Each weekday The Front Page keeps you up to date with the biggest news in New Zealand. Today, the former boss of Kiwibuild to sue the Housing Ministry, a heatwaves grips New Zealand, support to double released prisoner payments and a new way to pick bones out of salmon. Hosted by Juliette Sivertsen.

Former KiwiBuild boss Stephen Barclay says he is pursuing a case of constructive dismissal against the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

This comes after the Ministry revealed earlier today that Barclay resigned amid an employment investigation that revealed complaints from employees, contractors and stakeholders regarding his "leadership behaviour".

In a statement, again through a private public relations company, Barclay said he was extremely disappointed that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MHUD) had divulged details of an employment matter.

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He said he considered this a breach of privacy and felt he had no choice but to respond.

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Earlier today, Ministry Chief Executive Andrew Crisp revealed Barclay's resignation followed an employment investigation triggered by complaints from employees, contractors and stakeholders.

He says the complaints were about Barclay's leadership behaviour.

Crisp says the allegations reflected behaviours not consistent with standards expected of senior public servants.

Crisp has also confirmed Barclay has not received any exit payment.

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The heatwave gripping the country is breaking long-time records and pushing temperatures close to 40C in places.

WeatherWatch NZ has reported recordings of 37C in parts of Napier and Hastings, and 36C in the Marlborough Sounds.

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The impressive hot weather was driven by sweltering conditions in Australia.

MetService forecaster Amy Rossiter says the hot temperatures are set to stick around to the end of the week.

MetService says the weather can be defined as a heat wave because a number of places throughout the country meet the threshold of one.

As defined by the World Meteorological Organisation, a heatwave is five consecutive days with maximum temperatures 5C above average.

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A distressing story's emerged, along with a reminder of the dangers of leaving children inside a hot vehicle.

A baby and a young child were found distressed and sweating profusely after being left locked in a car in 33C while their mother went shopping.

Napier woman Chrystal Alatasi discovered the children hot and distressed inside a car parked at a Napier supermarket carpark yesterday.

Alatasi had finished loading her groceries into her car when she heard a baby crying.

She found the crying was coming from a black car with dark tinted windows, which had no adults inside, but a baby and a toddler and the car was locked so she couldn't get inside.

Police have confirmed they'd received a report of children being left unaccompanied in a car, and say the offender was given a formal warning, and a report will be made with Oranga Tamariki.

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Schools have been taking extra care today as kids started filing back to classrooms in rising temperatures.

Christchurch's Kaiapoi North School principal, Jason Miles, says kids are bringing their sunscreen, sunhats and water.

But those fortunate to still be on holiday, are soaking up the soaring temperatures.

Manager of Gisborne's Tatapouri Motorcamp Ernest Packer says tourists are loving it.

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As children battled the heat returning to school today, there's been a mixed reaction to a proposal to shorten the school summer break.

National MP Nicola Willis is floating the idea of reducing summer holidays from six weeks, to just four or five.

Willis has argued the case for a shorter break in an opinion piece in today's Herald.

And she's intending to write a private member's bill to implement the idea.

Willis said the reality was that most parents worked, had four weeks' annual leave and obtaining childcare during holidays could pose problems.

But the teachers' union NZEI objected to the plan.

National secretary Paul Goulter says he's disappointed the sector hadn't been consulted over the proposed changes.

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Penal reform groups are echoing calls for the Government to double the prisoner release payment.

The head of an advisory group on justice reforms said a payment of just $350 was setting prisoners up to fail, and many of them couldn't even access it.

Chester Borrows, a former National Party Minister and chair of the Safe and Effective Justice Programme Advisory Group, wants the payment to double.

He said poor support was a major factor contributing to a high rate of reoffending, with 60 per cent of prisoners reconvicted within two years of release.

Borrows says released prisoners can only get the $350, called the Steps to Freedom grant, if they have photo ID to set up a bank account, something many ex-prisoners don't have.

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The group will make recommendations to the Government to improve the criminal justice system - described by Justice Minister Andrew Little as "broken" - in an interim report in March, and a final report in August.

Andrew Little told the Herald he looked forward to the reports, but agreed that released prisoners needed more support.

He said he'll consider any advice that would help reduce the reoffending rate.

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An annual report has ranked New Zealand as the third freest economy out of 180 countries.

The 2019 Index of Economic Freedom, a guide published by Washington think tank The Heritage Foundation, ranks countries across a range of 12 measures, including property rights, business freedom and trade freedom.

With an overall score of 84.4 out of 100, New Zealand was third behind Hong Kong - 90.2 - and Singapore - 89.4.

Switzerland, Australia and Ireland followed New Zealand in the rundown.

On the opposite end of the table, were Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea, which all rated as restrictive places to do business.

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A specialist Dunedin engineering and robotics company is looking at solutions to the age-old and finicky problem of removing fine bones from salmon.

Scott Technology, whose specialties include robotic meat processing, has teamed up with Mt Cook Alpine Salmon and Seafood Innovations to find a solution to the time-consuming problem of manually plucking 30 bones from each fillet.

Mt Cook manager of processing operations Brent Keelty says about 500,000 fish were processed annually and a growing number of customers were looking for "bone-out" fillets and portions.

He says pin boning is a tedious and costly task and they have to rotate staff on the pin bone line to avoid repetitive strain injuries.

Scott Technology's chief executive Chris Hopkins says to start with, Scott is initially developing an assistive hand-held device for Mt Cook Alpine Salmon.

Advanced concepts aim to develop a high-resolution 3D view of every fillet, then use algorithms to determine the precise bone locations then have robotic automation remove them.

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As music lovers descended for Auckland's Laneway Festival today, an expert is warning against drug testing as the only solution for keeping partygoers safe.

Police Minister Stuart Nash wants drug-testing kits at all music festivals by next summer.

Auckland University addiction expert Dr Benedikt Fischer says the tests can be a useful complementary measure to reduce the risks.

But he says drug tests are not a perfect solution, as there are limitations - like creating a false sense of safety.

Dr Fisher says the tests may not be fully accurate, some people won't bother doing them, and others will take their tested drugs even if they flag a risk.

He suggests pairing the testing kits with other basic measures, like offering fact-based drug information, free water - and having health services on site.

For more on this story, tune in to Newstalk ZB

Among today's festivities was the Auckland Anniversary regatta, with dragon boat racing a highlight.

One crew of paddlers from the Bay of Plenty dub themselves the 'Boobops'.

The women, aged from their 40s to their 70s, are all breast cancer survivors.

Coach Claire Hendy says the camaraderie is the best thing about the regatta.

The women paddle to support each other to stay strong - and have fun doing it.

For more on this story, tune in to Newstalk ZB


That's the Front Page for today, Monday 28 January, making sure you're across the biggest news of the day. For more on these stories, check out The New Zealand Herald, or tune in to Newstalk ZB.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple podcasts here, iHeartRadio here, and Stitcher here.

If you like to stay up to date on social media, you can find host Juliette Sivertsen on Twitter.