Each weekday The Front Page keeps you up to date with the biggest news in New Zealand. Today, the China-New Zealand relationship continues to come under the microscope, Jami-Lee Ross returns to Parliament, junior doctors go on strike and one last laugh for beloved builder Cocksy. Hosted by Juliette Sivertsen.

The Government's trying to balance the many aspects of our relationship with China.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was scheduled to visit China early this year, but the invitation has been put on hold.

And this morning, the Herald revealed the 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism was meant to be launched with great fanfare at Wellington's Te Papa museum next week, but that has been postponed by China.

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It's thought that China sees New Zealand as taking sides with the United States, after the Government's chief spy agency, the GCSB, axed the Chinese telco giant Huawei from the Spark 5G broadband rollout.

The Trump Administration publicly asked its Five Eyes partners not to do business with Huawei.

Philip Burdon, a former National Government Trade Minister and recently chairman of the Asia New Zealand Foundation, says New Zealand can't afford to take sides.

He believes China feels slighted by New Zealand over the decision to block Huawei.

For more on this story, click here
But Ardern has played down any suggestions diplomatic relations are on the rocks.

She says her visit to Beijing is still being worked on.

Late last year she said she was on standby to visit, but said they couldn't co-ordinate their diaries.

Jacinda Ardern says she just has a different approach to diplomatic visits than her predecessor John Key.

Ardern says the Government's had plenty of contact with China and her invitation to visit is still on the table.

For Jacinda Ardern's full interview on Newstalk ZB, click here
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Todd McClay thinks Kelvin Davis needs to get on a plane to Beijing to sort things out.

He believes the evidence of a deteriorating relationships is clear.

And Kiwi exporters are worried about the future of trade with China.

Export NZ's Catherine Beard says the stifled relations are being reflected in trade.

But the Government says it's trying to balance the many aspects of our relationship with China.

GCSB Minister Andrew Little says relationships between countries happen on different levels.

For more on this story, tune in to Newstalk ZB
Meanwhile, Winston Peters has shut down suggestions Air New Zealand made a diplomatic blunder.

The airline says a flight was turned around en route to Shanghai, because the aircraft didn't have the necessary clearance.

But there are reports the flight's paperwork included reference to Taiwan.

Mainland China refuses to have diplomatic relations with countries that recognise Taiwan as an independent state.

Peters says this had nothing to do with Taiwan.

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Long-time MP Judith Collins has laughed off suggestions she should lead the National Party.

Newshub's Reid Research Poll saw National fall below Labour, which had National on 41.6 per cent and Labour on 47.5 per cent.

That's National's worst result in more than a decade.

In the preferred Prime Minister stakes, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was on 41.8 per cent while Bridges was on 5 per cent.

Collins was ahead of Bridges on 6.2 per cent.

But she's dismissing any talk of challenging for the party leadership.

Collins says Opposition leader is an gruelling gig and a terrible job to have.

Collins says she and Bridges work well together and they all need to stay focused on the end-game.

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The poll showed Labour's Coalition partner New Zealand First is on 2.9 per cent and would not survive the next election on that result.

The Greens are just on the 5 per cent threshold at 5.1 per cent.

This would allow Labour and the Greens to govern alone.

Act was on 0.4 per cent, Maori Party 0.8 per cent, Conservatives 1.1 per cent and the Opportunities Party on 0.5 per cent.

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Jami-Lee Ross returned to Parliament today as an Independent MP, and Simon Bridges said he did not intend on paying any attention to him.

He says if they met in the corridor they'd say hello, and not a lot else.

Ross was expelled from the National Party in October, after a public feud with Bridges.

Ross accused Bridges of corruption, and laid a police complaint about a party donation he alleges was fraudulently handled.

Bridges denies the claims and says he recently provided a written statement to police.

Accusations of harassment and bullying were levelled against Ross, who admitted he had an affair with a fellow MP.

For more on this story, click here
Jacinda Ardern has given her Statement to Parliament, talking up the coalition Government's progress in delivering its first-term work place.

As is usual on the first day of the sitting year, the Prime Minister's Statement was tabled when the House resumed at 2pm.

The 11-page statement held no surprises but provided an update on the Government's work plan, which Ardern outlined during a speech in September.

In her statement today, Ardern said that looking back over the 15 months since her Speech from the Throne, the Government had made good progress but there remained much to do.

It is the same line she used repeatedly in her speech at Waitangi last week.

Arden outlined the five priority areas for the Budget:

• Creating opportunities for transitioning to a sustainable low emissions economy

• Lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, skills and opportunities

• Supporting a thriving nation in the digital age through innovation

• Reducing child poverty, improving child and youth wellbeing, including addressing family violence

• Supporting mental wellbeing for all New Zealanders, particularly those under 24

For more on this story, click here
Striking junior doctors walked off the job this morning.

Today's is the third 48-hour strike by junior doctors who're locked in a battle with District Health Boards with one of the biggest sticking points being rosters.

They've also given notice of a fourth 48-hour strike.

Auckland City Hospital resident doctor Patrick O'Regan, says they're striking because they need to, not because they want to.

Resident Doctor's Association vice president Katheryn Foster was at the picket line outside Auckland City Hospital.

She says pressure on hospitals is increasing with each strike - and they'll continue to escalate action until their contracts are settled.

DHB spokesman Dr Peter Bramley says for resident doctors, it's disappointing.

He says clinical teams across the country will be prioritising any care that's been disrupted.

The fourth strike has already been announced for February 26 and 27.

Mediation between the Resident Doctors Association and the DHBs will resume on Friday February 15.

For more on this story, click here
The owner of a dog that attacked a 2-year-old Christchurch girl says it shouldn't be put down because the daughter's mother was warned it wasn't good with children.

However, the mother says she wasn't warned until after the attack.

Two-year-old Amelia Johnson has undergone plastic surgery and had a tooth removed, after being bitten by a dog while she was at the letterbox with her mum.

The Christchurch City Council is still investigating the incident.

The dog's owner says the dog was tied up at the time, and felt trapped.

But Amelia's mum, Keri Morphus, says that's not what happened.

Morphus says she wasn't told the dog was unsafe until after the attack.

She says Amelia is really scared.

Morphus says the dog should be put down.

The council is still investigating the incident and hasn't decided whether the dog will be put down yet.

For more on this story, click here
A man accused of strangling his girlfriend has had his murder charge thrown out on the day his trial was due to start.

Paddy Jonathan Woods was accused of murdering 21-year-old Wellington woman Zenith Campbell, after attending a party with her in February last year.

Campbell was a transgender woman who preferred to be known as Zena.

She was dead in a car in Aro Valley on February 11th last year.

Police initially believed Woods had strangled her to death.

But today, a pathologist told the High Court at Wellington she didn't think any strangulation that may have occurred was prolonged or severe enough to have been a substantial factor in Campbell's death.

After reflecting on Spark's evidence for a few hours, Justice David Collins announced he was dismissing the charges against Woods.

He said he was satisfied a jury could not reasonably find Woods guilty of murder or manslaughter.

For more on this story, click here
A defence lawyer has accused Susan Burdett's son of murdering his mother 27 years ago.

Burdett's son, Dallas McKay, has been testifying at the trial of Malcolm Rewa - who's charged with murdering the Auckland woman.

McKay told the court that police, early on, treated him as a suspect.

The 39-year-old accounts clerk was raped and killed in her Auckland home in 1992.

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Two men have today been charged with murdering Sandringham's Shannon Shelby Baker.

Police launched a homicide investigation after the 55-year-old was found dead inside his home on Calgary St on Tuesday, December 11, 2018.

The arrests were made after a police search at two properties this morning.

Two men, aged 28 and 34, will appear in Auckland District Court tomorrow charged with murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.

For more on this story, click here
Some possible answers as to why six high-quality affordable KiwiBuild Wanaka homes haven't sold, despite five months of marketing.

Competition from surrounding areas, homes which are too small, too expensive and squashed up like Coronation St yet demanding big deposits.

Lyal Cocks, former Queenstown deputy mayor, said the nearby Timsfield, Sentinel Park and Luggate Park all offered plenty of new homes, often cheaper than the KiwiBuild schemes at the 800-residence Northlake, where only four out of 10 new KiwiBuild homes have sold since early October.

Cocks says there's a lot of new housing going up very fast, although said Northlake was a different style of urban development and not everyone appreciated that.

For more on this story, click here

Everyone's favourite television handyman, John "Cocksy'' Cocks, has been farewelled at a funeral reflective of the man that he was - including one last laugh at his devoted wife's expense.

The 52-year-old died last Wednesday, Waitangi Day, after an almost three-year battle with kidney cancer.

Friends and family gathered to celebrate his life and bid him farewell yesterday at the Tairua Rugby clubrooms, on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula.

Despite the sadness, the sun was shining brightly and there was a relaxed atmosphere as people gathered to hear eulogies.

Cocks had built his own coffin, but requested that his widow Dana Coote put the last nail in it.

Cocksy had left specific instructions for his final farewell - which MC Simon Dallow was at pains to stress was not at all like a funeral.

He told the Herald the coffin was made by his mates and instead of a hearse he was in his beloved Holden.

For more on this story, click here


That's the Front Page for today, Tuesday, February 12, 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.