Animal Welfare News – Passing of live export Bill a historic moment

Source: SAFE For Animals

The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill passed its third reading last night, which will give effect to a ban on live export.
All exports of cattle, deer, goats, and sheep by sea will stop on 30 April 2022
SAFE Chief Executive Debra Ashton said it’s a relief that animals will soon no longer be exported by sea.
“We’ve been working tirelessly with activists across the country for decades to end live export, and we’re grateful the Government has listened,” said Ashton.
“The long voyages at sea are treacherous, and the conditions in their destination country can have serious animal welfare consequences.”
SAFE have been joined by NGO’s like the New Zealand Animal Law Association and SPCA, as well as over 3,500 members of the public, who have spoken out over the cruel and unsustainable export of animals by sea. Local groups protested ports that facilitated live export shipments, including Taranaki Animal Save, Hawke’s Bay Against Live Export, and Ban Live Export NZ, among others.
Other countries are now also considering phasing out live export, including Australia and the European Union.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has said the ban will only have a small impact, as live exports by sea only accounted for 0.6 per cent of primary sector exports last year.
“For most farmers, this decision will have no impact, but the Government should consider supporting farmers to transition away from animal agriculture for those who will be impacted.”
“The Netherlands has already put a plan in place to help transition farmers out of animal agriculture – including a buy-out scheme to smooth the transition. It’s high time New Zealand did the same.”

Greenpeace – Greenwashed dairy cows on Parliament lawn highlight government inaction on climate

Source: Greenpeace

29 Sept: Greenpeace Aotearoa has brought a mock dairy herd to Parliament’s lawn to highlight the government’s use of greenwashing instead of real action on New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter: intensive dairy.
Actors representing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Climate Change Minister James Shaw used paint brushes to greenwash dairy cows and a synthetic nitrogen fertiliser factory amid loud mooing.
Greenpeace Aotearoa’s lead climate campaigner, Christine Rose, says: “We’ve just seen Prime Minister Ardern boasting of New Zealand’s climate credentials in New York, but she was talking about the toothless Zero Carbon Act and the ineffectual industry partnership He Waka Eke Noa. We must call it by its right name: greenwash, not climate action.”
According to the New Zealand Greenhouse Gas Inventory, dairy cattle produce almost a quarter of New Zealand’s emissions (23.5%), and industrial agriculture is broadly responsible for half of the country’s climate pollution.
He Waka Eke Noa is New Zealand's core plan to cut agricultural emissions, yet the scheme is predicted to reduce emissions by only 1% and actually favours the country’s worst polluter – intensive dairy. Greenpeace and other environmental groups argue that regulatory tools such as phasing out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and reducing herd numbers are required.
“Our children and grandchildren deserve a future with a safe and stable climate. But Friday's School Strike for Climate was a stark reminder that young people are terrified by the climate crisis and will not stand by as the government fails to cut climate pollution from big polluters like intensive dairy,” says Rose.
“Climate-driven droughts and heatwaves, deadly floods and wildfires are already ruining lives. If governments like ours continue to greenwash ineffective policies instead of taking real action, they will only get worse. Greenpeace is calling on the government to ditch the greenwash and support a transition to more plant-based, regenerative organic agriculture.”

Tech News – FiberSense VID+R Provides World’s First ‘Building-By-Building’ Impact Measurements After Recent NZ Earthquake

Source: FiberSense

Wellington, New Zealand, 29 September – FiberSense, a leading infrastructure sensing and monitoring company, has shared remarkable high-resolution results in its detection of the magnitude 5.8 Cook Strait earthquake that occurred 70km northwest of Wellington, New Zealand on 22 September.

Founder and CEO of FiberSense, Mark Englund said “Our DigitalSeismic sensing service that we have operating on fibre optic telecoms cables in Wellington detected a range of activity from the earthquake centred on the Cook Strait last week. We cross-referenced our measurements with the records of the official earthquake sensors and the results were remarkable – for the first time ever we've calibrated the impact of quakes down to a building-by-building analysis level.”

“Immediately after the earthquake last week we first confirmed that the main data points from the official readings like magnitude and wave movement across ground closely matched with our readings. This established that our fibre optic-based quake detection is as reliable as current methods that depend on monitoring stations scattered across New Zealand. The most compelling finding is that because the fibre-based method constantly records the activity as the event wave moves across the earth, our DigitalSeismic service captured the peak ground acceleration with around 1000x greater fidelity compared to what conventional seismic networks achieved,” Englund said.

FiberSense VP of Research & Development, Dr Nate Lindsey, said “Fibre optic telecoms cables are the hidden web of communication within a city. FiberSense's DigitalSeismic service uses this web to take the pulse of a city, block-by-block, building-by-building. When an earthquake strikes, we use advances in distributed sensing to make measurements of how much the ground shook at positions every few metres along the optical fibre, improving on the traditional seismometers which are separated by kilometres, at best. A further key benefit from our approach is that DigitalSeismic concentrates ground shaking information where it matters most – in and around the populated areas where the fibre is commonly located. This contrasts with conventional seismic networks which have traditionally been located far from noisy city activity. Targeting populated areas adds important data-driven insight right where people are most impacted, making DigitalSeismic technology a real game changer for how we respond to seismic hazards.”

“We believe this capability will be an invaluable tool for first responders, utilities, critical infrastructure owners and seismologists, as well as government authorities in assessing the damage from earthquakes. Whilst we can't prevent natural disasters occurring, we can inform the way we plan for and respond to these inevitable events. It is critical that the quality of the data we base our recovery plans on should be as complete and well informed as possible. At FiberSense, we are pleased to be able to contribute to meeting that challenge and help make the world around us safer and more secure for all,” Englund said.

FiberSense is engaged with seismologists at Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Auckland through a grant from Earthquake Commission (EQC) to study the earthquake recordings which FiberSense is availing to the community. Through this science partnership, FiberSense hopes to build a bridge to new opportunities in earthquake early warning and seismic hazard analysis.

Further background to the DigitalSeismic results from the NZ earthquake

Researchers working to understand the impact, scale, and dangers that earthquakes have on communities, have to date been informed by the data collected by individual seismic readers scattered around the globe. In the quake-prone islands of New Zealand, this can mean just a few dozen seismic meters, often hundreds of kilometres apart, are relied upon to capture data for the whole country. They measure not just the onset and duration of ground motion, but also critically important information like the maximum ground acceleration and directionality of shaking. Taken together, this data informs the public sector's responses to natural disasters and underpins our preparations to proceed with a plan of action when the inevitable next event occurs.

However, the current quality of earthquake data is about to be turbo charged by using information detected across the ubiquitous fibre optic cables that link up cities, connect communities and traverse the globe. The team at FiberSense has invented and patented a new class of sensor system over optical fibre cable infrastructure called Vibration Detection and Ranging (VID+R). This technology acts as a series of 'virtual seismic sensors' set every few metres along a fibre cable. These distributed sensors can then detect the force and speed of the earthquake as the damaging waves move through city blocks and even individual buildings. This detailed information about the event is available in the moments immediately after the earthquake strikes as the data is aggregated automatically in the cloud.

About FiberSense

Fiber Sense Ltd (“FiberSense”) was formed to dramatically improve everyone's experience in public spaces by adding a new level of real time and historical awareness of anonymised objects and events in public spaces. The team at FiberSense invented and patented a new class of sensor system over optical fibre cable infrastructure called Vibration Detection and Ranging (VID+R®️). FiberSense technology sits at the intersection of optical fibre sensing, integrated photonics, machine learning and optical fibre telecoms networks. They bring these capabilities together in a digital platform that can be sampled at

Economy News – Proposals to enhance clarity of risk weighting requirements – Reserve Bank

Source: Reserve Bank of New Zealand

29 September 2022 – The Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Pūtea Matua is proposing changes to how banks should apply risk weightings to their exposures under bank capital adequacy rules.

We are in the process of phasing in the Capital Review decisions from December 2019. These are designed to make the banking system safer for all New Zealanders by reducing the likelihood of bank failure, lifting financial stability and protecting people from the economic and social impacts associated with the failure of a bank.

The proposals cover our responses to some questions banks asked us to look at during consultations about the implementation of the Capital Review decisions during 2021. We are proposing a number of small amendments and clarifications to address their questions. The consultation also covers the treatment of the Business Growth Fund.

The proposed changes are designed to improve clarity and transparency, but have little impact on the overall parameters of the changes announced in December 2019.

The consultation paper covers six areas where we have considered changes to the approach to risk weighting in response to feedback from stakeholders.

We are seeking feedback on our proposals to lower the risk weighting on First Home Loans underwritten by Kāinga Ora and to reduce the risk weighting of bank equity exposures to the Business Growth Fund.

Other areas covered in the consultation paper include:

Sovereigns, Public Sector Entities and Multilateral Development Banks
Reverse Residential Mortgage Loans
Cross-method guarantees
Qualifying Central Counterparties

What are risk weights?

Risk weights are used to convert the actual size of an exposure into a risk-weighted asset. A more risky exposure will have a higher risk weight. Banks are required to hold a minimum percentage of capital against these risk weighted exposures. Higher risk exposures mean a bank will need more capital — money provided by the owners (shareholders) of a bank. This ensures that the owners have a meaningful stake in the bank — the more the bank's owners have to lose, the more they will want to make sure the bank is run properly.

The paper covers a wide range of topics.

There are two closing dates for submissions.

Submissions on the proposals for the risk weighting of exposures to the Business Growth Fund close at 5pm 30 November 2022.
Submissions on all other topics in this consultation paper close at 5pm 28 February 2023.

More information

Download the risk weights consultation paper (PDF 993KB)
How to make a submission

Education News – New qualification pathway for laboratory staff celebrated at Ara-Te Pūkenga graduation

Source: Te Pukenga

Amid the demands of responding to Covid-19 in recent times, a new partnership in the education and healthcare sectors has also responded to the need for a study opportunity for the laboratory staff workforce.
Amongst this year’s Ara Institute of Canterbury – Te Pūkenga’s Spring Graduation, eighteen Asia-Pacific Healthcare Group (APHG) staff from all over Aotearoa gathered in Christchurch to celebrate graduating with their Level 5 Diploma of Applied Science.
Ara – Te Pūkenga and APHG began collaborating in 2018 to co-design the new qualification to provide career pathways for the human pathology industry.
The programme is accredited by the Medical Sciences Council for registration purposes and evaluated by Ara-Te Pūkenga and NZQA.
“APHG wanted to offer their workforce, both existing staff and new recruits throughout New Zealand, an NZQA- and industry-recognised qualification,” says Melissa Barber, Ara’s Head of Department – Applied Sciences and Social Practice.
“They approached us, and after a careful analysis of the industry and people in work, we designed a new qualification pathway in partnership with them. This is partnership in action,” Barber says.
The Level 5 Diploma of Applied Science, an 18-month programme comprising eight courses, was first offered in 2020. Due to Covid-19 impacts, first recruits have only just had the opportunity to graduate in person.
“The Asia Pacific Healthcare Group is proud to partner with Ara to provide this amazing learning opportunity,” Chief Executive Anoop Singh says.
“The Level 5 Diploma is a great pathway for our staff to gain an NZQA recognised tertiary qualification while working, along with the knowledge and skills for a successful and rewarding laboratory-based career.”
Under the partnership, APHG manages the work-integrated learning for the practical skills the frontline workers need, and the theory is delivered online by Ara-Te Pūkenga to their employees across the country.
Barber says keeping students connected is a hallmark of the course. “We create an environment where there is social learning happening even if students aren’t participating at the same time.
“There’s a strong tutor voice for each course, we use forums so the students can chat to each other, complete self-reflection evaluation and professional skills type learning as well as scientific theory,” she says.
APHG Senior Phlebotomist and Diploma Graduate Braelee Christian says the course ticked all the boxes. “I got amazing support from Ara and Asia Pacific Healthcare Group, and if you are committed to the course, then the support is there to help you succeed. Now I have my diploma there are exciting times ahead,” Christian says.
Completing the study also provides an external pathway for technicians to become registered with the Medical Sciences Council.
So far more than 60 students have completed the course and another 90 are currently studying.
“We see this course going from strength to strength,” Barber says. “With this cohort of APHG staff being able to celebrate their graduation we definitely see the partnership continuing and a great opportunity for those in the human pathology industry to study for a successful and rewarding career,” she says.

University News – Rapid transit and the case for a congestion charge

Source: University of Auckland

Substantially improving Auckland’s rapid transit options isn't enough to reduce kilometres travelled by private vehicles, according to a study exploring the impact of rapid transit on congestion, vehicle use, wages, and city size.

Business School academics Dr Ryan Greenaway-McGrevy and Dr James Allan Jones model improvements to public transport, such as the construction of a new rapid transit line, in their forthcoming paper titled Mode Choice and the Effects of Rapid Transit Improvements on Private Vehicle Use and Urban Development.

Their model seeks to reconcile evidence that overall driving tends to decrease in European cities following an improvement in public transport, but tends to increase in American ones.

They show that despite rapid transit improvements, total kilometres travelled by private vehicles will increase if a city is highly congested or the public transit network is underdeveloped.

The researchers use their model to show that building an additional rapid transit line in Auckland would likely result in an increase in vehicle kilometres travelled as the city grows in response to the improved transportation network.

To see a meaningful reduction in the distance travelled by commuters in private vehicles, Dr Jones says increases in rapid transit options, such as rail or subways, could be paired with a congestion charge.

“Our findings underscore the need for policy coordination for cities such as Auckland to meet their emissions and energy reduction targets,” says Jones.

“Improvements to public transit have a lot of benefits for a city, unfortunately reducing total driving is unlikely to be one of them if undertaken in isolation.”

University News – Unexpected doorways may open possibilities for better diabetic heart health

Source: University of Auckland

A puzzle uncovered by researchers from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) offers a clue which could lead to a massive change in the lives of people with Type 2 Diabetes.

Dr June-Chiew Han and fellow researchers from Waipapa Taumata Rau University of Auckland are looking closely at cells in diabetic heart muscles using the power of super resolution microscopy.  For the first time, scientists have been able to see minute structures of cardiac cells and observe, in fine detail, the behaviour of contractile proteins in early-stage diabetes.

What they have found is that there are fewer contractile proteins present in the diabetic cardiac cells than in healthy cardiac cells. These specific proteins are integral to the process which tightens heart muscles as part of the heart’s life-sustaining pumping action to move blood around a body.
With specialist equipment designed at ABI, the team also observed the diabetic heart muscle at work. Surprisingly they found that with fewer proteins to elicit a contraction response, the muscle from a diabetic heart maintains the same force as a muscle in a healthy heart.
 “With fewer contractile proteins, what we would expect is that force developed would be lower,” says Dr Han. “But this is not the case. What we found is the force developed by the diabetic muscle is the same despite fewer contractile proteins in early-stage diabetes.”
“This is a conundrum. We expect that something changes that allows for this force to be maintained.”
They have their suspicions. Data from the team’s pilot study, on heart muscles from rats, suggest a change in one specific protein, the calcium ion release channel known as the ryanodine receptor (RyR).
The change of RyR appears to compensate for the contractile function to maintain the force of the muscle. The RyR release channel acts as a doorway inside the cell, controlling the flow of calcium ions inside the cell which triggers the contractile action of the muscle.

“We hypothesise that there will be more of these RyR doorways present in the cardiac cells at early-stage diabetes. So, as more calcium ions come out of the doorways inside the cell and activate more contractile proteins, the force will be preserved.”

New funding of $150,000 from the Heart Foundation will support, over the next two years, further investigation of these doorways in the diabetic heart using heart tissue from rats with a later stage of disease to compare with the earlier stage. Dr Han and colleagues Drs David Crossman, Kenneth Tran and Jarrah Dowrick will investigate how the contractile protein arrangement might be different in a diabetic heart muscle and how that assembly might affect muscle function.

“Diabetes and heart disease go hand in hand as people with Type 2 Diabetes have a high risk for cardiovascular disease and at least a two‑fold higher rate of death from heart complications. If there really are more RyR doorways, and if we can use a pharmacological intervention that can preserve the many doors, then that will maintain heart contraction function in early-stage diabetes – and help delay that progression of heart disease in diabetes.”

Learn more about the use of animals in research and teaching at the University of Auckland.

Govt News – Productivity Commission interim report calls for conversation on barriers and shifts needed to give a fair chance for all

Source: Productivity Commission

The New Zealand Productivity Commission Te Kōmihana Whai Hua o Aotearoa has released its interim report on “A fair chance for all”, looking into persistent disadvantage in New Zealand, and the shifts needed to address it.
The report explores and suggests how we can build a more equitable and productive future for all in Aotearoa New Zealand. To do this, the Commission has examined the barriers that hold back too many New Zealanders from thriving. This report draws on work already done with wellbeing frameworks like He Ara Waiora, the Living Standards Framework and the recently-launched Pacific Wellbeing Strategy.
Productivity Commission Chair Dr Ganesh Nana says it is clear our systems and social safety net do not meet the needs of people and communities facing persistent disadvantage.
“While many people are thriving in Aotearoa New Zealand, too many are not. This report poses some searching questions we believe to be at the heart of shifting the barriers embedded in our systems that keep many trapped in a cycle of disadvantage,” he says.
The report defines disadvantage over three inter-related domains: being income poor (poverty), doing without (deprivation) and being left out (exclusion).
“Individuals, whānau and communities thrive when they have access to resources, are empowered to grow and develop on their own terms, and feel a sense of belonging,” Dr Nana says.
“While topics such as colonisation and institutional racism might feel confronting, these are conversations we must continue to have until they are no longer the source of disadvantage. In a future without disadvantage everyone will feel proud of their cultural identity, will feel they belong, and will be supported to achieve their aspirations.”
The Commission’s recommendations focus on the design and operation of our public management system, to prioritise equity, wellbeing and social inclusion, re-focusing public accountability settings, and improve monitoring and evaluation.
“While the root causes of inequities in peoples’ lives mainly lie outside the public sector, the state system has a huge effect on peoples’ opportunities to live thriving and fulfilling lives,” Dr Nana says.
The Commission is seeking public submissions on its interim report, and welcomes comment on its findings and recommendations through its website. This feedback, as well as further analysis and research, will be incorporated into the final version, to be released in March 2023.

Animal Welfare News – Opposition MP’s out of touch on live export – SAFE

Source: SAFE For Animals

Fiery debate was heard in parliament during the third reading of the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, which will give effect to a ban on live export.
National MP Barbera Kuriger said the select committee process saw presentations that showed animals were looked after at the end of the live export supply chain.
ACT MP Mark Cameron called the Bill “ideological” and said the fact that cattle commonly gained weight during a voyage was a sign of good animal welfare.
Associate Minister of Agriculture Meka Whaitiri said the Government’s independent advisors on animal welfare (the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee) also asked for live exports to be banned.
“Animals are suffering in live export, and the Ministry for Primary Industries has the evidence,” said Ashton
“Post arrival reports obtained under the official information Act show animals have suffered and died after landing in the destination country. Causes of death include bacterial disease, pneumonia, rib fracture, and intestinal bleeding.”
“Furthermore, the Government’s review of the live export trade was prompted by reports from Sri Lanka that hundreds of New Zealand cattle were suffering and dying after leaving our shores.”
“The writing has been on the wall for live export for some time, which the members’ from ACT and National would be aware of had they looked for it.”
The debate was interrupted, and the third reading is expected to continue either tomorrow or next week.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor pointed out that the Gulf livestock 1 was the seventh livestock export ship to sink since 2009.
“This trade can’t end soon enough. This third reading will give us peace of mind that the trade will indeed end in April next year.”

Transport News – More change inevitable for road transport sector, conference told

Source: Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand

Change is coming to the road transport sector, and it will have a big impact on both business and the New Zealand economy in the coming decade. That was the clear message for delegates at The Road Ahead conference, organised by Transporting New Zealand.
Over 250 representatives of the road transport industry from around the country have gathered at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill for the two-day event.
Keynote speaker, acclaimed digital technology pioneer Sir Ian Taylor, told the conference that societies cannot go backwards, although it is still important to learn from the past. Taylor quoted a Māori proverb, “The footprints we lay down today create the path for tomorrow.”
He also quoted his own business’s mission statement: “Bugger the boxing, pour the concrete anyway,” describing the importance of innovation. Taylor said when the Covid pandemic hit in 2020, it massively affected his digital business, but his company turned it into an opportunity to pioneer visual simulation technology for world sporting events, including motor racing, golf, and baseball, while based in Dunedin.
Taylor also affirmed the importance of respecting the environment. “We are all connected, plants, people, and animals.”
Taylor’s message about change was echoed by other speakers, including Dave Ffowcs Williams, head of supply chain for Datacom, who spoke on sharing information systems, data customer profiling, and security; and Chris Claridge, chief executive of Potatoes New Zealand, who spoke about technology as a disruptor of transport, which he said is already happening at pace in Europe and will also happen worldwide.
Transport Minister Michael Wood beamed in via Zoom to outline the Government’s key priorities. Wood described the “ambitious vision” of Road to Zero to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the roads by 40 per cent by 2050. “Based on international evidence, we can do the right things and save many lives – safer vehicles, safer drivers, safer roads, and safer speeds.”
Wood said the government remains committed to spending money on improving roads, as well as the need for new technologies and taking action on climate change.
National’s transport spokesman Simeon Brown challenged the government and said it needed to keep costs under control. “We have to be realistic, 93 per cent of freight moves by trucks and that isn’t going to change any time soon regardless of how much money the government spends on rail.”
Nicole Rosie, chief executive of Waka Kotahi, also outlined the challenges ahead for New Zealand’s transport system. “We have to look 50 to 100 years ahead. This is complex and requires us to think hard about multiple outcomes, not just for this generation but for generations to come.”