New Zealand Government Spends Millions Housing Homeless in Hotels

Plus the Kaikoura Earthquake has totalled the marine environment and a real estate agent cries hardship over not being able to drive his Aston Martin.
February 26, 2017, 10:18pm
Image via Flickr.

"It's Not a Housing Crisis," Says the PM, But Figures Show the Government Has Blown Its Budget on Emergency Accommodation

New Zealand spent more than $7.7 million putting homeless people up in hotels in the last few months of last year.  Figures released to Newshub showed government had spent four times its projected yearly budget for accommodating the homeless in motels in just three months, thanks to unexpected demand for emergency housing. The emergency housing grant was introduced last year, and expected to cost around $2 million per year. In an interview with RNZ, Prime Minister Bill English said the grant was revealing a previously hidden problem.

"If it's uncovering demand, that's good," he said.

An underwater camera shows no signs of life on the seabed off Kaikoura. Image NIWA.

Kaikoura Earthquake Wipes Out Life on the Seabed

The 7.8 magnitude quake that hit Kaikoura last year wrought havoc above the ground—but now scientists have discovered exactly how much damage has occurred below the sea's surface. Speaking to Newshub, marine ecologist Dr Dave Bowden said the Kaikoura canyon had once been a hub of biodiversity, with one of the highest concentrations of organisms living in mud anywhere in the world.

But now, nothing.


"We surveyed exactly the same area we did in 2006 and, while fish were still found in the area, this time we didn't record evidence of a single organism living on or in the seabed over a stretch of nearly six kilometres of seabed. Nothing. It was quite sobering, and a catastrophic event for the ecology of the canyon."

Drunk Driving Mega Rich Real Estate Agent Pleads Aston Martin Ban Is an Unbearable Burden

A millionaire Auckland real estate agent who lost his license for drink driving and speeding told a judge that he would "suffer extreme hardship" if he was barred from driving his Aston Martin for six weeks. Ricky Cave, boyfriend of former Bachelor NZ contestant Chrystal Chenery, told the court that being without his ride was "a really bad look" as it impacted his ability to work with high-end clients which would essentially affect his income. According to Stuff, the car is integral to his "brand".

He tried, at least. Judge June Jelas knocked back his application for a limited licence after taking into account his car, the five properties he owns and his $300,000 paycheck. Cave pleaded that it wouldn't be an option to hire a driver as the weekly $4,785 cost to do so was beyond his means, but that didn't go down so well either. Somehow he managed to survive the loss (the judge's ruling was from April last year) and it's reported that Cave and his car have since been reunited. How nice.

Ali Williams' Party Night in Paris Ends in Cocaine Arrest

Ali Williams, former All Black and current star for Paris club Racing 92, has, like any self-respecting Antipodean cutting loose in Europe, fallen for the temptation of affordable cocaine.

Stuff reported that Williams, along with former Wallaby James O'Connor, allegedly bought coke in front of plainclothes police officers, and was subsequently arrested outside a nightclub near the Arc de Triomphe.


The pair spent the weekend in the cells, before being released this morning, New Zealand time. The scandal follows Racing 92 teammate and fellow Kiwi-behaving-badly Dan Carter's arrest for drink-driving earlier this month.

Williams has been suspended from the team, with Racing 92 captain Henry Chavancy telling Rugby365 the Williams affair is "tarnishing the club's image". "He is a big boy. If he has to take [responsibility for] his actions he will."

Nicky Hager Files Privacy Claim Against Westpac Handing Over His, and Your, Personal Data to Police

Last election may seem like distant history as the major players fade from view. John Key made a shock exit. Kim Dotcom is keeping his head down as he continues to fight courtroom battles against extradition to the US. But investigative journalist Nicky Hager—whose book Dirty Politics revealed the unseemly correspondence between ultra right-wing blogger Cameron Slater and government minister Judith Collins, among other murky machinations in the nation's politics—is still dealing with the aftermath of a police investigation into his anonymous source.

Last week the Privacy Commissioner ruled Hager's bank, Westpac, had breached his privacy when it handed over 10 months of his personal records to the police. Hager's case actually inspired Privacy Commission to set up a transparency project, filtering agency requests for information on the public. When VICE spoke to Nicky almost a year ago, he called this the "biggest and most important" thing to come out of the police raid on his home. Nicky estimated police were getting banks to hand over thousands of people's bank accounts a year, without a warrant.

Although the Privacy Commission finding Hager's privacy was breached, the ruling is not binding. And so far Westpac has refused to acknowledge his rights have been breached. So Hager is making a claim with the Human Rights Review Tribunal, asking for an order to ensure Westpac can't hand over its customers bank transaction data to the police without a warrant. He also wants an order that requires the bank to notify anyone whose privacy may have been breached.