Clamped while in the car: Auckland motorists crying foul at clampers’ fees

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Motorists having wheels clamped while sitting inside their cars are the latest in a string of woeful tales about the current unregulated state of private parking in New Zealand.

Two Auckland motorists were clamped in different parts of the city by parking enforcement staffers waiting nearby.

One clamper told a woman she could finish up her business before coming back to pay to have the clamp removed, meaning her car would keep taking up space in the car park.

Holly Ryan was halfway in her car when a private parking enforcer (pictured on her phone) clamped her wheel. Photo / Greg Bowker

The AA’s Mark Stockdale said such behaviour “smacks of revenue raising” because the point of clamping was ultimately to free up a park.

“If there are people in the car and can move the car then the problem is solved.”

He urged the Government to act quickly on the issue to stop “cowboy operators clamping people willy nilly”.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said he was still seeking advice from officials on the issue and had put a Member’s Bill submitted by Labour while in opposition back in the ballot.

People who believed they had been treated unfairly should look at the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s consumer protection website for advice.

Herald reporter Holly Ryan arrived at the Chinese Consulate just before it opened at 9am last Friday.

After parking in a spot she thought was reserved for consulate visitors and getting in line inside the building, Ryan was warned by another woman she should move her car or risked being clamped.

The area is a known hotspot for clamping.

The AA's Mark Stockdale said clamping people while they were in their cars

She walked back to her car and could see a man approaching.

“I opened up the door and was getting in and said ‘look sorry I’m just leaving, I didn’t know I was parked in the wrong place’.”

Ryan has one foot inside her car when the man slapped a clamp on one of her wheels, telling her she was “too late” and had to pay $150 up front to get it taken off.

“It was so fast. I assumed he was a reasonable guy,” Ryan said.

The Amalgamated Car Parking Services staffer then told her she could go back into the consulate to get her visa and come out and pay him afterward – when she asked where he’d be, he said waiting in the same spot.

“It wasn’t about the car park, he wasn’t doing his job to try and keep the car park clear for the person’s it was. He was just out to get people.”

Ryan spoke to others at the consulate, who told her they’d been charged two or three times as much as she had.

“There’s an arbitrary amount, there’s no rhyme or reason to what he’s charging it’s more like it’s what he thinks he can get away with.”

While at the site, Ryan also saw a woman get out of her car and the clamper leap into action as she walked away, clamping her wheel within a minute.

The current voluntary code of conduct regulating private car parking enforcement, which Amalgamated is not a signatory to, states a ten minute grace period must be allowed.

“They have the power because you can’t leave until you pay the money,” Ryan said.

Amalgamated boss Craig Burrows expressed irritation at being called, saying he would prefer to look into the situation rather than have another story written about clamping.

“I’ve got better things to do,” he said.

He said information about the case should be sent through and if something had been done wrong on Amalgamated’s part he would reconsider the fee.

In a similar tale, an Auckland resident who asked we use his middle name, Pal, because he felt so intimidated, said an Elite Parking Services staffer clamped his car as he sat in it in a Papatoetoe car park on Monday morning.

“The guy just came to my car quickly, he put the lock on the car’s wheel. I asked him, I was shocked, ‘what happened to my car’.”

The man said he’s broken the rules and had to pay $200 to have his wheel released.

Pal wondered how the man could know that when he hadn’t yet left his vehicle, which was parked outside the Bank of India on east Tamaki Rd.

The man also swore at an intimidated him, he claimed.

“How can you judge the person sitting inside the car,” Pal said.

“It was one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had.”

Elite Parking has been approached for comment.


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Audrey Young: Willie Jackson gets caught out on basic question

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It is was a simple question that required a simple answer but Willie Jackson was left exposed and learned a basic lesson as Employment Minister.

“What is the current average wage?” former minister Paul Goldsmith asked him in Question Time.

He either knew or he didn’t and it quickly became clear which it was.

“At the moment, we know what the average wage is,” Jackson blustered. “That MP needs to do some research.”

National MPs hooted in delight at the fact-free answer and Labour MPs looked unamused.

Clare Curran, sitting in front of Jackson, turned around and muttered something.

Kieran McAnulty sitting nearby pulled out an iPad mini and started frenetically tapping, presumably into Google, but Goldsmith beat him to it.

Goldsmith: “For the minister’s information the average wage is nearly $60,000, 28 per cent increase on nine years ago.”

He then asked what Jackson’s target was for increasing the average wage.

Jackson’s defence to being caught out was to come back fighting: “Our target is to create real jobs with dignity amongst our community. This is an Opposition that has forgotten a big group of people in New Zealand, the Maori nation and the Pacific Island nation. Shame on you!”

Next time Jackson will be better prepared.

The large National Opposition gets about two thirds of the 12 questions daily on notice to ministers and up to 38 follow-up questions with no notice which is where the real danger lies for ministers not on top of the basics of his or her portfolio.

Jackson was the not the only minister who learned a lesson today.

Revenue Minister Stuart Nash was about to deliver a first reading speech on the Taxation (Neutralising Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) Bill during the hubbub of MPs departing the chamber after Question Time.

He sat down momentarily – or for what he thought was momentarily – when Speaker Trevor Mallard ruled he had forfeited his speech for sitting down at the wrong time.

Mallard, who clashed daily with National last week, seemed determined to achieve some balance and to upset the Government today.

It worked.

Leader of the House Chris Hipkins demanded to know the basis of his ruling.

“Astonishing,” is how Winston Peters described it.

Nash sought the leave of the House to give his speech anyway but it took only one person to object and National’s Gerry Brownlee did.

According to House observer Graeme Edgeler, the same thing happened to a new minister in 2008 who was unfamiliar with how to move a first reading. That minister was Gerry Brownlee – but leave was moved by Labour to let him do it anyway and it was granted.


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Barnaby Joyce warns Jacinda Ardern to ‘stay away’ from Manus Island issue

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Australia’s deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has sent a less than veiled message to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about Manus Island: “Stay away from another country’s business.”

Joyce was sworn in again on December 6 after being forced to go to a byelection because he was found, unwittingly, to have New Zealand citizenship and dual citizens are ineligible to service in the Australian Parliament.

He hinted that what the Australian Government sees as interference in domestic policy could come back to bite her in kind.

He did not mention Ardern by name when speaking on Newstalk ZB tonight, but his comments were clearly directed at her repeated offers for New Zealand’s to take up to 150 refugees from Australia’s offshore processing centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

he also announced last month New Zealand would give $3 million to help with the refugees, which is understood to have offended the Australia Government.

Joyce said that Australia had a tough policy on boat arrivals to stop the thousands of arrivals and over 1000 drownings of people.

“That can’t go on and it did stop and that’s precisely what we wanted,” Barnaby Joyce told Larry Williams.

Asked if New Zealand should back off, he said: “I think it’s best if you stay away from another country’s business. I find that’s because others will return the favour at a time that is opportune to them.”

“Let’s respect countries” sovereignty and let the sort out their own issues,” he said.

“And if you are going to talk to them at all, talk to them quietly and discreetly, off the record, not via telephone, not via TV.”

Joyce also spoke about the citizenship furore that forced him to resign from Parliament after discovering he was a New Zealand citizen.

He has since given up that citizenship and won a byelection to return to Parliament with an increased majority.

Australia’s Constitution bars dual citizens from holding office but this year a glut of MPs have had to resign after discovering they were citizens of other countries, often without realising it.

Joyce said the revelation he had New Zealand citizenship because his father was from New Zealand had caught him off guard.

He also referred to a staffer in Labor MP Penny Wong’s office contacting Labour MP Chris Hipkins in the lead-up to that discovery, saying “during that time they were digging round to try and make sure they could get me booted out.”

Asked if he believed there was collusion, he said it had been confirmed the two had talked and now Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had “chipped” [reprimanded] those involved over it: “so what other evidence do you need?”

Hipkins has maintained he did not know Joyce was the subject of his discussion with Wong’s staffer Marcus Ganley but it did prompt him to lodge parliamentary questions asking about the citizenship status of a person born to a New Zealand father.

Those questions combined with media questions to New Zealand officials prompted officials to look into Joyce’s citizenship and advise him he was a citizen.

Then freshly elected as Labour leader, Ardern reprimanded Hipkins for his involvement, saying it was inappropriate to get involved in the matter and she had not known about it – but it earned a rebuke from Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who had said she would find it hard to trust a Labour Government in New Zealand if they won the election.

Bishop has not apologised, but has since said she accepted Ardern’s statement that she had not known, and that it was inappropriate.

Joyce has given up his New Zealand citizenship and won the byelection for his Tamworth seat to get back into Australia’s Federal Parliament with an increased majority.

He said the section of the Constitution which required MPs to only hold Australian citizenship should be amended but that would require a referendum. “It’s not an easy task but overwhelmingly people think this is absurd.”

He said his father had come out of New Zealand in 1947 after World War II and the law had been changed in 1949 “so unbeknownst to him he was a New Zealand citizen between 1949 and 1978 and during that time I was born.”

Joyce laughed when told he had been nominated for New Zealander of the Year, saying “a lot of people had a lot of fun at my expense.”

“New Zealand is a great country and I’m very proud my grandfather was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Anzacs there for New Zealand.”


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Post shop in Auckland’s Mangere Bridge robbed at gunpoint

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An Auckland post shop employee was forced to hand over a cash drawer after a robber waved a gun at her this afternoon.

Police are investigating the aggravated robbery, which happened at the Mangere Bridge Post Shop on Coronation Rd around 3.10pm.

“A man entered the store, threatened a staff member with what appeared to be a firearm, and demanded she hand over the cash drawer,” Detective Sergeant Steve Williamson said.

The man took the money and fled the scene in a vehicle.

Nobody was hurt in the incident, Williamson said. Support is being provided to the victim and a number of staff and members of the public who were in the store at the time.

Police have completed a scene examination and are talking to several witnesses.

Williamson asked anyone with information that could help with the investigation to call Counties Manukau Police on 09 2611 321.

Information could also be given anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, he said.


Source  :  New Zealand Herald

Space Teddy found up tree on Waiheke Island

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Space Teddy has been found safe and well – but he’s stuck up a tree and faces a night alone in the bush before he can be rescued.

The fluffy would-be astronaut became lost in dense bush on Waiheke Island this afternoon after plummeting back to Earth when his attempt to set a new world record failed.

The weather conditions were perfect for students at Forrest Hill Primary to launch the stuffed toy, dubbed Space Teddy, into space today.

Last year, students managed to launch it 28km above the earth until the balloon it was attached to burst. This time, a group of eight Year 6 pupils had set the bar even higher.

They had been hoping to launch the bear 40km high – that would be 5km above a current world record.

At 2pm however, NZH Focus learnt the balloon the bear was attached to burst at 21km.

Team leader Marius van Rijnsoever believed the age and size of the balloon were probably to blame and a rescue mission was under way to retrieve it from where it landed on Waiheke Island.

Space Teddy landed in dense bush, 50m off the road on Waiheke Island an hour and a half after the balloon popped.

Police had been unable to find him so van Rijnsoever headed to the island to look for Space Teddy himself tonight.

He was eventually located 10m up a tree in tight, dense bush in a remote part of the island after van Rijnsoever called for backup from an amateur radio enthusiast.

Professional help will be brought in tomorrow to rescue the stuffed bear.

He did not want to disclose the exact location because of Space Teddy’s valuable radio transmitting gear, but said it was “on the west coast of Waiheke”. He said it was lucky Teddy didn’t land in the sea.

“This is much easier than diving,” he said.

“Basically, the transmission goes for two or three days but this is really, really dense so we can’t get a directional antenna.

“We do have a backup GPS on it but it looks like it’s covered under deep scrub so we can’t find it.”

Earlier today, the students had high hopes to break a second world record of dropping a bunch of paper planes from that height as well.

Despite the 10 am launch not quite going to plan, the final preparations were made around half past.

Once the giant weather balloon – five times bigger than last year’s one – was filled with helium and tied up, it was just a matter of minutes to take off.

It all happened very suddenly, taking everyone by surprise.

Van Rijnsoever said it didn’t matter that it was “accidentally” let go a bit too quickly, as everything was in order.

In just a few minutes, it quickly became more and more difficult to spot in the sky.

Back in the control room, the students gathered around the screen to watch Space Teddy in action and monitor its whereabouts.

The ascent had been set to take around three hours, and the descent about an hour.


Source  :  New Zealand Herald


Teacher shortage hits 20 per cent of Auckland primary schools

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One in five Auckland primary schools expects to start next year without enough teachers, a new survey has found.

The survey by the teachers’ union the NZ Educational Institute (NZEI) has found that 14 per cent of primary and intermediate schools nationally, and 19 per cent in Auckland, expect to be short of one or two teachers at the start of next year.

Two further schools, both in Auckland, expect to be three or four teachers short, taking the Auckland total with unfilled vacancies to 20 per cent.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins met with the Auckland Primary Principals Association (APPA) executive in Auckland on Friday and a spokesman said he would announce a package of measures to tackle the crisis “very soon”.

The Education Council, which governs teacher registration, is already acting to lure back former teachers who have left to have children or for other reasons.

“The Education Council has been proactively contacting teachers whose provisional practising certificates are soon to expire or recently expired to check their eligibility for a programme we are running to help more provisionally certificated teachers move to a full practising certificate, thereby staying in the profession,” said spokesman Martin Deakin.

Te Hihi School principal Kevin Bush says principals will use more flexible schemes for teachers returning to the workforce and want to use teacher aides to fill in for missing teachers. Photo / File

Te Hihi School principal Kevin Bush says principals will use more flexible schemes for teachers returning to the workforce and want to use teacher aides to fill in for missing teachers. Photo / File

APPA president Kevin Bush said the council and the Ministry of Education were telling principals they could employ teachers who were only provisionally certified but have been out of teaching for more than six years.

These teachers have been required to do refresher courses which previously cost about $4000. But the standard cost has been cut to $2495, and a $1790 “fast-track” option has been created for teachers who do the courses online while employed in schools.

“Once it gets out there, and there is a flier going out to schools before Christmas, that will help to provide strategies that principals can use,” Bush said.

The NZEI survey has actually found a lower rate of expected vacancies at the start of next year than an APPA survey in July, which found that more than half of Auckland primary schools were three or four teachers short.

Shirley Maihi of Manurewa's Finlayson Park School says the last time the teacher shortage was this bad was in 1991-92. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Shirley Maihi of Manurewa’s Finlayson Park School says the last time the teacher shortage was this bad was in 1991-92. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Finlayson Park School principal Shirley Maihi, who is still short of a teacher offering te reo Māori for the school’s bilingual unit, said the last time it was so hard to get teachers was in 1991-92 when numbers in teacher training plummeted.

Trainee numbers have dropped by a third again recently, from 14,235 in 2010 to 9500 in 2015.

She has lost three teachers moving out of Auckland this year.

“They can’t buy a house,” she said. “Two of them are with partners and can’t afford to buy a house, so they have gone elsewhere down the country.”

Bush said he hoped Hipkins’ package would give schools flexibility to use teacher aides where they couldn’t find teachers.

“We had one school at the start of this year that had two teachers and a teacher aide covering three classes,” he said.

Lynda Stuart says schools are cutting teacher aides' hours because the school operations grant has not kept up with costs. Photo / Supplied

Lynda Stuart says schools are cutting teacher aides’ hours because the school operations grant has not kept up with costs. Photo / Supplied

However the NZEI survey also found that 44 per cent of schools nationally, and 35 per cent in Auckland, plan to cut teacher aide hours next year because of a budget squeeze.

NZEI president Lynda Stuart said a 1.3 per cent increase in the operations grant in this year’s Budget was not enough to make up for a freeze in the grant last year.

The survey found that 19 per cent of schools plan to cut teacher aide hours by up to 10 per cent, 17 per cent will cut them by 11-20 per cent and 18 per cent will cut them by more than 20 per cent. Some are cutting hours only because needy students are moving on, rather than for budgetary reasons.

A surprisingly high 82 per cent of schools said they planned to accept the new Government’s offer of $150 per student per year to schools that don’t ask parents for “donations”. A spokesman for Hipkins said this measure would be “considered for the 2018 Budget”, meaning it is unlikely to be available until the 2019 school year.


Source :  New Zealand Herald

One dead after car and milk tanker crash near Opotiki

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A driver of a car has died after colliding head on with a milk tanker near the Bay of Plenty town of Opotiki tonight.

Police were called at 8.55pm to a report of the crash on State Highway 2 in Kutarere, halfway between Ohope and Opotiki, a police spokeswoman said.

Police said no one else was injured.

SH2 is blocked between Rankin Rd and Kutarere Cemetery Rd, she said.

The Serious Crash Unit has been advised.


Source  :  New Zealand Herald