Tauranga car salesmen stood down over racist comments

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Two car salesmen have been stood down after accidentally leaving a racist message on a woman’s phone.

The Farmers Auto Village employees are going through a disciplinary process after they left racist comments on the voicemail system of potential customer Narelle Newdick.

The comments were publicised this week and sparked outrage among the Tauranga community.

“Your little Māori girl … it keeps going to voicemail,” two dealers can be heard saying.

“Tell her don’t be a f***** clever Māori.

“Go back to Maketu and dig pipis out of the sand.”

Farmer Auto Village group managing director Mike Farmer told the Bay of Plenty Times on Tuesday the comments from the two “ignorant” salesmen were not reflective of the wider company and his concerns were for Newdick and her family.

“We’ve built this business over 27 years and we’ve done a lot for the community in Tauranga. To have this occur in the company is devastating. We will be making some very firm action to make sure this never, ever happens again.”

Farmer said in his opinion, “those two individuals have brought the whole company into disrepute”.

“I would certainly hope that out of this terrible situation that the lessons learned will never be lost on this company in the future.”

Newdick told the Bay of Plenty Times on Tuesday that she was reluctant to be in the spotlight but it was “something I knew had to be highlighted”.

“It was one of those things where ‘I can’t just delete this’. I just can’t let this slide. I thought if I ring them, I’ll just get an apology and I just don’t think that’s good enough. I wanted to stand up and say ‘this isn’t okay’.

“There’s nothing casual about racism when you are on the receiving end of it.”

She was heartened at Farmer’s suggestions of increasing cultural awareness “but unless you have an open heart and open mind to what is going to be offered to you … it comes down to the integrity of the men who left that message and what they take away from it”.

Employment lawyer Warwick Reid said although the details of any disciplinary process would be private, Farmer Auto Village could have sufficient grounds to fire the staff involved if they were found to have brought the company into disrepute.

“That could argue there has been misconduct or serious misconduct, and it is open to an employer to take disciplinary action.”

Newdick said community support had been overwhelming. She received a personal apology from Farmer the day after he learned of the recording last week.

“When the message was played to him, that was when the boss realised the severity of the comments. I think the apology from Mike was genuine.”

Newdick said she also received a phone call from the salesman she had dealt with but in her opinion it felt ”very insincere and that he was made to ring”.


Source :  New Zealand Herald


Government ditches repeal of three strikes law

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The Government has ditched its planned repeal of the three strikes law because of objections by New Zealand First, Justice Minister Andrew Little has announced.

“I acknowledge New Zealand First has concerns about the three strikes repeal,” Little said.

“The strength of this coalition is that change only occurs with the support of all three parties.”

Under the law, which was passed by the National-led Government in 2010, a person with three warnings after serious violent, sexual or drugs convictions can be sentenced to the maximum jail time without parole.

Little had been intending to take a proposal to Cabinet to repeal the law but has announced he will no longer do so.

“Further work on a balanced reform package for a more effective criminal justice system that make our communities safer will be considered by the independent advisory panel to be appointed shortly, and progressed in August at the Criminal Justice Summit,” the Justice Minister said.

“We are committed to a meaningful and balanced programme of change and we will be consulting our coalition partners and the public on this over the coming months.

“The reality is that the justice system is not working and we need to make changes to make our communities safer.”

Little said NZ First was “totally committed”, along with Labour, to fix the justice system, but the coalition partner did not support repealing the three strikes law.

“We have to reform our justice system if we want safer communities,” Little told reporters.

Today the Herald reported that families of victims caught up in some of the country’s most high-profile cases of violence, sexual abuse and murder were calling for the Government to ditch its proposed repeal of the three strikes law.

An open letter was to be presented to Justice Minister Andrew Little today in the hopes he will change his mind about proposals going to Cabinet this week to repeal the hardline law and order policy.

The changes would also have seen more offenders serving sentences in the community rather than behind bars.

Under the law, which passed in 2010, a person with three warnings for serious violent, sexual or drugs offending can be sentenced to maximum jail time without parole.

The letter – published in today’s Herald – was connected with the Sensible Sentencing Trust and signed by mostly relatives of people who have been killed or severely abused by offenders.

For every relative’s name is a victim’s name – many of which are chillingly familiar: Sophie Elliott, Michael Choy, Philip Nisbet and 17-year-old Augustine Borrell, who was stabbed to death outside a party in Herne Bay.

“We, the undersigned, are all personally the victims of serious violent crime or close relatives of someone killed, maimed or sexually abused,” the letter reads.

“We are all deeply concerned about the proposals to repeal the three-strikes law, make bail easier and generally to let people out of prison who need to be there.

“We believe the proposed changes are misconceived, misguided and certain to create more members of the club to which we, the undersigned, all belong – the club which no one wants to join.”

Charlie Borrell, whose teenage son Augustine was murdered by Haiden Davis in 2007, said Little’s announcement was a big relief and felt common sense had prevailed.”

I thought wow that’s fantastic news. I suppose there’s some commonsense there.”

Borrell said two-thirds of the population supported three strikes in the polls so was pleased NZ First has listened.

“The results are showing there has been a reduction in second strikers under the three strikes law.”

For him personally, he said it meant her could breathe a little bit better. “I’m a lot more happier. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing another family go through what we did during out time. So it’s just a bit of a sigh of relief.”

Davis would be released next year and Borrell said his biggest fear was bumping into him in the community.


Source :  New Zealand Herald

Dog hailed hero for staying with missing toddler lost in forest for 2 days

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The family of a two-year-old girl are hailing their dog a hero after she stayed by the missing toddler’s side for two days until she was found safe.

Charlee Campbell went missing around 10am on Thursday from her grandmother’s home in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky.

Search crews had spent two days searching for the toddler who had wandered into the woods, the MailOnline reported.

But she wasn’t alone. Her loyal canine pal, Penny the pit bull, stayed by her side until they both safely returned home on Saturday.

“This is our hero right here,” Beth Campbell, Charlee’s grandmother, told WIS-TV.Penny the pit bull is being hailed a hero after she kept missing two-year-old Charlee Campbell safe until they returned home. Photo / Facebook

Campbell said she believes that Penny stayed by her granddaughter’s side the entire time she was missing.

“When my dog didn’t come home, and my baby wasn’t home, she was not going to leave that baby until she got here,” Campbell said about Penny.

According to the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office, Penny arrived home just moments before Charlee was found by neighbors.

“Charlee’s amazing survival story continued tonight when she walked up on a porch on Roy Layne Road this evening,” police said on Facebook.

“The homeowners realised who she was and contacted authorities. Ironically, her dog returned home on its own a few minutes prior to Charlee approaching the homeowners,” the statement said.

Police said Charlee had no obvious serious injuries, but she did appear dehydrated and had some tick bites.

She was taken to a local hospital for evaluation on Saturday.

‘We cannot thank enough the firefighters, EMT’s, dispatchers, search teams, other public safety agencies and the volunteer searchers from the community,’ authorities said on Facebook.

Despite Charlee returning home safe with her beloved dog Penny, police are still conducting an investigation into her disappearance.


Source : New Zealand Herald

Owner of rottweiler involved in vicious attack says dog wasn’t at fault

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The owner of one of two rottweilers that attacked an autistic man in Southland yesterday is facing having his “best friend” put down – but insists the “lovely” dogs are not at fault.

The dog’s owner, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Herald he’d been to the council this morning to try find out the fate of his dog after the prolonged attack in Winton yesterday afternoon.

Oliver Beaumont, 22, was attacked while walking near his family’s home on Great North Rd about 1pm.

The attack lasted at least five minutes and the victim suffered extensive bite marks to his face and puncture wounds on his arms when he was set upon by two fully grown rottweilers, one male and one female.

He was taken to Southland Hospital where he had surgery, and is now in a stable condition.

The owner of the female dog, named Zara, said the victim had allegedly opened his gate and entered his property at the time of the attack.

“The person that was attacked should never have opened the gate and should never have been on my property,” the owners said.

He and his partner owned the female dog, while the male dog belonged to his partner’s father.

They were yet to determine whether both dogs were involved in the attack, and were relying on video footage to ascertain this.”Frank’s owner is very upset over this.

That was his best friend, as Zara is mine.

“They are lovely dogs and very protective of their home. We got the dogs to guard our house and be our forever friends,” he said.

“I know other people have put a bad name to rotties, but we are the small handful of rottie owners that loved and looked after them. We are hurting a lot over this.

“I am sorry for what has happened, but we are not bad owners and they are not bad dogs. They were protecting their home like all normal dogs would.”

Bruce Halligan from Southland District Council could not confirm whether Beaumont had opened a gate and entered a property with the dog’s on it.

Police have been approached for comment.

Halligan said both dogs were now impounded at the council facility and a formal investigation was under way.

“We are in the process of gathering that information at the moment, so at this point in time I cannot give you any definitive information as to what the likely outcome of the process will be.

“The sorts of things that are relevant are establishing the facts of the situation in terms of exactly what happened, and also the attitude of the dog owners – all those things are taken into account when we are assessing the appropriate enforcement action.

“We have real sympathy for the victim and are hoping that he has a speedy recovery,” he said.

Rottweilers are currently not classified within New Zealand’s menacing and dangerous dogs list; which includes American pit bull terriers, Brazilian fila, Japanese tosa, dogo argentino and perro de presa canario.

Under the Dog Control Act 1996 a person may, for the purpose of stopping an attack, seize or destroy a dog if a person is attacked by the dog; or a person witnesses the dog attacking any other person, or any stock, poultry, domestic animal, or protected wildlife.

The owner of a dog that makes an attack, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $3000 – in addition to any liability that he or she may incur for any damage caused by the attack.

If the court is satisfied that the dog has committed an attack and that the dog has not been destroyed, the court must make an order for the destruction of the dog unless it is satisfied that the circumstances of the offence were exceptional and do not warrant destruction of the dog.


Source :  New Zealand Herald

Wellington Airport welcomes arrival of new wide-body Airbus aircraft

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An Airbus A350 arrived at Wellington Airport at 5.33pm on June 3.

One of the world’s newest wide-body aircraft rested in the capital overnight.

The Airbus A350-900 settled through a damp, light wind as it touched down at Wellington Airport on Sunday evening.

Aerospace manufacturer Airbus plans to begin testing the A350-900 on the airport’s runway from Monday, as part of its ongoing programme to evaluate the plane in different conditions and environments.

The airbus graced a light wind as it arrived on the damp tarmac.
The airbus graced a light wind as it arrived on the damp tarmac.

Airport spokesman Greg Thomas said it looked like everything went to plan as the plane arrived shortly after 5.30pm.

It was flown to New Zealand from an Airbus flight test facility in Toulouse, France, via Manila in the Philippines.

The Airbus will begin tests on the runway at Wellington Airport over the next week.
The Airbus will begin tests on the runway at Wellington Airport over the next week.

The plane is fully fitted with flight test instrumentation, and the trial flights will be operated by an Airbus flight test crew.

Airbus Asia-Pacific head of communications Sean Lee said more information about its testing schedule should be revealed on Monday morning.


Source :  New Zealand Herald

Palmerston North crash victim’s name released by police

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A one-way bridge on Turitea Rd, just outside Palmerston North, was the scene of a fatal crash on Sunday.

Police have named the woman killed in a car crash near Palmerston North.

Nicola Anne Murphy, of Palmerston North, died when two cars crashed on a one-way bridge on Turitea Rd, on the outskirts of the city, on Sunday morning.

The 28-year-old was the driver of one of the cars.

Two people – the sole occupants of each car – were taken to hospital by ambulance in a critical condition. Murphy later died in hospital.  The police serious crash unit is investigating.


Source :  New Zealand Herald

Are building products a rip-off or good value?

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Are Kiwis being ripped off blind for building products or are we getting value for money in our country considering the nature of the New Zealand market? There are those who argue black and blue that one or the other statement is true.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford is so concerned about the costs of building materials he has promised an investigation.

“The Productivity Commission has estimated we pay between 20-30 per cent more for building materials in New Zealand than they do in Australia,” says Twyford.

In the other camp, Building Industry Federation chief executive Bruce Kohn says the notion behind an investigation is “ridiculous nonsense”.

Building materials in NZ cost up to four times as much as other countries. Photo / Getty Images

Building materials in NZ cost up to four times as much as other countries. Photo / Getty Images

When maverick businessman and founder of 2Degrees Mobile, Tex Edwards renovated his Waiheke home, plasterboard cost $24 a sheet.

“Anywhere else in the world, plasterboard is as cheap as chips,” he says.

Edwards, who spreads his time between New Zealand and London, paid £2.75 ($5.30) for the same quality of plasterboard for his London renovation.

The problems, when it comes to the cost of building materials, start with our tiny market and the tyranny of distance, says Professor John Tookey, Head of Department, Built Environment School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, at AUT University.

“There is a simple rational answer,” says Tookey. “We are 3000km from the nearest big economy. We have small demand at the end of a very small supply line.

“We have a population the size of Sydney spread over a country the size of the UK. As a result, builders’ merchants and suppliers have to be widely spread,” he says. “We have a huge amount of inventory, ‘forward deployed’ at stockists around the country. Consequently NZ has a huge amount of overhead in the system.”

Tookey says there are around 400 builders’ merchants and related businesses.

Kohn adds that builders’ merchants act, in effect, as a storage depot for all the small builders operating with a dog and a ute.

While there are cheaper building products abroad, it can be comparing apples with oranges, says Tookey. “You can ship in containers from China. But you don’t have the technical support and return to base. If you get a couple of containers of plasterboard that is goosed from China who are you going to send it back to?”

What’s more, comparing prices with overseas countries is fraught with difficulty because of other countries’ dissimilar standards, regulations and sometimes simply different standard sizes.

Never as simple as it seems

Material costs are only one of the many strands that make New Zealand’s housing expensive. The others include land supply, infrastructure, labour costs, skills, delivery mechanisms, and innovation.

Matt Curtis, senior research analyst at Branz, says different building regulations in other countries affect material prices. What’s more, quality varies.

“A recent presentation at the Building Officials Institute of New Zealand conference mentioned how badly Australian new-builds are performing,” says Curtis. “But we still compare our construction costs to Australia. It is not necessarily a fair comparison.”

There is no natural comparison country that is going to make benchmarking meaningful.

Canada, says Tookey, gets the halo effect of the United States’ 340 million people over the border. Even the definition of a large order can’t be compared.

“A large order in New Zealand is eight units,” says Tookey. “That is trivial. We are talking about tens of thousands in Australia.”

What’s more, house building is concentrated around Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, with costs in outlying areas greater.


Source :  New Zealand Herald