It's been another newsy week in the Bay and across the country. Here are my views on six of the top stories.

Volunteering overseas

I admire people who travel overseas to help others.

There are countless people who give up their lives and the safety of their homes to spend time in some pretty harsh environments in an effort to make a difference to the lives of others.


We had two good examples this week - Tauranga's Julie McGowan, who raised $7000 to help people rebuild their property and lives after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines; and Waihi Beach woman Cathy Franzoi, who spent three weeks volunteering for Christian group Youth With A Mission in Papua New Guinea.

Unfortunately, Mrs Franzoi was shot by a stray bullet fired by lawless gunmen in Port Moresby during her mission, but thankfully is now back home recovering.

Good on you Julie and Cathy - you deserve huge praise.

Jail time for robbers

Many locals, such as Julie and Cathy, are decent people - but then there are others who are the complete opposite.

Take the line-up of six robbers we featured on Tuesday on page 5.

The robbers are now thankfully in jail for their parts in two violent robberies in Tauranga, in which weapons were used.

Three robbed the Matua dairy and bashed a worker there - all for four packets of cigarettes. The other trio struck the 11th Ave Z service station.

These violent criminals are low-lifes who all should have got a lot longer than a few years in prison.

Once out and back among us they need to get jobs and make decent contributions to society rather than beating, terrifying and stealing from others.

War hero's medal

I love a good hero story and Sonya Bateson's story on Wednesday about John Gregson's bravery in World War II is a terrific example.

The Mount Maunganui man was originally awarded the Albert Medal (later known as the George Cross) for bravery and this week was re-presented it at the Mount Maunganui RSA.

Mr Gregson saved a young man's life when their ship was torpedoed 72 years ago.

He helped save his fellow crew member and swam with him for about three-quarters of a mile before they were picked up by a destroyer.

In true hero fashion, Mr Gregson played down what he did by saying he was saving himself at the time "so I don't really take much credit for it".

What an inspiration.

Nicky Hager's book

Wow. Where do I start?

This book's explosive contents and the timing of its release has redirected all focus from the important issues that need to be canvassed this election campaign, such as the economy, health, education, housing and our standard of living.

But these allegations drive to the heart of the Prime Minister's office, and others in his Government, regarding how they operate and must be investigated.

In fact, the whole affair from both sides needs investigating to ensure no laws have been broken.

Given the outrage from opposition parties and potential involvement of the police, I'd be surprised if we get any official, independent answers before the election.

So the million-dollar question is: what impact will this have on voters, and do they actually care?

$264m spend-up

It is heartening to see spending is up across the Bay of Plenty but unfortunate not everyone is enjoying the spoils.

We reported yesterday that Paymark figures showed consumers spent 6.7 per cent more in July than the same month last year.

We surveyed 30 city retailers but many reported they were still finding trading tough.

Local businesses are an essential part of our economy. They employ local people and support other local businesses.

I know I feel good every time I spend money with a local business. It's good to support the small guys.