Environmental talks

The retiring Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is giving two public talks in the Far North before she leaves office after 10 years as the country's top environmental watchdog. Jan Wright will speak at Te Ahu in Kaitaia from 5.30pm on September 26, and at Kaeo Rugby Club on Whangaroa Rd from 7pm on September 27. Topics will include Predator Free 2050 and her investigations into the plight of native birds and the use of 1080 in pest control. The talks will be hosted by Te Rarawa Anga Mua, Te Papa Hapu o Whangaroa and Forest & Bird. Dr Wright's other investigations include the impact of rising sea levels, fracking, agricultural greenhouse gases, and native eels.

Fire responders stood down
A helicopter and firefighters on their way to a scrub fire at Te Hapua on the shores of the Parengarenga Harbour were stood down yesterday afternoon. Turned out it was a controlled burnoff and the person responsible put it out himself. Fire appliances from Pukenui and Awanui plus a helicopter were stood down. The controlled burnoff was in the middle of tea tree bush on flat land.

Election result updates
Just who will run the country for the next three years should start to become clear after 7pm tonight. The results from today's general election will start coming through progressively after the polls close at 7pm, the Electoral Commission said. However, the make-up of the 52nd New Zealand Parliament probably won't become clearer until the preliminary results start being confirmed after 10pm. By that stage the percentage of the vote each party has gained should be known.


Clocks go forward
Daylight saving begins early tomorrow, when clocks go forward an hour at 2am to become 3am. The change will run till April 1, 2018, when clocks go back an hour at 3am to 2am. People may find it convenient to advance their clocks by one hour before going to bed tonight. The change to daylight saving is also a good time to check household emergency plans, survival kits and smoke alarms.

Top cop recognised
Former head of Northland police serious crime Commander Karyn Malthus, now Auckland District Commander, has been recognised by the Australasian Council of Women and Policing (ACWAP) for her leadership and work. It was in relation to Operation Clover - the review of the "Roastbusters" investigation. She was one of two recipients awarded the Most Outstanding Female Investigator award, presented at the 2017 International Women and Law Enforcement Conference in Cairns, Australia, this week.

Fisheries officers back at work
Northland fisheries officers are back on the job after those belonging to the National Union of Public Employees went on strike for two weeks and were limited to office work. Officers went on strike on September 1 after urgent mediation had failed to avert the nationwide strike of about 75 officers including nine in the upper North Island which included Auckland, Whangarei and Kaitaia. The officers decided to strike after they were refused more pay for weekend work.

Love Soup hosts community meal
A group which has been feeding school kids will be feeding the community for the first time tomorrow. Love Soup Whangarei - a branch of a group to feed the homeless which originated in Tokoroa - will be at Te Puawaitanga Marae in Otangarei providing free meals from 3pm to 5pm. Lisa Richards, who is involved with the group, had been spending her own time and money putting together lunches for kids in need. Ms Richards said it was her dream to host a community meal. Anyone who wants to help with preparations, donations or food can contact Ms Richards on 09 433 7640 or 021 0812 3699.

Cases of vomiting bug down
Cases of the gut illness norovirus have dropped in Ward 1 at Whangarei Hospital. Three patients are still in isolation, down from 11 in total over the past week. "Isolation" means specific rooms, bathrooms and staff are allocated to the affected patients. Norovirus, a serious illness in already vulnerable patients, is widespread in the community and nationally several health boards are dealing with the problem. Northland health board's clinical microbiologist David Hammer said he was pleased at how well the highly infectious illness had been contained. "Our staff have worked tirelessly and have done a brilliant job."