News of Zealand: Meth in the Waterways Soaring

Plus the death of a Kiwi detainee in Australia, kids wagging school and new iwi panels for crime.
November 28, 2017, 9:23pm
Image: Shutterstock.com

Everything you need to know about the world today, curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.


Drug Use at an All Time High in Northland
A police report released yesterday found illicit drug use, especially meth, is especially high in Northland. Waste-water testing found methamphetamine was the most commonly used drug in the region. Ian McKenzie from Northland DHB says the testing was able to give an accurate understanding of the types of drug use in the area: “the testing identifies a number of different drugs that are metabolised by the body, and it tells us objectively that we have a high use of methamphetamine in Northland.” McKenzie said the partnership with the police will help improve the drug problem in Northland.
The Northland district health board are working with police to reduce illicit drug usage within the region. According to the police report, particularly high methamphetamine traces were found in the wastewater. Ian McKenzie says police have a plan to try and reduce drug use in the area: “we’re working very closely with police so that as a result of their policing activity there’s a referral to treatment services and recognising the health issue that’s going on.” Statistics show the number of illicit drugs used in Northland has surpassed Auckland and Christchurch over the past month.

NZ Detainee Not Dealt With Properly in Sydney
A New Zealand-born man who died in a Sydney detention centre last year was treated with “arrogance and indifference” when he died of a heart attack inside the prison. The detainee, Robert Peihopa, was found to have died from methamphetamine toxicity complicating his chronic heart disease. When he collapsed, the guards at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre did not respond for 17 minutes despite it being caught on security cameras. Peihopa's mother, Hera Peihopa, says the guards do not know how to care for the health and welfare of detainees, and no one from from the Immigration Department contacted her the night her son died. Coroner Teresa O'Sullivan agrees that more should have been done for Mr Peihopa and rejects the original submission that he died in a blind spot. Mrs Peihopa called on the authorities to sort out this situation and stop New Zealand citizens from being detained in large numbers which potentially prevents them from justice.


Truancy Rates Up
Ministry of Education figures show truancy rates have increased. Only 67 percent of students regularly attended school last year, down from 70 per cent in 2015. Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin says the discussion around truancy needs to be expanded to consider the home circumstances of students, particularly considering attendance rates are much lower among Maori and Pacific students. Former Education Minister Nikki Kaye says there is no easy fix to truancy, and it often stems from social deprivation of the students.

Iwi Offender Panels Reduce Incarceration Rates
Alternative panels made up of iwi members have reduced incarceration rates among Māori since the their introduction in 2014 and are in high demand across the country, police say. The three pilot iwi panels were set up in Lower Hutt, Gisborne and Manukau to help keep low-level offenders out of prison. The panels consist of one police officer, kaumatua and community members and focus on the offender's whakapapa, whanau, income and background to understand why a crime has been committed and how the offender can be re-integrated back into the community. Police assistant commissioner and deputy chief executive Wallace Haumaha says that in the last three years the three iwi panels have significantly reduced Māori incarceration rates in those areas. Haumaha adds that these panels mean that iwi can help people in their communities to upskill and gain long-term employment which changes bad behaviour and mindsets in the long run. Four more iwi panels will now be established in Rotorua, Ngāti Whātua Orakei, Hastings and Northland with a long-term goal to set up panels in every district.


Anadarko Pulls Out
Oil explorer Anadarko is pulling out of New Zealand drilling as the government promises to tighten controls on the industry. The US company says that because oil prices are persistently low, investments in speculative areas such as new Zealand are less attractive. Anadarko's partners in the Carrack-Caravel prospect off the Canterbury coast are expected to continue despite this development. Cameron Madgwick, the head of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand, says it is disappointing but not surprising to see Anadarko leave, and that there is growing confidence in the sector as prices stabilise.


Pope Francis Neglects Rohingya Refugees
Pope Francis has neglected to publicly acknowledge the Rohingya refugee crisis on his visit to Myanmar. Meeting with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the Pope did not address the human rights crisis that he has previously spoken out against. In February, the Pope condemned the "persecution of our Rohingya brothers and sisters", but was reportedly advised not to use the word Rohingya on this trip. Suu Kyi has drawn international criticism this year for her failure to do anything substantial for the refugee crisis that the UN has called "textbook ethnic cleansing".

Trudeau to Apologise to LGBT Community
Canadian President Justin Trudeau is set to apologise to his country's LGBT community for previous government policy that was discriminatory. The policy, now referred to as an LGBT purge, ended the careers of any LGBT workers in the public service, police force or military. This happened in the 1950s and 60s, until homosexual acts were legalised in 1969. An LGBT advocate told Al Jazeera that this injustice is suffered in private, and that the apology needs to acknowledge the suffering.

Irish Deputy PM Resigns
The deputy prime minister of Ireland has resigned under pressure from a scandal which threatened to bring down the government. Frances Fitzgerald has been criticised for not defending a police whistleblower who had alleged widespread corruption within the driving licence penalty points system. The government has set up an inquiry into a potential organised smear campaign to undermine whistleblowers within the police force. Fitzgerald stepped down hours before the opposition party could pass a motion of no confidence, a move which could have brought down the government and caused instability in Europe with a snap election .

North Korea Tests a Ballistic Missile (Again)
North Korea has fired a ballistic missile, according to South Korean reports. The missile launch has been reported by the South Korean news agency Yonhap and quotes military officials. Yonhap says that the unidentified missile flew eastward from Pyongsong in South Pyongan province. South Korean and US authorities are working together to determine how far the missile went or whether it flew over Japan as other missiles have previously this year. Despite North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programmes going against UN Security Council sanctions, the nation has made it clear that it has plans to develop a missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

Kenayatta Sworn in as Kenyan President (Again)
Uhuru Kenyatta has been sworn in for his second Presidential term as major divisions continue in Kenya. Speaking at his second inauguration ceremony, Kenyatta vowed to overcome the divisions. However, the opposition party boycotted the ceremony as they believe Kenyatta's election is illegal. There have been two elections in Kenya this year, the first in August was deemed invalid because of illegalities. Opposition leader Raila Odinga says that illegalities occurred in the second election in October, which Kenyatta won with a 98 percent majority. The nation became socially divided and two people died at the hands of police officers in opposition stronghold areas. Kenyatta has now said that he will devote his time and energy to build bridges, unite and bring prosperity to all Kenyans.

Additional reporting: Mary-Margaret Slack, Reilly Hodson, Jemima Huston