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Prescription fees, FamilyBoost, home loan tweaks: 1 July changes that could affect your bank account
Prescription fees, FamilyBoost, home loan tweaks: 1 July changes that could affect your bank account

30 June 2024, 9:11 PM

The start of July brings a raft of changes that will affect households across the country.From prescription changes to mortgage tweaks, the rules, fees and taxes will affect the way that many people spend and borrow money.Here are a few of them.Debt-to-income ratios and loan-to-value restriction tweaksNew debt-to-income rules will limit how much banks can lend to borrowers, compared to their household income.Only 20 percent of lending can go to owner-occupier buyers with a debt-to-income ratio of six, and only 20 percent of investors loans will be able to be at a debt-to-income ratio of more than seven.The debt-to-income calculation takes into account other debt, such as student loans.These rules are not expected to make a big difference initially, because not much lending is currently being done above those levels. However, they are likely to limit the extent of future house price growth.LIsten: First-home buyers hit hardest by new debt-to-income ratios duration 6′58″ from Morning Report At the same time, loan-to-value rules will be eased slightly to allow banks to give 20 percent of lending to owner-occupier borrowers with a deposit or equity of less than 20 percent, and 5 percent of lending to investors with a deposit or equity of less than 30 per cent.Previously, they could only lend 15 percent to owner-occupiers with less than 20 percent deposit and 5 percent of lending to investors with less than 35 percent.Prescription chargesA $5 charge is coming back on for prescriptions.This does not apply to people who are over 65, Community Services Card holders, people who are under 14 or people ages 14 to 17 who are dependent on a Community Services Cardholder.Auckland regional fuel tax abolishedThe Auckland Regional Fuel Tax scheme ended on 30 June.This is worth 11.5c per litre on petrol, diesel and their biovariants.Families are now able to claim childcare subsidies of up to $75 a week. Photo:123RF via RNZFamilyBoost introducedThe FamilyBoost policy takes effect from 1 July, offering a payment of 25 percent of early childhood education fees for households up to $75 a week.This is available in full to households earning up to $140,000 and reduces for those earning up to $170,000.Households should start saving their invoices from 1 July as either PDF or JPG files, Inland Revenue says.Payments will be made in three-monthly blocks, starting in October.Bright-line test reducedFrom 1 July, the bright-line test will reduce to two years, from the current 10 years, or five for new builds.The bright-line test sets a limit on how long properties, apart from someone's main home, have to be held to avoid tax on capital gains when they are sold.That means that properties sold on or after Monday now need to have been held for at least two years to avoid the automatic tax.Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand is warning there could be some confusion, though, because the new rules focus on the "disposal" date of a property rather than the acquisition date."Care needs to be taken as the dates are determined differently. The bright-line end date is determined by when the seller first enters a contract for sale, whereas the start, or acquisition date is typically determined when title transfers."He said that could mean that anyone who had entered negotiations before 1 July could still be captured under the old rule.Paid parental leave increasesEach year, the maximum amount of paid parental leave available increases.How much you get is determined by how much you were earning before you went on leave.From 1 July, the maximum is $754.87 a week before tax, compared to $712.17 previously.Gaming duty for offshore operatorsFrom 1 July, a 12 percent offshore gambling duty applies operators who are taking bets from New Zealand residents.Offshore gambling operators have to register for GST if they make more than $60,000 in a 120-month period. Those that are registered for GST must also now register for the duty.Excise tax on alcohol increasesThe annual adjustment of excise tax on alcohol takes place on 1 July. This is based on movements in the consumer price index in the year to March.

A Wicksey welcome for Ōamaru Library
A Wicksey welcome for Ōamaru Library

28 June 2024, 12:00 AM

All people are welcome in the library, and now there is a sign to prove it.An approximately 9-metre-long mural painted by local artist Matthew Wicks, aka Wicksey, was unveiled at the Ōamaru Public Library on Thursday, tying in with today’s Matariki public holiday.The artwork has geological features from around Waitaki, and welcoming messages in about 30 languages, Wicksey says.Because it is in a library, he wanted the artwork to have written words, but questioned “what do we want this art to say?”.It was decided the most important message was one of welcome.“It's about welcoming people into the space - it's about saying ‘this is our space’. It's ours, it's yours, it's a space we all meet, it's a community hub. “So I thought, let's have basically the word welcome, or the equivalent, in pretty much every language we can imagine.”Wicksey’s new mural in the Ōamaru Public Library. Photo: Arrow KoehlerThe library contacted him about a year ago to do something for the space.“They've done a lot of work on the library to make it look really beautiful and they've done an amazing job.“We wanted something that was Waitaki, but nice and bright and a little bit abstract.“It's a reimagining of the Waitaki Valley - things that we're familiar with - so, the wide open plains, the rugged mountains, the snow-capped peaks, the blue sky, and the braided river channel coming down through the middle.”He says the artwork was “mostly hidden from the public” until the reveal yesterday (June 27).It is not the biggest work he has painted, but working on it in pieces was a challenge.“I needed to factor in that this piece was going to be viewed from all over the library, from the street, from a distance, so it needed to be really clear and eye-catching. But I'm working that out from a distance of about three metres, which is about as far away as I could get from it in my studio, so it was a bit of a challenge, but it was fun. And it's come together really well.”“I’m really proud of it,” he says.The work, which is yet to receive an official name, is painted with Resene paints and took about a month to complete in total.Waitaki District Libraries manager Jenny Bean says the mural represents “connecting all the people together”.“The significance is really about bringing all the community together in the library.”Mana whenua was involved in the project from the beginning, and gifted the saying “Ko Waitaki te awa kā roimata nā Aoraki i mariki”.“The mural is grounded in Aoraki,” Jenny says.The piece was unveiled during a karakia from Te Hā o Maru chief executive Adam Mani Sharplin.Wicksey holds his favourite artwork, Humpty vs Seagulls, from his newest exhibition, Liminal Déjà Vu. Photo: Arrow KoehlerNew Wicksey exhibition And not being one to twiddle his thumbs, Wicksey also opened a new exhibition celebrating Ōamaru, earlier this week.“The series is called Liminal Déjà Vu, so you've got two concepts coming together, which is liminal spaces and deja vu.”“Liminal spaces are transitional or transformative spaces and they're often associated with an atmosphere that's a bit distinct from reality.“So that's what I wanted, to take what people are familiar with and put it together in a way that's a little bit quirky and a bit strange. But at the same time, giving them a sense of déjà vu so they look at it and they go, ‘I've been there, I know that, but I can't quite make sense of it’.”The exhibition is a mash-up of Ōamaru over the past 30 years, with several references to Wicksey’s childhood, including the Majestic theatre, Humpty Dumpty and the elephant slide.“It takes familiar parts of Waitaki and brings them together in a strange way.“But I think anyone from Ōamaru is going to come in here and look at them and go, ‘Ah, I know that’.“It's sort of like Where's Wally but without Wally - it's just finding parts of the town that have been brought together.”Wicksey spent a few weeks going around the district taking photos before bringing them together.He intended to have 15 artworks but during the artistic process his ideas were condensed and changed, resulting in the final 10.Once he had the images the art made itself, he says.His favourite piece is Humpty vs Seagulls - a clear favourite amongst customers too.“There's no hidden political messages or agendas going on in any of these pieces. Some people see things that aren't there or they interpret messages, but again that's art.”The photos have been altered to look like they were taken by a retro camera - an effect achieved with about 40 or 50 treatments.“There still are these versions of them that are photorealistic and they look real, and to the point of like, the sky is blue and everything looks right. But I wanted it to be a bit surreal and a bit off, which is why I've gone with this dreamy sort of greeny hue over everything.”He has been told the artworks are reminiscent of Wes Anderson films, and though it was not intentional, he says the influence may have been subconscious.The exhibition opened on Monday (June 24) and is Wicksey’s second exhibition in his new studio space, located at the back of Art on Thames.Prints of the artworks are available online and instore.Wicksey says a few prints have already sold to people around the country, including some ex-Ōamaruvians.

Works complete on flood-prone highway
Works complete on flood-prone highway

27 June 2024, 3:39 AM

Work has been completed on the flood-prone section of State Highway One near Maheno.The seven-month, $3 million project, was completed by Whitestone Contracting, on behalf of New Zealand Transport Agency Waka Kotahi and the Government, as part of nationwide work to reduce the risk of natural events, such as flooding, closing key highways, a statement from NZTA says.Changing weather patterns had been increasing the frequency of the Kakanui River flooding the 350m section of highway, with it having to be closed every three to five years, for up to two days at a time.The engineering improvements made in recent months aim to keep the road open and above water level, even in a one-in-50-year-flood.Keeping communities and businesses connected during flood events is the aim, NZTA project manager Jason Forbes says.The most effective, efficient, and affordable option of those investigated to reduce the flood risk at this location, was retaining the existing highway layout, and raising the road height by slightly over a metre. NZTA modelling showed this would reduce the amount of floodwater covering the highway and result in little if any increases in water on nearby property, given concerns about flooding in this low-lying area.Jason commended the Whitestone team for its commitment to getting the project completed ahead of the winter period, while meeting all key requirements and coming in under budget.More information on the project can be found on the NZTA website.The new road layout should avoid a repeat of this 2022 flooding. Photo: supplied

Silver celebrations for Weston School's environmental efforts
Silver celebrations for Weston School's environmental efforts

27 June 2024, 12:19 AM

It has taken a village for Weston School to be named a Silver Enviroschool - the second in the Waitaki District. Weston’s Enviroschools lead teacher Erina Simpson thanked a number of organisations and individuals during her acceptance of the school’s Silver reflection certificate this week. Waitaki District Council Waste Minimisation officer and Enviroschool lead Chantal Barnes handed over the framed certificate, as part of the school’s Matariki celebrations on Tuesday (June 25).In the past two years, as a Bronze Enviroschool, Weston’s orchard area has been extended by 10 fruit trees thanks to a grant from the North Otago Tree Planting Association; compost bins and a recycling station have been established using council grants and with help from Chantal and her waste minimisation team-mate Lucianne White, along with Trish Hurley from the Waitaki Resource Recovery Park.Former and current school groundsmen Geoff Brown and Gus Caldwell were acknowledged for “going above and beyond” in their roles, including helping to establish new raised gardens, and keeping them watered. “We’d be lost without your help,” Erina said.Ōamaru’s Mitre 10 Mega has also been “very supportive of us as an Enviroschool”, she said, with bags of seed raising mix, containers, seeds, gardening tools and more than 50 pairs of reusable gardening gloves donated, meaning funds could be spent elsewhere.Local individuals Damian Burnett, Alton Davies, Blair Mathieson, and Linda Wilson were also thanked for contributions they made to various projects.Erina acknowledged Linda as a “true treasure”, whose knowledge, support and work on the gardens is “so very much appreciated”.Funds raised by the Weston Home and School have gone towards an additional garden shed, which will go up once junior classroom renovations are complete, and alongside this will sit a new picnic table, donated by the Waiareka Valley Lions Club, with a plaque in honour of John Thomson who recently passed away. “John lived in Weston his whole life and was educated here at the Weston School. He was the instigator behind the Lions Club picnic table project and a Waiareka Lions Club Foundation member,” Erina told the school community. Special acknowledgement also went to retired Weston teacher Jenny Kitchin, who began the school’s Envirogroup.“You had great vision Jenny, amazing drive and passion,” Erina said.“As you can see, we have a wonderful support network behind Weston School when it comes to Enviroschools. We look forward to now incorporating the kitchen classroom into our programme, with more garden-to-plate activities over the coming years,” she added.Lucianne says she and Chantal are excited to keep supporting Weston School on its sustainability journey “and see what great things they get up to next”.“We support and facilitate the Enviroschools journey for three early childhood centres and thirteen schools in Waitaki, with Maheno Kindergarten and Weston School the two centres who have now reflected at Silver,” she says.Maheno Kindergarten received its Silver status in July last year.“When centres reflect at Silver, they are looking at where they have come from, and how they have deepened their whole school approach to sustainability since they reflected at Bronze.” The Enviroschools kaupapa is about creating a healthy, peaceful, sustainable world through learning and taking action together, she says.“Each Enviroschool’s journey is different and pausing to reflect at different stages is an integral part of the learning cycle; helping to deepen sustainable practices, look backwards on where they have come from, celebrate the learnings, people and actions taken and gain clarity on where they want to go next,” Lucianne says. Photo: supplied/Enviroschools Otago Facebook

NZ women on a mental precipice as a result of HRT shortage - survey
NZ women on a mental precipice as a result of HRT shortage - survey

26 June 2024, 9:42 PM

The HRT patch shortage has hit so hard that 20 percent of women have had to take time off work while others have reported thoughts of suicide.A new survey of over 2000 HRT users revealed that the mental health of 80 percent of participants had been affected, while 70 percent said their physical health had suffered.A Hawke's Bay GP launched the survey a week ago after calling around Tauranga pharmacies at 7.30pm on a Saturday to find estrogen patches for a patient."I asked myself why am I doing this and what's the bigger picture?" she told RNZ's Nine to Noon.Listen: NZ women on a mental precipice as a result of MRT shortage - survey duration 16′ 31″Due to scarce supplies of estrogen patches, GPs and other health professionals here were "really under the pump" trying to help patients manage their symptoms, Newman said."There is huge stress on doctors who need to triage patients and their reactions to alternatives to patches and on pharmacists who don't have the right tools to work with."It's like pick your poison for women at the moment, what's the worst risk?"For the last couple of years, due to the unavailability of Estradot, Dr Newman believed she had been unable to offer "gold-standard best practice" in the treatment of menopause symptoms.When HRT users were unable to access medication, there was a negative impact on not only the individuals, she said, but also their co-workers and whānau.Hawkes Bay GP Samantha Newman. Photo: Supplied via RNZ''What was really upsetting me and I was finding the hardest was women and other users of Estradot being denied medications, and me seeing the difference and what it had done for them and what it enabled them to do."Of more than 2000 HRT users who responded to the survey, 20 percent said they had had to take time off work due to the patch shortages, she said, and a number reported psychiatric admissions and even suicide attempts.A lot of New Zealanders did not understand how seriously menopause could affect the health of women, Dr Newman said, and the incredible benefits that HRT therapy could deliver when prescribed appropriately.Around 84 percent of survey respondents reported that their sleep improved after using estrogen patches, while 33 percent were able to decrease or stop using pain medication and 17 percent stopped using antidepressants.In general, New Zealanders needed more public education about the symptoms of menopause, she said, and those working in healthcare needed a better understanding of how HRT could help.She is one of the health professionals calling for better communication from Pharmac about the shortage.Even though Pharmac acknowledged in a 2022 media release that there had been supply issues with Estradot for a few years, Dr Newman said, they have not yet officially responded to the shortage."I think they need to change their processing and their approval approach … and support all individuals impacted."

Customer service, 'vibrancy' focus for new cinema owners
Customer service, 'vibrancy' focus for new cinema owners

26 June 2024, 3:30 AM

The new owners of Ōamaru’s cinema are excited about getting to know their new community.Chris and Grace Rottenberry took over the cinema ownership on Monday (June 24), and after a quick refresh, will be re-opening 10.30am this Friday, for the long Matariki weekend.The couple is originally from Australia. Grace's working background was in the supermarket industry, while Chris has about 16 years’ experience working in cinema, “It's pretty much all I know at this point,” he says.“We moved to New Zealand just over two years ago. I was working at Reading Cinemas in Dunedin, and then we decided to sell off our house in Australia and use that money to open our own cinema in Balclutha, which was opened 10 months ago now.” In Balclutha, The Riviera Cinema is at the stage where “it’s just turning over really nicely”. Grace and Chris had heard Ōamaru Cinema was on the market, and decided it might be time to branch out.They started discussions with former owner Sam Smyth back in January.“It was only really about four weeks ago . . . they sort of came back to us and were like, ‘let's do it now’. “So it's been a bit of a mad rush, but we're up for the challenge.”The couple have a manager in place in Balclutha, and are now in the process of trying to find a home in Ōamaru, with their two children Elijah, three, and Mia, 15 months.The Ōamaru movie theatre is now called The Riviera Cinema Ōamaru. Chris believes the key to their success in Balclutha, which he hopes will translate to Ōamaru, is “always just customer service”. “As cliche as that sounds. You get a lot of businesses that say, you know, we prioritise our customer service, but a lot of the time they really don't.“A cinema is not an essential. It's not like we're a supermarket where people have to come, and especially in the times of streaming and all that sort of stuff, we have to go the extra mile to get people in . . . and yeah, that's what we're all about.”Either Chris or Grace will be at the door when a movie session finishes, he says.“You always make sure you've opened the doors and you stand at the door and greet everyone as they come out . . . It's just that little extra touch I think.”There will be a few noticeable changes, such as post-mix soft drinks (served from a machine rather than a can), handmade choc-top ice creams, food/drink combos available, and a new online booking system with allocated seating - so both seats and snacks can be prepaid online.“We're just trying to put a little bit more vibrancy into the place, if that makes sense.”Chris and Grace have also introduced an annual membership of $14.50, which includes a free ticket, and members get access to discounted tickets, and other deals.The cinema will be open seven days a week, with movies running from 10am to late most days. “You'll see us here pretty much every day, and we did that in Balclutha for about nine or ten months. Grace and I were the faces there every day.”Movie selection will be “anything and everything”.“Whatever we can get our hands on pretty much,” Chris says.“To start off with, obviously, going to the school holidays, a lot of children's products.”Eventually the pair hope to screen art-house films alongside the more mainstream, but they will need to be supported.“Our first 10 months in Balclutha we've shown everything just to feel out the market, and we will do something similar here,” he says. The Rottenberrys have employed three staff - after receiving more than 100 applications in 48 hours.“It's the first time we've hired where we interviewed people via zoom, but we've never had the problem where we couldn't narrow down the ones we wanted.”The couple also love to “event-ise” movies, such as a Ladies' Night, which might include champagne and popcorn on arrival, and hot nibbles, or a family fun day for a children’s movie, with face painting, colouring competitions, “all that sort of stuff”, Chris says.“And we've already got some ideas for Halloween.” Grace loves working in cinema, it’s a place people go to because “they really want to be here”. “The only issue you have here, is disgruntled boyfriends who don't want to go watch a rom com. So you just offer them a beer,” Chris says.

Anatomy of a tag: a closer look at genitalia-centred graffiti
Anatomy of a tag: a closer look at genitalia-centred graffiti

24 June 2024, 12:19 AM

Three semi-circles.That is all it takes to scrawl a simple set of male genitalia.A recent unfortunate incident involving a penis etched into a woman’s car windscreen raised the question around the office: "What is the obsession with phallic graffiti?" So we asked some experts.Local artist Matthew Wicks, aka Wicksey, suggests a penis and testicles are easy to draw, something you would draw as a child, and can be found in any boy’s (older than about eight) school book .“Funnily enough, phallic symbols are some of the earliest forms of painting, going back hundreds of thousands of years, since the dawn of man,” he says.“So maybe it's deeply rooted in our psyche that we want to draw willies on walls.”Wicksey does not have to resist the urge to draw penises on walls.“Have I drawn willies in the past? Yes, I think I still do. I think if I go past a mate's car and there's a dirty screen on the back, I'll draw a willy on the back of his car.“But never in a place of hate.“You’ve just got to be mindful of where you're doing it and when, and who's gonna be seeing it. But no, I don't make a habit of drawing penises on walls.”Wicksey does not think phallic images are hateful, “just silly”.He began his street art in the United Kingdom, where he did a painting of a boat at the pub he was working at.He really liked working at a larger scale and continued creating murals when he returned to Ōamaru, but he finds people struggle to understand the difference between street art and graffiti.“They instantly think of graffiti - negative messages and horrible things sprayed hurriedly on a wall - and we - me and other artists in the area - have worked really hard to say ‘no, it's not that’.”Wicksey says vandalism and graffiti can have a negative impact on people.“It's great that people want to express their creativity, but I think if it's done in a way that's distasteful, hurtful, or vandalism, that's just bad. It's not cool, because it's going to affect someone physically, mentally. “Someone has to clean it up, basically. What you're doing is not wanted, and it's going to affect someone else's life in a negative way.”He suspects many people use graffiti as a way to “yell something”.Wicksey had a mural he had collaborated on with other artists graffitied, but did not feel that was from a place of hostility.“I don't think that came from a place of hate. I think they were just a bit confused and did a silly thing and definitely regretted it.”Many towns and cities have street art, and the art is not often graffitied over, however many people will “tag” over top of each other, he says.He suspects there is “a sort of respect” for the artworks.A “big creative space in town” which is regulated and policed, could be a way for people to practise their skills, without doing it illegally, he says.Wicksey suspects people carrying out graffiti are “not in a great headspace” and do not think about the consequences.However, he thinks the most hateful words are no longer written on physical walls, but on Facebook walls.A montage of graffiti from around Ōamaru, including at Cape Wanbrow, under the Thames St bridge, and on store fronts. Photos: Arrow KoehlerŌamaru Police Constable Jay Morriss agrees with Wicksey's theory, that penises are one of the simplest things to draw. They are quick, recognisable, appeal to “simplistic humour” and get high shock value for minimal effort.Jay says the most common graffiti in Ōamaru is tagging - people “making their mark”.“For the 10 years I've been here, we've been fairly lucky,” he says.However, there have been some higher profile graffiti cases in Ōamaru, including a “305 Otara” tag in the Garden of Memories in 2019 and a 1080 protest message on the Ōamaru sign in 2018.He says the appendage scratched into the car windscreen is “the worst” he has seen.“Just in terms of, you know, they've gone to the extent of actually scratching in a window. She had to replace the window.”Jay says graffiti is most common “anywhere they won’t get caught”, including places with low lighting, minimal foot traffic, alleyways or in the dark. But graffiti in more public places is treated as a “badge of honour”.Scratching things into windows, spray painting and using marker pens are common for tagging.Another common vandalism in Ōamaru is damaging public toilets - lighting things on fire inside cubicles, covering them in toilet paper and ripping the fixtures of the walls.It is mostly kids doing it, he says.“Where youth tend to congregate sees more than its fair share.“It's the sort of thing most people grow out of.”Graffiti can also be subjective and some people may take greater offence than others.Carving names into limestone buildings, spraying weed killer into someone else's grass and doing donuts in public parks is all wilful damage.“The reality is it costs. It's a cost to someone.”Graffiti has its own charges, under the umbrella of wilful damage - which covers breaking things and causing damage with intent.For anyone considering graffiti, Jay suggests getting a whiteboard, trying out calligraphy or finding another creative outlet.He believes Ōamaru’s worst graffiti is done by those in cars - “boy racers and bogans leaving tyre marks”.It is dangerous to do and costly to remove.He suggests people interested in showing off their cars can attend drag races, where they can be with like-minded car enthusiasts.

Waitaki eateries souping it up for July
Waitaki eateries souping it up for July

24 June 2024, 12:14 AM

It’s soup sipping time.The Waitaki Souper Soup Sipper returns next weekend, running from July 6 to 28.The Waitaki District Council initiative first ran in September last year, with 18 participating cafes around Ōamaru.Recognising soup is best when it’s cold, this year’s Souper Soup Sipper is running in the depths of winter, and goes beyond Ōamaru to the wider Waitaki District.This year, 21 cafés and restaurants have submitted their creations for the three-week celebration of the little bowls of comfort.New entrants outside of Ōamaru include Moeraki Boulders Café, The Fort Enfield, Otematata’s Best Dam Pub and The Flying Pig in Duntroon, while newcomers in Ōamaru include The Roost Café, Fat Sally’s and Columbus Café.Almost all eateries in Ōamaru are taking part, but just to make sure, keep an eye out for the orange Waitaki Souper Soup Stickers in the windows of participating cafés and restaurants next month.Council placemaking lead Cyndi Christensen says she is happy to see the event returning and to have more businesses across the district taking part.“Waitaki is well known for its high-quality, locally-grown produce and I’m sure locals and visitors will enjoy sampling the new recipes on offer.”The introduction of the Taste of the Waitaki passport this year, with vouchers to be won for those who sup on soup at five or more outlets over the three weeks, adds another incentive to customers.“We are hoping this will encourage more people to explore the district and discover new places,” Cyndi says.Criterion Hotel co-owner Katrina McLarin says it is great to see a variety of hospitality venues working together with a common goal of generating more business, especially during the “leaner” winter months.“The bonus is the community gets to benefit from trying all these wonderful flavour combinations at different venues and locations around Waitaki.”Fat Sally’s owner Kristin Murdoch says as relatively new business owners, having taken over 18 months ago, it is important to them to be active in the community.“When I noticed that the Waitaki Souper Soup Sipper was returning, we wanted to get involved,” she says.You can find your E-Passport to collect “stamps” for the Taste of the Waitaki in the Waitaki App next week.If you try five or more of the soups on offer, you can go into the draw for a $30 voucher donated by each of the Souper Soup Sipper participating businesses.There are 21 vouchers, with a total value of $630.00 to be won. The more stamps you collect, the more vouchers you can win.Participants are also encouraged to grab a #soupselfie and tag Waitaki Souper Soup Sipper on Facebook, where you can find out more about the soups and their stories there too.

Greyhounds headed to the United States for homes to clear New Zealand backlog
Greyhounds headed to the United States for homes to clear New Zealand backlog

23 June 2024, 9:27 PM

Retired racing greyhounds are headed overseas as the industry looks to find homes for its backlog of dogs.They are being sent to the United States, rather than waiting to be adopted in New Zealand. As of early June, 44 greyhounds have made the trip to new homes in the US.Darrin Williams from Greyhound Racing New Zealand said the adoption market there is wildly different from New Zealand."They're exactly the opposite to us. We've got plenty of dogs and not enough applications. They've got piles of applications and no dogs because there's hardly any racing over in America. So, before they go, many of the dogs have already begun to be matched with the right home." Retired racing greyhounds headed to the US duration 3′ 05″ from Morning Report Add to playlist  DownloadGreyhound Racing New Zealand investigated the programme after seeing Australia do it and found it cheaper to send the dogs overseas than to keep them here in boarding kennels.Williams said there was a backlog of dogs waiting to be adopted, and while in the first ten months of this year they found homes for 478, the US programme will allow the waitlist to be cleared faster."Because of the backlog, we needed to look at anywhere else that we could rehome dogs or anything else that we could do with them to make sure that they were in a home and in a home quicker instead of moving from racing life, racing kennel life, to boarding kennel life."There are 350 dogs currently on the waitlist for adoption, Williams said.Emelia Lake from the charity Greyhounds as Pets said interest in adoptions has dropped, especially in North Island centres like Auckland."We are facing lower adoption numbers this year, largely due to the economic crisis. It is slower and we are really putting in a lot of work with extra events and things like that to get greyhounds into homes."She said the organisation was holding onto the dogs for longer as a result."We work with them for however long it takes to get them into a home, so whether it be two weeks or two years, they will stay in our care until they do find their forever home."There have been calls for greyhound racing to be banned after deaths and injuries at the racetrack. The former government directed the industry to make recommended improvements to animal welfare or risk closure after a review into the future of the sport.SPCA's Arnja Dale said her organisation backs a ban and the industry should account for it in its planning."Despite the industry being under review by the government for two years, they have continued to breed puppies, which is absolutely outrageous."She said New Zealand is one of six countries in the world with a greyhound racing industry, and if the industry were to close, the SPCA would help rehome the dogs."We are the largest leading animal welfare organisation in New Zealand and will continue to speak for the greyhounds that can't speak for themselves and also help in any way that we can to rehome them, if indeed the decision is made to close the industry."The issue of a ban is now with Racing Minister Winston Peters, who said he will not be rushed on the matter.He said the dogs do get something out of racing."Dogs love racing. Watch them in the wild. Just like horses. Three o'clock in the morning, everybody's quiet and they're out there having a race in the paddock."So, before we rush off, there are certain instinctive things that animals like, and one of them they will do whether you're going to organise the race or not."Greyhound Racing NZ rejects the idea of a ban and said the industry has quarterly meetings with the minister and Racing Integrity Board about progress on issues brought up in the review.

Hampden's former dumping ground on the move
Hampden's former dumping ground on the move

21 June 2024, 3:52 AM

More than 30,000 tonnes of waste is expected to be removed from Hampden’s former dumping site over the next three months.The excavation is part of Project Reclaim, which aims to relocate waste from three contaminated sites in danger of slipping into the sea.The excavation in Hampden started last week (June 17) and is expected to last 12 weeks.Fulton Hogan is forecasting trucks will move in and out of Stafford St, every 15 minutes from 8am to 5pm, five days a week, as they take the approximately 32,000 tonnes of old waste to the Palmerston Landfill.Truck drivers will use a two-way radio to ensure only one truck is on the street at once, a Waitaki District Council spokesperson said.The east end of Stafford St, after the railway track, will be closed, and Fulton Hogan are installing a temporary weighbridge.The same level of truck movements is expected in Palmerston coming off SH1, east into Goodwood Rd then turning up Falcon St to access the landfill.A grizzly screen will be set up to filter waste and capture larger items that may be recyclable.Falcon St and Stafford St residents were informed of the truck movements.The Hampden landfill was used from 1970 to 1996 and is estimated to contain 30,000 cubic metres of waste.It has been subject to coastal erosion, with some waste washing onto the beach.In 2009, 5,090 cubic metres of compacted waste was transferred to the Palmerston landfill and a rock riprap slope from the toe of the landfill to the beach was placed.The other sites part of Project Reclaim are located in Beach Rd and near Awamoa Rd.

Protest against fluoride in water planned
Protest against fluoride in water planned

19 June 2024, 10:59 PM

A protest against the impending fluoridation of Ōamaru’s water supply is being held on Tuesday (June 25).Fluoride Free Waitaki spokesperson Sheryl Black says the central government is “holding a giant stick” by enforcing a directive on the Waitaki District Council to fluoridate its main water supply by June 30.The protest will begin outside Scotts Brewery at 12 noon, and end at the Waitaki District Council steps. Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher has agreed to meet and talk with protesters, Sheryl says.Waitaki is one of 14 New Zealand councils told it must add fluoride to its main Ōamaru water supply by the end of the month. This will mean a 9% increase in New Zealanders receiving fluoride in their water supply, taking the national total to 60%. Many councils already add fluoride to their water.Ōamaru, Ardgowan, Weston, Enfield, Kakanui, Maheno, Herbert, Hampden and Moeraki are all on the Ōamaru water supply.Sheryl knows not everybody in the Waitaki district is against the directive made by the Director-General of Health Diana Sarfati, but Fluoride Free Waitaki believes people should have a choice.“The fact that they’re putting it in the water is making it not a choice,” she says.While she knows the Waitaki District Council is not to blame for a decision made by central government, she feels like it should be “supporting the community to come up with some solutions”.“The council needs to educate and warn the vulnerable people in our community about the harms,” Sheryl says. But a council spokesperson says Dr Sarfati has outlined that the directive has been made “following consideration of peer-reviewed scientific studies that show the health benefits of adding fluoride to water supplies”.The council has to follow the law, the spokesperson says.Sheryl suggests people wanting to avoid fluoridation can perhaps pool their finances to pay for an alternative water source, or a filter.“There are reverse osmosis systems and things like that. Yes, they're expensive, but not when you divide that into thousands of people . . . and, you know, we raise money for all sorts of things in our community.“Raising a bit of money for what people are really concerned and care about . . . it's funny, you know people put money in the hat for lots of things and clean water is fundamental to everything.”Sheryl says she never expected to be the mouthpiece for this issue, but she wants to set an example for her children.“I just said to the kids, I don't want to show them that I just sit here and do nothing about something that we all feel strongly about.“I want to set an example that we have to do something. We have to try. Even if it doesn't work, it's better to know that you tried.” The council says the processes and equipment are being put in place to start adding the fluoride from the end of June.The cost to do so is more than $500,000, including construction of the building required to house the necessary equipment, which is being fully funded by Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health), following an application made by council.The ongoing cost of adding fluoride to the supply will be around $40,000 and included in the Water Treatment Plant operating budgets.The council has no plans or budget to establish a separate supply, it says.According to the Manatū Hauora website, a 2014 report by the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor found “the scientific issues raised by those opposed to fluoridation are not supported by the evidence”.The report also notes that “it is important to distinguish between effects of apparent fluoride toxicity at very high intakes, and effects that may occur at the much lower intakes from [community water fluoridation]. “Some studies have failed to do so, giving rise to potentially misleading statements and confusion.”A review of the report in 2021 found it was still relevant, and community water fluoridation is also significantly more cost effective than other public health measures aimed at improving oral health.Data for children aged 0-12 in the Southern District Health Board from 2022 show that 32% of children had experienced tooth decay by age five. New Zealand's most recent national oral health survey shows, on average, 40% less tooth decay was experienced among children living in communities with fluoridated water, compared with children living in communities without fluoridated water.Sheryl says she doesn’t want Tuesday's protest to turn into “everyone ranting at council” because that's not going to achieve anything. “The council have tried, and I don't think it's going to stop the fluoride.“I don't think that's what we're trying to do now. We want to figure out how we can avoid the harms, and also just express outrage to the government, like, this is ridiculous. “We don't want this, we need a choice. I mean, they’re taking away that choice, so now we need to figure out solutions.”What do you think about fluoride being added to our water? Take the poll!

More modest approach on display in Chinese Premier's visit to NZ
More modest approach on display in Chinese Premier's visit to NZ

19 June 2024, 9:23 PM

Analysis - The dust has settled from Chinese Premier Li Qiang's visit to New Zealand last week. This was a timely visit in an important and complex relationship that indicates both sides seek to maintain stable and productive relations.It also highlighted the different approaches each side is taking to achieving that goal.China's public messaging was ambitious and bullish. It played down differences and talked up opportunities for deepening comprehensive cooperation.New Zealand's public messaging was more cautious and constrained. It looked to moderate expectations and publicly addressed challenging issues in the relationship.This is quite a shift. During Premier Li Keqiang's visit in 2017, both sides pushed a furious pace of cooperation and few differences were canvassed publicly.Since then, relations have evolved in line with a more challenging international environment, and the tenor of the conversation has changed.This was highlighted in the post-meeting media standup with Prime Minister Christopher Luxon. Asked how much of the meeting was spent on cooperation and how much on differences, Luxon tellingly remarked, "maybe 50-50".Premier Li took a different approach, delivering pre-prepared comments post meeting that sought to persuade New Zealanders to moderate their criticisms and refocus their efforts on cooperation. Li stated, "differences should not become a chasm that blocks exchanges and cooperation between us," suggesting that is exactly what is starting to happen.Li Qiang with New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon. Photo: Hagen Hopkins via RNZReasons for NZ's approachThe reasons for New Zealand's more modest approach are threefold.Firstly, trade and most importantly the architecture that supports trade, is already well in place and working well.The 2008 free trade agreement provides the basic economic architecture for those New Zealand businesses that should engage in the Chinese market to do so.China already stands as New Zealand's largest trade partner following more than a decade of rapid growth. Businesses heavily exposed to the Chinese market will seek to maintain their market access but are unlikely to want to expand their share of exposure.These businesses will be pleased with further announcements during the visit, notably the non-reciprocal visa free travel to China, the launch of FTA upgrade negotiations for trade in services, as well as several sectoral agreements for agriculture, and they'll be pleased to have had face time with China's premier.But they will also be cognisant of the broader challenges in the relationship and looking to moderate their exposure to a single market.Secondly, differences have emerged as irritants for both sides. These narrow the scope for new cooperation and raise the risk of an Australian-style breakdown in relations.That breakdown had a very negative impact on Australia's trading relationship with China, something New Zealand businesses will be keen to avoid or at least minimise their exposure to.The issues are not so different for New Zealand.New Zealand has publicly critiqued China's human rights record, pushed back on cybersecurity and foreign interference, openly discussed economic resilience and diversification, criticised some Chinese activity in the Pacific, and strengthened defence and security relations with partners that are openly critical of Chinese foreign policy.Managing these differences takes time and resources and has led to a more cautious approach.Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro greets Li Qiang. Photo: Hagen Hopkins via RNZThirdly, challenges are also evident in each countries' respective views of regional order and multilateral institutions.As China has grown economically and militarily its relative influence has increased. It has become more openly critical of the regional security architecture that New Zealand relies on for its own security and put forward proposals to reform global governance that do not always sit easily with New Zealand interests and liberal values.The Indo-Pacific is a more contested region with multiple concerning flashpoints. China's relations with many of New Zealand's closest partners have, to say the least, become far more challenging and competitive.New Zealand has responded positively to new security minilaterals like AUKUS and economic groupings like the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, while China has railed against them.Such differences suggest further care is needed managing the bilateral relationship.The more modest approach from New Zealand will be troubling for Chinese officials looking beyond their own statements about the bilateral. They'll be concerned with the trajectory of relations, New Zealand's careful but critical posture, and the public and media reception to the visit.While New Zealand will be happy that the focus of new initiatives was on supporting a slowing economic relationship, China appears to want to push the relationship forward across multiple domains.The day before Premier Li left, he called for the upgrading of the 'comprehensive strategic partnership' signed in 2014. That looks overly ambitious in the current context.Given the range of challenges being managed, New Zealand's more modest approach should be viewed as a pragmatic win and a sign of New Zealand's long-term commitment to the relationship.Jason Young is the Director of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre and an Associate Professor in the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations.

Workshop brings television industry experts to town
Workshop brings television industry experts to town

19 June 2024, 2:21 AM

Film Otago Southland is bringing Auckland opportunities to Ōamaru, for a select group of emerging filmmakers.A three-day workshop called Southern Pilots, and funded by the New Zealand Film Commission, is being held at The Business Hive this weekend, beginning on Friday (June 21).Film Otago Southland co-manager Stefan Roesch said the workshop is a way for the not-for-profit trust to help local filmmakers get established, and also to have more stories coming from the region. It is the first time the programme has been run.Film Otago Southland closely works with the regional film offices in Dunedin and Queenstown, and looks after the industry - both local filmmakers and incoming productions - across both regions.For the incoming productions they help to find crew, the right locations and the service providers they require.“But another mandate is to enable and help develop our own local filmmakers to generate their IP (intellectual property), and that's something we are lacking a little bit,” Stefan says.“The opportunities that our local filmmakers have compared to someone, let's say, based in Auckland, because most guilds are based in Auckland, hence most development programmes are being run in Auckland. And they are open to everyone in the country, but how do you get up to Auckland?”So for Southern Pilots, instead of everyone going up north, Film Otago Southland is bringing the north to them.The trust decided to team up with Script to Screen, an Auckland-based charitable organisation dedicated to developing New Zealand storytelling for the screen.“Script to Screen will bring in their own expertise into this programme, which is what traditionally what they've been doing for a long time - and that is running those opportunities, workshops, development programmes,” Stefan says. “Once Film Otago Southland and Script to Screen agreed on the rough framework for the programme, Script to Screen from then on has taken over to do the operational side of it.”Script to Screen executive director Jackie Dennis said three Otago or Southland-based teams, from the more than 20 who applied, were chosen for the programme by three external selectors.“We brought them all into a room together to discuss which ones they thought were the most viable and the most exciting to develop.”A team had to include at least a writer and producer. It could also include a director, but that wasn’t mandatory. They needed to be emerging to mid-career applicants, and filming needed to take place in the Otago Southland area, even if it wasn’t identifiable as such.Applicants were asked to provide a pitch document for a television series, which included the team, the genre, the world of the story and the main characters.The three teams chosen were “unique”, Jackie says.“It was just really interesting when the selectors get together and they start talking about it, and you can just hear them buzzing when they start talking about the ones that they like.“So it was just the fact that between the three selectors, they were all able to agree that these were the three that they thought were really worth putting time into.”This weekend’s workshop aims to help the three chosen teams develop their idea to the point where they can take it to market.They get to spend time with industry experts who have proven successes such as The Brokenwood Mysteries, The Dead Lands and Wellington Paranormal under their belts, Jackie says.“So we're bringing Fiona Samuel, Glenn Standring and Paul Yates to Ōamaru. They'll do a half day each with each of the teams. “And then we're also bringing speakers down who can talk about certain aspects, like producing and directing and pitching your project and building your team.”Following the workshop, the teams will be given more time to work on their projects, and then in about two months’ time, they will get to pitch to the industry, something Jackie says they haven’t been told about yet.If three new television series’ came about as a result of this programme that would be “amazing”, the two agree.Ōamaru was chosen to host the workshop in an effort to “spread the love”, Stefan says.The Waitaki is a less common filming destination than somewhere like Queenstown Lakes or Dunedin“We try to have a very inclusive approach . . . and Waitaki [District] Council is one of the funders of Film Otago Southland . . . and then, you know, it's a really cool place.“Oamaru just has this really cool vibe.”

Granny flat change could make home ownership more obtainable, supporters say
Granny flat change could make home ownership more obtainable, supporters say

18 June 2024, 10:52 PM

Excitement is building among tiny home builders and enthusiasts after the announcement of a potential overhaul of the rules for granny flats.On Monday, the government announced a discussion document which looks to shake up the rules around building small structures.The proposal includes changes to the Building Act which would remove the need for building or resource consents on granny flat style buildings in certain areas.Bryce Langston is a New Zealander who has amassed more than 4.5 million YouTube subscribers on his channel which looks at diverse ways people are building tiny houses around the world.He got interested in this type of housing in his late 20s."I was watching the idea of home ownership move further and further away from me, and when I discovered tiny houses, it was like this light bulb went off in my head and it was this amazing thing whereby downsizing my home it became obtainable."Granny flat change welcomed by housing providers and oppositionGranny flats: Do they pay off? Investors run the numbersLangston said the changes were a step in the right direction."This is a tremendously exciting development that I would love to see happen."It is going to clear up a lot of unnecessary red tape and make it a lot easier to increase the housing supply which we desperately need to do."Bryce Langston, creator of the Living Big in a Tiny House YouTube channel. Photo: @brycelangston via RNZHe believed 60 square metres - the size which some councils would be required to allow without consent - was plenty of room to work with."You could have a comfortable home with a good-sized kitchen, a nice-sized lounge, a nice-sized bedroom, potentially even two bedrooms, bathroom, without really needing to get too creative."Site Scope builds a range of modular transportable homes which range from 17 to 50 square metres in size.Project facilitator Coen Wilson said they supported moves to make building these types of homes easier, if compliance standards were upheld."Going down this route, we need to ensure that all the design and consenting has to be done by the like of LBPs [licensed building practitioners]."Often, Site Scope could offer the client a home at an achievable price, but extra costs like resource consents "blows the project out of the water" for them, Wilson said.House Me is another tiny home builder which provides housing across New Zealand.Co-owner Bryce Glover said they had 17 homes waiting for delivery to people."They are sitting there begging to take possession of their unit, but they are waiting for the council process to get a wriggle on at the site end."So, if you can unlock that, if you can speed that process up then businesses like ours, who have the capacity to build 1000 homes a year, we could actually play our part in solving this housing crisis."

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