First Responders – Shelley Bay Structure Fire Update #2

Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand
Fire and Emergency crews continue to work with Wellington City Council to clear the site of this morning’s large building fire in Shelley Bay, Wellington.
Fire and Emergency was alerted to the fire in a 50m x 40m derelict building in Shelley Bay just before 3am.
The fire was well involved when crews arrived at the scene.
Four pumping appliances, two aerial appliances and a tanker all worked to extinguish the blaze.
Senior Station Office Dave Miller says heavy machinery has been used today to remove fallen roofing iron so that fire investigators could access the area to investigate the cause and origin of the fire.
“That investigation isn’t finished, and we won’t be able to comment further until it is finalised,” he says.
“Our crews also continue to cool and overhaul the site and keep any hotspots dampened down and the incident site wet. The asbestos risk to the public is very low.”
Dave Miller says the Shelley Bay Road remains closed to the public and there will be security and fire crews on site overnight monitoring and dampening down hotspots.
This will be the final update for today.

Local News – Hutt City Council Annual Plan about striking the right balance

Source: Hutt City Council

Mayor Campbell Barry says Hutt City Council’s Annual Plan 2023-24 is all about striking the right balance.
Council met today to agree on the final decisions on the Annual Plan, which will be adopted on 30 June. It focuses on balancing getting things done affordably and the current cost pressures.
“It’s about making sure we’re focused on investing in essentials and getting the basics right while being financially responsible in a difficult economic climate. Getting the basics right but doing that now costs more than when we pulled the Long-term Plan together in 2021.”
Mayor Barry says the community has played an important role in developing the Annual Plan.
“Thank you to those of you who took the time to engage in the Annual Plan consultation. Your feedback is an important part of information your councillors rely on to make informed decisions about the budget.
“We’ve prioritised projects with partner funding, which means ratepayers are getting good value.”
This includes the Government’s Infrastructure Acceleration Fund, where we’re building water infrastructure to support 3500 new homes off the back of $98.9 million in funding.
There is also a $150,000 Business Safety Support Fund that will support work of Council’s city safety team in supporting the retail and hospitality sectors. Businesses will be able to seek funding for specific interventions for their business.
“We’re also putting a major focus on resilience, with a total of $28 million going towards remediating the slips along Eastern Hutt Road to make this important transport corridor less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. While there is $10.2 million budgeted for the next year, we’re using $7.75 million from the government’s “Better Off” funding to help pay for the project,” Mayor Barry says.
“We’re also investing $25 million into Tupua Horo Nuku (Eastern Bays Shared Path) this year, which is a crucial project for access and the resilience of the Eastern Bays.”
“Co-funding with Waka Kotahi and Crown Infrastructure Partners for Tupua Horo Nuku is looking positive, but ongoing. We expect to have decisions by the end of this month.”
“Balance is the key to this Annual Plan. The reality is that increased costs have been driven by inflation and three waters pressures.
“We know high inflation and the cost of living is affecting everyone right across our community. That’s why we are focusing on cutting back here first, to offset what would otherwise be a highly unaffordable rates rise.
“That means we will be deferring a number of non-urgent projects and work programmes, and reduced budgets where possible.”
This includes the refurbishment of Petone Wharf, which has been deferred until 2029.
“Pushing back funding for Petone Wharf is a necessary decision as part of this budget. I think people will understand and expect us to look at tweaking our plans to help ease pressure on rates.”
Included in the Annual Plan is Hutt City Council’s proposed rates revenue increase for 2023-24 of 9.9% (after growth), up from the planned rise of 5.9% for this year. This means an average increase of $5.02 per week per household, or $261 per year.
Investment in water infrastructure makes up about half ($126) of the average $261 rise. The remaining $135 covers cost increases for other council services, from roads and footpaths to parks and community facilities, to rubbish and recycling. 

Health News – Government moves on youth vaping inadequate – Asthma and Respiratory Foundation

Source: Asthma and Respiratory Foundation

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation is disappointed by the new vaping regulations announced by the Government yesterday, saying they are inadequate to address the scale and seriousness of youth vaping in Aotearoa.
“While we are pleased that the Government is taking action to limit the availability and appeal of vaping to young people, these regulations are simply not strong enough to make a meaningful difference,” says Foundation Chief Executive Letitia Harding.
The Foundation welcomed the Government announcements around generic flavour names, mandatory child safety mechanisms and the decision that no new vape retailers will be allowed within 300 metres of schools or marae.
“This is good news for schools and marae who do not currently have vape retailers nearby, but unfortunately there are already many such retailers close to schools, marae and other community centres. This rule will make no difference to them, nor will it stop new vape retailers popping up elsewhere in the community,” says Ms Harding.
The Foundation is also disappointed that the Government has ignored calls for an outright ban on disposable vapes. Instead, new rules will be introduced which mean all vapes must have removeable or replaceable batteries. This rule is intended to ‘limit’ the availability of disposables.
“A ban on disposables was one of the few things that both health advocates and vaping industry spokespeople could agree on as a good way to protect young people from vaping harm. Yet the Government has left the door open for disposables to remain on the market. We know that disposables with removeable batteries already exist, so it will only be a matter of time before the vaping industry create more of these products.”
Ms Harding says it is difficult to understand why the Government isn’t taking a stronger stance on vaping. “Only this week the Director General of the World Health Organisation described vapes as a trap to recruit children, not as a credible form of tobacco harm reduction. Youth vaping is a significant health problem for young New Zealanders. We need bold measures if we want to make a meaningful difference, and these new rules are simply not bold enough,” Ms Harding explains.
The Foundation is reiterating its call for a ban on non-refillable (disposable) vapes, a cap on specialist vape retailers and for the nicotine content of all vape products to be reduced to 20 mg/ml. It would also like to see greater restrictions on packaging and marketing, a ban on store front advertising and increased funding for support for rangatahi and children as young as nine years old now addicted to vaping.

First Responders – More Kiwi firefighters depart to help battle Canadian blazes

Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand

A second group of 21 New Zealand firefighting personnel are leaving today for Alberta, Canada to help fight wildfires devastating the province.
Fire and Emergency Deputy National Commander Steph Rotarangi says the new contingent is in addition to the 25 who left New Zealand on 24 May and who are presently hard at work across Alberta.
“What we know is that the second contingent will deploy for approximately 5 weeks. They’ll be firefighting in tough conditions, for long hours,” she says.
The situation in western Canada is significant, with large wildfires burning across the area just north of the US-Canada border. The conditions remain challenging, particularly when high temperatures combining with moderate to strong winds.
“Given the scale of the emergency in Alberta and across other Canadian Provinces, it’s likely further requests for support may follow,” Steph Rotarangi says.
Canada’s wildfire season started earlier than predicted due to unseasonably warm and dry weather. Alberta isn’t the only province under pressure as neighbouring British Columbia and now Nova Scotia in Canada’s east are also battling wildfires.
Fire and Emergency takes the responsibility of providing international firefighting support seriously, but also sees value in using it to improve our firefighters’ skills.
“When we deploy internationally and provide help to other countries, we also benefit a lot,” Steph Rotarangi says.
“These deployments are extremely valuable for our firefighters and firefighting specialists. It gives them experience in different environments that they can bring back home.” 

University News – Overhaul in supports for autistic children needed, study shows

Source: Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Recent research from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington and Autism New Zealand has shown that the way we support autistic children requires a significant shift.

“Starting in the 1980s, autism “interventions” focused on transforming the child to conform with current societal norms and expectations, and make them indistinguishable from their peers,” says Dr Hannah Waddington, Victoria University of Wellington educational psychology researcher. “Children were taught to make eye contact or to hide behaviours associated with autism like passionate interests or ‘stimming’, which are repeated physical movements or vocalisations.”

“This approach has caused a lot of stress for autistic people and their families. Masking autistic behaviour in particular has a hugely negative impact on autistic people’s mental health.”

Lee Patrick, autistic research and advocacy advisor at Autism NZ, who also worked on the new study, says:

“From an autistic adult perspective, many of the things that traditional autism interventions try to reduce or prevent are core parts of me, or things that help me function—my stims are how I show emotions and regulate sensory input, my deep interests are where I find joy, and my understanding of how my autistic brain works is what helps me find strategies to deal with the challenges that being autistic sometimes throws at me.”

“It’s bizarre to me that interventions would focus on taking away the things that make up a child’s personality, or the things that help a child navigate the world, in an attempt to make them pretend to be like their peers.”

Although many of these “interventions” still remain a common part of support for autistic children, research conducted by Dr Waddington, Lee Patrick, and their colleagues has shown that attitudes around supports for autistic children have significantly shifted.

“Our research showed that autistic adults, parents, and clinical professionals in Aotearoa and Australia now prioritise improving the child’s quality of life above all else,” Dr Waddington says. “They also highly prioritise upskilling adults to support autistic children.”

“More and more people understand that autism is a brain-based difference, not a deficit or a disorder, and that most of the difficulties experienced by autistic people come from the fact that society is not set up to support them.”

“As someone diagnosed in adulthood, there was a huge shift from feeling like an outlier in every group to meeting other autistic adults and understanding that I had a community who were like me and could understand and empathise with things I had previously thought no one else experienced. Once autistic adults get to that point, I think it’s a very short step to realising that autistic children deserve the same understanding and empathy, and that they deserve to be treated like autistic people, not defective neurotypicals,” Lee says.

Based on this research, Dr Waddington and her colleagues, including Lee Patrick, are currently working to develop a neurodiversity affirming and culturally responsive programme of support for young autistic children and their whānau.

“In line with the findings of the published article, we will work hard to ensure that this new support prioritises child and whānau quality of life above all else. A huge focus will also be on supporting those around the child such as whānau, educators, and peers to accept and embrace autistic children for who they are,” Dr Waddington says.

This new understanding of, and attitude towards, supporting autistic children must be reflected in support services, Dr Waddington says.

“Many models of support focus on changing what the child does or who they are, rather than changing their environment. Models should instead focus on quality of life for autistic children and their whānau—for example, if a child becomes upset during a support session, the priority should be understanding the reason for the child’s distress and addressing it, rather than trying to push through and focus on other goals. This approach will be much better for the wellbeing of the child and their family in the long-term.”

Professionals need to realise that community priorities have changed when it comes to supporting autistic children, and they need to change their services to adapt.

“Organisations also need to work together with autistic people to develop services that are the truly neurodiversity affirming. Society needs to change to be more accepting and inclusive of neurodivergent people. Services also need to be adequately funded to provide the time and space for professionals to make these changes.”

Commerce News – Infrastructure key to the continued success of Canterbury

Source: Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce

The Building Nations conference is underway at the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre this week, with attendees discussing the resilience and future of New Zealand’s infrastructure.
“Businesses in Canterbury are the engines of growth in New Zealand and make ours the strongest regional economy in the country” says Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, Leeann Watson.
“There must be a significant focus on leveraging infrastructure to enable growth opportunities for our region, and businesses tell us that long term planning and continued investment in this is key to unlocking their own investment in growth and productivity.
“The Canterbury region is set up for world-class infrastructure capabilities, being home to the Lyttelton Port, the largest in the South Island, and the Christchurch airport which is New Zealand’s second largest and the South Island’s busiest connection to trade and tourism.
“We are the perfect testing ground for significant long-term infrastructure projects because of our scale as New Zealand’s second largest city, without significant geographic barriers, and having plenty of room to expand.
“We have seen how infrastructure can enable growth in a regional economy following significant private and Crown investment in Canterbury over the last decade. Rolleston for example grew by more than 770 per cent between 2001 and 2021, our house prices are $155,000 below the national median, and our commute times are significantly shorter than in other main centres.
“We also acknowledge and fully support efforts to respond to New Zealand’s chronic infrastructure deficit and to build resilience across the country, like those being discussed over the next two days at the Building Nations Conference.
“With our strong backbone of manufacturing, export and primary industry businesses in Canterbury, we rely on our roads, rail and sea connections to do business with the rest of New Zealand and the world. We would like to see key infrastructure vulnerabilities removed by the commitment to a second Ashburton bridge, reliable Cook Strait crossings, and investment in coastal shipping.
The Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce continues to advocate for investment in infrastructure, which is a key component of our “Business Expectations of Government” election year report being released in early July.

Health Food News – NZ plant-based food brand Angel Food adds Dairy-Free Sour Cream to its range

Source: Angel Foods

New Zealand’s number one plant-based food brand, Angel Food, has added a gorgeous Dairy-Free Sour Cream to its range of delicious vegan foods.  

With the same creamy, ‘dollop-able’ texture of dairy sour cream, and made without gluten, nuts or soy, Angel Food Dairy-Free Sour Cream is safe for allergy sufferers and those following plant-based diets (including vegan) to enjoy.  

Traditional sour cream is made with dairy, is non-vegan, and in most cases, is also non-vegetarian, as it contains gelatine (an animal by-product), so it’s great to be able to provide sour cream lovers with a dairy-free alternative that’s both tasty and animal friendly!

Alice Shopland, Founder of Angel Food, said:

“We’re proud to launch our Dairy-Free Sour Cream, which was a real labour of love as it proved to be technically challenging creating an entirely plant-based product that was thick and velvety with a clean and creamy mouthfeel.   By using the latest technologies, and making 15 iterations of the recipe, we developed an innovative product that we believe has the best texture of ANY plant-based sour cream in the market, both here in NZ and abroad. People who have tried the product have been astounded with both the flavour and texture, so we’re confident that we’ve created a sour cream alternative that’s truly hard to beat.”

Sour Cream is a highly versatile, much-loved cooking and baking ingredient that can be used in a wealth of recipes or as a final topping for a wide variety of dishes. Dollop it on top of your favourite Mexican foods, add a spoonful on top of a piping hot bowl of chilli or soup, use it as a dip for tortilla chips or veggies, add to sauces to give them a lovely creaminess, or amp up your salad dressings – the options are endless!

Since 2006, Alice and the Angel Food team has been striving to make plant-based food mainstream via its range of delicious NZ-made vegan foods that are suitable for all diets, whether that be vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian – without having to forgo favourite foods. With a range of scrumptious vegan foods that are very close to their dairy-based alternatives, it makes it easier for everyone to choose plant-based meals more often and eat more sustainably.  

Angel Food Dairy-Free Sour Cream is available nationwide across New Zealand from Countdown and selected New World stores, as well as independent retailers. RRP $7.50 (240g).

Environment News – Lawyer says New Zealand treating Southeast Asia as its ‘rubbish bin’ for plastic waste

Source: Lydia Chai

A Malaysian lawyer who petitioned for New Zealand to stop sending plastic recycling to developing countries will be facing off against industry groups in Parliament tomorrow. This Thursday morning, petition leader Lydia Chai will argue for a ban on all plastic waste exports during oral submissions to the Environment Select Committee.

Lydia Chai, who is based in Auckland, said that large amounts of the plastic waste are being illegally dumped or burned near her hometown and other locations in Malaysia. This is due to poor law enforcement, corruption, and Malaysia’s lack of capacity to process the world’s waste. The result is that residents close to the processing plants suffer increased health problems, and the local environment has become severely polluted.

“After China imposed stricter controls on its waste imports in 2018, the world scrambled to find another destination for its rubbish,” explains Chai. “Since then, Malaysia and the rest of beautiful Southeast Asia has become the world’s rubbish bin.”

In the last six years, New Zealand has exported more than 200 million kilograms of plastic waste.

“With these eye-watering amounts, how can you not expect the plastics to leach into the environment?” says Chai.

Chai says that as long as OECD countries see plastic waste exports as an viable option, the problem will not go away. She thinks an outright ban will incentivise New Zealand to process more waste domestically, as well as reduce its plastic consumption. 11,500 people signed Chai’s petition.

Industry groups such as Plastics New Zealand and the Waste & Recycling Industry Forum have made submissions to oppose Chai’s petition. The oral submissions will be livestreamed on the Environment Select Committee Facebook Page at 10:40AM on Thursday 8 June 2023:

“I am so angry that rubbish from all these OECD countries is making my home country dirtier and less healthy to live in,” says Chai. “New Zealanders want to do the right thing, and if we all knew what really happens to our recycling, I think all of us in New Zealand would want the exports to stop, too.”

– Parliament has published Lydia Chai’s written evidence here:
– Lydia Chai’s petition calls for a ban on plastic waste exports to developing countries:
– For New Zealand plastic waste export data, see Statistics NZ tool or

Transport News – Call for political parties to commit to transport priorities

Source: Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand

Leading road transport body Transporting New Zealand is calling on all political parties to make transport a top priority in this year’s election.
The organisation has released the Road Transport Industry Platform for the 2023 General Election. The platform spells out five policy priorities covering people, productivity, safety, decarbonisation, and resilience.
Among specific measures Transporting New Zealand would like to see parties committing to are:
– An inflation-adjusted and real term 10% annual increase in roading maintenance budgets each year for three years over the life of the next Parliament to allow a catch-up in improving the state of our roads;
– A targeted approach to speed management in high-risk areas, rather than blanket reductions;
– A partnership with industry to boost engagement in the Road to success traineeship and driver qualification, to develop our local workforce;
– Accelerated tax depreciation for low and zero emission vehicles, including Euro 6 and high productivity motor vehicles.
Transporting New Zealand interim chief executive Dom Kalasih says he is pleased that the Government has committed extra funding to roading resilience in this year’s budget. However, he says more details are needed.
“With severe weather events becoming more frequent and roads being the vital links between our communities, it is absolutely critical we increase investment in roading to make sure it is as resilient as possible.
“However, there is much more to do on State Highway resilience and we don’t really know how government plans to deliver on it. We are keen to hear more about the planning going into coping with these events as well as seeing the Government and Waka Kotahi actually walking the talk when it comes to delivering on projects.”
Kalasih says Transporting New Zealand also supports the new fund to provide grants towards the purchase of low-emissions heavy vehicles.
“It’s hoped that the $30 million fund over three years will result in 500 low-emission heavy vehicles hitting the road in New Zealand. It also fits within the provisions of our Green Compact, which is our roadmap for decarbonising commercial road transport by 2050.”