Each weekday The Front Page keeps you up to date with the biggest news in New Zealand. Today it's a turning point in the relationship between New Zealand and China, a sweeping restructure of Vodafone, that could mean hundreds of job losses, a court appearance for the alleged murderer of Denver Chance, and global fashionistas begin to descend on Dunedin. Hosted by Frances Cook.

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The first signs of a thaw in the relationship between New Zealand and China, with China-New Zealand Year of Tourism back on.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has just announced at her post-Cabinet press conference that the new opening ceremony be held on the 29 of March.


When the delay to the launch of the New Zealand/China year of tourism was revealed by the Herald last month, Ardern said it was because of "scheduling issues".

It was meant to be launched in mid-February but was postponed by the Chinese.

The delay raised eyebrows considering it was at the same time as New Zealand security officials raised questions about Huawei providing 5G services in New Zealand.

It launched a wave of scepticism around New Zealand's relationship with China and the Prime Minister was forced on the defensive for days.
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Vodafone has asked almost all of its staff if they want redundancy as part of its sweeping restructure.

A spokeswoman says they offered employees the chance to take voluntary redundancy, which gives employees the option to leave and receive compensation.

The telco has 2800 staff, and only 600 weren't given the offer.

Insiders have told the Herald there is a broad expectation that the voluntary and compulsory redundancy processes will see around 400 staff culled.

However, new chief executive Jason Paris has emphasised there is no set number. It won't be fixed until the review wraps up at the end of this month.


The CEO has acknowledged some jobs could go offshore.

"As a proud and passionate New Zealander my preference is to keep roles in NZ, but when the customer service is the same or better and at a much lower cost [overseas] then it's tough to ignore this option."

Some roles could also be automated.

Vodafone has already trialled AI, creating a virtual human, "Kiri", which was introduced via smart kiosks to a number of Vodafone NZ stores shortly before Christmas.

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Some Vodafone workers have reached out to the Herald to say the rumours of jobs going offshore are true.

The insider says the restructure involves "culling" hundreds of call centre roles and replacing some tech staff with "Indian counterparts".

He warns the telco also plans to shed "technical network and install managers" and send the roles offshore.

The information matches with an account from an ex-Vodafone technician, who earlier told the Herald he was one of 40 staff who saw their jobs sent offshore to giant Indian outsourcer Infosys.

The laid-off staff were asked to mentor their Indian replacements before leaving.

"We had to train them for eight weeks. It really rubbed salt into the wound."

Vodafone NZ hasn't immediately responded to the leaks, although a spokeswoman did give a general comment.

"We have been transparent with staff that we would be looking at all business units as we worked to reshape our operating model to set us up for the future and turn around our commercial performance.

"We've been updating staff throughout the process via a number of channels, including weekly streamed Executive updates and live Q&As and a series of ongoing Kitchen Chats at all of our offices."

If Vodafone NZ does end up offshoring more call centre roles, rivals 2degrees and Vocus (owner of Orcon and Slingshot) can be expected to make hay.

2degrees has long used the fact that all of its approximately 350 call centre staff are based in New Zealand as a marketing point - something spokeswoman Katherine Cornish underlined this morning as she told the Herald, "We're Kiwi as, bro."

And last year, Vocus promoted the fact it had brought support roles from Manila to Auckland (culling helpdesk numbers from 100 to 60 in the process).

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Shane Jones is accused of a conflict of interest over a tourism project - but he says he managed it appropriately.

The Cabinet Minister declared a conflict of interest in the Manea Footprints of Kupe project, which was later granted up to $4.6m by the Government.

But Jones says he had nothing to do with it except for a meeting five years ago in a pub in Hokianga.

Despite declaring the conflict Jones says he did not need to remove himself from a ministerial meeting about funding for the Northland tourism project.

Act leader David Seymour has written to Auditor-General Greg Schollum asking him to investigate Jones' involvement, which he called "completely inappropriate" and grounds for him to be sacked.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is standing by Jones, saying last night: "Based on both the information and advice I've received, the conflict of interest was managed in accordance with the Cabinet Manual so therefore I would have no cause to sack Minister Jones."

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The man accused of murdering Auckland man Denver Chance has appeared in court.

Chance's body was found at a property south of Auckland yesterday.

The grisly find marked the end of a missing person inquiry and the start of a homicide investigation.

The man, 41, charged with Denver Chance's murder has been granted name suppression.

Court documents viewed by the Herald reveal the man is charged with murdering Chance on or about February 24 - the day he was last seen.

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Papakura locals are shocked that Chance's body was found in their area

Many are now wondering if they knew the person accused of his murder.

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A new Herald series starts today, The Chase, a four-day series looking at police pursuits in New Zealand.

Today's story includes a rare insight into the police perspective on the pursuits that turn fatal.

We rarely, if ever, hear from the police behind the wheel in those pursuits; the officers who make the call to chase fleeing drivers in the first place.

Now two officers have agreed to speak about their experience to give an insight into the police side, on the condition they were not named and the crashes they were involved in were not identified out of respect to the families of the dead.

One officer says he warned a driver 48 hours before the fatal crash, that he would end up crashing, and maybe killing one of his friends.

He gave the warning when he stopped the driver of a stolen car for joyriding.

The officer says that when the fatal accident happened less than 48 hours later, he was on duty.

He says the earlier conversation kept running through his mind, and he was almost angry at the waste of life.

The officer says that nothing really surprises him any more - but his dream result would be never partaking in another pursuit for the rest of his career.

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About 200 people were shut out of Six60's Dunedin gig because of fake tickets, and Viagogo is getting the blame.

Eccles Entertainment promoter Dave Munro believes the vast majority of the fake tickets presented at the gates were obtained from Viagogo, the controversial reselling website.

He says it was upsetting for both fans and the organisers.

He says those affected weren't stopped attending the concert, but did have to buy legitmate tickets at the gate.

Munro says there were still legitimate tickets available from official ticket seller Ticketmaster, and there was no need for people to pay higher prices from an online scalper.

Promoter Brent Eccles is taking it a step further - he wants Viagogo banned in New Zealand.

The incident comes a month after promoters cancelled 24 tickets to Norah Jones's show at the Regent Theatre, because they had been sold multiple times through Viagogo.

Last Monday, the Government announced it would take measures to prevent ticket scalping in New Zealand.

They include a price cap on resale tickets, enforcing rules around information that needs to be disclosed to better inform consumers, and banning ticket-buying "bots".

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It turns out delaying dinner time is bad for your bugs.

New Zealand scientists have explored how our gut microbiota – which play a role in everything from immunity and obesity to mental health – are also affected when we eat out of step with our natural internal clock.

This clock, also known as our circadian rhythm, is designed to regulate sleep and wakefulness, and can be influenced by cues such as when we eat.

When we change these cues – by eating later, or badly – we disturb the rhythms of our gut microbes, along with their functions in breaking down food and generating energy.

The upset might partly contribute to increased risks of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

The researchers found that, by eating fibre-rich foods at the right time, we could control the harmful effects of poor sleep.

Plant & Food Research scientist Dr Shanthi carried out the study with colleagues from the University of Auckland and the University of Amsterdam.

Apparently the key is plenty of high-fibre foods such as vegetables and legumes, and limiting food intake before bedtime, as restricted feeding has been shown to help restore circadian rhythms.

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It comes as a different global study suggests we need to do more to combat the risk of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The research looked at sewage samples from 74 cities around the world, including Dunedin, to test for the bacteria.

It found without urgent action, the resistant bugs could kill 10 million people a year by 2050.

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That's the Front Page for today, Monday, March 1, 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.