News of Zealand

New Zealand Defence Force Responds to Allegations of Civilian Killings in Afghanistan

Plus the first commercial flight to the Southern Lights and concern over female sexual predators in the classroom.
March 26, 2017, 11:09pm

New Zealand Defence Force Hits Back at Hit and Run

Investigative journalists and the New Zealand army continue to battle it out over allegations NZ troops may have been involved in the killing of civilians in Afghanistan. New Zealand's defence force has come out swinging, saying the book, Hit and Run, which alleges the deaths of civilians at the hands of New Zealand troops has inaccuracies, including the names of the villages concerned. Last night the Defence Force issued its first original statement responding to the book, which was published a week ago. It says "The villages are named in the book as Naik and Khak Khuday Dad, but the NZDF can confirm that NZDF personnel have never operated in these villages." The Defence Force says there was another raid, which "may have resulted in civilian casualties" around 2km away. Hager and Stephenson have hit back at the statement, saying the NZDF response is "simply incorrect and implausible." They ask: "Is Keating seriously denying everything in the book, or just trying to spread doubt by questioning the names of the villages in question?"

"We are shocked that the NZDF believes this is a legitimate reply to the serious and tragic revelations in the book. It looks like nothing more than people trying to evade responsibility and reinforces the need for a full and independent inquiry."

Flight to the Lights

One planeload of stargazers has landed, after flying south to see the Aurora Australis this week. The first commercial flight to view the Southern Lights has just returned to New Zealand, and landed in Dunedin on Friday. Seats on the plane cost between $4000 and $8000. It sold out in just five days, and carried 130 passengers. The charter was led by Otago Museum director Dr Ian Griffin, who told Fairfax it was a "trip I'll remember not only for the amazing photos and lovely views, but also for the many amazing people I met during the project".

Female Sexual Predators in the Classroom

The number of female teachers charged with sexual offences against young male students is increasing, and child advocates warn the rise in cases could signify a much bigger hidden problem. In the last three years, at least seven female teachers have been charged with misconduct or criminal charges. Child Matter chief executive Jane Searle told Stuff there was a problem with the perception that the offending isn't as serious if it's a female offender and male victim, and that leads to under-reporting. "Often it needs to be understood that we do have female offenders in our community and it needs to be taken just as seriously, even if it's a teenage boy," she said.

Philip Morris Gets Heat From Ministry of Health for New No-Burn Nicotine Device

As the Government's Smoke-Free New Zealand 2025 goal looms, Philip Morris has come up with a new way for customers to get a hit of nicotine. The tobacco giant has been quietly demonstrating a new device through their website that releases nicotine by heating it, rather than burning it like a cigarette. The move has come under scrutiny from the Ministry of Health who are investigating whether the Heet sticks comply with the Smoke-free Environments Act.

Kaikoura Earthquake Brought the Country Closer Together, By Five Metres

Scientists have had the chance to analyse the massive amount of data from the 7.8m earthquake that struck the upper South Island last November and have found it to be so complex and unusual they are now having to rethink earthquake hazards in plate boundary zones worldwide. A study published in Nature revealed the quake pushed the South Island five metres closer to the North Island, and in some areas raised the land up by eight metres.