Power's new CEO role

Debbie Power, the former Work and Income regional commissioner for Northland has been appointed to the top job at the Ministry of Social Development. Power, who worked in Northland in the late 1990s to 2005, has been appointed chief executive from February 2019.

"Debbie Power's career in the public service is a great demonstration of going full circle and taking up leadership opportunities," says Glenn Barclay, PSA national secretary. "Her extensive and comprehensive experience bodes well for MSD - from starting her career in 1980 on the frontline of the then Department of Social Welfare as a case manager through to being a deputy chief executive at MSD from 2012 to 2015 and now moving back to MSD as the chief executive."

Remanded in custody

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Two drivers who allegedly led police on a pursuit through Whangārei have been further remanded in custody. Brendon Pora, 20, of Auckland and Abraham Peters, 18, of Peria will re-appear in Whangārei District Court on Monday on various driving charges. Pora is facing charges of theft of a motor vehicle, failing to stop, driving recklessly, committing a criminal nuisance by reversing a car into a police patrol vehicle and assaulting police using a vehicle.

The alleged offences took place on October 28. Peters is charged with failing to stop, failing to remain stopped, drink-driving, driving recklessly, assault using a motor vehicle as a weapon, possession of a meth pipe, possession of a knife in a public place, possession of a firearm, theft of a motor vehicle, and theft of liquor. Both have yet to enter pleas.

Scrub fire suspicious

Police and fire investigators are continuing to investigate a blaze which swept through 16ha of scrub at Kaingaroa, near State Highway 10 in the Far North, last Friday afternoon. Three helicopters were deployed to make the most of the remaining daylight, along with brigades from Kaitaia, Mangonui, Karikari, Taupo Bay and Hihi.

Twenty contract firefighters took over on Saturday to dampen down and cut fire breaks. Deputy principal rural fire officer Clint Lyall said the fire appeared to be suspicious and was being thoroughly investigated. Such fires put lives and livelihoods at risk and put a strain on firefighters, he said.

Walk for MND

A walk to raise money for research and support services for people with motor neurone disease is on this weekend. Walks 2 D'Feet MND will take place all over the country on Sunday, including around Whangārei's Hātea Loop from 10am.

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is the name of a group of diseases that cause the death of the nerve cells that control the muscles enabling us to move, speak, swallow and breathe. With no nerves to activate them, these muscles gradually weaken and waste away. The Whangārei walk will start at the Canopy Bridge. All walks are wheel-friendly for wheelchairs, prams and strollers. To register visit www.mndwalk.org.nz.

Poster contest winner

A Te Kāpehu Whetū student has won a national poster competition designed to increase awareness about antibiotic resistance and the importance of hand washing. The Health Quality & Safety Commission partnered with ACC and the Ministry Health for Patient Safety Week to raise awareness about infection prevention and control, and the importance of good hand hygiene.

As part of Patient Safety Week activity, a national poster competition was run in schools last term for children in Years 5 to 8. The aim was to increase awareness about antibiotic resistance, and the importance of hand washing frequently to prevent minor illnesses. The best regional entry was won by Te Kāpehu Whetū student Melody Brown, who received a special edition speed+ Micro scooter as her prize.