Each weekday The Front Page keeps you up to date with the biggest news in New Zealand. Today it's the beginning of a landmark murder trial, hope that the Nelson fires may soon be under control, a new political party steps into the ring, and New Zealand pizza gets some Hollywood sparkle. Hosted by Frances Cook.

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Malcolm Rewa has gone on trial today - charged for the third time with killing Auckland woman Susan Burdett 27 years ago.

Chief High Court judge, Justice Geoffrey Venning, acknowledged many in the jury would have heard parts of the case before, particularly because of the high-profile connection to Teina Pora.


He warned them they would need to put that aside, and focus on what they heard in court.

Gareth Kayes leads the Crown prosecutors team. In his opening address today, he said forensic investigations found DNA belonging to Rewa on Susan Burdett's body.

Kayes pointed to forensic evidence which concluded Burdett was struck to the head at least five times by a blunt instrument, such as a baseball bat. She would have died within minutes.

No items had been disturbed in the house, except perhaps a briefcase in the spare room, and a bank card and black camera which were never found.

Kayes says the way Burdett was attacked and Rewa's DNA show Rewa's guilt.

However, Rewa denies being involved in the rape of Burdett. He was convicted of her rape in 1998, but two juries were unable to decide whether he murdered her.

His lawyer Paul Chambers told the jury during a short opening statement that his client had already been found "innocent in law".

The trial, in the High Court at Auckland, is expected to last about four weeks.


A stay of proceedings for a murder prosecution against Rewa was applied by the Solicitor-General in 1998, but in 2017 the Deputy Solicitor-General, on behalf of the Attorney-General, reversed the stay.

A stay had never before been lifted in New Zealand's legal history.

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Wakefield residents who were forced to flee their homes to escape the fire risk will be allowed to return tonight.

Civil Defence controller Roger Ball says he was very pleased to make the announcement. It comes after a risk assessment.

Police said they were able to get staff into position earlier than expected, allowing the early return.

Ball stressed it was only for residents, and those returning must be able to demonstrate that they live there if asked by police.

Non-residents cannot go into the town until 7am tomorrow.

Today is day seven of the devastating forest fires south of Nelson, which has forced around 3000 people to leave their homes because of the danger.

More fire crews were brought in today to replace exhausted colleagues.

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The hot and dry weather is continuing for most of the country but some light relief could be on the cards for Nelson tomorrow.

MetService meteorologist Karl Loots says the Nelson region could see a small amount of rain tomorrow morning.

A front is slowly moving across the Tasman Sea this morning, bringing rain to Fiordland and the lower West Coast later today.

Even better, winds for the Nelson region had been downgraded from yesterday, giving firefighters battling the 2300ha blaze a better chance to bring it under control.

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A former Green party candidate is looking for funding for his centrist green party.

Vernon Tava has launched a website calling for people to register their interest in a new party, Sustainable New Zealand.

He's pitching it as an environmental party that - unlike the Greens - is willing to work with National.

But Tava rejects the notion his proposed party will be a blue-greens group.

He says this isn't about left or right wing politics, along with environmentalism, but about a party with an ethos based entirely on sustainability.

Tava says the problem with the Greens is they've only been willing to work with Labour.

But a politics expert believes an alternative Green party could split the vote so neither party end up in Parliament.

Massey University Associate Professor Grant Duncan says the votes have to come from somewhere.

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The Government's announced smoking will be banned in cars when children under 18 are present.

Vaping will also be included in the prohibition and it will apply to all vehicles both parked and on the move.

Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa says public education and social marketing campaigns over many years have had some impact, but not enough. She says more has to be done through legislation.

That means the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 could be changed by the end of this year.

Once changed, police will be able to require people to stop smoking in their cars if children (under 18) are present.

They will also be able to use their discretion to give warnings, refer people to stop-smoking support services, or issue an infringement fee of $50.

According to research by ASH in 2014, 100,000 children a week are exposed to second-hand smoke.

There is likely to be strong support for the move; several surveys show around 90 per cent support to ban smoking in cars with children present.

Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, parts of the United States, and most of Canada already have such bans.

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Midwives across the country are crying out for more pay.

Four days of rolling strike action gets under way this morning, with more than 1000 midwives taking part.

Also today, thousands of hospital administration workers discussed possible strike action, during nationwide stop work meetings.

PSA union members are battling to have their collective agreements renewed ... they also want more pay.

For more on this story, tune in to Newstalk ZB.
Contact Energy, the country's second-largest electricity retailer, has increased first-half profit five-fold.

The announcement follows the sale of its Ahuroa gas storage and LPG business last year.

Net profit rose to $276 million for the six months ended December 31, from $58 million a year earlier, boosted by a $172 million gain from the asset sales.

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One of New Zealand's most high-profile prisoners has been released on parole after spending nearly 40 years behind bars.

Arthur William Taylor was granted parole in January after being denied 19 times before. He was released from Waikeria Prison this morning.

He was serving 17 and a half years for charges of explosives, firearms, kidnapping and conspiracy to supply methamphetamine, among other crimes. The sentence wasn't due to end until 2022.

Almost 40 years of his life has been spent in custody due to his more than 150 convictions for offences including bank robbery, burglary, fraud and drugs.

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A homicide investigation has been launched after an incident in Motueka last night that left one person dead and another with critical injuries.

Detective Inspector Craig Scott says the injured person had been taken to Nelson Hospital.

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And a man has been charged with murder after an altercation at a beach suburb north of Auckland.

A 35-year-old man was killed last night following an argument between two people known to each other at Snells Beach near Warkworth.

The incident was reported to police shortly after 11.30 last night.

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New Zealand scientists have detonated explosives to find out how Antarctica's ice shelves might respond to a warming world.

A team led by the University of Otago's Associate Professor David Prior has spent the past three weeks camping out at remote Terra Nova Bay.

Prior says the main aim was to find what controlled a process called ice deformation – and how ice sheets might respond to temperature changes or shifting conditions at ice shelf edges.

The project worked by drilling holes in the glacier, placing explosives in them, and letting them off.

Prior says the speed of the sound waves then tell them about the physical properties of the ice.

It's the first time this type of seismology research has been carried out on the shear zone of a glacier.

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A Hollywood star has given a kiwi restaurant the type of publicity money can't buy.

Reese Witherspoon took to Instagram to celebrate "a very important day" - National Pizza Day.

To do so, she shared her top five favourite pizza places from around the world and in at number two was The Cow in Queenstown.

She posted an adorable photo of herself and her Wrinkle co-star Mindy Kaling enjoying a slice in full Disney costume, describing The Cow as precious, and a must visit.

The team at The Cow saw the shout out and posted a reply saying: "We love you too, @reesewitherspoon".

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That's the Front Page for today, Monday February 11, 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 Frances Cook on Facebook here, Instagram here and Twitter here.