2018 better, says PM

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PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says the country’s economy has turned the corner and will see improvements in the New Year.
In his New Year message, the prime minister said that commodity prices were improving and new investment in the resources sector would stimulate economic activity and create jobs.
“Even during recent tough times we maintained positive economic growth, and Papua New Guinea is seen as very politically stable,” O’Neill said.
“That is what our businesses and our investors are all looking for in the years ahead.”
In giving a brief about this year’s events, O’Neill said the general election affirmed the underlying strength in the country’s parliamentary democracy.
“A strong and stable government, supported by an overwhelming majority in the national parliament is the foundation that will guide us through the challenges and opportunities of the coming five years,” he said.
“Firstly, our free education policy has been delivered, and the quality of education will be improved,” he said.
“We will train and employ more teachers, build more school buildings and continue to increase resources for teaching materials and technologies.
“Secondly, we will build on our basic free healthcare commitment by re-building hospitals and health centres. We will strengthen the work of church hospitals and other health services, and the vital work of agencies such as the YWAM Medical Ships programme.
“Thirdly, we will continue to re-build and expand our critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, airports and ports. The Highlands Highway remains a high priority and this vital road will be rebuilt and delivered to an international standard.
“And fourthly, we are successfully decentralising decision making to local communities in district administrations and local-level government.”
O’Neill said the four policy areas were important areas that would directly benefit the people.
He said the budget for 2018 was prepared with great care.
“We will not indulge in spending we cannot afford, and we will ensure as much of the burden as is possible is carried by the Government and its agencies, not by businesses and communities,” the prime minister said.
“The fundamentals of our economy are strong, we have sound GDP growth and increasing resources available to invest in key areas.
“We all know that our all-important agricultural sector requires significant Government and private sector investment.
“By working smarter, we can meet our domestic food needs and generate vital export income for our nation.
“Rebuilding and expanding the farm and agricultural sector is a key priority in the year ahead.
“We will assist producers to improve the quality of their crops, and we will improve the infrastructure in rural communities across the nation.
“We need more businesses that are owned and managed by our own people who are employing young Papua New Guineans and helping communities to grow and prosper.
“These policy commitments all provide their own challenges, but with a stable government, sound fiscal policies, and your support, we turn challenge into opportunity.
“The year ahead will improve perceptions of our country as chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) Summit.
“This is the most important international event in our history, and it will bring together the leaders and senior business executives of Apec’s other 20 member economies that account for more than half of total global trade.
“The way the world looks at Papua New Guinea will change for the better, and this will stimulate new investment and business, and create more jobs for our people.
“In sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, tourism, transportation, and mining, and in enhancing the role of women in our economy and helping SMEs, Apec will make a very positive contribution to strengthening our capacity.
“I wish you and your family, and people around Papua New Guinea, the very best for a happy, safe and successful 2018.
“Happy New Year, Papua New Guinea.


Source  :  The National


Man’s body found in Lyttelton, autopsy to confirm identity

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A man’s body has been found in Lyttelton this morning.

Police said they were called to Charlotte Jane Quay, Lyttelton and are treating the man’s death as unexplained.

More information couldn’t be provided until an autopsy was completed, police said.

That would take place tomorrow.

Cordons would be in place until then.
Source  :  New Zealand Herald

I should be dead: Groom who almost died at his stag do finally getting married

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This week, the Herald is speaking to Kiwis who have survived illnesses, accidents and crimes that almost killed them, as part of our I Should be Dead series.

On the day of his stag do, two weeks before his wedding, Adam Booker’s heart stopped beating for more than 30 minutes.

But now, almost 10 months later, the 35-year-old will finally tie the knot – and this time the wedding will hold even more meaning for the couple.

Booker, a police officer and keen rugby player, was playing Zorb soccer in Stanley Point as part of his stag party in mid-March when he went into cardiac arrest.

“About five-minutes into it they tell me they just saw me fall over. They thought I was just joking.”

His friends quickly realized it was no joke and pulled him out of the Zorb and started CPR.

A passer-by saw what was happening and ran to the Ngataringa Tennis Club to get the automated external defibrillator that had been installed there after being donated by comedian Paul Ego only days before.

By the time the passer-by made it back to him with the defibrillator Booker had turned purple and had to be shocked at least twice to get his heart pumping again before St John arrived.

Booker had no heart beat for 35-40 minutes and doctors told him, had it not been for his friends performing CPR and the defibrillator he probably wouldn’t be alive today.

Fiancee Rachael Montagu had been out for a walk at the time and came home to find a heap of missed calls. Then her brother-in-law rang. Booker was not breathing and had not been for the last 20 minutes, she was told.

She rushed to the hospital and arrived to find him hooked up to machines and in an induced coma which he remained in for two days.

During that time Montagu had no idea whether the man who was supposed to become her husband in two weeks was going to live or die.

The first time doctors tried to wake him up, nothing happened. “That was pretty devastating for me.”

Adam Booker with his fiance Rachael Montagu. Photo / Greg Bowker
Adam Booker with his fiance Rachael Montagu. Photo / Greg Bowker

But she stayed by his bedside and as the day progressed he started breathing on his own.

Booker said there was a real fear that he could wake up with brain injuries because of the lack of oxygen to his brain while his heart was not pumping.

“Rachael was beside herself for the first week or so while it was touch and go – if there was going to be lasting damage or if I was going to come out of it normal,” Booker said.

When he came to he had no idea what had happened or where he was but, despite being dead for half an hour, the only lasting effect has been that he can’t remember the week before he collapsed or the two weeks after.

Tests showed he had a genetic condition which had caused the cardiac arrest so a pacemaker was put in.

After two weeks, the nightmare was over and Booker was sent home where the couple hosted a barbecue with all the guests who had arrived in town for what should have been their wedding.

Two months later he was back at work and, while he could no longer play rugby, he jumped into coaching.

While the couple both agree Booker was incredibly lucky, they know having a defibrillator near-by saved his life.

Because of that Booker is now a vocal proponent for having the devices in as many places as possible and is somewhat of an ambassador for Auckland company Heart Saver which sells and trains people in using automated external defibrillators.

“Without it, I wouldn’t be alive. The availability of them is just massive,” he said. “In a perfect would there would be one in every Government building, every house, every sports club.”

Day-to-day life is now very much back to normal but Booker said the experience had made him more appreciative of the smaller things in life.

He was now more conscious of making the most of his proximity to One Tree Hill and took every opportunity to enjoy the walk and the “spectacular” view. He also made an effort to visit family more often.

As for the wedding, he agreed the whole experience would make January 20 an even more special day.

“It made me realize that we can get through everything,” Booker said.

For Montagu, getting married now meant even more to her than it had before.

“I’m more keen to get married now. The first time around, the idea of a wedding was fun,” she said. “Now…actually all that really matters is the ceremony and getting married.”


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Lotto win brings Lou Te Keeti racehorses, racing car and romance

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In six months, he’s won $10.3m, spent $4.3m, lost 10kg, put it back on again, “almost died”, and found a new “lease of life” buying racehorses and a Mercedes, giving to charity, and upgrading a cemetery.

Tauranga kaumatua Lou Te Keeti, in old gumboots and faded shorts, reflects on his “big year” after scooping $10.3m in the Lotto Powerball on July 8.

The 71-year-old is still “grounded” and says the win hasn’t changed him.

After the haul, he and wife Val continued “as though it was a normal day” with their weekly Pak’nSave shop.

In the aisle, Te Keeti “felt not myself, quite strange’, collapsed, and was rushed to Tauranga hospital. His doctor diagnosed him with “a case of euphoria”.

He has $6m remaining of the windfall which he is using to “create memories for the time I have left on the earth” rather than material things.

Lou Te Keeti and wife Val, pictured at Karaka New Zealand Bloodstock Ready to Run sales in November, will celebrate their 50-year wedding anniversary in 2018. Photo / Trish Dunnel

For Christmas he bought Val “a flash camera” for $800.

With four adult children, seven mokopuna, and the hapu of the marae of which he is guardian, Te Keeti has shared his winnings “responsibly” in koha.

He’s given more than $300,000 to charities, renovated a shed for the mokopuna to tenant, learnt business skills and upgraded the marae.

This month he treated the mokopuna to a week in a Whangamata bach.

“I said to Val we should hop on one of those cruise ships in Tauranga port and sail off somewhere, but she told me not to be silly, she’s too busy.”

Instead of embarking on an ocean liner, in January they will ride the Mana bus to Auckland, then a flight to Wellington.

“We’ll go to Te Papa, then flying straight back. None of the kids have flown before so it is as much about the experience.”

For Christmas, Val bought Te Keeti tools including a wrench,

“And a to-do list. There’s always something she wants me to fix.”

The mokopuna got him a Warehouse singlet, his only new item of clothing since winning Lotto.

“I like to be comfortable.”

In the weeks after the big win he lost 10kg but has since put it back on, eating Val’s pavlova and trifle on Christmas Day as well as hosting a hangi of pork and chicken.

After the win Te Keeti researched his whakapapa only to learn that male members of the whanau tended to pass away in their mid-70s.

That discovery prompted wife Val, who had found it hard to come to terms with the win, to encourage him to invest in their shared passion: racehorses.

The couple now own 10 horses, including four purchased last month for $750,000 .

“In the 50 years we’ve been married Val was always the thrifty one. We had to budget. She used to rein me in. After the win we had a coffee and talked about how we wanted to spend our last years.

“Things that mean the most in the world to us are the kids and horses. To some, racehorses might seem like an extravagance but Val has been researching bloodlines for 30 years but we have never had the money.”

Te Keeti says Val has “an intuition” about animals.

“She knows if it is going to rain by the way the cockerel sounds. She talks to the animals more than she talks to me.”

The couple also own cows, sheep, chooks and a large aviary.

Te Keeti hopes to see one of “his biggest indulgences” winning the Melbourne Cup one day.

Another recent splurge is $200,000 on a brand new S-Class Mercedes saloon in Obsidian Black, which is being imported from Europe.

He had bought Val “a sporty Suzuki” but she has not clocked up many kms in it, preferring to drive her old manual.

“She said ‘Lou, only I can fit in this little car but I like going places as a family’, and she insisted on driving her old car but I gave it away and bought her the Merc and hope she likes it.”

Val is overseeing the renovations of the family home for which he has architectural plans to turn it into a multimillion-dollar dwelling.

“Val is adamant we keep the bones of it as it is, including the wood we originally made it from our old orchard we had when we were first married.”

Mindful of his health in 2018, Te Keeti has joined the local Aspire gym and, despite his double hip replacement, is training for a triathlon with other Bay kaumatua. He’s bought himself a new bike to train on.

He has a good reason to get in shape – in 2018 he will celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary with Val. The win means he “can do it properly”.

He is gifting Val a diamond engagement ring – her first.

“Fifty years ago I never had money to buy her an engagement ring so she never had one.”

At the anniversary celebration, the couple will renew their vows.

“Well if she will have me. She will probably tell me not to be stupid and waste the money.”

He says Lotto has not given him a new life but just enhanced the one he already had.

“If anything it made me appreciate the life I already had. Even though money was tight, we had a roof over our head, kai and we all had each other. We have the same things now … some things are easier, but it’s people that matter, not money.”

It’s Val’s sentiment too, says Te Keeti, who, like the horses roaming in the paddock, keeps his feet on the ground.

“When I talk about it she tells me ‘Don’t plan your life away, Lou. One day at a time, let’s just enjoy what we have now.'”


Source  :  New Zealand Herald