies water for stock/animals.

          “Every farm had them around here.”

          There had been a lot of rain in the area in recent days and it’s likely the ground would have been slippery.

          A Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter spokeswoman confirmed that just before 2.40pm a man was flown from the scene to Whanganui Hospital in a moderate condition.

          She could not give more information about his condition.

          The property where the car is understood to be submerged is less than a kilometre out of Raetihi’s township.

          Raetihi is less than 90km inland from Whanganui and close to Tongariro National Park.

          The property is 74.5ha and the owners operate a farm improvement business there, offering diggers, trucks, bulldozers and fencing materials.

          Tassia Allum, an employee at Caltex Raetihi, said she heard sirens and saw two ambulances, a fire engine and a police car all heading up State Highway 4 at 11am.

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        • gnfb1234

          gnfb1234 7:00 pm on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

            Should New Zealand ease coronavirus restrictions? Cabinet faces an obvious decision 

            OPINION: You could be forgiven for thinking we’ve been here before. Almost a month ago, a new week began and a crucial decision was waiting to be made: Should New Zealand ease its coronavirus restrictions?

            Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Cabinet agreed on a move to Covid-19 Alert Level 2 on May 11, and bars, cafés and businesses opened their doors. More than a week ago, religious groups welcomed congregations of 100 people, as the upper limit on mass gatherings was raised.

            The queues outside busy supermarkets and the empty nightclub dance floors are among the few signs that New Zealand remains on alert for Covid-19. Again, on Monday, a decision is waiting to be made: Should New Zealand ease its coronavirus restrictions?

            But this time it’s different. Ardern and her ministers are lagging behind the will and expectation of their country – is anyone really trying to maintain social distance? And after two-weeks of political fracas that revealed there’s now little at stake, it appears a decision on Covid-19 Alert Level 1 has already been made.

            A man wears a face mask in Auckland. The country is expected to move to Covid-19 Alert Level 1 next week.

            David White/Stuff

            A man wears a face mask in Auckland. The country is expected to move to Covid-19 Alert Level 1 next week.

            READ MORE:
            * Coronavirus: Is New Zealand’s Covid-19 ‘elimination date’ June 15?
            * Coronavirus: Leaked paper appears to show New Zealand could ease restrictions now
            * Coronavirus: Prime Minister says Cabinet will decide on Covid-19 Alert Level 1on Monday, June 8
            * Coronavirus: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hints at looser level 2, but level 1 unlikely

            A Cabinet paper leaked to the National Party on Wednesday showed government officials considered that, after 28 days of no community transmission of Covid-19, “there is theoretically no need for restrictions on people’s movements, interactions or activities”.

            The math was obvious. The last case of community transmission had been on April 29, or 33 days beforehand, meaning it appeared officials were confident there was no need for ongoing restrictions.

            The revelation had Ardern’s office in a spin, and the Government pushed back on suggestion this was a firm line in the sand for making a decision.

            Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has brought forward a Cabinet decision on whether remaining Covid-19 restrictions should stay in place. The Government on Monday will decide whether to move New Zealand to Covid-19 Alert Level 1.

            Kevin Stent/Getty-Images

            Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has brought forward a Cabinet decision on whether remaining Covid-19 restrictions should stay in place. The Government on Monday will decide whether to move New Zealand to Covid-19 Alert Level 1.

            But Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters was ahead of the game. Hours before the Cabinet paper was leaked, he had already done the math and told reporters that it had been 33 days since the last case of community transmission – more than 28 days, or two transmission cycles of the virus.

            Peters has used his inside knowledge for political advantage in the past two weeks, telling a restless public that New Zealand should already be at Alert Level 1. A shrewd political move that puts him in the headlines, no doubt, but it also speaks volumes.

            The fear of Covid-19 sweeping the country meant that, for months, our leaders spoke with a single voice. Now, they feel it is acceptable to publicly argue and politick for votes. That fear of an unstoppable pandemic has diminished, this is no longer a unifying crisis.

            The response to protests held last Sunday was further revealing. Thousands of people stood in front of the Beehive and in Auckland’s Aotea Square, shoulder-to-shoulder to express dismay at racism, police violence, and the killing of George Floyd in the US.

            Think back three weeks, and the idea of thousands of people clustered together in a public setting would’ve been reason to protest.

            Did this prove there was no risk of catching the virus? Health Minister David Clark couldn’t muster a decent answer.

            Wasn’t this why the Government passed a law to ensure social distancing could be enforced? The tough-talk about rule breakers has withered along with the virus. Ardern said the protests could not be “condoned”, more an expression of disappointment than a reprimand.

            Of course, none of this will be in the Cabinet paper in Ardern’s hands on Monday.

            Instead, there will be advice from Dr Ashley Bloomfield, the director-general of health, on the latest Covid-19 cases – there hasn’t been one of those for 16 days.

            There will concern about gatherings of 100 people being allowed little more than a week ago; what if the virus has silently spread? But the concern will be hard to justify. A month ago, there were 102 people with the virus in their system. Now there is one, and there’s no evidence of community transmission.

            The contact tracing system, which corners the virus if it spreads in the community, was considered lacking. But multiple reviews and reports into the system are underway, there are promises of more staff being hired, and the “gold standard” – 80 per cent of a Covid-19 case’s contacts isolated within 48 hours – is claimed to be reached.

            Crucially, restrictions at the border will remain tight. Each person who enters the country will soon be tested for the virus, making it harder for Covid-19 to slip in undetected. More than three months since lockdown, we’re as close to water-tight as you can get.

            With the threat of the virus cleared, the economic and social affects of the Covid-19 response will be front of mind for Ardern and her Cabinet.

            Past Cabinet papers have shown there are no good guesses at how the economy will rebound from this recession. But minister can be confident that ongoing restrictions are a dampener on the economy – meaning more job losses and more shrinking paychecks.

            They can be less confident in the “buy-in” from the community. Previous papers have shown that officials believe they have the backing of the public.

            But as the invisible enemy can’t be found, the public’s tolerance for restrictions has diminished. And, with an election in September, this poses a political risk – any misstep or perceived delay could become toxic.

            This much is obvious, and it’s obvious why Ardern brought Monday’s decision forward. The time has come for level 1.

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          • gnfb1234

            gnfb1234 5:56 pm on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

              New Zealand’s Scott Dixon wins IndyCar closed door season opener in Texas 

              Scott Dixon took the chequered flag at the Genesys 300 on Saturday as the new IndyCar season opened behind closed doors at the Texas Motor Speedway in Forth Worth. Dixon, a five-time IndyCar champion, won for the fourth time at the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked oval, where drivers had also practiced and qualified earlier in the day.

              The 39-year-old New Zealander raced to his 47th career victory and matched A.J. Foyt’s record of 18 seasons with a win. The race was the first professional sporting event in the state of Texas since the coronavirus lockdown and spectators were allowed at the track, which can hold over 100,000 people. The next IndyCar race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 4th will also take place behind closed doors.

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            • gnfb1234

              gnfb1234 4:55 pm on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                New Zealand makes two key diplomatic appointments 

                David Pine to Delhi; Stephanie Lee to Hong Kong

                Venkat Raman
                Auckland, June 7, 2020

                David Pine to India (

                Two veteran diplomats will take up two challenging posts respectively in New Delhi and Hong Kong as announced by Foreign Minister Winston Peters on June 5, 2020.

                David Pine, currently Chair of the ‘Trade of All Advisory Board,’ will move to New Delhi as New Zealand’s High Commissioner with accreditation to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal while Stephanie Lee will go to Hong Kong as our Consul General.

                Importance of diplomacy

                With the borders of New Zealand, India and Hong Kong under Covid-19 lockdown, it may be a while before they take up their respective assignments.

                Foreign Minister Winston Peters, who announced these appointments, believes that New Zealand’s envoys must be career diplomats and takes personal interest in key appointments to countries of importance.

                “As New Zealand recovers from Covid-19, out diplomatic and trade networks are more important than even and hence the government is focused on placing high-calibre career diplomats in important offshore positions,” he said.

                About India and David Pine

                David Pine goes to India to head our diplomat mission in Delhi at a time when there are heightened expectations of a Free Trade Agreement and direct airlinks between the two countries. Mr Peters has said that New Zealand and India should be ‘doing more together,’ especially as Commonwealth countries but Mr Pine would be aware of the ground realities.

                India is allergic to suggestions of tariff concessions on agricultural and diary products and as such talks on a Free-Trade Agreement have been stalled for the past 12 years. There have been Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) on Defence, Civil Aviation and Education but none of these has produced any tangible results.

                Mr Pine is a seasoned diplomat, having been the Head of the New Zealand Missions in Malaysia, Brunei and Philippines and has worked in other capacities in New York and Canberra. As the Chair of the ‘Trade for All Advisory Board’ since August 2018, he has a deep insight into global trade, although not specially on India. The Board does not have single person of Indian origin.

                About Hong Kong and Stephanie Lee

                Stephanie Lee to Hong Kong (YouTube)

                Hong Kong has been experiencing mass protests over China’s extradition law and these protests have often turned violent for the past ten months and Beijing’s recent move to impose tighter security laws on this former British Colony has sparked further unrest.

                Stephanie Lee takes charge as our Consul General and would bring to bear her fine diplomatic skills, given the importance of mainland China as New Zealand’s largest trading partner.

                New Zealand has a Closer Economic Partnership Agreement with Hong Kong (China) which came into effect on January 1, 2011.

                There is a travel and safety advisory for New Zealanders in Hong Kong and for New Zealanders visiting Hong Kong. They have been advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations, “as even those intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn violent with little or no warning.”

                Mr Peters said that Hong Kong is an important trade partner and a significant source of foreign direct investment for New Zealand.

                “Hong Kong and New Zealand have shared values, open markets and common law jurisdictions,” he said.

                Ms Lee has previously served as New Zealand’s Ambassador to ASEAN in Jakarta, with other postings in New York and Paris. She has most recently served as Special Adviser to the Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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              • gnfb1234

                gnfb1234 3:51 pm on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                  Tekapo coldest spot in New Zealand at -6.6C on Saturday 

                  Having fun in Tekapo on Sunday were Indigo, 7, and Olly Stock, 9, of Lincoln.

                  John Bisset/Stuff

                  Having fun in Tekapo on Sunday were Indigo, 7, and Olly Stock, 9, of Lincoln.

                  Tekapo was the chilliest spot in New Zealand at the weekend.

                  Snow fell heavily over the South Canterbury town on Saturday morning, following an overnight temperature of -6.6 degrees Celsius, with MetService meteorologist Andy Best labelling it “the coldest place around the country”.

                  Meanwhile, Pukaki Airport was the second-coldest with -5.9C and Timaru experienced -2.8C.

                  Henry, 5, Josh, 3, and Kylie Clark of Christchurch play in the snow at Tekapo.

                  1 of 25John Bisset/Stuff

                  Henry, 5, Josh, 3, and Kylie Clark of Christchurch play in the snow at Tekapo.

                  The Clark Family from Christchurch enjoyed a snow-blanketed Tekapo on Sunday.

                  2 of 25John Bisset/Stuff

                  The Clark Family from Christchurch enjoyed a snow-blanketed Tekapo on Sunday.

                  Maru, 7, Neru, and Coy Naa of Ashburton build a snowman.

                  3 of 25John Bisset/Stuff

                  Maru, 7, Neru, and Coy Naa of Ashburton build a snowman.

                  Indigo, 7, and Olly Stock, 9, of Lincoln throw snowballs.

                  4 of 25John Bisset/Stuff

                  Indigo, 7, and Olly Stock, 9, of Lincoln throw snowballs.

                  Snow hugs the sides of the road in the Mackenzie.

                  5 of 25JOHN BISSET/STUFF

                  Snow hugs the sides of the road in the Mackenzie.

                  Tekapo was blanketed by snow on Saturday.

                  6 of 25The-Timaru-Herald

                  Tekapo was blanketed by snow on Saturday.

                  Tussock pokes out from the snow near Tekapo on Sunday.

                  7 of 25George Epsom

                  Tussock pokes out from the snow near Tekapo on Sunday.

                  The temperature in Tekapo dropped to -6.6C overnight Saturday.

                  8 of 25JOHN BISSET/STUFF

                  The temperature in Tekapo dropped to -6.6C overnight Saturday.

                  Tekapo was the coldest spot in the country on Saturday.

                  9 of 25JOHN BISSET/STUFF

                  Tekapo was the coldest spot in the country on Saturday.

                  Snow fell in Tekapo on Saturday morning.

                  10 of 25George Empson

                  Snow fell in Tekapo on Saturday morning.

                  Cars were covered in snow.

                  11 of 25George Empson

                  Cars were covered in snow.

                  Snow caused road closures around the Mackenzie district.

                  12 of 25George Empson

                  Snow caused road closures around the Mackenzie district.

                  Driving in the snow proved difficult.

                  13 of 25George Empson

                  Driving in the snow proved difficult.

                  Stewart Watt clears Tekapo streets on Saturday.

                  14 of 25George Empson

                  Stewart Watt clears Tekapo streets on Saturday.

                  A bird sits atop a snow-blanketed tree.

                  15 of 25George Empson

                  A bird sits atop a snow-blanketed tree.

                  Snow looms over the town.

                  16 of 25George Empson

                  Snow looms over the town.

                  The snow created a winter wonderland.

                  17 of 25George Empson

                  The snow created a winter wonderland.

                  Snow clung to the branches of trees.

                  18 of 25George Empson

                  Snow clung to the branches of trees.

                  Bench seats covered in snow.

                  19 of 25George Empson

                  Bench seats covered in snow.

                  A school zone sign covered in snow.

                  20 of 25George Empson

                  A school zone sign covered in snow.

                  The snow was starting to melt west of Tekapo on Sunday morning.

                  21 of 25George Empson

                  The snow was starting to melt west of Tekapo on Sunday morning.

                  Tire tracks through the snow.

                  22 of 25George Empson

                  Tire tracks through the snow.

                  The sun shone over Tekapo on Sunday after a frosty start for the weekend.

                  23 of 25The-Timaru-Herald

                  The sun shone over Tekapo on Sunday after a frosty start for the weekend.

                  Snow settled over the hills near Tekapo.

                  24 of 25George Empson

                  Snow settled over the hills near Tekapo.

                  A vehicle drives through the snow.

                  25 of 25George Empson

                  A vehicle drives through the snow.

                  “They’re not dissimilar to the average temperatures for this time of year,” Best said.

                  READ MORE:
                  * Weather: Freezing temperatures in the south round out first week of winter
                  * Front brings high temperatures in Labour Weekend warm spell
                  * More cold weather on the way for South Canterbury

                  The NZ Transport Agency reported on Saturday snow had closed Burkes Pass/State Highway 8, between Tekapo and Fairlie, from 11.30am to 1.25pm; as well as Mt Cook Rd/SH80, between Aoraki/Mt Cook and Pukaki, from 12.20pm to 3.15pm.

                  Best said the cold snap resulted from a cold front which left behind a cold southwesterly airstream.

                  Bikes blanketed by snow in Tekapo on Saturday.

                  George Empson/Supplied

                  Bikes blanketed by snow in Tekapo on Saturday.

                  “The forecast for the Canterbury High Country is about -4C so it stays pretty cold there through the week.

                  “We are expecting overnight frosts for much of the South Island east of the ranges.”

                  Tekapo was the coldest spot in New Zealand on Saturday with an overnight temperature of -6.6C.

                  John Bisset/Stuff

                  Tekapo was the coldest spot in New Zealand on Saturday with an overnight temperature of -6.6C.

                  Lake Tekapo photographer George Empson was out and about on Saturday and Sunday morning taking shots of his snow-blanketed hometown.

                  “Everybody, when it was snowing yesterday, was having a good time and some were throwing snowballs,” Empson said.

                  “It’s just magic. It’s always an attraction for tourists too.”

                  Empson said while growing up in the town during the 1950s, the winters were “extremely hard” with snow up to 30 centimetres deep – but in recent years, the snow fell more lightly and struggled to settle for long.

                  “Compared to the past few years, it was heavier than usual. And if we get a run of frosts, it should stick around.

                  “We used to get some great falls when I was a boy. Even the edge of the lake used to freeze.”

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                • gnfb1234

                  gnfb1234 2:48 pm on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                    New Zealand Red Cross to relaunch Care Parcels in Hawke's Bay 

                    The parcels are made up from donations from AMI, Air New Zealand, Bunnings, Countdown, Dettol and Glen 20. "There are many great stories of how …

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                  • gnfb1234

                    gnfb1234 1:46 pm on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                      NZ should capitalise on Covid-free status and PM's global profile 

                      New Zealand should be capitalising on our Covid-free status and the global reputation of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern but the government still has a …

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                    • gnfb1234

                      gnfb1234 1:41 pm on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                        Three people in car partially-submerged car in central North Island 

                        Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter has been called to the submerged car.


                        Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter has been called to the submerged car.

                        Three people are in a car partially-submerged in water in a central North Island farm pond.

                        The car went into a pond on a rural property near Raetihi about 11am on Sunday.

                        Police confirmed three people were in the car.

                        Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter had been called to the scene.

                        Craig Hughes works at Caltex in Raetihi and he heard fire and emergency services rushing to the scene in the morning.

                        “First the siren went off. Then it was the ambulance and then we got the helicopter coming through.

                        “I noticed [the helicopter] was heading in Auckland’s direction and knew it was bad because it normally goes to Whanganui.”

                        He said the helicopter would usually fly over his property as it took people south, but it went north this time.

                        More soon.

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                      • gnfb1234

                        gnfb1234 12:54 pm on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                          Three people in car submerged in Raetihi farm pond: Police 

                          Three people are in a car submerged in a farm pond in the central North Island, police say.

                          Emergency services have been called to a report of a vehicle underwater in a farm pond in the central North Island.

                          Police said they were alerted to the incident in Raetihi, in the Ruapehū district, just after 11am.

                          Police said there was no further information available at this stage.

                          More to come.

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                        • gnfb1234

                          gnfb1234 12:42 pm on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                            Policing takes centre stage in New Zealand 

                            The killing of George Floyd has transformed policing into a front-line election issue in New Zealand, where Jacinda Ardern’s government is being urged to rule out a recent flirtation with armed officers.

                            Maori and Pasifika people, consistently over-represented in crime statistics and prison populations, are at the heart of the rebellion.

                            New Zealand is one of a handful of countries where police on general rounds do not carry firearms; a point of pride for many Kiwis.

                            That changed last year in the wake of New Zealand’s worst mass shooting, the Christchurch mosque shootings.

                            After the March 15 attacks, police began a six-month ‘Armed Response Team’ (ART) trial in three communities – Manukau in Auckland’s outer south, Waikato, and Canterbury.

                            While the trial ended without an ART officer firing a shot, the shift rankled many, particularly those in Maori and Pasifika communities who already felt targeted by police.

                            The issue was at the fringe of New Zealand’s public debate until Mr Floyd’s death – and more precisely, the gut-wrenching images of police brutality – made Kiwi policing into a top-line concern.

                            Criminal justice advocate Julia Whaipooti said the groundswell came as “the visibility for the potential for harm became very present”.

                            “But the issues aren’t new. The discussion might be on steroids at the moment but the issues aren’t new,” she told AAP.

                            One campaign – Arms Down NZ – say they’ve been overwhelmed with support.

                            “In the week since George Floyd was murdered, tens of thousands have signed a petition saying no to armed policing,” group spokeswoman Emilie Rakete said.

                            “It’s being picked up from all walks of life in all communities.

                            “They’ve done so because that death is fully understandable in a New Zealand context.

                            “We have racist police here too and we have Maori that are killed by police too.

                            “Maori communities are universally opposed to armed police patrols and thousands have written to their MPs.”

                            The Arms Down campaign aims for police and community disarmament, arguing police must take the lead to avoid escalating firearm ownership and abuse.

                            Police data reveals Maori and Pasifika people are six times more likely to be handcuffed than New Zealanders of European descent.

                            Maori and Pasifika are nine times more likely to be tasered, 10 times more likely to have a police dog used against them and 11 times more likely to be pepper sprayed.

                            Police Association boss Chris Cahill says those statistics tell only half the story.

                            “We know Maori are over-represented in the criminal justice system,” he tells AAP.

                            “That flows from the over-representation in almost all negative statistics in New Zealand, in poor health, education, mental health, trauma.

                            “To some degree by the time the police is involved … they’re already in an incredibly difficult environment and police are the last stop.”

                            While Mr Cahill says the three regions were picked for their high rates of firearm offences, Ms Whaipooti points out their strong Maori and Pasifika populations.

                            “You put more militaristic weapons into any police force in any country and they will be used. If you put them in communities that are already over-policed, they will be used more,” she tells AAP.

                            “Take guns out of the hands of police and you save the lives of Maori.

                            “It’s an expansion of power and it’s not the style of policing anyone wants here in New Zealand.”

                            There are also fears the arming of police could entrench a divide from police and minority communities, making it harder to establish genuine grassroots policing that all sides of the debate would like.

                            A survey conducted by Action Station – a similar organisation to Australia’s GetUp! – found that 91 per cent of people were less likely to call for police assistance if attending officers were armed.

                            Ms Whaipooti has also brought a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal arguing a lack of consultation with Maori before introducing the ARTs.

                            On this point, Mr Cahill concedes police shortcomings.

                            “Was there enough community consultation? No. Was putting them out there in big black vehicles a good idea? No it wasn’t,” he said.

                            “But we want to see the results of the trial (because) the number of firearm offences in New Zealand is going up.

                            “The issue is already out there and this is the environment police work in.”

                            Debate has raged as the September 19 election nears.

                            The Greens are the only party to establish a formal stance against armed policing, with Justice spokeswoman Golriz Ghahraman urging the police to avoid a shift “towards dangerous, military-style policing”.

                            Ms Ardern has said she is “personally totally opposed” but the issue is an operational one for police.

                            For advocates, riding high on a groundswell of support, the popular Labour leader’s stance is not enough.

                            “It would be insane for a Labour government, which depends upon the support of Maori electorates, to continue to deny us justice and force us to deal with armed police,” Ms Rakete said.

                            “I think they would be absolutely swept in Maori seats if they try to let this go ahead.

                            “If Labour doesn’t know what they are doing, it will become an electoral issue. We will make it an electoral issue.”

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                          • gnfb1234

                            gnfb1234 11:41 am on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                              Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and daughter start over in New Zealand 

                              A former spy and his daughter who were poisoned by Russian military intelligence agents have started a new life in New Zealand.

                              Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia settled in the country after spending more than a year ensconced in a British MI6 safe house, according to the Sunday Times of London.

                              The two were both found unconscious on a park bench in the British city of Salisbury in March 2018. An investigation revealed the pair had been poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era chemical nerve-agent, which had been smeared by Russian operatives on the door handle of their home. 

                              Once a Russian spy, Skripal fell afoul of his old colleagues after acting as a double agent on behalf of the British during the 1990s and 2000s.

                              Both father and daughter survived the attack after a lengthy period in critical condition.

                              Russia has a long history of targeting enemies of the state beyond their own border. In 2006 Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko was killed in London after being poisoned with Polonium.

                              Though they will likely stay under the radar for the rest of their lives, the Skripals still remain in touch with their old neighbors, Ross Cassidy and wife Mo, who received a Christmas letter in the mail from them in December.

                              “It’s nice to know they are thinking of us,” Cassidy told the Sunday Times. “But I don’t expect we’ll ever see them again.”

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                            • gnfb1234

                              gnfb1234 10:40 am on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                                How to get back to New Zealand from Europe during Covid-19 

                                “Never have I been more glad to hold a New
                                Zealand passport.”

                                An account of returning
                                to NZ during the COVID travel restrictions, featuring Cabin Staff in Hazmat suits and advice for Kiwi Expats wanting to get home.

                                By Gregor

                                I was trying to think of a
                                possible scenario in which you could find your life
                                unchanged by Covid-19; a life where 2020 hadn’t deviated
                                from the expected. I thought, maybe if you are an isolated
                                orphan Antarctic scientist perhaps or possibly some sort of
                                deranged lunatic this year could seem normal. Personally, I
                                was supposed to be continuing my studies in Paris. An
                                objective that 6 months ago seemed totally reasonable. After
                                battling it out in the trenches with French for three months
                                I decided it was time to hand in my chips and come home.

                                In the last 80 hours I’ve made my way from a long way
                                away, back to New Zealand. I’m currently being generously
                                confined by the New Zealand Government in the Grand Mercure
                                on the corner of Queens and Customs Street. So, what better
                                time to write an only slightly informative account of my
                                experience to help those of you who are yet to embark or
                                perhaps those of you who are considering the long trip home.

                                My itinerary:

                                I started in Paris, I
                                flew to Australia with an hour or so stopover in Doha.
                                Following this, I spent 40 hours (two nights) in Sydney
                                before hopping on a plane over the Tasman. Because Qatar is
                                the only country letting people transit between here and
                                Europe it is pretty likely you’ll take this route if you
                                intend on returning home from London, Berlin and other
                                European cities.

                                Now, the first step in this process is to
                                buy tickets. The only real niggly bit here is to make sure
                                that if you’re transiting in Australia that your
                                connecting flight leaves the same airport
                                you arrived in within 72 hours of your arrival
                                flight. Otherwise you’ll be expected to complete the
                                14-day quarantine in Australia on arrival, and then again
                                when you arrive in Auckland. This may seem obvious, but
                                flights are scarce and sought after, they are also prone to
                                being inexplicably cancelled. The relationship between you
                                and the airline is not as it used to be. Now, the airlines
                                hold all the cards, so it’s ultimately for them to decide
                                what you do and when you do it, be aware of this. Arguing,
                                although as always I tried valiantly, will get you nowhere.

                                The other important
                                prerequisite of this journey is to make sure you apply for
                                an air transportation quarantine exemption with the
                                Australian State Government in the state you will arrive in.
                                The Australian Government Home Affairs website explicitly
                                says that if you come from New Zealand or a Pacific Island
                                and are transiting home you do not need to apply for an
                                exemption (See photo), do ignore this information.
                                Personally, I applied for it during a paranoid hangover and
                                totally forgot about the application after I’d eaten
                                lunch. Luckily, I received the conformation of my exemption
                                about 20 minutes before I got to the airport in Paris. This
                                came in handy, I was asked for it several times throughout
                                the journey including in Australia by the NSW police. I’m
                                not sure what would have happened if I had not had it. I may
                                have still been let on the plane, either way, I certainly
                                recommend keeping your bases covered.

                                When arriving at
                                the original airport – in my case, Charles de Gaulle, in
                                Paris – it is very likely that at check-in, the airline
                                staff will have no idea about any of the pieces of paper
                                you’ve spent the last week or so collecting. They will
                                look confused when you show them your New Zealand passport
                                and tell them that you are entitled to stay in Australia for
                                up to 72 hours to transit. Do not worry too much, their
                                confusion is likely to dissipate after about an hour and a
                                half. Once they’ve walked back and forth over a distance
                                of about 50 meters several times and made a few phone calls
                                to various people who specialise in pieces of paper.
                                Following this I expect they will pierce one of your bags’
                                orifices with a long acronymed rectangular sticker. To make
                                sure this stage runs smoothly acquire as much proof that you
                                know what you’re talking about as possible, proof of
                                connecting flights for instance. I was using a phone and was
                                consequently made to send numerous emails to airline staff;
                                a bit of a drag. A binder is strongly

                                Air cabin staff in hazmat suits – Doha to Sydney during COVID

                                Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.

                                Once you’re on the
                                plane there is not much that can go wrong really, the
                                country you’re leaving probably doesn’t want you. Qatar
                                certainly doesn’t want you and Australia is likely to be
                                happy to send you home. However, rumour has it, a guy got
                                was sent back to London from Qatar because his connecting
                                flight was cancelled. Generally, however, I wouldn’t
                                expect anything exciting for this leg of the journey, Doha
                                airport will be dead.

                                Once you’re airborne again I
                                strongly advise against watching a movie called “The
                                Philosophy of Phil” with Greg Kinnear; it’s awful. After
                                the 14 hour or so trip to Australia it gets fun again. They
                                will give you a medical examination on entry, this consists
                                of them taking your temperature followed by you telling them
                                you aren’t symptomatic and then them accepting what
                                you’ve said. Once this was over, friendly Australian
                                airport staff directed me where to go. None of them were
                                certain of what to do with me but there did appear to be
                                safety in numbers, walkie-talkies and the occasional
                                swearword. No single person could possibly ever know all the
                                new rules, airport management has become a team effort. One
                                man, perhaps a former narcotics officer or an x-ray stick
                                holding person, asked me where I had come from. I told him I
                                was in Europe; an answer I expect he anticipated and one for
                                which he had prepared plenty of questions. After updating
                                him on my limited knowledge of the current conditions of the
                                place, he informed me that he had relatives in Croatia and
                                that he was – prior to covid – intending to visit. After
                                the conversation I suspect this was his goal all along. None
                                the less, I was surprised and comforted by the familiar
                                combination of accent and curiosity. Following this probable
                                anomalous airport adventure, you will then be greeted by
                                what seems like every single possible variety of Australian
                                defense force, questioned, put on a bus and taken to a

                                I was put up in central Sydney in more than
                                adequate accommodation with less than adequate food. Typical
                                nostalgia from my childhood Australian holidays kicked in
                                which caused me to enjoy my Skippy’s cornflakes and
                                Special K more than I otherwise would have. From what I
                                observed the Aussie’s have it tougher than us; they are
                                not allowed to leave their hotel rooms at all during their
                                stay. Also, they are tested for Covid-19 twice during their
                                stay, on the 3rd and 13th days. The service you get will
                                vary from hotel to hotel and caterer to caterer, I consider
                                myself lucky and am grateful for the Australian

                                Ultimately, I concerned myself with what was
                                happening elsewhere through ABC news channel and was
                                grateful to feel as safe as I did in a place that has never
                                been my home. A perk until now I was yet to acknowledge. As
                                a side note, the most annoying part of the whole journey, at
                                least for me is that everyone must wait on the bus while
                                they take people one by one into the hotel lobby, check them
                                in and question them. This means you’re stuck social
                                distancing on a bus for upwards of an hour listening to
                                people complain about being stuck on a bus social
                                distancing. For this reason, if you care enough, I would
                                advise sitting at the front of the bus because you’ll
                                likely be the first invited to get off. Cool kids at the
                                back does not apply here.

                                When you leave, and the
                                Navy, Air force, State Police, Federal Police and Army have
                                said their goodbyes you’ll be put back on a bus where the
                                whole waiting process will happen in reverse. Cool kids can
                                return to the back on this voyage, it makes no difference
                                where you sit. The flying experience is much as it has
                                always been except the airport is deserted so you aren’t
                                forced against your will by boredom into paying $35 for
                                lunch and a coffee. Plus, you’ll get a whole row to
                                yourself. In New Zealand, they will take your temperature
                                again and guide you to where you’re supposed to be
                                depending on whether or not you’re symptomatic. You’ll
                                be put on a bus and briefed at your destination. After we
                                were given the briefing, our assigned briefing person
                                immediately lost his serious disposition, and with a big
                                grin on his face said, “Welcome home Whānau” as if
                                he’d genuinely actually missed us. Never have I been more
                                glad to hold a New Zealand passport.

                                Post Script – Offer to help Kiwi expats with repatriation

                                Getting back to NZ from Europe at the moment is tricky and time consuming. And it can be exhausting trying to find reliable advice. If anyone reading this would like some help I will be in quarantine lockdown for the next 2 weeks and will be happy to answer questions. You can get in contact with me at


                                © Scoop Media


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                              • gnfb1234

                                gnfb1234 9:39 am on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                                  Philippa Greenwood Just Bought 64% More Shares In Spark New Zealand Limited (NZSE:SPK) – Simply Wall St News 

                                  Whilst it may not be a huge deal, we thought it was good to see that Philippa Greenwood, who is a company insider, recently bought NZ$58k worth of stock, for NZ$4.50 per share. While that isn’t the hugest buy, it actually boosted their shareholding by 64%, which is good to see.

                                  View our latest analysis for Spark New Zealand

                                  Spark New Zealand Insider Transactions Over The Last Year

                                  Over the last year, we can see that the biggest insider sale was by the Technology Director, Mark Beder, for NZ$463k worth of shares, at about NZ$4.63 per share. That means that an insider was selling shares at around the current price of NZ$4.44. We generally don’t like to see insider selling, but the lower the sale price, the more it concerns us. In this case, the big sale took place at around the current price, so it’s not too bad (but it’s still not a positive).

                                  In the last twelve months insiders purchased 55.33k shares for NZ$256k. On the other hand they divested 239333 shares, for NZ$1.1m. All up, insiders sold more shares in Spark New Zealand than they bought, over the last year. The chart below shows insider transactions (by individuals) over the last year. If you want to know exactly who sold, for how much, and when, simply click on the graph below!

                                  NZSE:SPK Recent Insider Trading June 6th 2020
                                  NZSE:SPK Recent Insider Trading June 6th 2020

                                  I will like Spark New Zealand better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

                                  Insider Ownership of Spark New Zealand

                                  For a common shareholder, it is worth checking how many shares are held by company insiders. A high insider ownership often makes company leadership more mindful of shareholder interests. It appears that Spark New Zealand insiders own 0.2% of the company, worth about NZ$16m. We’ve certainly seen higher levels of insider ownership elsewhere, but these holdings are enough to suggest alignment between insiders and the other shareholders.

                                  So What Does This Data Suggest About Spark New Zealand Insiders?

                                  The recent insider purchase is heartening. On the other hand the transaction history, over the last year, isn’t so positive. We don’t take much heart from transactions by Spark New Zealand insiders over the last year. But they own a reasonable amount of the company, and there was some buying recently. So they seem pretty well aligned, overall. So these insider transactions can help us build a thesis about the stock, but it’s also worthwhile knowing the risks facing this company. For example, Spark New Zealand has 2 warning signs (and 1 which shouldn’t be ignored) we think you should know about.

                                  Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies.

                                  For the purposes of this article, insiders are those individuals who report their transactions to the relevant regulatory body. We currently account for open market transactions and private dispositions, but not derivative transactions.

                                  Love or hate this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email

                                  This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.

                                  Discounted cash flow calculation for every stock

                                  Simply Wall St does a detailed discounted cash flow calculation every 6 hours for every stock on the market, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any company just search here. It’s FREE.

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                                • gnfb1234

                                  gnfb1234 8:38 am on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                                    Why Martinborough is New Zealand’s vino central 

                                    In New Zealand’s only true wine village, just 90 minutes’ drive from Wellington, you can sample your vino of choice at wineries on your own time, or on guided tours by foot, bike, or car.

                                    Best known for its pinot noir, Martinborough also produces other varieties including chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and syrah. It has 20 cellar doors: wineries that open to the public for tastings.

                                    Martinborough’s not all about wine, though.

                                    The village has excellent eateries, clothing boutiques, an art gallery, a bookshop, and a sweets shop, for starters – and there’s accommodation (from budget to boutique) in town and nearby.


                                    Marty Davis of The Wine Bank in Martinborough talks about the tasting centre which opened in late 2018.

                                    READ MORE:
                                    * The real North Island must-dos
                                    * Coronavirus: Small wineries suffer during covid-19 lockdown


                                    Neighbourhood Coffee Cafe roast ethically sourced, organic beans, make a damn good flat white and offer a healthy menu including smoothies and granola.

                                    Jeff McEwan

                                    Neighbourhood Coffee Cafe roast ethically sourced, organic beans, make a damn good flat white and offer a healthy menu including smoothies and granola.

                                    Best Coffee Spot

                                    Neighbourhood Coffee Café and Roastery has a chill vibe, cushions covered in coffee sacks, and cutlery tins wrapped in photocopies of $20 notes. They roast ethically sourced, organic beans, make a damn good flat white and offer a healthy menu including smoothies and granola.

                                    Best Lunch Spot

                                    Open for lunch from 12pm until around 2pm (and also for dinner), Tirohana Restaurant – part of Tirohana Estate, one of Martinborough’s oldest wineries – offers both casual and fine dining in its restaurant and on its terrace (weather permitting). The staff will match wines to dishes, if you want.

                                    Best Dinner Spot

                                    Walk into Cool Change Bar & Eatery, and you’ll find a busy bar with great tunes. Venture into the dining room out back and it feels like a different place altogether: quieter, with retro kitsch décor done well. The chef sometimes talks to diners about what fresh, seasonal, produce he uses, and why.


                                    Many of Martinborough's wineries are situated on the “golden mile” south of town.

                                    Jeff McEwan

                                    Many of Martinborough’s wineries are situated on the “golden mile” south of town.

                                    WINE O’CLOCK

                                    It’s well worth taking a guided Martinborough Wine Walk. Going by foot works well because, unlike more spread-out wine regions, many of Martinborough’s wineries are neighbours. Many are situated on the “golden mile” south of town: the alluvial terraces of the long-dry riverbed.

                                    Most of the vineyards on these guided walks aren’t usually open to the public, largely because they’re small operations – often run by couples – who want to work hard without distractions and are focusing not on local sales but sales online, in the domestic and sometimes export markets.

                                    Nicola Belsham, a Martinborough Wine Walk guide, knows all the winemakers, and knows how to open doors (literally and figuratively). That’s how her groups get to visit small vineyards and wineries that you couldn’t visit otherwise. Each wine walk is plotted differently, depending on which winemakers are around and who has time, and how long the visitors want to spend. So you might visit five wineries, for instance.

                                    Put on some sturdy walking shoes, because you won’t just be sauntering along the road and up vine-lined driveways.

                                    You’ll be traipsing through paddocks and climbing fences to get to different vineyards clustered close together. There’s actually something pretty cool – and more authentic – about clambering over a stile (don’t wear a skirt) to see winemakers hop off tractors and emerge from sheds to say hi and share their stories.

                                    Don McConachy from Devotus Vineyard prefers to call himself a vigneron (wine-grower) rather than a wine-maker mainly because “wine is grown not made”. He leads us through his rows of vines, giving them fond glances like you might give a small child. There are two-year-olds through to 35-year-olds. “We can’t make good wine out of bad fruit so 80% of the wine is on the vine, so to speak,” he says.

                                    McConachy and wife Valerie Worsdale do everything themselves, in a deliberately small operation. They make three kinds of Pinot Noir each year – sold online only – and there’s a waiting list. In their tractor shed, we taste a 2018 pinot. It’s very good.

                                    Most of Martinborough’s vineyards remain family-owned and run.

                                    Jeff McEwan

                                    Most of Martinborough’s vineyards remain family-owned and run.

                                    We also visit Tiwaiwaka Wines (the Maori word for fantail), run by husband and wife Morton and Elise Anderson. Morton takes us into a room where their 2019 Pinot noir are ageing in 30 barrels. He uses a “Wine Thief” (a tube-shaped pipette) to siphon out small quantities of wine for us to taste. “We’re siphoning not thieving,” Morton quips. We compare the siphoned 2019 Pinot Noir with tasters from a 2013 Pinot Noir and 2006 Cabernet Merlot. They’re delicious.

                                    Here, Belsham models how to best taste wine in what is almost performance art. First, she swirls the wine around in a glass, then sips and swirls it around her mouth, while breathing to “get flavour into the olfactory gland”. She flings around words like structure, flavour, tartness, and notes. We learn a few other gems. Who knew that strong winds impact the grapes – resulting in greater intensity of flavour?

                                    Belsham is also something of a local historian. As she explains, in the 1970s, Martinborough was a “dying town”. In 1978, locals and city councillors met to discuss how they could rejuvenate the area – and give it an identity. The answer was the humble vine. Soil scientist Dr Derek Milne conducted research that found the area was an ideal spot for growing and making wine given its dry and cool climate, with the North Island’s lowest rainfall.

                                    Milne and his colleague Dr Neil McCallum each planted a vineyard (Martinborough Vineyard and Dry River, respectively) – and others followed suit. By 1986, Martinborough had five vineyards. Now the Wairarapa has 40-plus vineyards, most in Martinborough.

                                    Most of Martinborough’s vineyards remain family-owned and run, Belsham says. “It’s a collaborative community where people share knowledge and equipment, and support each other.” That certainly seems true, unless the winemakers we meet are all good actors.

                                    The Wine Bank is more than just a wine shop.

                                    Jet Productions

                                    The Wine Bank is more than just a wine shop.

                                    In the village, on a corner overlooking Martinborough Square, The Wine Bank – a former bank – stocks around 1000 bottles of 64 different wines: 85 per cent from the Wairarapa and many from Martinborough. Some of its wines aren’t available to taste at wineries.

                                    This is more than just a wine shop. What immediately catches your eye are what can only be described as wine vending machines. Each of these eight machines dispenses, via taps, wine from one of four bottles (at either room temp or refrigerated temperature).

                                    Marty Davis, who opened The Wine Bank in December 2018, laughs when he hears me refer to the “wine vending machines”. “We call it a ‘self-service wine-tasting experience’.” These “Wine Dispenser Systems” machines, owned by Dunedin-based company WineEmotion, are so far only used by three New Zealand wine stores. At the Wine Bank, you can ask for advice from Davis and his “wine-experience facilitators”, or just do your own thing.

                                    Jim, a friendly American, gets a microchipped card from a staff member, then chooses the vending machine that dispenses pinot noirs. He positions his glass under the chosen tap, swipes his card, presses a button and out comes his ATA Rangi pinot noir. He’s opted for the small “taster” amount; you can also get a half glass, or a full glass.

                                    Jim tries some other Pinot Noirs: Dry River, Craggy Range, Escarpment, and Te Awa. “What a great idea this place is,” he says to a staff member, as he buys a bottle of the ATA Rangi, and pays for the “tab” on his card. He then sits down in one of The Wine Bank’s comfy nooks with his wife and they tuck into a gourmet platter.

                                    Davis, a former social worker, carefully restored the heritage building himself, having worked out a way to make wine part of his day. “Wine,” Davis says, “is part of Martinborough’s DNA.

                                    Martinborough's village square is a great place to grab a photo.


                                    Martinborough’s village square is a great place to grab a photo.

                                    BEST PHOTO SPOT

                                    Pose for a pic in the large, grassy village square from which streets radiate in eight different directions, in a shape loosely based on the Union Jack. The colonial buildings make a great backdrop.


                                    Brackenridge Country Retreat and Spa is located amidst rolling hills near Martinborough.


                                    Brackenridge Country Retreat and Spa is located amidst rolling hills near Martinborough.

                                    ON A BUDGET

                                    The Martinborough Top 10 Holiday Park has apartments and studio cabins far more attractive and comfortable than you’d find in most holiday parks (it also offers campervan and tent sites). It’s a quick walk to town and wineries.

                                    FOR A FAMILY

                                    At Brackenridge Country Retreat and Spa, located amidst rolling hills near Martinborough, choose between self-contained two- or four-bedroom cottages, or smaller studios, with continental-breakfast provisions by the kettle.

                                    Whitimanuka Retreat offers a Scandi-style “boutique cottage” with a glorious view over a vista of the Wairarapa.


                                    Whitimanuka Retreat offers a Scandi-style “boutique cottage” with a glorious view over a vista of the Wairarapa.

                                    FOR THE LOCATION

                                    To get to Whitimanuka Retreat, drive through a farm, along dirt roads and up hills to your destination: a Scandi-style “boutique cottage” with a glorious view over a vista of the Wairarapa, and astro binoculars to observe one of the country’s best night skies. It’s elegant, luxurious simplicity.

                                    LUXURY OPTION

                                    The Martinborough Hotel is also part restaurant (Union Square Bistro) and corner pub.


                                    The Martinborough Hotel is also part restaurant (Union Square Bistro) and corner pub.

                                    Built in 1882, The Martinborough Hotel is a local institution that offers, in its original building, luxury heritage suites featuring aged wooden floors and old-fashioned clawfoot tubs. The Petit Suites in the neighbouring building have recreated many of the older building’s distinctive heritage features. The Martinborough Hotel is also part restaurant (Union Square Bistro) and corner pub.

                                    COOL THING

                                    SWEET TEETH

                                    Sweet offerings at The Martinborough Sweet Shop and Chocolatier.


                                    Sweet offerings at The Martinborough Sweet Shop and Chocolatier.

                                    Kids, and adults with a sweet tooth, will go wild for The Martinborough Sweet Shop and Chocolatier, with jars too numerous to count full of pretty much every sweet you can imagine, from Raspberry Drops and Sherbet to Rock Candies and Pinot Noir Chocolates. Good luck choosing.

                                    This article was produced with the support of Tourism New Zealand. Read more about our partnership content here.

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                                  • gnfb1234

                                    gnfb1234 7:36 am on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                                      County dedicates new multi-use addition to trail system | Local News 

                                      Hayden Strong was in between a couple big bicycle racing series.

                                      So he just decided to drop by the Washington Park Velodrome on Tuesday night and compete in the 38th Mayor’s Cup.

                                      Not only did Strong compete, the 21-year-old New Zealander cruised to victory by racking up 102 points in the 75-lap points race. A junior-to-be a Marian University in Indianapolis, Strong — who came to the United States in 2017 — came up with a Kenosha native, won the race and drove back overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning.

                                      He’ll turn around and head back to Chicago on Friday.

                                      “I’m kind of between big races right now,” Strong, who races for Texas Roadhouse, said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “I just got back from Vancouver doing a 10-day series there, and I have four days off between a series in Chicago. I decided just to come out, because it was a nice day, and try my hand in it.

                                      “I wasn’t feeling fantastic, but every time you hop on a bike you want to win. It was good local competition. Quite a few of the guys I had raced before at local velodromes.”

                                      It’s been a busy summer for Strong, who in June was in Pennsylvania racing among national teams for Olympic qualifying points.

                                      “You’ve got to make the most of the summer,” Strong said. “Back to the grind.”

                                      The Mayor’s Cup is a grind, but the field always features strong riders.

                                      Grafton’s Michael Lucas of Velocause Centraal finished second with 67 points, Chicago’s Daniel Breuer of XXX Racing was third with 64, Milwaukee’s Chad Hartley of Velocause Centraal placed fourth with 25 and Kenosha’s Rob Springer of Team Wheel & Sprocket finished fifth with seven.

                                      Riders sprint every five laps, with five points going to first place, three to second, two to third and one to fourth.

                                      Riders also get points for lapping the field, so deciding when to lap — which strong riders will inevitably do on a track like the velodrome — becomes a key moment in any points race.

                                      According to Strong, it was Breuer who first made the break.

                                      Strong didn’t want him to get away.

                                      “Basically in a points race, you want to be consistent, so I was winning all the fast sprints,” Strong said. “Daniel Breuer, he’s a very strong racer, so he attacked to get a lap, so I had no choice but to chase after it. … I was just staying on his wheel to make sure he didn’t get ahead of me.”

                                      Eventually, Strong, Lucas and Breuer lapped the field multiple times, but it was Strong who just kept accruing the most points.

                                      And in addition to his win, he enjoyed his first time racing at the velodrome.

                                      “Nice,” Strong said when asked what he felt of the venue.

                                      “The track was smooth. It was a lovely night, good local crowd.”

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                                    • gnfb1234

                                      gnfb1234 6:33 am on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                                        Alison Mau: Air New Zealand, where’s our money? 

                                        OPINION: We’ve seen the Prime Minister’s Covid-19 level 1 “golden rules”, which include much hand washing and sneezing into your elbow.

                                        Level 1 is looking very much like normal life, but with better hygiene habits.

                                        We’re good to go, it seems. This will be a massive relief to businesses all round the country who are desperate to get punters through the doors and spending again – at least those who have the jobs and the dollars to spend.

                                        One of the biggest cries we’ve heard is from the hospitality and tourism industries.

                                        READ MORE:
                                        * Customer ‘flabbergasted’ at difficulty of using Air New Zealand credits
                                        * Air NZ defends giving credits instead of cash refunds
                                        * Coronavirus: Passengers accuse Air New Zealand of double dipping on cancelled flights
                                        * Coronavirus: Air NZ obliged to refund US flights, some EU tickets for Kiwis: Consumer NZ

                                        There’s some enticing advertising going on that reminds us just how beautiful and accessible our own country is.

                                        And they’re right. I don’t need that trip to Sydney I was intending to take in May, or even the once in a lifetime six weeks in Spain I’d spent more than a year saving for. That can, and indeed, will have to wait. In the meantime, there’s the long-dreamed of trip round the South Island to do.

                                        We started the booking process about a month ago and managed to get in on some quite sweet accommodation deals, before the announcement that domestic travel would be allowed in level 2 set the sector’s undies on fire and sent prices up the chimney.

                                        The Queenstown apartment we spent $1200 on, was within a week being advertised at close to $3000 for the same number of nights. Phew, we said, nailed that! Just the flights to book now, using the credits Air New Zealand promised when our Sydney flight was cancelled.

                                        Air New Zealand chief revenue officer Cam Wallace

                                        Chris Skelton/Stuff

                                        Air New Zealand chief revenue officer Cam Wallace

                                        If we’d known at that moment about experiences like the one Alexa Bell had when she tried to use her Air New Zealand credits, we might not have jumped into the process with such naïveté.

                                        Bell had thousands of dollars tied up in unusable international flights, but saw a silver lining – she would take her family of nine to Queenstown instead. She was rightly horrified when told she was only allowed to rebook for herself. No transfer of the credit to other passengers, even family, was allowed.*

                                        She then shelled out around $400 per couple to make the dream family holiday happen.

                                        Little did we know then, though. Here’s how my partner’s conversation with Air New Zealand went (I have paraphrased for brevity.)

                                        Hello, I have credits from a cancelled “Works” flight to Sydney, I’d like to book for Queenstown on (x) date please.

                                        “Certainly ma’am. Of the $220 you spent per traveller, $89 is available for you to use for Queenstown.”

                                        Pardon? But the flight cost me $220?

                                        “Yes, but only $89 of that is the actual ticket. You can’t have the “Works” part of that back because we don’t offer “Works” on domestic flights.”

                                        But I paid.

                                        “Yes ma’am. You could use part of it to make your ticket a fully flexi ticket?”

                                        I don’t need a fully flexi ticket, I know when I want to fly. What about the rest of the money?

                                        “That was for international taxes and levies.”

                                        I’m not flying internationally, so can I have that back please?

                                        “We can send you a form to fill out to apply to have that refunded.”

                                        Great, can you send that now?

                                        “No, you have to wait until after you fly to Queenstown.”

                                        Why not now?

                                        “Because it might be needed just in case there are local taxes and/or levies to pay.”

                                        Are there taxes and/or levies on domestic flights?


                                        Where is my money?

                                        Air New Zealand planes at Wellington Airport in March.

                                        Hagen Hopkins/Getty-Images

                                        Air New Zealand planes at Wellington Airport in March.

                                        This all sounded fishy, so my partner politely asked the customer service operator to go and carefully check that with his boss, while I sat with eyebrows raised on the other side of the table. Two or three minutes later he was back on the line, confirming what he’d told us was correct.

                                        We gave up and booked completely new flights and I know we are lucky we could afford to do so. Others are not so fortunate and need the money Air New Zealand is holding in ‘credits’ to just, I dunno, get by in the Covid age.

                                        My experience and Alexa Bell’s experience, appear to fly in the face of the advice from Air New Zealand officials like Cam Wallace, who enraged a heap of people with his interview on RNZ on Tuesday. Wallace said the airline could not afford to fully refund passengers without risking dipping into its $900 million Government line of credit, and potentially risking jobs as a result.

                                        I have some sympathy for that. What I cannot swallow is his claim, later in the same interview, that the airline was doing all it could to be fair.

                                        “We are trying to do that by providing flexibility like we’ve never provided before for our customers,” Wallace told Checkpoint’s Lisa Owen. “And that is the length of time they can use the credits, the places they can use the credits, and they will be able to retain the value of the credits. We’ve tried to be fair.”

                                        Have they? I asked Air New Zealand this week whether they knew where the remaining $140 or so in ‘international taxes and/or levies’ from our Sydney tickets is. I know it has definitely not already been spent; airlines do not pay airports and border costs and the like, until the point of departure.

                                        A few hours later, a spokesperson from Air NZ told me “a mistake” had been made, and we should have been refunded the taxes.

                                        She also told me “in the past month” credit terms and conditions had been updated to allow ‘Works’ charges to now be refunded as part of the ticket price. She would not tell me the date that part of the policy was updated.


                                        Air New Zealand and customer cash, should they refund passengers?

                                        Like so many others I’m left confused and disillusioned, so I went to an expert for help; Stuff’s travel reporter Brook Sabin. Turns out he shares my concern.

                                        The airline is renowned for innovative thinking, he said, and should have had a solution worked out quickly.

                                        “Something simple, such as two options: one, a transfer of your fare into Airpoints dollars, with a 20 per cent bonus to incentivise people to take this option. So, if I’d paid $1000 for a ticket, I could have the option to have $1200 Airpoints dollars.

                                        “Or two, a refund. I just can’t understand why a company that is a world-leader in technology, hasn’t come up with a simple solution that incentivises people to keep their cash with the airline, by choice.”

                                        As for being refused our taxes back on request, for a trip we haven’t taken?

                                        “That’s outrageous. If a Government agency like Customs or Auckland Airport is refusing to give the money back to Air NZ, that’s shameful. If Air New Zealand is keeping the taxes, despite not having to pay them, that’s scandalous.”

                                        (Well, I already know Auckland Airport doesn’t have it, see above.)

                                        The airline’s spokesperson said she did not know how many people had asked for, and been denied their taxes back or how much in dollar terms the company was holding from those cancelled flights, and could not access that information before publication of this column.

                                        So here we are, as a team of five million, wanting to do what we can to carry local businesses back to profitability on our shoulders. Wanting to do what we’re being asked to do, which is use our dollars for domestic travel, and in a lot of cases having no choice but to do so with Air New Zealand.

                                        “We want people to be proud of Air New Zealand in the future,” Wallace claimed.

                                        But if Air New Zealand still wants our love, right now it’s got a way to go to really earn it.

                                        *Air New Zealand confirmed they had changed their policies on Friday, June 5 to allow credits to be used for passengers other than the original customer.

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                                      • gnfb1234

                                        gnfb1234 5:34 am on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                                          Todd Muller’s new hire likely to cause disquiet among National MPs 

                                          Political commentator and lobbyist Matthew Hooton has been hired for a role in National Party leader Todd Muller’s office.

                                          The move will come as no surprise, given Hooton’s friendship with Muller and the unpaid help he provided as Muller rolled Simon Bridges as party leader.

                                          But it is also likely to cause disquiet among some of Muller’s caucus colleagues, given Hooton’s chequered history with the National Party, in particular his clashes with Sir John Key, Steven Joyce and Murray McCully.

                                          READ MORE:
                                          Nikki Kaye on her Māori blunder, leadership challenges and Simon Bridges
                                          No Mullermania yet for Todd Muller in first poll since leadership change
                                          National leader Todd Muller says Coalition Government is dysfunctional
                                          Covid 19 coronavirus: Leaked Cabinet paper emboldens Todd Muller; Jacinda Ardern fires back

                                          Hooton confirmed to the Herald that he is now officially working for Muller.

                                          “I have recently been engaged by the National Leaders’ Office on a short-term basis. Obviously I am too conflicted to do any political commentary right now.”

                                          He has been a prominent political commentator, writing a regular column for the Herald including one on the morning of National’s leadership vote stating why the MPs had to choose Muller.

                                          The column included a disclaimer that Hooton has been a personal friend of Muller’s for 30 years and “has spoken to him during recent events. These views are his own.”

                                          He later told RNZ that he had given Muller his support as a friend after Muller had told him two days before the vote that he was going to challenge.

                                          He also made his friendship with Muller clear in RNZ interviews before the leadership vote – one on the morning of the vote and one on the previous day – but he did not fully disclose the extent of his involvement.

                                          He later revealed he had travelled to Wellington on the morning of the vote at the request of National MP Nikki Kaye, who is now deputy leader, to help the Muller team.

                                          “I was later asked to help Todd on an unpaid basis through Friday afternoon, and advised RNZ and the Herald that I could no longer do my usual Nine to Noon and Business Herald slots under these circumstances,” he told RNZ.

                                          Lobbyist and political commentator Matthew Hooton has been hired on a short-term-basis in the National Party leader's office. Photo / Brett Phibbs
                                          Lobbyist and political commentator Matthew Hooton has been hired on a short-term-basis in the National Party leader’s office. Photo / Brett Phibbs

                                          It is still unclear whether a role has been confirmed for political strategist Tim Hurdle, who was with Muller in Wellington when he won the leadership.

                                          Hurdle used to run the New Zealand arm of controversial political strategy and polling firm Crosby Textor, but it is understood he finished that role at the end of February.

                                          He is based in Muller’s Bay of Plenty electorate, where he is involved in the electorate branch, and he has previously worked in Gerry Brownlee and Steven Joyce’s ministerial offices.

                                          Hurdle was originally touted as Muller’s potential campaign director on a list that included Megan Campbell as Muller’s chief of staff.

                                          Campbell has previously worked at Wellington lobbying firm Saunders Unsworth as well as Curia, the polling firm used by the National Party.

                                          Hooton was also on that list as the potential head of communications.

                                          Hooton featured prominently in Nicky Hager’s books The Hollow Men and Dirty Politics, and fell out of favour with many in the John Key-led Government.

                                          Speaking to the Spinoff last year, Hooton said: “I was pretty strongly excluded from the Key government because of my criticisms of – ironically, something revealed by Nicky Hager – the use of the SIS to smear the leader of the opposition. I thought Key should have resigned over that and I said so on the radio. Also I attacked him strongly over the ponytail. And of course I led the criticism of Murray McCully’s dodgy sheep deal.”

                                          Hooton also angered Joyce when he wrote a National Business Review column titled “Joyce sacking first test of Bridges’ leadership” in 2018.

                                          Joyce took legal action against Hooton, who later apologised and settled the case, paying $5000 for Joyce’s costs. Joyce later won a defamation case against the NBR.

                                          A UMR poll taken the week after Muller became party leader showed no substantial change to the National Party’s fortunes, although Muller debuted at 13 per cent in the preferred Prime Minister stakes.

                                          The poll results had National on 30 per cent – just 1 per cent higher than the last UMR poll under Bridges’ leadership at the end of April.

                                          Labour was still well ahead of National on 54 per cent. NZ First was on 5 per cent and the Green Party on 4 per cent.

                                          Jacinda Ardern was on 65 per cent support as preferred Prime Minister.

                                          UMR is the polling company used by the Labour Party, but this was one of a regular series taken for its corporate clients rather than Labour.

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                                        • gnfb1234

                                          gnfb1234 5:31 am on 07/06/2020 Permalink | Reply | Flag unresolved

                                            ‘Welcome home’: greeting eases tension after long stay in India 

                                            A New Zealander who arrived home on a repatriation flight from Delhi says he was overwhelmed by the warm welcome at the airport.

                                            Sydney, Australia - February 12, 2019: Air India Boeing 787 Dreamliner taxiing at Kingsford Smith Sydney International Airport. Registration: VT-NAC

                                            Health precautions were in evidence for the flight from Delhi to Auckland.
                                            Photo: 123RF

                                            Dev Bhardwaj planned to stay four weeks in India when he flew over alone to visit his sick father in January but his flight was cancelled and India went into lockdown.

                                            After being stranded in India for four months, he touched down in Auckland yesterday.

                                            Bhardwaj said his excitement at being home was boosted by the greeting from government officials.

                                            “Every department official I met said ‘welcome home’. That takes away all your feelings about what you faced about being away from the country for so long. All your tiredness disappeared with those simple words – ‘welcome home’.”

                                            He said the airport in Delhi was quiet and the only international flights running were to Frankfurt and New Zealand.

                                            Health protocol was strict on the flight.

                                            Baggage was sanitised before being loaded and people practised social distancing. All passengers were given a kit containing hand sanitiser, alcohol wipes, masks and a face shield. Passengers sitting in middle rows wore a full PPE suit to prevent the possible spread of Covid-19.

                                            Bhardwaj said he looks forward to seeing his family when he is released from two weeks of managed isolation.

                                            About 200 New Zealanders stranded in India since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic were on the flight.

                                            It is one of six planned to and from India this month – subject to regulatory approvals.

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