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Archive for June, 2014

Fisherman now a Maui believer…

Ray O’Donnell captured this video evidence of a Maui dolphin swimming around his boat just 1km off the Waitara coast in December 2009. The footage was taken on his cellphone.


Until Waitara’s Ray O’Donnell recorded footage of a Maui dolphin swimming around his boat last year he was sceptical of their existence. (See link below)

Ray O’Donnell belongs to an exclusive club. The Waitara man is one of the few people in the world to have seen a live Maui dolphin.

His video footage of one swimming around his boat one kilometre off the Waiongona rivermouth last year is the most recent evidence they exist in Taranaki waters.

The footage is fodder to those who support extending the coastal set net ban from 7km to 13km to protect the species and damning evidence against those who deny Mauis live along the Taranaki coast.

“It was so friendly. It was unbelievable. I was always a disbeliever because I have fished here for 40 years and never seen one. It was so small you could have picked it up out of the water,” Mr O’Donnell said.

For 10 minutes the dolphin swam around the boat and using his mobile phone Mr O’Donnell captured about 30 seconds of video footage of the rare animal.

Without the footage he would not have gone public with the sighting for fear of being labelled a crackpot, he said.

As it is, his new stance against set netting in Taranaki coastal waters means fewer fish on his dinner plate and puts him out of step with his mates who continue the practice.

Mr O’Donnell said he knew of an incident in which a Maui dolphin was killed in a set net, but that was more than 10 years ago. There have been no reports of  Maui‘s dolphin being  caught in commercial gill nets in Taranaki waters since set net restrictions were put in place.

“My mates out there on the water, we have the odd bit of friendly banter. They say they hope I am going to buy their gill nets from them. I say, yeah, I will give you 10 cents a metre.”

The Ministry of Fisheries received close to 1000 submissions on new measures to manage fishing-related threats to Maui and Hector dolphins in New Zealand coastal waters. The ministry previously indicated it favoured extending the set net ban along the north Taranaki coast to seven nautical miles (13km).

– Taranaki Daily 

Thousands still homeless in Christchurch…


Community groups say the housing crisis in Christchurch is still dire.

Census figures show 700 more people are living in temporary dwellings and overcrowded houses since the quakes.

And while some make their own decision to live rough, others are simply forced to.

The figures show that 2,200 people in Christchurch are now living in temporary accommodation – up 50% from 2006 – and 700 more people are living in mobile homes and makeshift shelters. Overcrowding has climbed slightly too with more than 25,000 people now living in crowded households – 1000 more than before the quakes.

The Government has built four temporary villages, with two more on the way, and 3000 homes are being rebuilt a year. But it will take another three years before housing stock is back to pre-quake levels.

Housing Minister Nick Smith says it does concern him but “it was absolutely inevitable the moment the earthquake munted those 12,000 houses”.

Michael Wright from the Salvation Army says the numbers don’t take into consideration the people who are doubling up or tripling up in houses, with two or three families in one house.

Meanwhile the Labour Party announced today plans to provide 10,000 affordable homes in the city in four years.

And it also vowed to increase the accommodation supplement for Cantabrians until the housing crisis is fixed.

Professor sees end of Maui dolphins…




“If you actually want to eradicate the Maui‘s dolphins, this would be the way to do it.”

This is the view of associate professor Liz Slooten of the University of Otago‘s zoology department.

Dr Slooten has spoken out against a decision to allow oil exploration inside the West Coast Marine Mammal Sanctuary, home to critically endangered Maui’s dolphins.

But Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges disagreed exploration in the area would be the end of the dolphins.

Dr Slooten has been studying Maui’s dolphins since 1984 and in that time has watched the population dwindle from about 2000 to 55.

She said scientific bodies such as International Whaling Commission, Society for Marine Mammalogy, and NZ Marine Sciences Society had been fighting for better protection of the critically endangered mammal and allowing oil exploration in the marine reserve was “the last nail in the coffin”.

“As a biologist, it’s amazing to me that someone would think of doing such a thing in the habitat of a critically endangered dolphin. The worst impact has been fishing, but this is the last nail in the coffin if they add a new impact.”

“It’s amazing how completely deaf the Government has been to these international scientists. Pretty much every group of scientists around the world relevant has urged the Government to do something.”

When the Bay of Plenty Times posed Dr Slooten’s concerns to Mr Bridges, he disagreed the decision to allow exploration in the area would be the end of the dolphins.

The Code of Conduct on seismic surveying, implemented in 2012, went beyond almost every country in the world for petroleum work and took the country to world’s best practice, Mr Bridges said.

“Most importantly, it requires operators to have marine mammal observers on board who are independent experts wherever the petroleum companies are surveying. These experts have the power to shut down the work on seeing any marine mammal life.”

Mr Bridges said there had never been a recorded incident in relation to petroleum activities in spite of a huge amount of activity in the area for the past 40 years.

A collaborative forum of experts had completed research for the Government about the dangers to the dolphins and had resulted in the “beefing up” of protections around seismic surveying. An expert advisory group would provide ongoing advice and research to make sure the dolphins were protected, he said.

Mr Bridges said the Government had done a lot of research around the harm to Maui’s dolphins and 95 per cent of the mammals’ issues were around fishing, the biggest threat being set netting.

New Zealand National government rejects international recommendations to address inequality…

The Government accepted 121 of the recommendations made by States during New Zealand’s review process in January and rejected 34.© Eric Bridiers/U.S. Mission
The Government accepted 121 of the recommendations made by States during New Zealand’s review process in January and rejected 34.© Eric Bridiers/U.S. Mission

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OUR WORK: Universal Periodic Review
Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand: Our Work

Follow the latest #news from @AmnestyNZ:

New Zealand should reconsider its decision to reject key human rights recommendations at the United Nations Human Rights Council, said Amnesty International.

The human rights organisation made the call following the formal adoption of the report into New Zealand’s human rights record, which took place in Switzerland last night.

“While we welcome the New Zealand government’s engagement with the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, the rejection of key recommendations to address social inequality is deeply concerning,” said Amanda Brydon, Advocacy Manager at Amnesty International New Zealand.

“Unfortunately New Zealand has failed to show the world and our own people that the Government is willing to close the gap when it comes to human rights protection in our own country.”

The Government accepted 121 of the recommendations made by States during New Zealand’s review process in January and rejected 34.

Of the 34 that were rejected, a significant number offered specific advice on strengthening New Zealand’s legal protection of economic, social and cultural rights that would guide genuine solutions to addressing New Zealand’s poor performance on issues such as child poverty.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of relative child poverty in the developed world, with children frequently missing out on meals, getting sick with third-world diseases, living in poor housing conditions, underachieving at school and feeling marginalised in their communities.

“Unfortunately, despite commitments to do so, the Government isn’t doing its utmost to address this, as by accepting some recommendations while rejecting others they are simply taking a band aid approach,” said Amanda Brydon.

“We will be watching closely and calling on the Government to continue the Constitutional Conversation and take concrete action to further address these issues by taking a human rights approach to ensure our children and our peoples well-being.”

With New Zealanders today celebrating World Refugee Day, New Zealand’s failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable by now officially rejecting the recommendation to rule out the transferal of asylum seekers to detention centres in third countries is also cause for grave concern.

“Amnesty International has repeatedly highlighted the deplorable system of offshore detention, in facilities such as Manus Island in Papua New Guinea where asylum seekers are held in cruel and degrading conditions, that the New Zealand government would even consider this an option is shameful,” said Amanda Brydon.

“The stance taken by the Government in dismissing these important recommendations really brings into question New Zealand’s leadership role in the protection of human rights.”

“With New Zealand’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council drawing closer, the UPR process was a key opportunity to prove that New Zealand is committed to putting human rights protection at the centre of everything to do.”

An open cut mine to be built next to internationally famous Uluru (Ayres Rock)…


In an effort to convince foreign investors that Australia is “open for business” the Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that a large open cut coal mine will be built next to Uluru, or Ayres Rock as the Prime Minister insists on calling it.

In a press conference at 2 Holt Street the Prime Minister was full of praise for the idea. “There is no other better way to convince the world that Australia is open for business than opening Ayres Rock. And even the abocoons, I mean Aborigines, are ok with it, trust me there is one in my party room.”

John and Barack’s Bad Bromance…

Social inclusion is the key to recovery…

Stories of friendship, acceptance and social inclusion are being shared in a new report released by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF).

Stories of Success is the latest publication the MHF has produced in association with the Like Minds, Like Mine national programme to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness.

The report focuses on how people living with mental illness have experienced social inclusion, and reveals the powerful role friends, whānau, employers and others play in their recovery.

Hugh Norriss, MHF Director of Policy and Development, says social inclusion is “a basic human need, and a right”.

Stories of Success highlights how important being socially included is for people experiencing mental illness, and for all New Zealanders,” Mr Norriss says.

“Being excluded can increase the distress for people who are already going through a tough time, and make the recovery journey much harder.”

Individuals and focus groups, which included young adults, Māori and Pacific people, were interviewed for the study.

Many participants spoke positively about how being included in community and social activities, and having access to employment and good housing, boosted their self-esteem.

However, one of the major barriers to social inclusion identified was the negative labels and stereotypes attributed to people with mental health problems.

“Research shows that people who access mental health services and are socially excluded have higher mortality rates,” Mr Norriss says.

“By increasing the options for social inclusion, people experiencing mental illness are able to live fuller, happier lives and find the support they need.”

The publication of Stories of Success is timely given the direction of the new Like Minds, Like Mine National Plan 2014–2019, which has signalled social inclusion as a key priority area.

“The examples given in this report will help to inspire other people living with mental illness and show communities that what they do makes a difference,” Mr Norriss says.

Read Stories of Success online, or order a hard copy from the Mental Health Foundation shop.

John Key and the increasingly sleazy too independent state of New Zealand…

Chinese businessman Liu’s $100k wine news to former cabinet minister Rick Barker…


Barker says he would have known about such an ‘extraordinary’ price tag had it happened. Photo / HBT
Labour challenges Chinese millionaire to provide evidence to back up auction claims 

By Jared Savage

The Labour Cabinet minister who handed over a bottle of wine to Donghua Liu‘s partner at a fundraiser denied the millionaire businessman paid $100,000 for the auction prize.

Rick Barker was hosted by Liu at a lavish dinner on a cruise up the Yangtze River in 2007 and was photographed presenting Juan Zhang, who has two children with Liu, 56, with the large bottle signed by then Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Liu said he paid “close to $100,000” for the prize, according to a signed statement dated May 3, a price tag Mr Barker called “an extraordinary and eye-watering amount, one that I would recall if it happened and I don’t”.

Mr Barker, who was Minister of Internal Affairs at the time, added: “Had $100,000 been paid for a bottle of wine at a fundraiser that I was not at, I am certain I would have been told about it and I haven’t. That figure for one item is considerably more than most fundraisers got in total.”

Mr Barker said he handed over a bottle of wine at a number of Labour fundraisers.

“I can say [the one handed to Ms Zhang] wasn’t a $100,000 bottle.”

The Labour Party says it has found no records of money received from Liu and no one had provided evidence to contradict that.

The statement from Liu said the $100,000 bottle was purchased at a fundraiser on “3-6-2007”. A Labour press statement said no fundraiser was held on June 3, 2007, but the date could be read as March 6, 2007.

Liu also said he paid at least $50,000 hosting Mr Barker on the Yangtze River trip and visited him in Hawkes Bay in 2006, dining with him at an exclusive lodge and meeting for breakfast the next morning.

He said he made a donation to Hawkes Bay Rowing, which Mr Barker was associated with.

The Labour Party yesterday challenged Mr Liu to provide evidence to back up the claims.

“We continue to call on Donghua Liu and any third parties who might have information about these allegations, including the Prime Minister, to place what they know into the public domain or to refer to the regulators,” party secretary Tim Barnett said.

Liu said he would not make any further comments about political donations or swear an affidavit outlining dollar amounts.

“It’s important to remember that over the years I’ve given equally to governments of both colours.”

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