Everything you need to know about the world today, curated by 95bFM and VICE NZ.
What’s Really Happening in Auckland’s Prisons?
A number of issues have been identified in Auckland and Manawatu prisons in a report conducted by independent inspectors last year. The report published by Corrections found that Manawatu prison has poor security camera coverage and searches, with contraband accessible and a strong gang presence. In Auckland, the report reveals issues with prisoners' food and bedding, along with inadequate facilities. The report found prisoner – staff relationships were generally positive. Corrections are providing a $15 million refurbishment to Manawatu to address issues in the prison, while Auckland's Paremoremo is near the end of a $300 million rebuild.
Mass Eel Death in Taranaki
A mass death of eels in Taranaki is being blamed on poor land management and climate change. About six mature eels have died at the mouth of the Waitekaure stream at Pungarehu, which has almost completely dried up. Waitekaure's kaitiaki and guardian Tihikura Hohaia says there is a lack of care for smaller streams, and it doesn’t have to be like this. Trustee and educator at Te Whenua Tomuri Trust Emily Bailey says the stream’s decline is a result of climate change and intensive farming, and says the council can do more to protect streams like these. Council environment quality director Fred McLay says coastal Taranaki had less than 50 percent of its normal rainfall over the past four months.
Attempt to Block New West Coast Coal Mine Fails
An attempt to block a new coal mine on the West Coast has failed, but campaigners say it's not over yet. The mine won resource consent in November and is proposed to be dug at Te Kuha, 12 kilometres up the Buller River from Westport. Forest and Bird had been fighting a legal campaign over a decision by Buller District Council to allow the mining company access to the Water Conservation Reserve. Rangitira Developments challenged this and won, arguing the original approval of access had higher legal standing than the Reserves Act that Forest and Bird had relied on to block access. The new government says it does not want any new mines on conservation land.
Aid Agencies Need Cash not Clothes and Food
Aid agencies are urging those who wish to contribute donations to the Pacific Islands following Cyclone Gita to send cash. A number of community groups in New Zealand have collected clothes and food to send to families and friends. The Red Cross says, however, the goods are at risk of sitting unopened in ports. There are also biosecurity regulations and tariffs which create further obstacles for the aid to reach its destination. The community groups are hoping to coordinate with larger aid agencies to ensure the donations reach those who need it. The Red Cross maintains that goods will be accepted but cash is more useful.
Protests Continue Against Ihumatao Development
Save Our Unique Landscapes is holding a protest outside Fletcher Building's headquarters today. The community group is rallying against plans to build 480 houses on Māori land at Ihumatao. Spokesperson Brendan Corbett told 9bFM the group has received support from the local community and its representatives. “In opposition, the Labour party were totally supportive. All the MPs around this area, all Labour party MPS, all of them expressed their opposition, and Aupito William Sio has gone so far as to say that he’s prepared to be standing in front of the bulldozers to stop this construction if it comes to that.” SOUL expects this protest to have a bigger impact than usual, given Fletcher's recent financial troubles. Corbett says the developers failed to properly consult with the local community
Genesis Energy Delays Phasing Out Coal
Greenpeace New Zealand says the move away from fossil fuels doesn't have to cost people their jobs. The organisation is calling for Genesis Energy to phase out the use of coal at Huntly power station. Greenpeace spokesperson Amanda Larsson told 95bFM that the local community should be part of the shift towards renewable energy. “It should be absolutely front of mind for Genesis and the government to be developing that transition plan to ensure there is good employment and good regional development for that community once that plant closes,” she said. Genesis had previously pledged to phase out Huntly’s coal plants this year, but have pushed that timeframe out 12 years to 2030. The move was been condemned by Greenpeace spokesperson Amanda Larsson, who said: “It's not a question of technology, it’s a question of leadership.”
Australia Institutes Parliament Sex Ban
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced yesterday that Australian government ministers are banned from having sexual relationships with staffers. The overhaul of the code of conduct comes in the midst of revelations that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce had an affair with his former media adviser Vikki Campion. Turnbull has not asked Joyce to resign but has condemned the behaviour as a "shocking error of judgement." Turnbull says a change in parliament culture is needed, with current standards "truly deficient."
Duterte Accused of Inciting War Crimes
Human rights groups have accused Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte of inciting the military to commit war crimes. This comes after Duterte offered anyone a bounty of 20,000 pesos, or $384 US dollars, for each rebel killed. Earlier this week, Duterte says "female rebels should be shot in the genitals" to render them useless. Carlos H Conde of Human Rights Watch, says the President's statements are encouraging violations of conventions on armed conflicts. While Duterte has angered humanitarian groups, he retains high levels of approval in the Philippines.
Tonga Begins Clean-Up, Restoring Power
Clean-up is under way on the Tongan Islands of ‘Eua and Tongatapu following Cyclone Gita ripping through the country three days ago. Most of the population has been left without power and water, with some people losing their homes. Authorities are aiming to restore power to most of Nuku’alofa by Saturday, with a further wait for rural areas. Director of the National Emergency Management Office Leveni ‘Aho says top priority is helping people without shelter. New Zealand has sent over 24 tonnes of supplies to help.
Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Dies
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangiari has passed away after suffering from colon cancer. This follows Tsvangiari denying that he was critically unwell despite media speculation. Tsvangiari was well known for his long political struggle against former President Robert Mugabe, including establishing the Movement for Democratic Change in 2000. He was beaten and imprisoned on multiple occasions.
18th US School Shooting This Year
A shooting at Florida High School killed and injured students yesterday afternoon. The shooter and former student was arrested after the event and has since been charged. 17 people were killed and 14 are still in hospital. Gun control group, Everytown for Gun Safety, says it is the 18th shooting in a US school so far this year. The event has stirred the debate in the US around the right to bear arms. US President, Donald Trump, has not addressed the issue of gun control and says they will work to improve school safety and address mental illness.
South Africa’s New President
Cyril Ramaphosa is the new president of South Africa, a day after former president Jacob Zuma resigned. Ramphosa says he will tackle the widespread corruption that fostered during Jacob Zuma's leadership. Zuma stood down yesterday after facing numerous corruption allegations and being given an ultimatum to step down or face a vote of no-confidence. His successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, says the priority is reviving South Africa's battered economy and solving unemployment, which is at almost 30 percent. He says the first step to improving is addressing persistent claims of government corruption.
Additional reporting by Tessa Barnett and Jean Bell