RNZ New Zealand
Man appears in court after five women attacked - RNZ
A man has appeared in the Christchurch District Court in connection with five separate home invasions in Upper Riccarton this morning.
A man has appeared in the Christchurch District Court in connection with five separate home invasions in Upper Riccarton this morning. Christchurch District Court. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon The 45-year-old faces three charges of assault with intent to commit rape on a female over 16, five of burglary and one of strangulation. Asked by Judge Quentin Hix if he had anything to say, the man - who has been granted interim name suppression - said he was very sorry for what had happened. He made no plea and was remanded in custody for three weeks while a lawyer is appointed. Detective Senior Sergeant Colin Baillie said the five women at the centre of these incidents showed extreme courage and were being provided with support. He said despite these traumatic events, thanks to the actions of these women, police were able to mobilise staff to the area quickly. Police are conducting scene examinations at several Upper Riccarton properties today.
Smiths City rebranded, relaunched after Covid-19 forced it into receivership - RNZ
Smiths City has been relaunched with a significant rebrand, opened three new stores, including its flagship store in Christchurch, and made a commitment to meet the needs of rural customers.
A retail phoenix has arisen from the ashes with appliance and furniture retailer Smiths City relaunching after Covid-19 forced it into receivership earlier this year. Smiths City has opened its new flagship store in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied The company was sold to the investment fund, Polar Capital, for $60 million in May, as the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns significantly impacted trading. As part of the relaunch, the company has undergone a significant rebrand, opened three new stores, including its flagship store in Christchurch, and made a commitment to meet the needs of rural customers. "One of the key things when we went through Covid and [Polar Capital] picked [the company] up, the loss making stores that were dragging us down ... they got closed down," Smiths City managing director Tony Allison said. "The other thing is we've come in straight away and invested in new systems, so both in terms of our enterprise resource planning system and our finance company system." Allison said the company was also working hard to improve the in-store customer experience. "We don't want to be a shouting at people and saying 'come here, buy this, do that', what we want to do is be a good honest retailer." He said the company's rebrand, which included changing its colour scheme, was part of its strategy to be less "shouty". Polar Capital's Colin Neal said the recent acquisition had given Smiths City the chance to re-evaluate what the company stood for. "We are de-emphasising the 'city' from the brand in recognition of everything we are not. We are not big 'city'. Our most successful stores are not big city, they are regional heartland New Zealand." "We see ourselves as a valued, trusted partner in the heart of our communities and that's where we want to be. We just see ourselves as locals within those cities; knowledgeable and a straight-talking bunch of Kiwi good buggers." Smiths City has 25 stores nationwide.
Live updates: 2020 Silver Scrolls - RNZ
The Silver Scrolls are New Zealand's most prestigious music awards.
The Silver Scrolls are New Zealand's most prestigious music awards. Songs by Reb Fountain, Nadia Reid, Benee, L.A.B., and Troy Kingi have been chosen as the top five contenders for the 2020 Silver Scroll songwriting award. The ceremony will include performances from a specially curated line-up of musicians who will reinterpret the five finalist songs. They will also reinterpret the winning songs in the Maioha (te reo Mori songwriting) and SOUNZ (classical) categories. The top five songs for the main award were voted on by members of APRA (the Australasian Performing Rights Association), which represents songwriters in New Zealand. They chose from a long list of 20 songs, which was compiled from more than 200 entries by a judging panel of 10 songwriters. The awards are proudly supported by NZ On Air and Te Mngai Paho.
ACC to reassess claims for surgical mesh injuries - RNZ
Nearly 400 people could have their cases reassessed under the guidelines, which were developed based on the latest medical evidence and understanding of mesh injuries.
ACC is to reassess claims for surgical mesh injuries it previously declined, as well as consider fresh claims it receives. Photo: 123RF Nearly 400 people could have their cases reassessed under the guidelines, which were developed based on the latest medical evidence and understanding of mesh injuries. ACC's announcement arose from a restorative justice process last year, during which 600 people injured by surgical mesh shared their stories through 32 online forums or an online database. Campaigner Patricia Sullivan, who co-founded the support group Mesh Down Under, said the change was good news for claimants. She said as of September, 377 claims dating back to 2005 - most of them women - were declined. For those people, ACC is the only avenue for having their medical costs met, she said. Another problem for mesh complications is pain - a symptom ACC did not consider until now. "It's basically a chronic inflammation occurs at the site of the mesh and that can mean that the mesh can contract and it gets stiff and it gets very painful. "So people can have abdominal pain, pain at the site of the surgery, internal pain, pain on intercourse, neuropathic (pain), terrible. It's like the worst tooth ache you could ever imagine," she said. Charlotte Kerr is a solicitor at John Miller Law and has been involved in several cases involving mesh claimants. She said there were a number of hurdles clients had to overcome before ACC would accept the claim - that is before compensation could even be considered. Under ACC's treatment injury criteria, a claimant must show they suffered a physical injury as a result of treatment. For mesh, physical harm includes damage to the nerve, which must be seen and the damaged nerve must be named. "It's incredibly difficult to identify the damaged nerve and know precisely the mechanism of injury. Our diagnostic tools, and perhaps our medical science, might not be able to identify microscopic damage to nerves," Kerr said. She said it was then up to the ACC claimant, already suffering from their injuries and perhaps unable to work, to engage doctors and pay for diagnostic tests to prove the precise nature and location of that damage, which is incredibly onerous for that claimant. Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand president Stephen Mark operates on patients who have had complications from mesh where it involves the urinary tract. He welcomed ACC's announcement, saying expanding the claim criteria would help improve the outcomes for patients who had complications from mesh - including the criteria for pain. "The new ACC document clarifies where ACC would cover pain, where there was not pain present prior to surgery and no previous pain problems and the pain was directly linked to the site and the location of the mesh, with some objective evidence there was a problem," he said. In a statement, ACC said under the new guidelines, where there is clear evidence of mesh erosion or extrusion, specific nerve damage, surgical error or infection caused by treatment, it is now likely to accept the claim. While it has updated and released new guidelines for gynaecology claims, it is yet to release new guidelines for those who have suffered complications from hernia treatment, which mostly involves men. Sullivan was suspicious of that decision. "We want to know, when did ACC start writing these hernia guidelines and why are they assessing all mesh claims if the hernia guidelines aren't completed? When will these guidelines be published and who will be the hernia specialist external assessors looking at these hernia claims?" she asked. She also wanted more information about what independent oversight there would be of the reassessment process and what, if any, evaluations would be published. She said that for a group that had fought for so long, transparency was important and they did not want it to be a box ticking exercise. "We are wanting outcomes and the only way we will know if these outcomes are robust is if we have a report that evaluates those outcomes and if we know that there has been independent oversight of this process," she said. ACC said it was continuing to work with external medical experts on its guidelines for hernia mesh claims. "There is no time limit for clients to take up this opportunity, and we will be monitoring requests and providing regular updates on the number of requests we're receiving and the outcome of those reassessments," ACC chief customer officer Emma Powell. "As that progresses, we will consider the appropriate time to collate a report on the outcomes of this process. This regular reporting will ensure the process is transparent." Sullivan expected more people to come forward as a result of today's announcement. ACC said those wanting to have a mesh claim considered or file a new claim should ring its reassessment team or contact a GP or medical specialist.
Reef bigger than Empire State Building discovered off Queensland - RNZ
Scientists on a research vessel probing Australia's oceans have found a new reef as tall as a skyscraper, the longest recorded sea-creature, and new species, but warn the fragile coral ecosystems are being decimated by climate change.
Scientists on a research vessel probing Australia's oceans have found a new reef as tall as a skyscraper, the longest recorded sea-creature, and new species, but warn the fragile coral ecosystems are being decimated by climate change. Researchers working on board the research vessel the Falkor have found a new reef as tall as a skyscraper in the waters off Cape York in North Queensland. The 'detached' reef is the first to be discovered in more than 120 years. It is about 1.5km wide, and reaches down to more than 500 metres below the surface - making it larger than the Empire State Building. Researchers discovered the 'blade shaped' reef on 20 October during a 12-month mapping project of Australia's oceans. It's estimated to be 20 million years old at its deepest part. Queensland is home to the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef system, made up of more than 2900 reefs. A "detached" reef refers to one that's bedded to the ocean floor, rather than part of the main body of a wider reef system. The newly-found coral formation sits among a cluster of seven other detached reefs that were mapped in the 1800s. However the marine ecosystem on the top of this latest find appeared to be more vibrant than the others, according to research leader Robin Beaman from James Cook University. "It's got a thriving coral community at the pinnacle," Dr Beaman said. "When we got to the crest of it - it's only about 300m by 50m wide - we found a lot of fish and a healthy shark population too." The reef rises from about 500m deep up to 40m. Photo: Supplied/ Schmidt Ocean Institute Detached reefs of this nature act as isolated seamounts, (a structure that rises from the ocean floor without reaching the water's surface) according to Dr Beaman. Because there is a lot of deep water between it and the next coral community, they have the potential to evolve unique species. The team has been exploring the reef using an underwater robot called "SuBastian", which has a remotely controlled arm, to collect samples for identification. "As a collective over the entire [12-month] expedition, we've been finding a whole lot of new species," Dr Beaman said. "It's going to take time for us to work through the imagery and samples we've collected before we can say if there are new species [at this reef] or not." They made the discovery about 80km east of Cape Grenville, on Queensland's east coast. The researchers found new reef- building evident down to about 200m, and said during the last ice age some of the reef would have been in much shallower water, or even exposed. Siphonophores are predators that feed by dangling stinging tentacles in the water. Photo: Supplied/ Schmidt Ocean Institute 'World's longest recorded sea creature' among new finds The Falkor is being funded by the Schmidt Ocean Institute - a research body founded by American philanthropist and businesswoman Wendy Schmidt, and her husband, former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt. Several new species have already been discovered during the project, Institute spokesperson Carlie Wiener said, as well as the "world's longest recorded sea creature" - a 45-metre long siphonophore found at Ningaloo canyon, off Western Australia. A siphonophore is a type of colonial organism; it's a string-like arrangement of many individual animals - zooids - that live connected together in a colony, and carry out different functions that allow the collective to digest food, float, reproduce and move about. Wiener said their latest reef discovery demonstrated how valuable the project is. "Australia has no dedicated underwater vehicle, so there are a lot of areas that haven't been looked at before. This is evidence for the importance of exploring our undersea environment, so that we can protect it." Dr Nerida Wilson in the Falkor control room discovering a rare deep see hydroid at 2497 metres. Photo: Supplied/ Schmidt Ocean Institute Scientists warn the reefs face devastating survival challenges Just weeks ago the Royal Society published research showing half the corals on the Great Barrier Reef have died since 1995, due to climate change- induced coral bleaching. The extent of deeper reefs, like the one just discovered, is only now becoming known as technology has improved, said reef scientist Terry Hughes from James Cook University, who co-authored that study published by the Royal Society. The highest point of the newly discovered detached reef is 40 metres below the surface, making it a mesophotic reef. "Mesophotic reefs - reefs deeper than 30 metres, it turns out there's probably at least as much coral habitat below 30 metres as there is above it, and people are still mapping it," Hughes said. The SuBastian awaiting deployment from the back of the Falkor, while exploring Flinders Reef. Photo: Supplied/ Schmidt Ocean Institute Because of their depth and distance from shore, mesophotic reefs are less susceptible to bleaching, cyclones, fishing pressure and land-based pollution, however they are still degrading, albeit at a slower rate than their shallow-water counterparts. Because most coral and marine species are restricted to specific zonal conditions, mesophotic reefs aren't going to help restock shallower reefs damaged by bleaching events or other impacts, he said. "There's been some speculation that's pretty well resolved now, that the deep reefs could be reserves for the shallow ones. That turns out not to be the case," he said. "Many corals are shallow water specialists and others are deep water specialists and only a few have a broader depth range. There are corals that you only find shallower than five metres [and] there are other corals you only find deeper than 30." One of the organisms photographed by the scientists on board the Falkor. Photo: Supplied/ Schmidt Ocean Institute While findings like this are interesting, Hughes said that we still need to urgently get emissions down to protect shallower corals. "We still have an opportunity to save the reef if we deal with climate change. "1.1 degrees of warming so far has triggered five bleaching events since 1998; [but] we still have half a reef." "What [warming] stabilises at will be critical. 1.5 to 2C is doable, but the mix of species will be different. It already is. If we go to 3 or 4C it will be a pretty sad state of affairs." - ABC
US sex cult leader sentenced to 120 years in prison - RNZ
The US leader of the Nxivm cult has been sentenced to 120 years in prison for an array of crimes, many involving the exploitation of women and children.
The US leader of the Nxivm cult has been sentenced to 120 years in prison for an array of crimes, many involving the exploitation of women and children. Former members of Nxivm, Linda Chung (2R), Nicki Clyne (L) and Michelle Hatchette (C) speak outside the court after Keith Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison. Photo: AFP Nxivm founder Keith Raniere was last year convicted of racketeering, sex trafficking, child pornography possession and other crimes. The punishment was handed down on Tuesday by a District Judge in Brooklyn after a sentence hearing where former members of the cult spoke out against him. As leader of the group, Raniere recruited women as slaves and forced them to have sex with him. Prosecutors said the 60-year-old should spend his life behind bars for the "immeasurable damages" he caused to victims of the cult. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis also fined Raniere US$1.75m (NZ$2.6m). Raniere himself never took the stand during the case last year. He was the only member of Nxivm's leadership to face trial as others took plea deals. Keith Raniere. Photo: Keith Raniere Conversations / Youtube His lawyers have maintained his innocence throughout, and have blamed a "media campaign involving witnesses who were motivated to testify falsely" for his conviction. US authorities began investigating Nxivm - pronounced nexium - after the publication of a New York Times investigation in 2017. Based in Albany, New York, and created in 1998, the group described itself as a "community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people". According to its tagline, the organisation is "working to build a better world". It says it has worked with more than 16,000 individuals and operates centres across the US, Canada, Mexico and Central America. But in reality Raniere sat at the top and controlled female members through a slave and master system. Some women were branded in their pelvic areas with Raniere's initials in filmed ceremonies, while members would gather each year to celebrate and pay for his birthday - an event known as "Vanguard Week". One former member testified that she was "groomed" for weeks before she turned 18 so Raniere could take her virginity. Known as Daniela, she told the court that she and her sisters were impregnated by him and forced to have abortions, and that she and one of her sisters - who was underage - were forced to have sex with him a number of times. The cult membership reportedly included Hollywood actresses, heiresses and even the son of a former Mexican president - some of whom testified against Raniere in court. In 2018 FBI agents arrested Raniere in Mexico after he left the US following the New York Times report. - BBC
Pak'n Save Māngere fined $70,000 for price discrepancies - RNZ
A Kennedy's Foodcentre trading as Pak'n Save Māngere has been fined more than $70,000 for price discrepancies in 2018.
A Kennedy's Foodcentre trading as Pak'n Save Mngere has been fined more than $70,000 for price discrepancies in 2018. File photo. Photo: 123RF The supermarket was found to have charged a higher price at the till to what was advertised, or displayed on the shelf. It had earlier pleaded guilty to six charges of making false or misleading representations about price. On six dates in 2018, Pak'n Save Mngere was found to have charged a higher price at the till for products like sliced salmon, mushrooms and avocados.
- Sliced salmon was displayed at $8.99 but charged at $10.79 on four occasions
- Mushrooms were displayed at $4.99 but charged at $6.99 on two occasions
- Avocados were displayed at three for $5 but charged at $1.99 each on one occasion.
Northland shooting at officer: Police Association renews call for armed officers - RNZ
The call comes after two gunmen shot at an officer in Northland yesterday, and as police are concerned there will be a tragedy.
The Police Association is renewing calls for officers to be routinely armed after two gunmen shot at an officer in Northland yesterday. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller The officer was uninjured but her car's windscreen was damaged. Police believe a kidnapping and car being set alight in the area could be linked to the incident. The association said the police community supported routine arming of officers and it wanted that policy reviewed. It said the shooting was a reminder of the huge number of firearms in criminals hands. Police Association vice-president Mike McRandle told Morning Report the impact of these types of incidents was far-reaching within police. "The wider police family are doing their best to help look after her [the officer], including all of our members, the ripple effect when you drop a stone in a pond goes wide. "I was really thankful nobody was hurt, that is our biggest concern at the moment. That June tragedy is still really live and very clear in our minds. "However, we've had increasing incidents like this in the last while and it is really concerning to our members the serious criminal element in our society is prepared to use firearms against police." The windscreen of the police car shot at in Northland. Photo: Supplied / NZ Police McRandle said in the last six surveys of members, from 2008 and onwards, the percentage of support for arming had increased, with 66 percent of all police members having that view last year. He also noted that surveys showed more support among the public for armed police, with 55 percent in favour in 2017, rising to 61 percent last year. Asked whether having a gun like in this latest incident would have helped, McRandle said he could not comment on it, because "that's an operational matter for police". "The problem you've got is when you're confronted with a person with a firearm and they're prepared to use it, you've got to take something pretty quick to make a good decision to keep yourself safe. That's the ongoing issue that some of our members are starting to face more regularly. "We're part of the community too, we're part of the community that goes to work each day, puts on a uniform with the best of intentions and does everything within their powers to be safe and make good decisions. One of the most serious simple routine incidents is stopping a vehicle on the side of a road - you just don't know what is in front of you." A Northland woman said the remote location where the incident took place south of Kerikeri, would have made the ordeal even more terrifying for the officer. The woman, who did not want to be named, has lived on Puketotara Road near Kerikeri for 16 years. "They shot at her, which must've been an awful shock for her. It'd be very scary because along this area there's not a lot of houses ... they're back off the road and it's farming," she said. "So it would've been absolutely terrifying for her and to be on her own ... just one of those little things that you 'think oh my goodness, this doesn't happen out here'. Everybody's the same though, you never think it's going to happen in your own backyard."
Gunshot fired at police may be linked to kidnapping - RNZ
Two men are still at large after a police officer was shot at this morning, and police now think it may be linked to a kidnapping.
Two men are still at large after a police officer was shot at this morning, and police now think it may be linked to a kidnapping. The police car shot at in Northland. Photo: Supplied / NZ Police The shooting unfolded on a stretch of State Highway 11 inland from Waitangi and south of Kerikeri, about 4.13am. A police car was driving between rolling hills and farms, near an intersection with State Highway 10 called Puketona Junction, when a car pulled out in front and stopped. Two men in masks got out holding guns and one shot was fired, damaging the police car's windscreen and leaving the officer uninjured, but shaken. She is receiving support from the Police Association, vice-president Marcia Murray described the incident as an "unacceptable and extremely serious incident". "It's tough for the member involved, the member's family and all the members across New Zealand," she said. "Police are going to work every day to protect our communities. And this has happened as part of their every day work. It's just not acceptable." In the hours that followed, nearby residents described waking to the noise of a tow truck removing the damaged police car, while other police cars raced along the highway with sirens blaring. Buck Lane drove by the scene shortly after 6am and saw armed officers. "That was quite ominous. We could see there was something very untoward going on. All in all they were just conducting their investigation. They had forensics show up afterwards and they were picking up small items off the road and marking them with dye marker." Police said that in a separate incident about 8am, a man sought help in Matauri Bay after being kidnapped near Kerikeri. They say a grey Nissan Skyline car was involved in the kidnapping, and it was set alight about 4.50am about 20km inland from the shooting scene. Police are now trying to work out if it is the same "silver or grey" car that stopped the officer on State Highway 11, and if the two incidents are connected. With the shooting offenders are still at large, Far North mayor John Carter said the community was on edge. He said it was "disappointing", "unwanted" and "unneeded". "There's some anger and there's some concern, and in a way it reflects the social issues we have here. That's why we're all working together to see what we can do to address this particular incident but also make sure that as we move forward, these things don't continue to reoccur," he said. In July, officer Matthew Hunt was shot and killed on the job in Auckland. In the first week of August, there were two more cases of guns being pointed at officers in Auckland and one incident in which a gun was fired at police out of a car window. Marcia Murray said there was strong support in the police community for officers to be routinely armed. She said the incident this morning was an unwelcome reminder of the proliferation of firearms in criminal hands. "The gun buyback took 60,000 of our most dangerous weapons off the streets but there's still much work to do in this space," she said. Northland Investigations Manager, Detective Inspector Dene Begbie said the Far North community could be reassured the police were doing everything possible to resolve both incidents "and hold the people responsible to account." "We've got a really good team of investigators that are working hard to try and identify what's happened, in both events, and find the people responsible." He said a number of offenders were involved in the kidnapping, and the police were hoping to have more information about them soon. Police want to hear from anyone with information - or anyone who has seen a Nissan Skyline with the registration MWD839. They can contact Kerikeri Police on 105, or provide information anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
'Great for fans': Musicians face managed isolation for chance to perform - RNZ
International music artists are creeping back onto summer festival line-ups, after getting government exceptions to enter the country.
International music artists are creeping back onto summer festival line-ups, after getting government exceptions to enter the country. Alix Perez from the UK is about to perform in Wanaka - his first live performance in eight months. Photo: YouTube They have decided two weeks in isolation is worth it for the first chance to play to a crowd. When London drum & bass producer Alix Perez launches his tour in Wanaka this weekend, after arriving a few weeks ago, it will mark his first live performance in eight months. He said he lost 100 shows in one go when the UK's Covid restrictions came into effect, and he misses the special "connection with people in clubs and hearing music out loud". "There's been none of that. In Europe and the UK where most of my friends and colleagues are, and people that I work with regularly, there's no end in sight. At the moment it's very unclear as to when thing can resume," he said. "I'm feeling very fortunate being over here and being able to operate again." Perez has moved here long-term with his New Zealand-born fiancé, who had originally planned to join him in London. Other music artists have secured government exceptions to apply for Critical Purpose Visitor Visas, and spend a few weeks in the country after a fortnight in managed isolation. It means proving they have "unique experience and technical or specialist skills" that isn't obtainable in New Zealand, or that they're undertaking a "time-critical role with significant benefits to the national or regional economy". An Immigration New Zealand spokesperson confirmed Bay Dreams festival, happening in Tauranga and Nelson in January, had helped 15 people through that process. Another two mystery international headliners have just been secured for Northern Bass New Year's festival in Mangawhai, which is directed by Gareth Popham. Despite the festival being completely sold out, with about 3000 people on the waitlist, he said it was a chance to "tick the boxes". "We're a festival known for international drum and bass and other big international artists," he said. "This year we've got what we think is one of the best Kiwi line-ups that we could put on, and now really, really happy that we get to sprinkle international talent on top. It just feels great." Popham said the festival was still showcasing more New Zealand artists, including many in higher profile set times, than in past years. But he said international acts were booked to play earlier this year, and the festival wasn't going to turn its back on them given the restrictions overseas. Artists may spend Christmas in managed isolation Northern Bass would be covering the cost of their managed isolation, which he said they would "quite possibly" be staying in for Christmas. "I think some of the artists have been very brave flying all the way from the UK, doing two weeks in isolation, missing Christmas with their families, then doing some shows and flying back. But it's great for us, great for festivals, great for the New Zealand fans." Mitchell Ryder is the director of Cream Events, which is co-organising Canopy Festival in Christchurch's Hagley Park on December, featuring Alix Perez and two other international drum & bass performers. He said the heartbreak and upsets of this year, and now the shared goal of bringing international music artists to the country, had seen the country's promoters working collaboratively. "It is really good to see everyone working together. Promoters that didn't see eye to eye in the past have needed to join forces because they're wanting to have the same acts on their festivals." For promoters, there's no ignoring the looming threat that all their hard work may go to waste, if gathering restrictions are re-introduced. But Ryder said they were focused on making "hay while the sun shines" and waiting with crossed fingers and toes, for a chance to bid goodbye and good riddance to 2020.