News of Zealand

News of Zealand: Rocket Lab Puts Rocket Into Orbit

Plus New Zealand has a new most unaffordable city, rising road toll linked to policing cuts and fewer students studying traditional degrees.
Image via Rocket Lab YouTube

All you need to know today curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.


New Zealand Space Lab Successfully Launches Second Test Rocket
New Zealand has joined an elite group of nations with the capacity to go into space. Rocket Lab have successfully launched their second test rocket off the Mahia Peninsula. Minister for Economic Minister David Parker says that the launch marks "another significant milestone in the development of a New Zealand space industry". The Minister visited mission control on Saturday to watch the countdown. Parker says that New Zealand is well positioned to support further space industry development, with clear skies and seas and low levels of air traffic.The Government is most interested in advancing New Zealand's existing strengths in space based data used for agri-technology, hazard management, oceanography and meterology Parker adds.

Students Are Favouring Courses with Certain Career Pathways
Students are leaning away from the traditionally popular degrees such as a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Commerce. New figures show students are choosing to study health, engineering and information technology as they are seen as providing a more certain career pathway. There are also a fair number in the primary industries or environmental studies. The numbers come from new Ministry of Education reports that reflect the former National government's tertiary education strategy of "delivering skills for industry". This has seen more funding headed into science, technology, engineering and maths. The number of students studying accounting has dropped by 12 percent, and teacher trainee numbers have dropped by 10 percent.


Rising Road Toll and Police Cuts "Linked"
Almost 100 dedicated police road stations have been cut over the last five years. The road toll increased 50 percent in the same period. Crashes on New Zealand roads killed 253 people in 2013, but by 2017 this number has risen to 379 deaths. In the same period the number of road police dropped from 1063 to 976, due to a police cut of 111 positions in 2016 after a funding dispute with the Transport Agency. Police Association President Chris Cahill says it is clear that the two facts are related. New Police Minister Stuart Nash says that he cannot command the police to hire more dedicated road officers. However, Nash points out that people will see more police on the road as part of Labour and New Zealand First’s campaign pledge to bring in an extra 1800 police by July 2021.

Tauranga Even Less Affordable Than Auckland, Survey Finds
Tauranga has overtaken Auckland as the country's most unaffordable city according to a global study released today. The report dubbed 'Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey' indicates that buying in Tauranga requires nearly nine years of a person's full income. Meanwhile, Auckland's improving affordability meant people buying a house in the region only take around eight years. Christchurch-based study author Hugh Pavletich says the country still had a major problem despite Auckland's ranking change.


America’s Cup Location Still Up in Air
The location of the 2021 America's Cup remains undecided with the government planning to use the old Tank Farm at Wynyard Point. Economic Development Minister David Parker says chemical shipping terminal company Stolthaven has pledged to move its hazardous facilities off the site by the end of the year. Parker says this means the Halsey St extension is no longer necessary and that the country will save "tens of millions of dollars" in construction costs. Meanwhile, Auckland Council and Team New Zealand favour extensions to the Halsey, Hobson and Wynyard Point wharves.

Schools Struggling With Retaining Teachers
Schools around New Zealand are struggling to maintain a strong teaching force. A recent New Zealand Educational Institute survey indicates dissatisfaction among teachers is leading to a high percentage of those in the profession to leave prematurely. NZEI President Lynda Stuart says high workloads, low pay, and a lack of support are some of the key issues facing New Zealand teachers. “We’re finding that we’re just not able to attract and retain people within the profession,” Stuart told 95bFM. “Of those that were surveyed, we’ve found that 17 percent expect to leave the profession within the first five years.” Stuart believes these problems span both primary and secondary school teachers, and fundamental issues may also reach the tertiary sector.



Taliban Siege Claims 18 Lives in Kabul Attack
At least 18 people have died in a Taliban attack in a hotel in Kabul. The siege began on Saturday evening at 9 pm local time and lasted 12 hours. The gunmen, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and other smaller weapons, took hotel guests hostage until security forces regained control of the building. Approximately 160 people were rescued by Afghan troops from the hotel while some people are still missing. Since last May security has been tightened in Kabul but there have still been several attacks in recent months.

50,000 Attend Anti-Corruption Protests in Romania
Anti-corruption protests in Romania's capital Bucharest have erupted following new governmental legislation regarding corruption. Last month, left-leaning ruling party Social Democrats passed legislation that critics say eases up on crime and high-level corruption. The bills are yet to be signed into law by critic President Klaus Iohannis. Approximately 50,000 people participated in the march.

Turkey Begins Military Advancements in Syria
Turkey has begun military advancements on Afrin, an enclave in Syria holding US-supported Kurdish militias. The front is part of attempts to contain Kurdish separatists named the Kurdistan Workers' Party. It also aims to stifle any gains by Syrian Kurds along Turkey's southern border. The move defies appeals by the United States, with the US opting to support the Syrian Kurds as proxy fighters against ISIS and as a buffer to repel militants from reclaiming territory.

US Government Shutdown Continues
The US government shutdown continues into its second day with no sign of progress. Up to 800,000 federal workers were told to stay home following a breakdown of talks between the White House and Congress over a government spending bill. "Essential" workers and armed forces personnel have been asked to stay at work. If the shutdown continues, they might have to work without pay. Federal law states their agencies must shut down if Congress has not allocated funding to them. Both the Democrats and Republicans are blaming each other as neither were able to reach a majority during discussions.

Reporting by Lillian Hanley, Jemima Huston and Jean Bell.