• A Christchurch man says the scene that confronted him ten years ago felt like it was straight out of a movie.
    Lawyer Andrew Riches was sitting in his office when the building started shaking and filing cabinets fell down.
    He ran outside and was one of the first rescuers at the PGC building, which had pancaked, claiming 18 lives.
    Riches told Kerre McIvor when he heard people calling out for help he sprang to action.
    "When I stopped and looked at it, the whole building had collapsed down many floors on top of each other.
    "You run through your head, how many people would be working on each floor - there must be a pile of desks in there."
    Riches, alongside fellow lawyers David Lang and Toby Giles, were honoured with awards from the Christchurch Mayor of that time, Bob Parker, for heroism during the earthquake.

  • Calls for a purpose built quarantine centre that is located miles away from our cities and our biggest population masses are growing.
    All the big names in immunology - Nick Wilson, Des Gorman and Michael Baker - have said its absolute madness to house returnees carrying the different Covid strains into hotels in our biggest cities.
    We have 18 hotels in Auckland, three in Hamilton, two in Wellington and six in Christchurch - our most populous cities and we bang quarantine facilities smack bang in the middle of them.
    People are people and, despite the very best of intentions, accidents happen, and people, on occasion, will behave badly. Since the army have taken over the running of the hotels, there haven't been quite as many returnees going walkabout and popping into their local Countdown but nonetheless the possibility is always there - and once the Covid cooties are out and about, the ramifications of Covid in the community are devastating.
    Now National's Covid spokesman Chris Bishop has jumped on the bandwagon and called for a purpose built facility on the outskirts of Auckland.
    He says, and he's quite right and nobody would disagree, that NZ can't afford to keep yo-yoing in and out of lockdown and the Auckland economy can't afford to keep bleeding $30 million a day.
    While employees probably enjoyed their three days off this week in Auckland, it's caused major disruption in the city and indeed for the rest of the country.
    We're going to have to learn to live with Covid - vaccinations or no vaccinations - and if that means forking out for a purpose built quarantine facility, then that's the price of living with this virus.
    Listen above as Chris Bishop joins Kerre McIvor to discuss his proposal

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  • A Christchurch man says the scene that confronted him ten years ago felt like it was straight out of a movie.
    Lawyer Andrew Riches was sitting in his office when the building started shaking and filing cabinets fell down.
    He ran outside and was one of the first rescuers at the PGC building, which had pancaked, claiming 18 lives.
    Riches told Kerre McIvor when he heard people calling out for help he sprang to action.
    "When I stopped and looked at it, the whole building had collapsed down many floors on top of each other.
    "You run through your head, how many people would be working on each floor - there must be a pile of desks in there."
    Riches, alongside fellow lawyers David Lang and Toby Giles, were honoured with awards from the Christchurch Mayor of that time, Bob Parker, for heroism during the earthquake.

  • Unsafe lead levels have been found in the blood of East Otago-based children.
    It was revealed earlier in the month unsafe levels of lead had been discovered in the southern towns of Karitane and Waikouaiti. The levels go back to as early as July 2020.
    Back in 2017, a Government inquiry found 20 per cent of the country's tap water was not up to standard, with as many as 750,000 New Zealanders exposed to drinking water that was not safe.
    Water New Zealand is the industry body for the three water sector - drinking water, waste water and storm water.
    Water NZ Technical Manager Noel Roberts told Kerre McIvor the main problem is resources.
    "Both people capability and funds, and stretched between multiple needs for funding, especially from rates.
    A Beca report says New Zealand needs to look at desalination and purifying of waste water. Mr Roberts says the level of expertise required is not cheap, and there are not many individuals around the country who can do it.
    "That's sort of why the DIA is looking at the three waters reform and what the options are there."

  • The Salvation Army's released its annual State of the Nation report focusing on areas such as crime, housing, and poverty.
    One of their biggest concerns is that the large increases in hardship are going to linger long after the Covid-19 pandemic - exemplified by food parcels given out last year, doubling to more than 110-thousand.
    They're urging the Government to take harder action against the housing crisis as it's key to addressing income poverty, which is worsening.
    Salvation Army Lieutenant Colonel Ian Hutson says increasing benefits, or any income, doesn't work if the cost of housing just keeps rising too.
    He told Kerre McIvor the housing register is continuing to climb.
    "It's got up to over 22,000 people, those who are in most need of housing."
    Hutson says the number of social housing needs to be ramped up.
    "There is a real need to increase the number of social housing that is being built."

  • Remember Shamima Begum? The entitled little schoolgirl who ran away to be a terrorist with two of her mates, married two terrorists, gave birth to three babies who all subsequently died and then demanded the right to return to the UK and that the UK return her citizenship - she was stripped of it in the interests of national security.
    She's still battling for the right to return to the UK claiming she's a citizen and she has the rights of a citizen but at the moment, she's cooling her heels in a refugee camp while her lawyers battle for her to be allowed back in the UK so she can plead her case.
    There was a glimmer of hope that she could be palmed off to Bangladesh as her parents were originally from Bangladesh, but the Bangladeshi government quite sensibly washed their hands of her and said she was the UK's problem.
    And so the battle goes on.
    Now we have our very own Shamima Begum in the form of Suhayra Aden - a New Zealand born, Aussie raised woman who ran away to join the ISIS from Australia.
    Although the Australian and New Zealand authorities had been working on how they could solve the problem of Suhayra for a number of years, the decision by Scott Morrisson to strip Aden of her Australian citizenship means she and her two children are now solely the responsibility of this country.
    How did our PM take that news? Fair to say, not well. She says she told Morrison if the issue became public she would speak very strongly on New Zealand's view.
    Australia's PM was unrepentant. Morrison told media Australia does not want to see terrorists, who fought with terrorist organisations, enjoying privileges of citizenship, and he has to put his country's interest first.
    This is what Australia has been doing. If there's a sniff of a hope that some thug was born in New Zealand, back they go. It doesn't matter if they went over as a babe in arms, back they go. I find it incredible our Prime Minister would be shocked and surprised.
    They don't want to deal with thugs, with criminals, with hardcore recidivists, and they've found a way of divesting themselves of that problem. Even if they raised them and didn't give their families the kick up the bum to raise them right, they see them as our problem.
    We do the same - to Samoans, to Tongans, Irish and Americans have been sent back. If we find a way to kick you out, we do the same.
    It was the most angry I think I've seen Jacinda Ardern been at a press conference, but I had to wonder why - this is what they do.
    The difference here is does this woman even want to come back? She was caught trying crossing the border from Syria into Turkey to join the 3.6 million other refugees registered as Syrian that Turkey is trying to manage.
    The Turkish authorities detained her and now they want to deport her - it's simply a matter of which country is prepared to take her.

  • Researchers are looking into how to expand Covid-19 detection - with a Kiwi at the forefront of developing more accessible technology.
    Air New Zealand employees undertaking regular surveillance testing are participating in a Institute of Environmental Science and Research study, that will test saliva for the virus.
    The study will include the SalivaDirect Covid-19 testing technology developed by Nathan Grubaugh and New Zealander Anne Wyllie at Yale University in the US.
    While the Ministry of Health say at this stage there is still no indication that saliva PCR testing could replace the mandatory nasopharyngeal testing, health experts say it's only a matter of time.
    The ACT Party has come out this morning calling for daily mandatory saliva tests for border and MIQ Staff. So just how is saliva testing progressing?
    Dr Wyllie told Kerre McIvor that she wanted to make a test as effective as possible, and they worked off developing the same PCR technology as the nasal swabs but make it more affordable.
    "We started playing with this back in April. There's still such a dire need here in the US for testing, so anything we could do to increase access to testing."
    She says they validated their method with the National Basketball Association and their bubble.

  • Kerre McIvor shares her thoughts on housing intensification and NIMBY-ism below, and chats with National Party leader Judith Collins about finding the balance.
    Residents in Christchurch are up in arms about ugly intensive housing developments popping up in their neighbourhoods.
    They've started a petition, and National MP David Bennett is also behind a petition in Hamilton to halt a Kainga Ora housing development as it was a “high density development in a low density suburban area” that would “change the character of the suburb”.
    I can totally understand how residents would feel. When we were living in Grey Lynn and Wellpark College, which was a big college on a large piece of land went from one side of the block to the other, when that was sold, we assumed it was going to be an apartment complex put up there. Why wouldn’t there be? It made absolute sense that an apartment building would be put there. Though, as it turned out, beautiful, single level dwellings were put up.
    I still think they should have put apartments there. It was a perfect site for an apartment building, if you were looking to create lower cost housing in the central city.
    When residents of Point Chevalier, a lovely seaside suburb close to the central city complain, about six storey apartment blocks popping up next to family homes, again, understandable.
    But if the only reason to oppose the development is because you don't like it, that's simply not good enough. Not when people are desperate to get into their own homes in the cities.
    Even the National Party is now backing the Government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development, which will stop councils from enforcing height limits of less than six storeys near major transit routes in an attempt to intensify cities.
    There is no need for intensification to necessarily be ugly. I can understand why people are opposed to intensification when you look around and see what’s happened to the monstrosity that is Auckland Central. But we need more homes – more thoughtfully planned, well designed homes, and that cannot be impossible.
    And interestingly, successful NIMBYs seem to come from the leafier, more expensive suburbs. They know how to use the process. But one of their more potent weapons may be done away with under the changes announced to the RMA.
    The NIMBY's weapon of choice is the RMA appeals process - blocking consents - and the Environment Minister won't commit to keeping it.

  • The stoush between Rawiri Waititi and the Speaker of the House is absolutely absurd. If Waititi wants to wear a hei tiki shaped taonga around his neck into Parliament for goodness sake, he should be able to.
    This stoush has been brewing for some time. Late last year, Waititi was warned that he faced being ejected from the House if he did not wear a tie, after refusing to wear one.
    Well, after refusing to wear what Mallard deems to be a tie. Peter Dunne was allowed to wear that absurd foppish bow tie in the debating chamber. It seems Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March, who is of Mexican descent, is allowed to wear a Bona bolo tie. These are as much ties as hei tiki.
    The origin of the tie appears to have come about after Louis XIII hired Croatian mercenaries during the 30 year war in France. They wore red scarfs around their necks and Louis liked the look so much, he appropriated it and thus the cravat was born, and from there came the tie.
    Ties came about because a French fop wanted to jazz up his wardrobe. It has nothing to do with a mark of respect or gravitas or dignity.
    Late last year, Mallard said he was open to relaxing the rules around ties in the House. He had asked all MPs for their opinion as to whether or not MPs should be wearing ties in Parliament.
    That feedback came back in the affirmative and the rule stayed.
    "A significant majority of members who responded opposed any change to dress standards for the Debating Chamber," Mallard said.
    "Having considered those views, I have decided that no change in current standards is warranted. Business attire, including a jacket and tie for men, remains the required dress standard."
    But as I mentioned above, Mallard is open to interpretation as to what a tie should look like. A bow tie? A piece of string? But not a hei tiki?
    Mallard is the problem, not the co-leader of the Māori Party. What if Labour needed the Māori Party to govern in a cobbled together coalition? You can bet your bippy then the Speakers version of what a tie looked like would include a hei tiki.
    Also, as we mentioned yesterday, the Speaker of the House has done more to sully the integrity of the House than Rawiri Waititi.
    Besides, is this really what we pay our MPs to do? Engage in personal power struggles wasting valuable time and energy that could be spent on issues that really matter? Get back to work like the rest of us had to do weeks earlier than you lot.

  • A Royal Society of New Zealand panel has been brought in to improve students' declining maths results.
    The Ministry of Educations National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement shows only 45 percent of students in Year 8 are achieving at the expected curriculum level.
    It comes after a survey late last year found Kiwi students' maths knowledge in the first year of high school, is below all other English speaking countries.
    Education Minister Chris Hipkins told Kerre McIvor that the politicisation of education isn't too blame, and both sides of the aisles agree it is an issue.
    However, he agrees that some of the solutions have been too political.
    "If you look at National Standards, they were tackling the right problem but they had the wrong solution."
    He says there has been bipartisanship in looking for a solution.

  • It is still a big regret of mine that I lost my way with maths.
    I was really enjoying maths for years and years and then I hit fifth form and either it was the change of teacher or I'd just reached my natural limit but one minute I had it, and the next minute it was gone.
    One minute I was enjoying the glorious purity of solving equations, the next the numerals and symbols were just incomprehensible ciphers.
    I managed to scrape through School C maths, then collapsed into a sixth form economics class and that was the end of maths for me.
    And I've had on my bucket list for years the desire to go back to school and learn the language of maths properly. It's a beautiful language and one I got to do the equivalent of saying Hello, how are you? and Thank you very much in - just your basic essentials but that was it.
    And it appears I'm not alone. For years and years, Kiwi kids have been on a slippery slope - if I knew maths I'd be able to put a maths pun in there about angles - sliding down the international league tables since global testing started in the 1990s.
    To be fair, we're also flunking in reading and science. But the latest results of the Trends in International Maths and Science Study released last year were so bad that everybody's decided that somebody has to do something .
    And look at that, somebody has. The Ministry of Education has called in a Royal Society expert panel to adapt the national curriculum to achieve this.
    There are four main surveys that measure how well our education system is doing. All show that we're in trouble. And we've known this for years. There are so many, many things wrong with our education system, it's hard to know where to start.
    Perhaps when our national curriculum advisory service was abolished with the establishement of Tomorrow's Schools. Schools became self governing and in recent years, schools have been left to buy their own advice from approved profit driven facilitators. Schools bid for professional development funding from a limited pool.
    Teachers need more support. Only 14 per cent of NZ Year 5 primary teachers specialised in maths in their training compared with a global average of 43 per cent. Kids are also missing out because teachers stream students into ability based groups far more than their global counterparts do.
    It's a shambles but it can and should be fixable.

  • A chance to help young people through the justice system, and reduce reoffending.
    The Young Adult List separates 18-25 year olds from adult court, and offers extra support.
    It's being trialled for 12 months at Porirua District Court, and is being described as a huge success.
    Principal Youth Court Judge John Walker told Kerre McIvor one of the biggest problems the programme addresses is the complicated jargon.
    "It's a strange and scary place and the language used is often not understood by people on the street, and people from whatever walk of life have a real hard job understanding the court process."
    He says the current system treats them as fully functioning adults, when they clearly aren't.
    "Unless we can have them fairly participate in the case which is about them, then there is no wraparound service or intervention that is going to work."

  • A maths expert thinks politics are at play in New Zealand's record low maths results.
    An expert panel's been called in by the Ministry of Education for advice on improving students' maths results.
    A survey has found Kiwi students' math knowledge in the first year of high school ranks below all other English-speaking countries.
    Massey University mathematics professor Bobbie Hunter told Kerre McIvor political agendas have contributed, leading to such things as National Standards, which derailed maths teaching.
    "In fact, we need to separate politics from policy, and set a New Zealand-wide policy in what we want from mathematics."
    She says e're still achieving at the same level as twenty years ago.
    "Our students haven't actually gone backwards - every other country has jumped over us."

  • Whatever your views on climate change, wherever on the spectrum you might be - from total denier to a Chicken Licken who thinks the world is going to end every time a Club Sport drives by - whatever your view, it doesn't really matter.
    The world's governments believe that there is a moral and social imperative to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and they are enacting legislation to ensure that comes about.
    New Zealand is the fifth country to pass laws to curtail carbon emissions - the others are Sweden, France, the UK and Scotland - and two countries have already declared themselves to be carbon negative - Suriname and Bhutan. Chile and Fiji have proposed legislation similar to New Zealand - that they will reach net-zero emissions by 2050. And on it goes.
    So let's not spend the morning railing against the deficiencies in the science or the fact that there were heat waves in Albion 220 BC - the decision makers and the law makers are going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the legislation will affect us all.
    The PM has called the Climate Change Commission's blueprint for New Zealand to be carbon neutral by 2050 "achievable and affordable".
    Although ,as the Climate Change Commission points out, the cost of the transition from fossil fuels to renewable will not be paid by all of us equally.
    The commission has recommended subsidies for those industries most affected and least able to afford the change required and there will also be carrots in the form of rewards and incentives to take up alternatives.
    The commission has recommended that NZ ban fossil fuelled vehicle imports by 2032. The price of petrol will go up. Our animal herds need to be drastically reduced. We all need to drive EVs and plant more trees.
    It's pretty much what we've heard before and what greenies has been lobbying for for years. The good news, according to the commission, is that the "transformational and lasting" change needed could be made right now with existing technology - and at relatively little cost to the economy.
    Its analysis found that meeting the emissions budgets it proposed out to 2035 were likely to be less than one per cent of GDP - much lower than what was estimated when new 2050 targets were set.
    And that although jobs would be lost particularly in the coal mining and oil and gas industries, the commission found many workers in those energy industries most affected by the transformation had important skills that would prove valuable in others.
    "We expect employment will rise in the circular economy, development of biofuels and hydrogen, and in deploying and supporting new technologies."
    Farmers are nothing if not pragmatists. They've already started to make the changes before other industries.
    As I said, it's utterly pointless wasting hot air ranting and railing against the legislation. It is coming. Even National sort of supports it.
    It is only a draft report, you can put your submissions in, but you might as well be talking to your bum if you think it'll make any changes. This government has already said it is dedicated to going down this part. It's something many of them politically believe in and personally subscribe to.
    There's nothing really new in what the commission has suggested. It's just put it in a draft report and has given us a blueprint for what the transition will look like over the next 20 odd years, and we're either on board, or we're left behind.

  • The Government is set to bring in Clean Car Import Standards from next year.
    Legislation will be passed this year, with a target to reach 105 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2025.
    In the US, General Motors has announced they plan to eliminate gasoline and diesel cars and SUVs by 2035. They say they'll invest heavily in electric vehicles and become carbon neutral by 2040.
    And now, a new study on Electric Vehicles shows a more rapid uptake of EVs could save New Zealanders $15 billion in vehicle, fuel, and carbon emission costs by 2050.
    The study identifies three ‘core’ policy measures to deliver on EV uptake. Two of them were proposed, but not implemented, by the last coalition government.
    Study author and director of Concept Consulting Simon Coates joins Kerre McIvor to talk about the issue.

  • Here's a great example of making the most of having to quarantine.
    A 40 year smoking habit stubbed out in just 14 days.
    Twenty Russian and Ukrainian seamen kicked the habit during their MIQ stint - thanks to the help of one Canterbury nurse.
    Some 570 foreign mariners have made their way through Christchurch quarantine facilities since October.
    Amber Rex, a nurse working in MIQ, started a smoking cessation programme with six mariners but more and more soon signed up.
    Amber Rex joins me Kerre McIvor.

  • New Zealand First is being told it needs to turn back the clock if it has any hope of a comeback.
    Tracey Martin has left after 11 years in Parliament, saying the party struggles with women in leadership, and no longer reflects her values.
    The former Minister for Children and Internal Affairs told Kerre McIvor, in its prime, party members had a stronger voice.
    She says the public assumed Winston Peters made all the decisions, but it wasn't like that until constitutional changes in 2018.
    The party's other female MP, Jenny Marcroft, has also resigned.

  • Australia is taking an cautious approach to New Zealand's latest community case.
    All flights to Australia have been immediately suspended for the next 72 hours.
    Additionally, anyone who has arrived in Australia since January 14, are being told to self isolate and get a test.
    Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt says they took a number of factors into consideration beforehand.
    He says it was down to the case being the South African variant and the number of locations the woman visited.
    ZB political editor Barry Soper joined Kerre McIvor to discuss the ongoing situation with Covid in the community, what this means for the future of the travel bubble, and whether MIQ facilities need to be stricter.

  • Well, as the experts have been saying it was only a matter of time.
    A 56 year old woman, who completed her managed isolation after returning from overseas, has tested positive for Covid 19 after returning two negative tests. She left MIQ on January 14th and on January 22nd, she was tested and shortly afterwards she received confirmation that she had the virus.
    That's why Ashley Bloomfield was telling everyone to check in and use their Bluetooth over summer - so that if the virus managed to make it out of MIQ, contacts could be traced quickly and the transmission chain could be stamped out.
    When I heard the woman had visited a number of places around Northland, I did a quick check on the website - I was back in Auckland by the 14th so all clear but it really does make you think about where you've been and how you'd account for your movements if required to do so.
    Predictably there have been calls for tighter restrictions on the movements of people in MIQ - and there are even some who are saying that the borders should be closed altogether to New Zealanders.
    Israel has just announced it is closing its borders to nearly all flights as they battle to stay on top of their latest outbreak. The highly contagious variants have come into Israel and that coupled with the fact that the ultra Orthadox Jewish communities are flouting the rules around the virus, preferring to trust in God, means that Israel now has one of the world's highest rates of infection.
    So they've slammed shut the doors to all but medical patients and cargo flights. Should we do the same here? It seems very harsh.
    If you have already booked flights and managed isolation vouchers, to deny New Zealanders entry would leave them without homes, jobs, visas and any way to earn money. Much really depends on how quickly health officials are able to get on top of this latest outbreak, and because the woman has been assiduous in the way she used her app, we've all had a very good idea about where the poor thing's been.
    It hasn't stopped people from piling on. People saying "What was she doing outside of the country anyway?" You are allowed to leave. If you want to, you can. You have to pay for your own isolation on your return, but you are able to leave the country and come back in.
    I don't think we need to be tougher. I think where there are things that perhaps could do with tweaking is that there doesn't seem to be a consistent level of enforcement around our isolation. When people who have done it compare stories, there's varying degrees of enforcement and interpretation of the rules. Some are very, very strict; others not so much.
    For the rest of us, we have a job to play as well. It's exactly what the health officials have been saying. This is how they are choosing to respond to the virus. So far, they have been proved right, so surely we have to do our bit. We do have a role to play, we can't sit back and say 'keep us safe'.

  • These double standards around MIQ places has really get me riled.
    Covid is supposed to have levelled us all. Those in jobs that were previously considered glamorous - airline pilots, adventure tourism operators, entertainers - have been left reeling from the international lockdown of countries. Those who are among the most poorly paid have shown just how vital they are in keeping communities going - the security guards, the supermarket workers, those in aged care. So it galls me when I see the PM saying she will look at finding a practical solution to getting the bloody Wiggles into the country.
    The Wiggles - a hugely popular Australian group whose fan base comprises the 5 and unders - announced a series of 25 shows throughout New Zealand. Forty thousand tickets have been sold for the 'We're all Fruit Salad Tour' which is due to kick off on March 19.
    The PM yesterday said she empathised with those who had bought tickets and had lost out through no fault of their own, but promoters should not be promoting events until they have everything in place - including the booking of quarantine places. She says its up to officials to work through the issues and find a solution. Come on.
    What about the officials working through the issues and finding solutions for Kiwi citizens stranded overseas after their flights were cancelled and now they're left homeless because although they can book other flights, they can't get places in MIQ because they are told there is simply no space available.
    If the officials can suddenly, magically find places for the Wiggles and their entourage, why can't they magic up places for young people who have no jobs, no homes, no visa in other countries?They booked their flights home, they booked their place in MIQ - flights are cancelled and officials simply wash their hands of them. Or those who want to get home to visit ailing relatives - they're left helpless on the other side of the world refreshing time and time again the MIQ home page, praying that a Willie Wonker like golden ticket into MIQ will pop up before it's too late. It's not on.
    You cannot privilege one group over another - especially when that group was simply slack. When the prospect of a transTasman bubble was announced, the promoter simply went ahead with concert dates without doing any due diligence. It's entirely their stuff up. They're not the innocent party here.
    However, I agree with promoter and owner of Capital C Concerts, Phil Sprey, that there should be a process by which acts can be brought into New Zealand. He told Mike Hosking this morning that the entertainment industry has been trying to work with the government to bring in acts safely and they've come up against a brick wall.