4pm UPDATE: Fire, Evergreen Crescent, Trentham

Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Firefighters are currently fighting a third alarm vegetation fire in Evergreen Crescent, Trentham. Two helicopters are also on the way to support firefighting efforts. As a precaution, around ten nearby properties have been asked to prepare to evacuate if required. Fire and Emergency has been in contact with these properties.   People are asked to please stay away from the area and let the firefighters do their work.

Tonga Disaster – NZDF’S SUPPORT TO TONGA RESPONSE RAMPS UP

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

Royal New Zealand Navy’s HMNZS Aotearoa has berthed today at the Nuku’alofa port following successful wharf and harbour inspections conducted by Navy divers and hydrographers on board HMNZS Wellington.

 

Hydrographers were immediately deployed to survey approaches to Nuku’alofa after HMNZS Wellington’s arrival, with Navy divers also conducting checks on the integrity of the wharf infrastructure.

 

Once Aotearoa arrived, Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) stores, including bulk water supplies, were being offloaded as a priority and will undergo appropriate COVID-19 sanitation by Tongan authorities.

 

Aotearoa also has the ability for the continuous provision of water which it will do while alongside.

 

HMNZS Canterbury is set to depart Devonport Naval Base overnight on Friday and will arrive in Tonga early next week.

 

Supplies on board Canterbury include water, tarpaulins and milk powder, while there are also vehicles and several containers of construction equipment on board in case requested by Tongan authorities to assist with the recovery efforts following Saturday’s undersea eruption and tsunami.

 

A further C130 Hercules flight is also set to depart Base Auckland on Saturday with more HADR stores on board.

 

NZDF continues to co-ordinate with international partners on the response to Tonga.

Fire Safety – Evacuated residents return home at Ahipara

Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Residents from six properties on the outskirts of Ahipara have been allowed to return home after being evcuated overnight due to a fire on the hillside above.
Fire and Emergency Incident Controller Scott Marchant said the fire was contained. Ground crews supported by two helicopters are dealing with smouldering vegetation and suppressing small flare-ups. He expected the crews would be on site most of the day.
About five hectares of vegetation has burnt.
A fire investigator has been at the scene this morning.

Save the Children calls for Kiwis to help support Tongan families in need

Source: Save the Children

Save the Children New Zealand has today launched an emergency appeal to raise much-needed funds for children and their families in Tonga affected by Saturday’s volcanic eruption.
At least three people have been killed and 50 homes destroyed following the eruption of an underwater volcano near Tonga on Saturday that triggered a tsunami, with parts of the South Pacific archipelago still cut off from all communication.
Up to 80,000 people, including at least 28,000 children, are estimated to have been affected across the country which has a population of about 100,000. Extensive damage has been reported across the western side of the Tongatapu Islands, ‘Eua and Ha’apai Islands with most displaced families staying with relatives.
Save the Children New Zealand Chief Executive Heidi Coetzee says money raised will go towards providing cash support for families, alongside setting up temporary learning spaces and child safe spaces to minimise disruption to children’s education.
“As we begin to get a clearer picture of the devastation in Tonga, our concerns are growing for children and families affected. Our teams are ready to respond and we are calling on our Kiwi supporters to help those in need.
“As Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said an ‘unprecedented disaster’ has hit Tonga. As one of our closest Pacific neighbours, we stand with Tonga and ask New Zealanders to please give generously to our appeal.”
The volcano erupted about 65km (40 miles) north of the capital Nuku'alofa, and triggered a tsunami which flooded parts of the archipelago. The eruption emitted a plume of ash, steam and gas, rising approximately 20km above the volcano, and blanketing parts of the country with ash and smoke.
In addition to concerns for the welfare of families who lost their homes, there is an immediate threat to the health of children and their parents due to ash pollution in drinking water. Authorities have already reported some water sources being contaminated by ash, which can contain heavy metals like copper, cadmium and arsenic.
In Tonga, Save the Children supports the Ministry of Education to deliver a $1 million (AUD) distance learning program utilising technology to reach outlying islands and remote populations. Leveraging existing programme staff in-country and based on on-going needs assessments, Save the Children’s emergency response will work to ensure children can access education and safe spaces in this time of disaster.
To donate to Save the Children’s emergency appeal for Tonga, go to www.savethechildren.org.nz.
Save the Children works in 120 countries across the world. The organisation responds to emergencies and works with children and their communities to ensure they survive, learn and are protected.
Save the Children NZ currently supports international programmes in Fiji, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Laos, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, and Mozambique. Areas of work include education and literacy, disaster risk reduction, and alleviating child poverty.

Activist Sector – WAIHOPAI SPYBASE PROTEST SATURDAY JANUARY 29th

Source: Murray Horton, Secretary/Organiser Anti-Bases Campaign

People will be converging on the super-secret Waihopai satellite interception spybase, in Marlborough, on Saturday January 29th.

Murray Horton writes: “WHOLE BASE NEEDS TO BE DISMANTLED, NOT JUST TWO SATELLITE DISHES & DOMES.

“We will be at the Waihopai spy base main gate at Waihopai Valley Road from 10 a.m. There will be speakers; information will be provided on the function of the base; and there will be a peaceful protest, calling for its closure.

“The speakers at the base gate will be:

“Green MP, Teanau Tuinono;

“Sonya Smith from Rocket Lab Monitor, Mahia (to talk about the campaign against NZ’s newest US military base) and;

“May Bass, a leading figure in the very earliest Waihopai spy base protests in the late 80s, specifically the women’s camp.

“Following that, there will be an afternoon-long meeting in Blenheim (Nativity Church, 76 Alfred St).

“The Government has announced that Waihopai’s two most distinctive features – two satellite dishes and the huge white domes which cover them – are obsolete and will be dismantled in 2022.

“So, no more eyesores which stick out like dogs’ balls.

“But the base will carry on its Five Eyes’ spying operations by other means. For years there has been another, less conspicuous satellite dish (the torus dish). Plus, most electronic spying these days concentrates on tapping fibre optic cables and the Internet. Satellite communications are far less important (as is evident right now in Tonga).

“New Zealanders are told that Waihopai/the GCSB/Five Eyes are vital to protect our national security. But they have done absolutely nothing to protect us against biggest threat to NZ’s national security since WW2, namely the virus. The hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars wasted on Waihopai and the GCSB in any given year would be much better spent on public health.

“New Zealanders are told that Waihopai defends NZ from terrorists. No, it doesn’t. The Royal Commission report into the March 15th, 2019 Christchurch mosques’ massacre was damning in its conclusions about NZ’s intelligence agencies The GCSB electronic spy agency totally missed the worst act of terrorism on NZ soil, one committed by a foreign terrorist with an extensive electronic presence. That is because Waihopai and the GCSB define “terrorists” as per the instructions of their Five Eyes Big Brother, the US National Security Agency (NSA). They turned a blind eye to the real terrorists already here.

“Helen Clark was the Prime Minister who ordered the NZ military into Afghanistan.  Her reaction to the Taliban victory in 2021 was to call it “a catastrophic failure of intelligence in Western foreign policy”.

“Which begs the question – if this spy base can’t even protect us from viruses and terrorists, what useful purpose does it serve? Certainly nothing for the NZ people.

“If Five Eyes is provably useless in something as major as the Afghanistan fiasco, why is New Zealand still in it? The spies are not even any good at spying.

“For more than 30 years Waihopai has been NZ’s most significant contribution to Washington’s global effort to manipulate world business and diplomacy. And for more than 30 years the Anti-Bases Campaign has protested at Waihopai, calling for its closure.

“Waihopai does not operate in the national interest of New Zealand. In all but name it is an American spy base on NZ soil, paid for with hundreds of millions of our tax dollars; it spies on Kiwis and foreigners; it is NZ’s key contribution to America’s global spying & war machine. It does not protect us from threats to our national security, such as viruses and terrorists. Waihopai must be closed. And NZ needs to get out of Five Eyes and have a genuinely independent defence and foreign policy.”

Murray Horton,
Secretary/Organiser
Anti-Bases Campaign

Environment – Watercare water take application granted with conditions

Source: Environmental Protection Authority

A Board of Inquiry has granted an application from Watercare Services Ltd, an Auckland Council organisation, to draw an additional 150 million litres of water a day from the Waikato River for Auckland City’s water supply network.
The application was granted by a majority (2-1) with conditions including:
  • The duration of the operational consents is set at 20 years rather than the statutory limit of 35 years sought and the operational consents will not begin until the construction work has been completed.
  • Watercare must establish an executive committee to investigate and address options to reduce the volume of water taken and Auckland’s reliance on the Waikato River.
  • Watercare must invite taangata whenua to join the executive committee to manage the investigation of ways to reduce the volume of water taken and Auckland’s reliance on the river.
  • Watercare must establish a reporting framework for its investigation of water source options for Auckland’s municipal water supply.
  • Waikato Regional Council may, every five years, review these consents to consider a range of matters including the appropriateness of any take rate or take volume.
While the decision to grant the application was not unanimous, the Board say in its decision summary: ” The Board wish to express their shared view that this is a finely balanced decision and there is only a small difference of opinion as to the most appropriate outcome.”
Background
In June 2020, the Minister for the Environment “called in” Watercare’s application, deeming it a proposal of national significance under the Resource Management Act 1991. The Minister then appointed a Board of Inquiry to consider the application.
The applicant, Watercare Services Limited, sought resource consents associated with the construction, operation and maintenance of a new water intake and new discharge structure on the bed of the Waikato River. The application also includes taking surface water using that intake, and discharges of water, air and river material into the Waikato River next to the site of Watercare’s existing water treatment plant near Tuakau.
Our role in the process
The EPA provides administrative support services to the Board of Inquiry. These range from managing the public consultation, and organising the logistics of the hearing, to commissioning specialist advice to assist the Board.

Farming Sector – NAIT levy increases must achieve accurate, user-friendly system

Source: Federated Farmers

Nobody welcomes extra costs but if OSPRI is to catch-up on under investment in the NAIT platform and deliver on its workability and farmer support, levy increases are probably necessary, Federated Farmers says.
OSPRI is consulting on proposals to increase the NAIT tag levy from 90 cents to $1.35 and the slaughter levy from 50 cents to $1.77. The initial levies in 2012 were $1.10 and $1.35 respectively but in 2014 were dropped to the current lower figures and haven’t been reviewed since.
“It is frustrating for farmers to see levies take big jumps due to historical underinvestment in industry assets such as NAIT. It would be far better to have appropriate, well-planned investment with gradual increases in levies rather than big increases to fix problems,” Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Chairperson William Beetham says.
“But now, if we’re to achieve a user-friendly system that delivers biosecurity critical to the sustainability of our industry, we’ll need to get the revenue in place and hold OSPRI to account to deliver a system that empowers farmers, not frustrates them.”
Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson Wayne Langford questions whether the current planned investment goes far enough.
“It is the act of tagging, registering and complying with NAIT that is an issue for farmers as well as the actual interface itself,” Wayne says.
The NAIT Board is two years into a five-year programme to replace the NAIT database, provide more regional and call centre support and generally make the system more reliable and easier to use.
“They’ve eaten up accumulated reserves to fund the program and to continue the upgrade programme, they need more revenue,” Williams says. “It’s pertinent to note the 35% Crown contribution is also proposed to increase from the current $2.14 million to $5.54 million.”
Bottom lines for Federated Farmers are that the drive for an accurate, up-to-date and reliable animal tracing system should provide direct benefits to farmers, particularly as regards ease of use and practicality.
“We can’t stumble on with a flawed platform and farmers being fined when sometimes non-compliance is because of lack of support to help them make sense of a poor-performing system.”
“Federated Farmers also wants to see improved measures for transparency around transactions in NAIT animals, and new stock agent standards governing behaviour, retained as priorities,” William says.

Agriculture – NAIT Limited begins public consultation on investment to strengthen traceability system

Source: OSPRI New Zealand

National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme (NAIT) manager, NAIT Limited, has begun formal consultation with farmers and collection agents on proposed increases to NAIT levies. 
Together with proposed increases in Crown and deer industry contributions, these levies will be used to continue the important work NAIT Limited has been doing since the M.Bovis outbreak in 2017 to improve the traceability system so that it is easy for farmers to use, and it performs in the event of a disease outbreak.
Head of Traceability, Kevin Forward, says of the system:
“Farmers rely on us to provide the tools and information they need to help reduce their on-farm biosecurity risk and manage disease. Having accurate, up to date, on-farm data, and a reliable animal tracing system plays a vital role in limiting the impact of a disease outbreak, supports food assurance, and helps NZ maintain access to international markets.
However, the M.Bovis outbreak in 2017 showed us that the NAIT system was not performing as it should, and farmers have told us that the system is difficult to use.”
Since then, NAIT Limited has been working with its stakeholders to improve NAIT – to make it easier for farmers to understand and meet their NAIT obligations and to ensure the system performs in the event of a future outbreak. Increases in NAIT tag and slaughter levies, as well as the relative contribution from the deer industry and the Government, will enable NAIT Limited to continue this work.
In 2012, the NAIT tag levy was set at $1.10, then reduced over time to $0.90. The slaughter levy was set at $1.35 and was reduced to $0.50 per head. NAIT Limited now proposes an increase in the tag levy to $1.35 and the slaughter levy to $1.77.
As Mr. Forward points out:
“Historically, we’ve kept NAIT levies low, but they were designed to be flexible – to change when we needed them to – and they haven’t been reviewed or increased since 2014. We have delayed any increase for as long as possible while we used reserves and established a plan to deliver.
We acknowledge the proposed increases come at a time when many farmers are already under financial pressure, but we also know from our experience with M.Bovis and Bovine TB that, if we have another disease outbreak, not having the right systems in place will cost much more.”
Formal consultation will take place between 21 January and 25 February 2022.
For more information about the consultation go to: https://www.ospri.co.nz/nait-levy-consultation

Fire Safety – Restricted fire season for Taranaki District

Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand

All of the Taranaki District has moved to a restricted fire season as of 8am Friday 21 January.
This restricted fire season means anyone wanting to light an open-air fire will have to apply for a permit and follow the conditions listed on the permit. You can apply for a permit at checkitsalright.nz.
Taranaki District Manager, David Utumapu says by putting these restrictions in place, we can provide advice to the public around safe fire use before it’s too late.
“It’s been hot, and at times windy in Taranaki this summer – conditions that make it very easy for a fire to get out of control. Managing these fires now will prevent problems later,” he says.
“We want everyone lighting fires this summer to be safe and aware of the weather conditions. If it’s hot and windy, please don’t light a fire.”
For more information around lighting fires in a restricted fire season, go to checkitsalright.nz.

First Responders – Vegetation fire at Ahipara contained

Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Fire crews have contained a vegetation fire near Ahipara in Northland overnight.
Fire and Emergency District Manager Wipari Henwood says the fire covers about three hectares and six properties have been evacuated.
Brigades from Ahipara, Kaitaia, Maunganui, Broadwood, Houhora and Karikari are on the scene. Helicopters are on standby if required at first light.
Mr Henwood says he expects the householders will be able to return home later today once crews have finished at the scene.