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News of Zealand

News of Zealand: Citizen Science Project Reveals Kereru Hotspot

Plus Vanuatu authorities struggle to cope with thousands fleeing volcano, and the hunt for Anne Frank's snitch.
Image via Flickr user Tanya Gray

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


Dunedin's a Bird's Paradise
Dunedin is being dubbed the new kereru 'hotspot' in this years great kereru count. The annual 10-day count finished on Sunday, and organisers say there were nearly 6,000 sightings of almost 14,000 wood pigeons around the country. The count is part of a the country's biggest citizen science project, which looks to better understand how the kereru population is faring around New Zealand. While kereru are not considered endangered, they are an important bird for the forests and help better understand New Zealand's ecology.

Overstayers Almost Halved in Past Ten Years
Recent estimates show the number of overstayers has nearly halved in the past ten years. Immigration New Zealand's ability to track overseas visitors and better risk profiling at the border have significantly reduced overstayers, saving the taxpayer almost $1.5 million. Nearly 5.5 million visitors came to New Zealand in the past year, with almost 3 million of those being New Zealanders. Those being denied entry were usually related to not declaring serious criminal convictions, deportation or exclusion from another country.


New Auckland Police Cells to Play "Calming" Music
Central Auckland police cells are set to be 'decommissioned' in favour of a new purpose-built unit at Mt-Eden Prison. Starting next week, people arrested in Auckland City will no longer be held in the central police station's underground cells—instead being taken directly to the new Auckland Custody Unit. The $13 million dollar unit has greater technology including smart glass and the ability to play music which could serve to calm detainees. The new location will also be much easier for officer transporting detainees. Earlier this year, $383 million was pledged to police for extra staff and equipment. The increase in funding occurs during a stabilised period of conviction and sentencing rates following steady decline since 2009.

Mental Health Awareness Week Approaching
Mental Health Awareness Week begins next week and is already receiving record support. Over a thousand individuals and organisations are registered to host events. Marketing and communications manager for the Mental Health Foundation, Sophia Graham spoke with 95bFM and said the increased participation in mental health week is likely due to it being a topical issue this year. Graham adds, "I think people have been talking about it more and more openly and honestly and it's really nice to feel that amongst all that advocating for better services and better care and you know people feeling that the situation is getting worse that there are actually things we can do as individuals and communities." The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2020 depression will become the second most common cause of disease.



Vanuatu Authorities Call for Help
Vanuatu authorities are pleading for help following a mass evacuation from the island of Ambae. It is estimated In the past two days more than 6,000 refugees have travelled from Ambae to the neighbouring island of Santo after volcanic activity forced them to abandon their homes. Authorities say they are now struggling to cope, with limited food, water and shelter amid harsh weather conditions. Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced the New Zealand government will send a further $250,000 worth of supplies to Vanuatu, on top of the $100,000 already sent.

Pair Plead Not Guilty to Kim Jong-nam Murder
Two women have plead not guilty to the murder of Kim Jong-nam—the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-nam died in mysterious circumstances at Kuala Lumpur airport in February. The two women, currently on trial in Malaysia, are accused of rubbing the highly toxic nerve agent VX on his face. They allege North Korean agents tricked them into doing it, and say they thought it was all just a TV prank. The incident has led to strained diplomatic ties between Malaysia and North Korea, who have since banned each other's citizens from leaving their countries.

Mass Shooting in Las Vegas
At least 58 people are dead and 515 injured after a shooter opened fire on an outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas. A hail of bullets from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel sent tens of thousands of concertgoers running for their lives yesterday in what has been the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. The attacker who has been identified 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada was found dead by SWAT teams.

Ex-FBI Agent Reopens Cold Case Into Anne Frank's Betrayal
A retired FBI agent has launched a cold case to identifying those who may have betrayed the hiding place of Anne Frank and her family to the Gestapo in 1944. Investigative techniques developed in the past decade, including the crunching of big data to uncover leads, are set to be used by a team of 19 forensic experts. Since Anne Frank's diary was first published in 1947 it has been translated into 67 languages and sold over 30 million copies. The project hopes to unveil its findings on August 4 2019, on the 75th anniversary of the arrest of the Frank family.

Reporting by Alessandra Nixon, Jack Marshall, Stewart Sowman-Lund, Katie Doyle