NZTA warning: King tide and wet weather could close section of Auckland motorway

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Motorists are being warned of possible closures on Auckland’s motorway near the Harbour Bridge as a king tide is expected to coincide with wet weather this weekend.

The NZ Transport Agency said the combination of the high tide and heavy rain could cause low-lying sections of the motorway to flood on Sunday evening.

The closures were likely to affect a section of the motorway on SH1 from the Esmonde Rd Interchange to Onewa Rd Interchange, headed south.

MetService shift forecaster Larissa Marintchenko said Auckland and Northland was expecting an onslaught of bad weather over the weekend

.The worst of which would fall on Sunday night, which a low pressure system would likely create a strong northeasterly wind and rain.

“King tides are also expected in Auckland and Northland on Sunday night,” she said.

“King tides in combination with this lowering pressure and high waves can cause coastal flooding.”

Marintchenko said the wet weather would start on Saturday, with intermittent showers.

Heavier showers were expected across the Auckland and Northland region on Sunday morning and would turn into heavier, more persistent rain.


Source :  New Zealand Herald

Rents rise again in Northland but expect to cool off

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Trade Me predicts median rents in Northland, currently $400 a week, to come down in the next 12 months. Photo/Michael Cunningham

Northland’s median weekly rent has nudged up an additional $20 to $400 but the region’s rents are predicted to come down over the next year.

Figures from Trade Me show the median rent in Northland went up from $380 in May last year to $400 last month, with the largest increase recorded in Whangārei— from $380 to $420.

A property on Ranger Pl in Otaika had the highest number of inquiries, 52 in just two days, while another on Wessex Pl in Tikipunga fielded 37. A house on Pearce Dr in Kamo attracted 28 inquiries over the same period.

Kaipara was the only district in Northland that saw a decrease in median rent, from $412.50 to $400.

The Far North rent rise was $20 to $370 over the same period.

Ruakākā mum-of-four Rochelle Powell is moving her family of six into a one-bedroom unit after her landlord decided to sell the house.

The Powells have lived in the four-bedroom house, owned by a family member, for seven years and are struggling to find a similar size property at an affordable price.

“The only way it’s going to work is for my youngest child to go to a childcare and for me to find part-time work. We can only afford to spend $350 a week on rent,” she said.

Her family has until September 9 to move out. Since her husband works at the New Zealand Refinery, they prefer to live in Ruakākā long-term.

Head of Trade Me Property Nigel Jeffries said demand in Northland was right across the board for all types of rental properties from one-bedroom units to five-bedroom houses.

“There’s no particular spike in demand or prices at this time of the year. The expectation is that rents in Northland will continue to grow above the inflation rate.

New Zealand’s current inflation rate is 1.1 per cent.

Jeffries said Northland’s rental prices would likely level off in the next 12 months and come down by between 2.5 per cent to 4 per cent.

“We don’t normally see regions running very high rates for a long time. We’re saying rents will continue to grow in Northland but the rate would not be sustainable as people cannot dip into their pay packets.”

He said an increase in median rate of 5.3 per cent over 12 months in Northland was not unexpected because of the very strong growth in Auckland in the last couple of years.

People staying longer in rental properties further exacerbated the demand for such units and houses, he said.

The median rent in Northland in January was $385, dropping slightly to $380 in February before rising to $400 in April.

There are 235 residential property listings on Trade Me.

While the national median weekly rent was up 5.6 per cent on last year, it stalled in May and remained at April’s record-breaking $475 per week.

Rental properties in the Hawke’s Bay are still a hot favourite and the most popular on Trade Me in May was a 5-bedroom house which had an astounding 92 enquiries in the first two days onsite.

Auckland’s rental market has eased off a bit with supply picking up and better meeting demand.

Northwestern Motorway open after thousands of motorists affected by fatal crash

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The Northwestern Motorway has reopened after this morning’s crash that killed a motorcyclist.

The crash, between a motorcycle and a rubbish truck, happened shortly after 6.30am and closed a section of the motorway between the Western Springs off- and on-ramps.

NZTA announced at 10.45am that all lanes citybound have re-opened in the Western Springs area and the citybound on-ramp from Great North Rd is also open.

It said to allow time for significant congestion to ease before starting a new journey.

Thousands of morning commuters were late to work, university or school as they battled the congestion.

One driver contacted the Herald to say he had been stuck in traffic for almost two hours.

Another said they were more than two hours late for work because of the delays.

“We left home in Queenstown Rd, Onehunga, at 6.45am and came through the tunnel. It’s now 8.50am and we are crawling on the motorway about 100m away from the Western Springs off-ramp citybound.

“This is so frustrating. We were meant to start work at 7am at University of Auckland.”

A driver who lives in Massey was sitting idle in his car at the Great North Rd turnoff, a journey that usually took 15 minutes in heavy traffic but today took about two hours.

He said signs on the way warned of a crash and that motorists should expect delays.

“Some people are driving up the left side, being sneaky, trying to beat the traffic.

“One lady’s car was smoking and she had to pull over.”

One commuter questioned how long the crash would take to clear.

“It’s Monday morning, when will the congestion be cleared by? Need to get an estimate to plan the day accordingly with the boss at work,” she said.

Trapped motorists have also reported needing the toilet and sleep as additional stresses.

“I left Avondale at 6.32am and I’m just now approaching St Lukes off-ramp. Yup, that’s three hours! P.S. I’m busting to use the toilet!” one wrote.

Another reported having flown four hours from Cancun to Los Angeles, waited 12 hours for the next flight before flying 12-and-a-half hours to Auckland, only to be stuck in traffic since 7am.

Northwestern Motorway at Patiki Rd on-ramp. Photo / Ben Gibson

The closure affected traffic on SH16, SH18 and on SH20 via the Waterview Tunnel. Traffic was back to Maioro St on SH20 and was between Royal Rd and Lincoln Rd on SH16. Local roads were also congested.

The Great North Rd on-ramp eastbound was closed, while traffic coming through the Waterview Tunnel reported having to wait over half an hour just to get through the tunnel.

Motorists were advised to take alternative routes or delay travel wherever possible.

Automobile Association principal adviser of infrastructure Barney Irvine said at 7.40am, one hour after the crash, it was taking one hour and 45 minutes to get from Westgate into the CBD. Usually at this time it takes 25 or 26 minutes.

Also at 7.40am, it was taking just under one hour to get from the airport into the CBD via the Waterview Tunnel, a trip that usually took 25 or 26 minutes.

Auckland Transport operations centre manager Rua Pani said police worked as quickly as possible on the crash investigation.


Source :  New Zealand Herald

Hillcrest High School in lockdown

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Police outside Hillcrest High School. Photo / Terry Su

Hillcrest High School in Hamilton is in lockdown.

The school has been in lockdown since 1pm and the office is unattended, the school posted on its Facebook page.

A student posted on social media that police were in attendance.

Students at the school and parents are commenting on social media about reports of a bomb threat, however that is yet to be confirmed by police.

A police spokesman said police were called to Hillcrest High School at 12.12 to a “report of information of concern being received”.

“The school has been locked down and cordons are in place. Police are at the scene making an assessment.”

Source :  New Zealand Herald

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

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