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      • Newtown push to prepare locals for the worst
        • 22 Aug 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • NEWTOWN has no emergency response plan and civil defence organisers want to help the community develop one. Having the ability to respond to a natural disaster will strengthen the community, says Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO). Jason Paul, emergency management advisor at WREMO, is organising a meeting with Newtown’s business and resource owners to start planning. “The goal is to empower the community to be able to respond quickly and look after themselves in the event of a disaster rather than waiting for the officials,” he says. The plan will look at how to use resources and skills already in the community. “It’s important to build relationships within the community so that people are familiar with each other and know what skills and resources are available,” says Mr Paul. “We want to bring the community together and create a plan of action,” he says. The emergency response plan will focus on dealing with the effects of an earthquake particularly within the first 72 hours, however Jason Paul says the planning will be effective in other emergencies. It could be useful across a number of different problems ranging from the most simple DIY jobs to large storms. “However realistically we are looking at events which will cut a community off,” he says. “The plan will identify how specific challenges from the emergency will be handled.” The Christchurch earthquake showed that connected communities are better equipped to effectively respond in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Mr Paul uses the Lyttelton community as an example. They came together, sharing resources and skills and were able to move forward. Claire Pettegrew, an emergency response volunteer, pitched the idea at a residents meeting in Newtown last month and says there was a lot of interest. She says the plan will be in the form of a living document which will receive ongoing updates. Martin Hanley, President of the Newtown Residents Association, says a community driven emergency response is a powerful idea and it can succeed in Newtown. “Newtown is already quite connected which will make it easier to bring people together,” Mr Hanley says. “Although it will rely on volunteer energy, it’s an important issue and I think people will want to get involved.” WREMO has consulted with a number of communities in the Wellington Region about emergency response planning including Tawa, Wadestown, Otaki, Waikanae, Plimmerton and Eastbourne. For more information contact Jason Paul, emergency management advisor at WREMO on 04 830 2132.

      • Book fair raises $100,000 and they are planning a 20th birthday
        • 22 Aug 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • BUSY CUSTOMERS: Members of the public look at the range of books. IMAGE: Matthew Mawkes ABOUT $100,000 has been raised in this year’s Downtown Community Ministry Book Fair in Wellington. Online sales could increase the amount, says fair coordinator Matthew Mawkes. About 5000 people attended over the weekend at TSB Bank Arena. Attendance and money figures were similar to last year, when $105,000 was raised. “Thank you so much to all the supporters, volunteers, shoppers and other friends of DCM who made it all happen again this year,” Mr Mawkes says. “Another very special team effort, which makes it possible for DCM to continue the important work we do with vulnerable and marginalised people in our city.” Mr Mawkes is looking forward to 2015, which is the 20th anniversary of the book fair. Politicians who helped out at the event included Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, Cr Mark Peck, Cr Iona Pannett, Cr Nicola Young, Jack Yan, Wellington Central Green Party candidate James Shaw, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman and Wellington Central Labour Party MP Grant Roberston.  

      • Bowling club sale to benefit community but some locals unhappy
        • 20 Aug 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • THE SALE of Vogelmorn Bowling Club could put a million dollars into a community trust – but some locals would rather have the building. The bowling club, put on the market two weeks ago, wound up earlier this year but residents are keen to keep it for the community. Club Committee Treasurer Paul Burgess says all proceeds would go into a foundation. The foundation would benefit the community and be used for scholarships or grants for sporting, art, or academic opportunities, he says. But Vogeltown resident David Bagnall says the sale of the club would be a missed opportunity because the community lacks facilities. The need for more space for social and educational activities in the community is great, says Mr Bagnall. “We think there’s a far better outcome for the community than simply selling the property.” The 1012 sq m property includes clubrooms and a separate two-bedroom cottage, both valued at $980,000 according to the Harcourts listing. The site does not include the green however, which is owned by the Wellington City Council. South Ward Councillor Paul Eagle says if the club is sold, the green could be used as additional space for the adjacent Vogelmorn Hall or for affordable housing options. But Mr Eagle would like to see the club retained as a community facility and is looking into options that include buying the property. “I think the key priority is to try and secure the purchase of it,” he says. But he says any sale of the club will not affect the Vogelmorn Hall. The hall was to be sold off in 2012 by the council but backed down after residents opposed the sale. “It’s not going anywhere,” Mr Eagle says. The bowls club committee has heard the residents’ concerns. “We let them hold an open day. They’ve had meetings down in Brooklyn Village, and they’ve had meetings in the community hall here,” says Mr Burgess. But he says the council will no longer lease the green to them because the council says it is underutilised. “Without a green, we don’t have a bowling club.” Mr Burgess also says ongoing costs like insurance, maintenance, rates, utilities, and earthquake repair costs have all contributed to the decision to sell. As well as a local resident, Mr Bagnall is involved in the Kaka Project, a community-led consultation group that looks at community facilities in the wider Brooklyn area. The group has met with both the city council and the bowling club committee about saving the club. There are various people in the artistic community interested in being tenants and using it for rehearsal and workspace, says Mr Bagnall. He says the club could be used for wedding receptions and other occasions, which can generate income, he says. “That’s what we’re suggesting, there could be an underlying tenancy agreement providing for flexible community use space.” Another local resident, Jo Randerson runs a drama company which uses the club for storage and rehearsing. “For us it’s been great because it’s created a space that otherwise wasn’t there,” she says. Mrs Randerson would like to see the space shared by a variety of groups in a way which brings people together in the community. Grants are great, but they would most likely just use the money to rent space, she says. The bowling club committee says membership started falling about 10 years ago. “All clubs are struggling because no one wants to belong. It’s not a case of bowls are dying, it’s a case of all clubs are dying,” says club committee member Paul Hooper. Everyone belonged to clubs and gave up their time and weekends for it but these days nobody wants to belong, he says. “Society has changed,” says Mr Burgess.

      • Political pledges to support a review of student benefits
        • 20 Aug 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        •   STUDENT poverty will be an election issue this year thanks to a campaign by student unions. Increasing housing costs and the struggle to meet basic living costs under the current benefit system are the reason for the campaign. The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) campaign is designed to inform and mobilise students in the lead up to the General Election on September 20. Daniel Haines, president of NZUSA, says there are a number of policies in the tertiary education area that students and their families should be mindful of when voting. “The current situation is unfair and students need to be able to access at least the same support which is offered to everyone else,” he says. The NZUSA has released information raising their concerns over the imposed $40 cap on the student accommodation benefit which was set in 2001 and which doesn’t take into account the variation in living costs across different cities. Tara-Dawn Harris, a student at Victoria University of Wellington, says removing the cap would take away a lot of stress while she’s studying, especially living in such an expensive city. “It would mean I wouldn’t have to work 30 hours a week and I could actually study and sleep,” she says. Ms Harris, who is originally from Wanganui, says back home she could get a whole three bedroom house for $180 a week, but in Wellington she pays the same for just one tiny, cold room. Max Zillwood, a student in Auckland, says he would benefit hugely from more money because the cost of living in the inner city of Auckland is high. “I just need to survive,” he says. The call for change has so far been met with a positive response from political parties, with all but National and ACT pledging to support an immediate review. Mr Haines says student associations will hold these parties to their promise. “It is incredibly unlikely that a Government can be formed without any of the Greens, Māori, Mana, United future, Labour or New Zealand First so as long as these political parties honour their promise, the legislation will be reviewed,” he says. Students wanting to get involved in the campaign can do so here. What the parties say: The following are statements from political parties sourced by NZUSA for its campaign: Tracey Martin, New Zealand First: “Absolutely we would want an immediate review of that cap. It is starting to look like 17th and 18th century Europe where the academics had to have the patronage of a king or noble man to study.” Holly Walker, Green Party: “This is a call that we support – we’d like to see all allowances available to students be reviewed and to increase the accommodation benefit to the same level as what’s available to those receiving other sorts of benefits.” Maryan Street, Labour Party: “A review of the student accommodation benefit would be included in Labour’s full review of student support… the accommodation benefit is one of those [aspects] which make the system unfair.” Te Ururoa Flavell, Māori Party Co-leader: “The Maori Party supports a review of the student accommodation supplement as one of many actions to address the high levels of student debt in Aotearoa.” Hone Harawera, Mana Party Leader: “Student’s don’t need a lot to get by but they do need an allowance that covers the real costs of being a student, including rent. Rents have skyrocketed over the past ten years but students still have a $40 cap on their accommodation grants. Students should not be forced to abandon their education because they can’t afford rent. MANA supports the call to lift the accommodation cap.” Peter Dunne, United Future Leader: “We need to ensure there is an appropriate level of fairness and equity. For those studying in our larger centres where rent is significantly higher the current arrangement is unfair. We will commit to a review of the accommodation supplement and the wider tertiary student support scheme”.

      • Airport security breach forces hundreds to be re-screened
        • 18 Aug 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • DOUBLE SCREENING: More than 500 passengers wait to go through security a second time. A SECURITY breach at Auckland Airport on Sunday morning meant more than 500 passengers were delayed and rescreened by security. The source of the breach was a passenger trying to re-enter a secure area through the arrivals door. The aviation security service duty sergeant attended immediately and located the passenger in less than three minutes. The walkway to the gate lounge was evacuated and fully searched, along with two aircrafts. Mike Richards from the Civil Aviation Authority says about 514 passengers were affected with flights delayed 15 to 30 mins. He says they are sympathetic to the passengers who were inconvenienced but the safety risk of the passenger potentially leaving a dangerous or prohibited item in a secure area was their priority. “We had to make sure there was no risk. There was absolutely no way we could compromise on aviation safety. “ There has only been one other similar reported incident in March this year. “Given the number of passengers that come through the domestic terminal at Auckland Airport each year this is comforting,” says Mr Richards. DELAYED: Passengers wait as flights are slightly delayed as a result of a security breach. Police were involved, speaking with the passenger and assisting aviation security with crowd control. It is understood the passenger left an item on the aircraft and was trying to collect it. The man was cautioned and allowed to make a connecting flight. Mr Richards says the situation was part of a debrief with the airport and Air New Zealand about measures they will implement to ensure a breach does not happen again.

      • Futsal fans can follow national team on YouTube next week
        • 5 Aug 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • FANS DELIGHT: Leo Bertos engages with young players. IMAGE: Lize Immelman New Zealand’s Futsal Whites are competing in an invitational tournament in New Caledonia next week and futsal fans will be able to stream matches from the OFCfootball Youtube Channel. The event follows the successful ASB Trans-Tasman Cup in the capital last month. Futsal fever is rising in New Zealand for the five-a-side game played in a smaller area than a football pitch, and which legends, including Pele and Lionel Messi, credit with their football development. LUCKY FANS: Front row seats to Leo Bertos in Futsal action. IMAGE: Lize Immelman There are more than 9000 college students involved in leagues and programmes across the country, says Futsal New Zealand development manager Dave Payne. Earlier this month fans flocked to the three-match Trans-Tasman Cup at ASB Sports Centre in Kilbirnie. New Zealand Futsal Whites, ranked 71 in the world, were beaten by the 23rd world ranked Autralian Futsalroos three nights in a row. During the day the stadium bustled with 55 teams from across the country competing in the fourth ASB Junior Festival and Youth Championships. Mr Payne says the two events were a success. BIGGEST FAN: Jagan Buckman and his grandfather Michael Chadwick warming up before the first game. IMAGE: Lize Immelman “Huge. We have had fantastic feedback by all involved and these events always bring the best out of the futsal community.” Nine-year-old Jagan Buckman attended all three international matches. “I’m here for Leo Bertos,” he says. As a life-long player and lover of football, his grandfather Michael Chadwick was happy to bring him. After the matches, fans took the rare opportunity to get up close and shake hands with former All Whites star Bertos, debuting at his first Futsal event. Ball-boys, Charlie Bayly (12), Harry Lack (12), Sam Lack (9) and Jesper Edwards (8), agreed.  They say it was inspirational and exciting to see the game played by the national teams but also to chat with the players afterward. RISING STARS: From left Jesper Edwards (8), Sam Lack (9), Harry Lack (12) and Charlie Bayly (12) are eager assistants. IMAGE: Lize Immelman “We love Futsal,” the boys said together. Charlie Bayly (12) says players have to be incredibly fit and focused to play the game. Newly converted fan, Matt Appleby came to the opening match with his wife and three children and was surprised to see how fast the game is played. “It’s fast, there’s always something going on, you go backwards and forwards watching it and really appreciate the skill set of both teams.” The Brazilian ambassador, Eduardo Gradilone, congratulated the prize winners of the Junior and Youth tournament.  He says he enjoyed the events and saw good quality Futsal played.

      • Principal’s first year a cultural experience
        • 5 Aug 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • Juggling cultures such as Pakeha, Filipino and Samoan has allowed Mary-Angela Tombs to marry her first year as a principal with her post-graduate study. Mrs Tombs (right), principal of St Teresa’s School in Karori, has included cultural responsiveness in her education studies. “Our push has been to look for ways where we can give children confidence in their own cultural beliefs, values, customs, and rituals so we’re not having to put everybody into a box,” she says. She acknowledges the difference in cultures within the school – Europeans focus more on individual achievement, Filipino’s on bettering the family, and Samoan’s on bettering the community. The school challenges itself to think about the impact certain rules have on the cultural values of the students. “If we’re saying that the senior children can only play in the senior playground and not in the junior playground, how does that impact on their belief about supporting one another,” she says. She uses as an example of Samoan and Tongan students leading assembly as a group. The Year 7 students performed a Sasa and greeted peers in their own language. “We’re a really culturally exciting place to be,” says Mrs Tombs. In addition to cultural responsiveness, a newly developed leadership programme gives opportunities to Year 8 students to foster leadership qualities. Working with community role models gives the students the opportunity to experience leadership in Wellington and then put that into action at the school. Reflecting on the past year, Mrs Tombs says the school has always been a welcoming place with a high-quality learning programme. “I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s been a daily joy, and a daily challenge,” she says reflecting on her first year. Coming from a deputy principal job at a school in Blenheim, she says she was prepared for her step up into the role of principal, with the biggest challenges being only administrative duties. “The teaching and learning, and leading a team, ensuring that the children were being provided with a high-quality learning environment, I was familiar with that,” she says.  

      • Here’s to 25 years of speaking at Cook Strait Toastmasters
        • 5 Aug 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • IMAGE: SUPPLIED FIFTEEN original members of the Cook Strait Toastmasters club will attend its 25th anniversary celebration this week. One of those founding members, Mr George Wilkinson, is still with the club. He says the club has come a long way. “I was one of the founding members and I haven’t left yet,” he said. A celebration dinner will be held at the Spruce Goose restaurant in Lyall Bay on Friday. The evening will include short speeches and entertainment. The celebration has been organised by club members George Wilkinson and Sarah Glasgow. “If you have been involved with the club at some point or know someone who has been involved, we really do encourage them to come forward and celebrate with us,” Mr Wilkinson says. Current member and vice president public relations Owen Winter (above) says toastmasters much more than just public speaking, it is also about creating confident communicators. One of Mr Winter’s key roles for this year is to launch a new website for the club to create an online presence. Mr Winter says through learning the skills for public speaking, so many areas of life are improved, from talking on the phone, to being able to clearly deliver a message, as well as the path to being an effective leader, through the work club members do. “We are a friendly bunch and always welcome guests to join our meetings and learn all about what we do,” he says. Meetings are regularly attended by a diverse group of up to 20 members of all ages. The club meets every second Tuesday of the month at 7pm in the Anchorage building next to St Giles Church in Kilbirnie.

      • Pheonix optimistic about reaching A-League finals
        • 1 Aug 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • POSITIVE THINKING: Manager Ernie Merrick speaks with the press. IMAGE: Matthew Lau WELLINGTON Pheonix are on course to reach the finals of the A-League after a successful Football United tour, says Ernie Merrick Merrick’s confidence will be tested immediately in the inaugural FFA Cup pre-season knock-out tournament against Adelaide next week. “The players set the targets, and what they have set is they want to be in the finals. “Once we get into the finals, we’ll sit down, take stock, and set our goals from there onwards,” the Pheonix manager (right) said after training on Friday morning. “The Football United tour was just wonderful for the club, the fans and the players,” he said of the event hosting English clubs West Ham and Newcastle last week. “It was great preparation for the proper league, but the bottom line is they’ve got to really carry that on now and play with that level of confidence [and] that sort of inter-passing.” The Pheonix fly to Adelaide on Sunday for the inaugural 2014 FFA Cup kick-off on Tuesday. There are 32 Australasian clubs in the competition. “It’s all for nothing if we don’t play that style [and] that brand of football even better in the A-League, so the FFA Cup against Adelaide is very important to us,” he added. Merrick says he is waiting on the McGlinchey saga to finally come to a conclusion, and is happy with the strength in depth of his squad. Michael McGlinchey was off limits to the media after training, his playing future is still unresolved with the matter due to go to arbitration. McGlinchey has been locked in a contractual tug-of-war between the Pheonix and former club Central Coast Mariners. Key striker Jeremy Brockie believes he can lead the frontline of attack this season. “Obviously I’ve shown before that I can get into the 15 [goal] range.  You always probably need one striker to dominate the goal-scoring tally and I’m happy to take that pressure.” Brockie scored 16 goals in the 2012/13 season with the Pheonix, but only managed five last season in the same number of appearances. “I pride myself on scoring goals and that’s what I’ll be doing again this year,” says Brockie. The Football United tour concluded last week with Newcastle maintaining their winning record on tour by defeating The Nix 1-0, after a header from Man of the Match Yoan Gouffran. KEEPING SPIRITS UP: Sam Allardyce (left) and Winston Reid share a laugh after defeat. IMAGE: Matthew Lau West Ham ended a disappointing outing with a lacklustre 3-1 defeat to Sydney FC. All Whites and West Ham captain Winston Reid (left) was disenchanted with his team’s performances. “We came down here and we expected to do well, we didn’t do so well and now we’ll go back home and we’ll try and work on some things. “Thank you to New Zealand for having us down here, and I look forward to coming back,” says Reid. The Pheonix’s victory over West Ham in Auckland makes them the first New Zealand football club to defeat an English Premier League team. New Zealand-bound Newcastle United supporters – Liam Sweeney and John Alder – were acknowledged in front of nearly 31,000 football fans last Saturday at Westpac Stadium. They died with 298 others on the Malaysia Airlines plane shot down over Ukraine. Included in the acknowledgement was the Kapa Haka performed by students of Seatoun’s Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Mokopuna school (below) before kick-off in the centre of the pitch. A moment of silence was held prior to the matches in Auckland and Dunedin respectively. Newcastle players and staff wore t-shirts saying “In Memory Of John & Liam” when they entered the pitch. Tributes were also made at minutes 28 and 63 (the respective ages of Liam and John) with a minute of applause for each and were both honoured on the big screens in the stadium at the time of applause. KAPI HAKA: Seatoun’s Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Mokopuna school. IMAGE: Peter McDonald

      • Cuba street rally wants factory farming phased out
        • 1 Aug 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • GRIM FACES: Animal lovers point the finger at NZ’s pork industry. IMAGE: Hayley Gastmeier PEOPLE all over the country turned out on Saturday for a national day of action against factory farming. Animal rights group SAFE, held rallies in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch. The aim was to inform voters of moves by Labour to phase out factory farming, and to gain public support for increased political pressure in the lead up to the election. Over 100 people gathered on Cuba St in Wellington where they were addressed by Labour MP Virginia Andersen. The Labour party is prepared to introduce legislation to end factory farming by 2017, and will stand by that commitment she told the crowd. SAFE has been working with the Labour party and the Green party providing information about the issues surrounding factory farming. Intensive farming methods have been put under scrutiny since Farmwatch, an animal advocacy group, released behind the scenes footage of a Canterbury pig farm on national television last month. Jasmine Gray from Farmwatch says the pork industry’s come out and said they’re going to put better security in to stop them from getting the evidence out to the public. “It shows you what their priority is. It’s keeping the public in the dark rather than actually improving conditions for animals,” she says. Meanwhile Virginia Andersen told rally-goers that at least one of the big parties is prepared to step forward and say no this is not good for New Zealand, this is cruel and it’s not right. “It’s really the uglier side of capitalism, when you see people putting money and greed ahead of morality,” she says. One of those attending the rally, Kassie Brosnahan from Roseneath, thinks it’s important that these things are taken to the government. “It’s important that the people stand up and show them what we want, and we don’t want our animals in cages.” ANIMAL AGENDA: Over 100 people gathered in Wellington to speak up for the animals. IMAGE: Hayley Gastmeier  

      • Hutt Valley hosts huge weekend of Rugby
        • 1 Aug 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • THE Hutt Old Boys Marist rugby club hosts the finals of  the Jubilee Cup, Hardham Cup and Under 21 Colts  Sunday in what is traditionally one of the biggest days in the Wellington rugby calender. It’s the first time they have made it to the Jubilee Cup finals since their win against Marist Saint Pats in 2007. Big crowds are expected at the Hutt Recreation Ground with Hutt supporters, who have two teams in the finals, expected  to fill most of the Park. Head Coach Matt Lee says there will be supporters from all over Wellington there.   Rachel Rasch

      • Falun Gong protest Chinese paper slur
        • 31 Jul 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • POLICE and advertising complaints have been laid in a dispute between a Wellington Chinese newspaper and Falun Gong practitioners. Falun Gong protesters outside a Newtown shop have prompted the owner Kevin Zeng to lay a police complaint against the group. The group want a public apology from Mr Zheng for an open letter published earlier this year which they claim printed incorrect and discriminating information. Falun Gong members made complaints to the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority, however the authority announced last week the complaint had not been upheld. The protesters say they will appeal the decision.  Followers of Falun Gong, a worldwide spiritual practice, have been protesting the letter for more than a month outside Rainbow Bridge, a convenience goods store in Newtown and also the listed address for Home Voice newspaper. Newtown community constable Brittany Allan says police have received a complaint from the owner of the store, but the protestors are within their rights and have been peaceful and compliant. Mr Zheng, who is also deputy chair of the Wellington Association for Promoting Peaceful Reunification of China, published the letter addressed to the Chinese community of Wellington on April 4 on behalf of the association. Mr Zheng says the association is an independent organisation that advocates for the reunification of China and Taiwan and aims to promote change by influencing the Chinese community in Wellington. The letter accuses Falun Gong, and the closely related Shen Yun performing arts show of “deception” and “lies”. It was released four days prior to the Shen Yun performing arts show held in Wellington at the St James Theatre and urged the public not to attend. The letter states: “These so called shows are simply not theatrical performances, but political tools of Falun Gong cult to amass wealth and engage in cult activities and anti China propaganda. It not only taints and distorts Chinese culture but also deceives, fools and poisons the audience.” “The purpose of the show is not to display real traditional Chinese culture, but to smear Chinese image and damage China and New Zealand’s relationship.” The letter also accuses Falun Gong of cult activities and social disruption. Falun Gong practitioner and protestor Yan Jiang says Mr Zheng’s claims are false and he is using the name of freedom of speech to discriminate other’s freedom of belief. “The article defames both Falun Gong and Shen Yun,” she says. “It is the persecution of Falun Gong that has pushed practitioners to come out and stop the persecution.” A pamphlet handed out by the protesters describes Falun Gong as a peaceful practice of the mind, body and spirit where by practitioners cultivate themselves according to the principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance. They say Shen Yun Performing Arts is not politically motivated but is a world class arts show which aims to revive and celebrate 5000 years of traditional Chinese culture. “We local Falun Gong practitioners believe the open letter published in Home Voice is unjust, unfair and completely lacking in principle. “We therefore seek a public apology from the Home Voice publisher.” Kevin Zheng says he has been on the receiving end of verbal attacks and has been harassed by protestors. At this stage he says a public apology will not be made to Falun Gong because he has done nothing wrong and Home Voice newspaper is within its legal rights. Dr Michael Radich, a Victoria University lecturer in Art History, Classics and Religious Studies says, the issue echoes Falun Gong’s treatment in China. “The criticism was in the form of an open letter from a community organisation, and was not presented as journalistic coverage of the facts of the matter,” Dr Radich says. “It could therefore perhaps be argued that the newspaper was merely providing a space for the voicing of a legitimate private opinion, as part of open public debate.” However he says it is concerning that Falun Gong have been criticised in this manner, and the language of the letter echoes characterizations of Falun gong by the Chinese Government since the practice was declared illegal in 1999. Westerner and Falun Gong practitioner, Margo MacVicar says Home Voice is spreading Chinese Communist Party propaganda in an attempt to turn the public against Falun Gong. “It’s blatant slander and defamation and its happening worldwide,” she says. Protestor Winny Ling says in China Falun Gong practitioners are hated because of the propaganda spread by the Chinese Communist Party. She is protesting the letters criticism because she does not want that influence to spread in New Zealand. “Many people will have read the letter, we don’t want people to hate Falun Gong in New Zealand because of it,” Ms Ling says.    

      • Students to help owners by assessing quake prone buildings
        • 30 Jul 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • NINETY architecture students will assess Newtown’s heritage buildings during the next few months. The project is part of a wider Council initiative to preserve heritage areas and encourage owners of earthquake prone buildings to strengthen them. The students will be working in Newtown’s 3 main heritage precinct areas (right) and will complete building survey forms to assess structural condition. They will then put together conceptual designs for strengthening each building, which will be displayed for public viewing in Newtown when the project is finished. A community meeting in Newtown on quake-proofing earlier this month was briefed on the project by Victoria University School of Architecture, Heritage New Zealand and Wellington City Council. Associate professor Andrew Charleston of the School of Architecture, says the designs will be of the highest level and will meet all the requirements of the New Building Standard. Buildings currently only have to achieve 34% of the standard to avoid being labeled earthquake prone, although the council recommends 66%. Mr Charleston says the students will receive advice from structural engineers throughout the process. “Designs will be made publically available once completed, which will be a great opportunity for building owners to see the students work.” David Wilcocks, a heritage building owner and member of the Newtown Business Group, thinks the project will raise awareness. “It’s great because it will provide some ideas for buildings owners to think about and encourage them consider the possibilities for their building,” he says. David Watt from Heritage New Zealand says they have worked closely with the School of Architecture before and have formed a strong relationship. “Over the past two years we have engaged in a successful heritage project with the School of Architecture and council around the Cuba St heritage precinct with a vision for the future,” Mr Watt says. “These are challenging times and Heritage New Zealand, Wellington City Council and Newtown building owners need to come together and plan for the future.”

      • Hutt Repertory Theatre gets nostalgic for its 70th birthday
        • 30 Jul 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • PROUD: Roger Linkhorn (left), Lesley Tilley, Joan Tite and Ella Mason (front) are all looking forward to celebrating their time with the theatre. IT’S BACK to the future for the 70th birthday of Hutt Repertory Theatre which will be performing two new one-act plays in August. The theatre began life performing one-act plays in 1944, so the two new plays Lovers and The Zoo Story are being used to connect with history. Hutt Repertory Theatre was started in 1944 by Mary MacKenzie as an outlet for drama enthusiasts in the Hutt Valley. The only other alternative was to travel to Wellington. Performers wanted a chance to do something in their own area, says longstanding member Ella Mason. The theatre performed plays at local community halls until the 1950s when the actual theatre was built in Epuni. Personal loans taken out by theatre members provided the initial funding. Mrs Mason says joining the theatre in 1950 was a chance for her have some time to herself. “I had a strong interest in drama and had four children under six years old,” says Mrs Mason. When she joined it was an honour to be asked to make the tea or wash the dishes. “If you were asked to do that, you were one of the people.” It was only a matter of time though before Mrs Mason fell into wardrobe, because she was not necessarily interested in acting but was a keen sewer. Another long-time member, Joan Tite, says the theatre has been lucky with some exceptionally good directors. “Arthur Williams, Barrie Bradbury, a whole raft of very experienced actors became directors,” she says. Rehearsing the same plays over and over could get “desperately boring” Mrs Tite says, but they were always made fun with the cast involved. The two one-act plays will be performed from August 27 to August 30 in Epuni. For more information about the performances visit the theatre’s website, www.huttrep.co.nz  

      • New Families who drink raw milk wanted for study into health benefits
        • 28 Jul 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • MILK MAN: Dr Collin Brooks in his natural habitat. IMAGE: Liam Cavanagh By Liam Cavanagh FAMILIES with children who drink raw milk are wanted for a study looking at its potential health benefits. Massey University scientists hope to find out if drinking raw milk is associated with beneficial effects against allergies. Families with children between the ages of six and 18 in urban areas are wanted, says Dr Collin Brooks (right) of the Centre for Public Health Research. The study is funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand. Studies in Europe suggest farming populations seem to have lower rates of asthma and allergies, but the jury is still out on the results. It is difficult, because rural populations have unique exposures compared to people living in urban areas, says Dr Brooks. The Massey University study would mean if there is a link between raw milk consumption and lower rates of asthma and allergies, it will be easier to find. This study is the first of its kind looking specifically at raw milk consumption in non-farmers, says Dr Brooks. Nurses will go to participants’ homes to conduct tests, which include a lung function test, skin prick test, and will take blood samples. Scientists are also interested in talking to anyone who drinks raw milk. “We would love to have more people who drink raw milk, even if they don’t have families,” says Dr Brooks. But you have to live in an urban area, he says. “You can’t live on a lifestyle section with four acres with cows, the kids and the dog.” They hope to use the study to find an intervention or way of reducing asthma and allergies in New Zealand and globally. Dr Brooks is aware the issue of raw milk is an emotive one, but says he is not concerned about whether drinking raw milk is good for you or not. We are allowed to go into the supermarket and buy raw chicken and raw eggs and it is your choice to cook it or not, says Dr Brooks. “People have the right to make their own decisions as long as they take the risks into consideration,” he says. Mother of two Fay Rhodes, whose family drinks raw milk, says the study is good because she currently relies on Google for information. It would be interesting to know more about it from a parents’ perspective, and the effects on legislation the study might have, she says. People can buy raw milk from farmers direct by telephone or email but cannot buy it from the supermarkets, says Dr Brooks. Dr Jeroen Douwes heads the study at the Centre of Public Health Research, alongside Dr Brooks and Dr Amanda Eng. They also collaborate with others from Otago and Victoria University, the Malaghan Institute, and the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Anyone who would like to take part in the study can visit the Centre for Public Health Research website or call 0800 080 706. IMAGE: Liam Cavanagh

      • Independent cinema still a hit with Wellington audiences
        • 28 Jul 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • CINEMA MAGIC: Mirimar’s Roxy theatre is a popular destination for Wellington locals. IMAGE: Roxy Theatre ONLINE piracy is posing no threat to independent cinemas. That’s according to managers at two Wellington cinemas, who say a night out at the flicks still holds appeal for many, despite the growing ease with which the public can access content for free online. “It’s not just a film, it’s not just a meal, it’s a whole experience,” says Carole Tredrea, the events and marketing manager at Mirimar’s Roxy theatre. Steven Ferguson (right), director at the Paramount on Courtney Place, agrees saying there are still plenty of movie- goers who would prefer not to watch a movie huddled over their laptops. They are usually older, with more disposable income and this is the demographic the Roxy and Paramount cater for. Mr Ferguson and Ms Tredrea say that by screening independent films they are less affected by piracy than multi-plexes like Hoyts or Readings. Mr Ferguson says it’s generally not French art- house movies affected by piracy. He has been involved with the Paramount for eleven years and says that business doubled between 2003 and 2012. However ticket sales alone are not a reliable source of income for cinemas as seasonal slumps are unavoidable in the industry. To remedy this, most independent cinemas will have in-house bars and the Roxy also hosts a full restaurant and café. Not only does this help with profit margins but Ms Tredrea says these facilities are what bring people back time and again. “We’re getting people in who are loyal, who are regular, who come here for the love of it,”she says.

      • Bertos was close to Thai deal before signing to play in India
        • 25 Jul 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • INDIA BOUND: Leo Bertos is relishing a new challenge abroad. IMAGE: Matthew Lau Leo Bertos came close to playing football in Thailand before he signed to play in India. The 32-year old will be moving to India with his wife in three weeks to join the Kolkata giants East Bengal. The deal was finalised last weekend after Bertos spent a couple weeks in Thailand talking to local clubs about playing there. He says he is relishing a new challenge. “I’ve spoken to some players who have played in the competition, most speak English over there and are very accommodating. “I’m coming to their country, so I’ll have to adjust accordingly as not everything is tailor-made to suit me.” Bertos was not offered a contract extension by Wellington Pheonix at the end of the last A-League season. With the Pheonix being the only major football club in New Zealand, Bertos knew that any move would involve relocating himself and his wife offshore. “I will encourage myself to experience their culture, I want to be part of all that in their environment,” he says. After representing the Futsal Whites earlier this month against Australia, Bertos would enjoy playing for the  All Whites again. “At the moment my main focus is to do my best for my club, I’m concentrating on getting ready for the new season.  A call up [for the All Whites] would be nice, but we’ll see what happens.” Bertos will become East Bengal’s marquee player because he played in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. A marquee player has been defined by the All India Football Federation as a foreign recruit who has represented his country in any of the Continental Championships or the FIFA World Cup. Bertos has officially signed a two-year contract with East Bengal, which is one of India’s strongest football teams having finished second in the I-League last season. Statistics earlier this year ranked the I-League as the 92nd strongest national football league in the world, seven places ahead of the A-League. Bertos is currently one of only two foreign players at East Bengal, the other being Nigerian striker Ranti Martins.

      • Petone will be an art gallery for the work of Thumbs Up artists.
        • 24 Jul 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • ART IN PROGRESS: Melissa creating her piece, one of several to be displayed. IMAGE: Amanda Herrera   NEW art pieces by local artists with disabilities will soon be adorning the walls of Petone’s cafes and supermarkets. The new art will come from the Art in the Community project by Thumbs Up, a facility which provides week day care for young adults with physical and mental disabilities. The project involves 11 young adults paint working with arts therapist Joanna Eikenbroek to create pieces. To complete the local flavour, volunteer group Menz Shed in Eastbourne will help the young men of Thumbs Up frame the art. Thumbs Up services manager Briany Howes (right) says the project is hugely exciting and ticks all the boxes for Thumbs Up, and the community.  “It’s a win-win situation, we get to give something back to the community which so greatly supports us as well as continuing to strengthen our community links.” The places which will host the art are still a work in progress, much like the art pieces which are expected to be completed by early next year. Ms Howes says although the places are not yet confirmed, they will be places that clients often frequent with their families. “There will be quite a lot of excitement for the clients when they see their pieces while they are out and about.” The project comes after positive feedback from previous art exhibitions, says support worker Lia Haar-Strang. As well as being a community inspired project, it gives observers the opportunity to admire art pieces without judgement she says. “The project focuses on the ability of the clients, not the disability, people will look at their paintings and judge them based on artistic merit, rather than the person who created it.” The project has been made possible with funding from Hutt City Council Creative Communities grants. Menz Shed is a community focused group with sheds nationwide. The objective of Menz Shed is to create a place where men, who are generally retired can gather to share skills and work on community based projects, such as wooden frames for the Arts in the Community project.  

      • Squeezed Victoria students say new science space overdue
        • 24 Jul 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • HIGH TIME: An artist’s impression of the new science building. IMAGE: Supplied “EXCITED” students are looking forward to the overdue building of a new science block at Victoria University. There is not enough space in the current building for postgraduate students, which is directly affecting their studies, says Victoria University Students Association president Sonya Clark. “It’s high time that the biology students and staff moved to a modern, upgraded facility,” she says. “Students are excited about the new facility. It will be awesome for students and for Vic.” The major redevelopment project announced last week includes up-to-date labs in 2017 when staff and students move out of Kirk building that currently houses the science department. The Kirk building, built in the 1970’s, will be refurbished and strengthened for new use within the university. Victoria University Campus Services spokesperson Jenny Bentley says it will allow for new spaces for modern teaching methods. “The redevelopment will provide better group work, better interaction between academics and the students, with informal learning and study areas,” she says. The science field will include new jobs for five to six major researchers being employed, which will increase student intake and profitable income for NZ economy, says Faculty of Science Professor Michael Wilson. He is looking forward to the major project bringing in collaboration with other university facilities in New Zealand and around the world. “We collaborate closely with the Malaghan Institute and Zealandia. The new building will produce a real step and change of what we can achieve for science,” he says.

      • Porirua kids get a kick out of computer coding
        • 21 Jul 2014
        • Newswire.co.nz
        • JAVA KIDS: Children programming in Java Script, clockwise from left, Eli Martin, Liam Sapsford, John Davies-Colley, Stanley Moore and Atom Gush. PORIRUA kids are earning their black belt through computer coding and information technology at e-learning Porirua – but organisers want more children from lower decile schools. Coderdojo runs fortnightly on Sunday afternoons, with about 20 children from the age of five learning computer coding and programming. The club started in March this year at the RSA in Porirua East, and will be running indefinitely as children progress through more advanced stages of IT. Tim Davies-Colley, executive programme manager of e-learning Porirua, says the club is run like a dojo. Children earn prizes, badges and belts as they progress through different skills such as learning Blockley coding, Node coding and assembling a computer hard-drive from scratch, says Mr Davies-Colley. “We show them the main components of a computer and point out specific parts like the processor, central processing unit and RAM and have them connect it all back up to the monitor and to boot the system up. “If they get it right, they earn a badge for their belt.” Mr Davies Colley says families attending are mostly from wealthier areas of Porirua, with parents who have an IT background. “We are keen to see more kids from lower decile areas that have an interest in technology, even if their parents have no prior knowledge,” he says. Eli Martin (10) says he loves using the variety of different programming languages. “Programming is like a big powerful sword that you have to learn how to use and then your creativity is unleashed,” he says. Bessie Martin (8) likes CoderDojo because it is opening new options and helps her to understand new things. The club has the strict policy of parents staying at each session to encourage their children and help as mentors. Eli’s and Bessie’s mother Emma Martin helps out as a mentor. “It’s just incredible seeing all of these kids so focused on learning,” says Emma. “It’s not even just about coding. It’s about learning logical reasoning. And they love it. “This generation has grown up playing games on iPads. The digital world is their water and they swim in it instinctively.” Steve Stanley, whose 9-year-old son attends Coderdojo, says his son who has always been attracted to technology loves it. “When he’s not at the sessions he gets into it at home too, and has worked through about 28 modules just in the past few weeks.” Mr Stanley says he heard about an initiative in the UK which is teaching children computer coding in primary schools. “In this generation many of the things kids are exposed to have been programmed by someone and if you don’t understand how it works, you have less of a choice in how to use it. “Computer coding is a valuable skill to learn, as was something like car maintenance for my generation,” he says. The club is free to attend, but a donation is encouraged if the family can afford it. However, computers are donated and the software is mostly free to use so donations are not pushed. Mr Davies-Colley says the programme teaches children IT skills, problem solving skills and logic, and gives them a head start in the digital age. He is also designing a program specifically for Maori and Pacific teenagers.

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