News of Zealand: We Could Get to Vote on Marijuana Earlier Than Planned

Government contemplates bringing referendum forward to next year. Plus popular Te Reo classes and the EU trade deal.
May 22, 2018, 10:52pm

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


Marijuana Referendum Could Be Next Year
The government is debating whether to hold the referendum on marijuana legalisation next year rather than in 2020 as previously planned, as that would make it too close to the general election. Questions still remain around how the legalisation would actually work. Justice Minister Andrew Little admits there is still a lot of work to be done around the issue. He says the public will need more opportunities to express their views and more information needs to made available.

EU Trade Deal a Step Closer
A free trade deal between New Zealand and the EU takes a step forward with the announcement that the EU's foreign affairs council approved its negotiating mandate. If the deal is signed it could result in billions of dollars in trade for New Zealand. The EU has estimated that such a deal with the UK could result in a GDP boost for New Zealand of $1.2 to 2 billion. Sectors that are expected to benefit include agriculture, motor equipment and processed foods. Trade Minister David Parker says he hopes the deal could also lead to more jobs and higher incomes.


Christchurch Māori Language Classes Crammed
Enthusiasm around learning Te Reo is high in Christchurch after a class intended to be held in a fish and chip shop received 600 attendees. Fush restaurant owner Anton Matthews announced in May he would be holding free Te Reo lessons in his shop, and over 3,000 people registered interest. Matthews, who has a degree in Te Reo Māori and indigenous studies, eventually had to book an auditorium for the event. He plans to run three more classes which will all be held at Christchurch Boys High.

Growing Concerns Over Teacher Shortage
A Post Secondary Teachers Association Survey says that the numbers of teachers in the profession is declining. Of those surveyed, 40 percent of those leaving the profession were retiring with replacements sparse. Vice President of Auckland Secondary Schools Principals Association Richard Dykes says pay is a big deterrent for many. “If you talk to any principal they will say it comes down to pay. We need to pay our teachers better so we are attracting the best and the brightest to the profession.” The starting salary for Secondary School teachers in New Zealand is around $50,000.


Doubt Over Talks Between Trump and Kim Jong-un
Talks between US President, Donald Trump, and North Korea's Kim Jong-un may no longer be on the cards for next month. After Trump met with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, he says there is a substantial chance the planned summit with North Korea next month may not go ahead. The summit is due to take place in June in Singapore, and would be a historical event as no US President has met with a North Korea leader before. Trump says if the meeting does not go forward, it will take place later in the year. North Korea recently called off talks with South Korea, accusing the the country of provoking the North with joint military exercises with the US.

Italian Prime Minister Candidate Fraud Claims
Italian Prime Minister candidate Giuseppe Conte is facing allegations he embellished his CV. Conte claims on his CV he perfected his legal studies at New York University for at least a month every summer between 2008 and 2012. A spokesperson for the university, however, says there is no record of the prospective PM studying there. She says there is no one by this name on their records as a student or faculty member. One of the parties who proposed Conte for the job challenged the allegations, suggesting Conte did not claim to have completed courses or masters at the university, and that he had only gone there perfect his English language skills.

Lava Flows Towards Hawaii Power Plant
Lava flow continues to threaten Hawaii with a geothermal power plant now at risk. The plant generally contains flammable substances and could release deadly gases if the lava reaches it. Hydrogen sulphate is the main concern, and workers have urgently moved to plug underground wells. 220,000 litres of pentane gas have been trucked out of the site. The Kilauea Volcano erupted in early May and the situation has only been worsening for residents.

Palestine Take Claims of Israeli War Crimes to ICC
The Palestinian Government is requesting prosecutors at the International Criminal Court to investigate the deaths of Palestinians at the Gaza strip protests. Foreign Minister, Riad Malki, submitted a "referral" which he said crimes committed on Palestinian territory in the hope of persuading the ICC to move past a preliminary examination started in 2015. Malki’s submission comes after over 100 Palestinians were killed and 10,000 injured by Israeli troops on the Gaza strip. Israel is facing accusations from Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas of massacring the unarmed protesters. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu says this was self defence. Harvard Professor, Alex Whiting says the referral is significant, making it harder for the ICC to stay in the preliminary stage.

Additional reporting by: Tess Barnett, Tu Natanahira and Ben Webber.