New ambulances

Some Northland stations will be the first to get new ambulances designed specifically to support New Zealand's rural and remote communities. The first fleet of 14 Volkswagen First Response Units 14 were handed over to St John at a launch in Auckland on Thursday. They will roll out to stations around New zealand including Russell, Maungaturoto and Dargaville. Designed as specialist First Response Units, the new ambulances will enhance emergency response times to isolated communities, an important step in improving the equity and access of healthcare to all New Zealanders. Tony Devanney, St John assistant director of operations, says the fit-for-purpose vehicles are smaller and nimbler than a traditional ambulance. As part of St John's approach to delivering ambulance services, the new vehicles, crewed by dedicated volunteers, will be able to quickly locate and assess patients, and transport locally or to meet a helicopter or transporting ambulance. Up to another 60 vehicles will be rolled out over the next two to three years.

Advocate office opens late

We're backing the Black Caps. Northern Advocate staff will have a late start on Monday so we can watch the Black Caps in the Cricket World Cup final against England at Lords in London. It means the Advocate's office at 88 Robert St won't be open at its normal time of 9am. Win or lose though the office will open at 10am, hopefully with something to celebrate.

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No voting at Local Govt conference

Once-bitten Far North District Council representatives abstained from voting on any of the 24 remits debated at the July 8-9 Local Government New Zealand conference in Wellington. Delegates from around the country voted on a series of policy positions to lobby central government on, including climate change, a ban on public fireworks sales, parking on berms and short-term guest accommodation (Airbnb in other words). However, at their last meeting, councillors decided they would take part in debates but abstain from voting. That was because Deputy Mayor Tania McInnes had received considerable flak from the Bay of Islands cat lobby after voting at a previous conference to ask the government to give councils the option of introducing more cat controls. With no time to consult the public before the conference, councillors felt they had no mandate. The Far North attendees were Mayor John Carter, Deputy Mayor Tania McInnes, councillor Kelly Stratford and community board member Rachel Smith, attending as a Young Elected Member Network representative for Auckland and Northland.

Trust marks hospital upgrade

Hokianga Health Enterprise Trust has two reasons to celebrate next month and the public can join in. On August 2, the trust will have a celebration to mark the completion of its hospital upgrade project, and to acknowledge the 25th anniversary of the Trust. The trust will also bless and re-open its hospital marae and whānau facility, Pou Kara Ariki.
The ceremony will begin at 10.30am on August 2, at 163 Parnell Rd, Rawene, Hokianga.
The formalities will start with an unveiling of the new whakairo and blessing for the marae, followed by the formal powhiri. The trust has invited sponsors, partners, funders and supporters to celebrate this achievements. To attend, email accounts@hokiangahealth.org.nz by July 19.

Medicinal cannabis

Northlanders can have their say on new rules for medicinal cannabis. The Ministry of Health has published the proposed regulations and standards for medicinal cannabis, covering everything from cultivation to quality standards. Public consultation is open for four weeks. The regulations supporting the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme will be finalised by December 18 and the Ministry of Health anticipate having the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme operational in the first quarter of next year. The consultation proposal was informed by feedback from a medical cannabis advisory group that includes medical professionals and consumer and industry representatives. The group will continue to provide feedback as the medicinal cannabis scheme is developed. The consultation runs until August 7. More information can be found on the Ministry of Health website www.health.govt.nz/publication/medicinal-cannabis-scheme-consultation.