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West Coast-Tasman MP Damien
O’Connor has sought an “urgent
investigation” into allegations against
Westland Mayor Bruce Smith.
Two councillors have accused Smith
of unacceptable behaviour towards
councillors and staff.
It is the latest controversy in a council
apparently in turmoil.
Assets manager Vivek Goel faces
a Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
investigation for financial impropriety.
Council chief executive Tanya Winter
has filed a personal grievance claim
after the council decided not to renew
her five-year contract. A council
subcommittee has suspended Winter for
alleged serious misconduct.
Mr O’Connor said yesterday that an
independent investigation was required
because of the number of councillors
seriously concerned about the way their
council was operating.
He had written to the Auditor-
General, for warding a copy of a letter
from Cr Gray Eatwell.
Cr Eatwell’s letter complains about
“abusive language” towards
Winter and aggressive behaviour
towards councillors and staff.
ratepayers needed reassurance their rate
funding and council operations were
working efficiently and ethically.
If the deputy mayor doesn’t support me
they won’t be deputy mayor. Westland
Mayor Bruce Smith
“ I am very concerned about the claims
made in the letter and seek your urgent
investigation,” Mr O’Connor wrote to
He said he was not in a position to
judge whether a commissioner should
take over the Westland council, but
serious claims were being made and
individual councillors felt under huge
pressure. “Someone has to help them
The controversy tarnished the whole
West Coast, he said.
Anne Tolley said she was aware of
developments and was being kept
“ I understand the Department of
Internal Affairs, Local Government
New Zealand and the Society of Local
Government Managers are fully aware
of the situation facing the Westland
“They are in regular contact with the
council and are offering support and
Tolley did not answer when asked
if she was considering appointing a
`Abuse of procedure’
The Press reported that Cr David
Carruthers, a lawyer, had written to
Smith to complain about a council
subcommittee suspending Ms Winter
for alleged serious misconduct.
The subcommittee comprised Smith,
deputy mayor Latham Martin and
Councillors D urham Havill and
Cr Carruthers’ said it was an
“ intolerable abuse of procedure” to
commit council to such a serious
decision. A substantial number or
councillors opposed Mr Smith’s actions.
Councillors had had no opportunity to
participate and were being retrospectively
asked to ratify the mayor’s “unauthorised
actions”, the letter said.
The mayor has called an extraordinary
meeting at 4pm today for councillors
to confirm Ms Winter’s suspension for
allegedly failing to inform council that
the SFO was investigating Goel.
Mr Smith told The Westport News an
inquiry by the Auditor-General would
be a “complete waste of money ”.
The complaints from Crs Carruthers
and Eatwell had no basis and ignored
council’s code of conduct, he said.
“I really have no idea what they are
talking about when it comes to abusive
He denied he had bullied councillors
“ If I see something that I don’t like I
will convey to whoever I’m dealing with
that I don’t like it. I don’t believe it ’s
“ I’m obviously taking advice ... in
my own mind I feel I have acted
Mr Smith said he had declared a
conflict of interest and didn’t vote when
the council voted six to two not to
extend Winter’s contract, which is due
to expire in September.
The council had agreed the terms of
reference for the subcommittee which
had subsequently suspended her.
The subcommittee was charged with
handling any matters in relation to
Winter’s personal grievance claim and
associated employment issues.
“ We’ve legal advice that says it doesn’t
require a full council decision to suspend
(the chief executive) or appoint an
appointed by the council’s legal advisor,
had begun work yesterday on considering
the basis for Winter’s suspension, Mr
Cr Havill stood by the subcommittee’s
decision to suspend Ms Winter and told
The Press most councillors supported the
mayor, who was doing an “outstanding
Eatwell’s letter said the council was
split down the middle.
Eatwell also said the mayor had
dropped deputy Mayor Helen Lash,
because she didn’t support him, then
Mr Smith confirmed he had decided
to remove Deputy Mayor Lash, but
changed his mind after a subsequent
discussion with her.
He could not remember what the
disagreement was about.
“If the deputy mayor doesn’t support
me they won’t be deputy mayor,” he
added. — Westport News
‘Urgent investigation’ needed
Thousands of New Zealand babies born
prematurely could benefit from an improved
life-saving treatment programme, a study
by New Zealand and Australian medical
researchers has found.
Every year, more than 4000 babies are born
prematurely in New Zealand and many have
life long health battles.
Breathing problems, heart defects and
permanent brain damage caused by brain bleeds
in infancy are just some of the complications
associated with premature birth.
Doctors have given pregnant women at risk
of early labour corticosteroids — synthetic
versions of hormones normally released by
the mother’s body in late pregnancy — since
pioneering New Zealand scientist Sir Mont
Liggins discovered the benefits the drug can
have on premature babies in the 1970s.
Babies born pre-term whose mothers are given
steroids after 24 weeks’ gestation are less likely
to die and less likely to have severe breathing
problems and other serious health problems
after birth, compared to premature babies
whose mothers do not have the treatment.
A study published yesterday in the journal
Pediatrics has taken the research a step further
by confirming that giving pregnant women
at risk of having premature babies multiple
doses of corticosteroids can further improve
premature babies’ health.
The Australasian Collaborative Trial of Repeat
Doses of Corticosteroids (ACTORDS) study
tracked the health and development during the
first eight years of life of 1000 premature babies
whose mothers were given either repeat doses
of the steroid or a placebo.
The study’s results show that steroids are
most effective when the mum gets multiple
doses over several weeks, one of the researchers,
Middlemore Hospital neonatologist Dr Chris
“That has quite dramatic benefits for the
baby if they ’re born too early and too small.
The main risk if they ’re born very pre-term
is that their lungs are quite immature and so
they often need assistance breathing, like to
being on a ventilator, and if we give one dose
it reduces the risk by about half and if we give
repeat doses it ’s about twice as effective again.”
Paediatricians had previously been hesitant
to give pregnant women multiple doses of
corticosteroids because of fears that exposure
to steroids could damage the babies health
long-term after past animal testing linked
repeat doses to later health problems in animal
Now ACTORDS researchers have found
no differences in the survival rates, health,
development and body size of children whose
mothers had received repeat steroids and those
who had not.
“ What we’ve shown in our study is that we’re
very confident there are no long term adverse
health effects on bone growth — because one
of the concerns was that exposing babies to
steroids might put them at risk of osteoporosis
when they grow up,” McKinlay said.
Up to 2000 women a year who are at risk
of having pre-term babies could be eligible
for a treatment programme of repeat doses
of corticosteroids funded by the government,
A pregnant women could be considered at
risk of delivering prematurely for many reasons,
including if the baby wasn’t growing, the
mother’s water had broken early or the woman
had previously had a baby born pre-term.
Thousands of pre-term babies may benefit from improved treatment
Water levels have finally dropped
Water levels have dropped in the
flood-ravaged town of Edgecumbe,
however officials are unable to say when
thousands of evacuees will be allowed
A breach in a stopbank of the
Rangitaiki River was closed at 11pm last
The river breached its banks and
poured through the Bay of Plenty town
on Thursday during the havoc wreaked
by ex-tropical cyclone Debbie, forcing
the evacuation of 1600 residents.
With the breach closed, some streets
were now dry, officials said, and access
around the town was improving.
However there was “still a lot of water
around” and with no sewerage or power,
people would not be returning today,
Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne said.
There were plans to pump water from
the town into canals, but it could take up
to two weeks for all the water to recede,
“I don’t want to give a timeline on
when people can come back in,” he said.
There was a drop-in centre at a Awakeri
school for residents to speak to council
He said it was too early to tell the
extent of the damage.
“ We know some houses will be
condemned but each will have to be
Council flood manager Roger Waugh
said they were now monitoring potential
flooding further down the river, and
there may yet be further evacuations.
The military and police had set up
cordons to ensure safety.
The mayor said there had been no
looting as far as he knew, and the SPCA
was working with the council to ensure
its animals were safe.
He urged evacuees to register with the
council, and to head to welfare centres at
the Whakatane War Memorial Hall and
the Ruatahi marae.
For anyone wanting to help out, a
Mayoral Fund had been set up. The
council was not taking food donations.
A mammoth recovery effort is
under way in the town, with pumps
from across the North Island being
brought in to start pumping water out
of Edgecumbe and surrounding areas
this morning. The scale of devastation
is enormous. Aerial pictures show wide
stretches of farmland on the Rangitaiki
Plains under water with farmhouses as
Edgecumbe resident John Kearns was
putting the finishing touches on his
18-month home renovation when the
Rangitaiki River broke its banks and
flooded his street.
“I’ve worked my guts out on that,”
the truck driver said ruefully yesterday,
sitting beside his wife, Marilyn, in a
Whakatane motel where they spent the
“But we’re insured and we’re alive ... it
doesn’t bear thinking about what might
have happened if it was night time.”
This morning, roads in the region
remained closed, including State
Highway 2 near Edgecumbe, and the
The gorge is expected to be closed
for some time as a result of slips, trees,
flooding and road washout.
The Pekatahi Bridge also remains
closed. — NZME
Man sentenced to life in prison
A Bay of Plenty man has been
sentenced to life in prison after “some
sort of joking bravado” ended in the
shooting of a father of four.
Isaac Cruz Broughton, 29, was
sentenced at the High Court in
Auckland yesterday after a jury found
him guilty of murder and wounding
with intent to cause grievous bodily
Broughton shot and killed Shon
Wanahi and also shot and wounded
Bunji Fenton outside the Papakura
Railway Station in Auckland during the
early hours of March 12 last year.
Wanahi, 26, was taken to Middlemore
Hospital died, while Bunji Fenton, 27,
who was shot in the arm, was taken to
hospital in a serious condition.
Wanahi, who had four children and a
newborn baby at the time, was originally
from Taranaki but had been living in
Papakura for several years.
His friend, Lewis Tarei, earlier told
the Herald Wanahi “sometimes he got
in a bit of trouble”.
“But he’d just got a new house. He
was trying to keep things together for
Broughton had been driving with two
friends, Laren Walker and Jamie Sylva,
to Papakura to see another friend about
“ You had a loaded sawn-off shotgun
with you in the car. Your explanation
for having the weapon was that it was
for your protection,” Justice Geoffrey
Venning said at sentencing.
Before Broughton, who has past
associations with a gang, arrived at his
friend’s home, he saw what her thought
were more friends in a park near the
“ You stopped the car, jumped out
with the shotgun, went up to them and
pointed the gun at them saying words
to the effect of ‘what ’s up motherf*****’
which I accept was intended as some
sort of joking bravado,” Justice Venning
“That was a major mistake on your
part. The people you confronted with
the gun were not your friends or
associates. There were at least four
people, one or more of whom were or
had been members of another gang.”
Justice Venning said the men “did not
take kindly” to being confronted by a
person wielding a shotgun and aiming
After the group initially stood their
ground they began advancing on
Broughton, forcing him to flee back to
“Although the ignition key was
broken the car was able to be operated
and there was evidence the engine was
in fact running. But it seems you did not
have time to drive off,” Justice Venning
“ You were punched through the
driver’s window by Bunji Fenton.”
Four of the opposing group then
surrounded Broughton’s car.
“Although the car was surrounded
by these four people and they were
punching and kicking at the car they
were not armed,” Justice Venning
“ You were the only one who was
physically attacked. The attack on you
was limited to Mr Fenton punching you
through the window.”
During Broughton’s police interview
he said after being punched he, “just
pushed the safety (of the shotgun) and
I was like tryna — ‘cos they were giving
me a hiding and then I just shot, like
not at him but like by him but, boom, I
musta got him”.
Fenton was hit with the first shot, but
did not realise he had been wounded and
continued to try and punch Broughton.
Broughton then fired the second shot
which killed Wanahi.
“I interpolate here that there was
a suggestion during the trial in
your defence that the gun went off
accidentally. The jury rejected that,
which I agree with,” Justice Venning
“The evidence clearly pointed to you
deliberately discharging the shotgun
which you had directed towards the
people outside the car.”
Wanahi’s partner Lesila Taufa said in
a victim impact statement her family
had fallen on tough times since the
shooting, Fairfax Media reported.
She said that Wanahi’s younger
brother had committed suicide, while
her son had stopped talking at school.
“I hope you have learned from what
has happened,” she said to Broughton.
“Think about what you have deprived
my children of.”
Broughton will ser ve a non-parole
period of 12 years imprisonment.
Would ‘do it all again’ — drug dealer
The unrepentant ringleader jailed for more
than 28 years for his role in the largest amount
of methamphetamine cooked in New Zealand
said he would “do it all again”.
Brownie Joseph Harding super vised the
production of 6.5kg of methamphetamine on
six occasions — the largest single case of meth
manufacturing to have come before the courts
in New Zealand — at a house in Taipuha
Road at Waiotira, between Whangarei and
Paparoa, from September to December 2014.
The 40-year-old Head Hunters’ gang
member was yesterday sentenced in the High
Court in Whangarei to 28.5 years in prison.
He will have to ser ve 10 years before he is
eligible for parole.
The father of seven pleaded guilty in June
last year to six charges of manufacturing meth,
two of conspiring to supply meth, one of
possession of meth for supply, one of supplying
pseudoephedrine and one of participating in
an organised criminal group.
Justice Simon Moore dismissed his
application on Wednesday to vacate guilty
pleas on three charges of manufacturing meth
after Harding argued he had extracted only
ephedrine in the first two manufacturing
instances and that he pleaded guilty to the
manufacturing charges by reason of a mistake
Flanked by about 25 family and friends,
including his mother, Harding waved to them
as he was led away after the sentencing.
Justice Moore said Harding claimed he hated
meth but had no qualms about supplying the
drug to others.
“It is concerning such is your lack of insight
that you told the probation officer that you
didn’t think being part of the gang impacted
on your actions.
“ But even more concerning is your total lack
of remorse for what you have done despite
your comment that you hate meth.
“ You insist you did nothing wrong and even
more startling you’re recorded as saying you’d
do it all again.
“That is a breathtaking statement which
unsurprisingly led the probation officer to
conclude your risk of reoffending is high and
your risk of harm to others is also high.
“ You are not and have never been addicted.
You’ve never been a user of the drug. This
means the only reason you embarked on this
exercise was to accumulate wealth.
A forensic psychiatrist who interviewed
Harding said he fulfilled the criteria of an
anti social, narcissistic personality and alcohol
Crown solicitor Mike Smith said police were
to be congratulated for the extent, care, and
quality of their investigation that uncovered
quantities of meth manufacturing which were
“ unprecedented ” in the country’s history.
He submitted a sentence of life in jail was
the most appropriate outcome.
Defence lawyer Mark Edgar argued against a
sentence of life imprisonment, saying Harding
was a cog in a “much bigger wheel” that was
run from Auckland.
Justice Moore said Harding’s lack of
previous drug-related offending and his guilty
pleas made a sentence of life imprisonment
inappropriate but by a fine margin.
Harding has 43 previous convictions, mostly
for driving offences.
Justice Moore said Harding was the
unchallenged leader who was referred to by
others involved in the drug manufacturing as
the “boss”. — NZME
Three people from Europe have been
arrested after $2.1 million worth of
MDMA was found in their luggage at
The trio, two men aged 32 and 35, and
a woman aged 31, arrived on a flight
from Europe via Singapore yesterday,
and were stopped and questioned by
X-rays of the luggage identified
examination, several packages were
found hidden inside the lining of one of
Customs officers used their drug
analyser, the First Defender, to test the
A positive result for MDMA, also
known as ecstasy, was returned.
The combined weight of the packages
was about 5kg, with a street value of up
to $2.1 million.
Customs manager for central and
southern ports Joe Cannon said the
incident was another example of
Customs intelligence at work.
“It doesn’t matter which airport, using
intelligence and experience, our vigilant
frontline officers are alert to smuggling
efforts and will stop those identified.
“Criminals often try to ‘hide in plain
sight ’ but our work is intelligence-led
and we do extensive screening to identify
those that may pose a threat.”
The three foreign nationals were
charged and importing a class-A drug
and possession for supply, and appeared
at the Christchurch District Court.
It is Customs’ fourth arrest within a
week. Last Sunday a Brazilian woman
was stopped at Auckland airport with
4.6kg of cocaine in her luggage.
$2.1m airport drug bust
Okuru Enterprises Ltd has been
granted consent from the Westland
District Council for its water export
operation in South Westland.
In a decision released last yesterday,
commissioner Don Turley said it would
add “significant positive values to the
Neil’s Beach area in that it will involve
additional employment opportunities
both in the construction stage and also
in the ongoing operation of the facility”.
He believe the consent conditions
would mitigate or avoid any adverse
Okuru’s consents first issued in 1991 to
take bulk water from a tributary of the
Arawhata River, and pipe it to waiting
ships for export to the likes of the
However, the consent renewal has
drawn objections from some neighbours,
and national water lobby group Bung
the Bore, based in Ashburton.
Mr Turley noted Okuru director Helen
Rasmussen had shown Maori entities
Conditions of the consent include
Okuru should have full indemnity
insurance of $5 million, and a
cash bond in case the scheme ends
and the infrastructure needs to be
They must also appoint a project liaison
officer, to liaise with the community, and
undertake a kiwi management plan as
well as run a predator hill should not be
Plants removed during construction
are to be kept, and go back into the earth
bunds. Height limits were also imposed
on the tanks.
A penguin sur vey is also required.
Consent granted for
water export operation
One person is dead and a number of
others injured after a two-car crash on
State Highway 1, north of Auckland.
The crash happened about 7pm
yesterday and closed State Highway 1 in
the Dome Valley.
Northern Fire Ser vice communications
shift manager Jaron Phillips confirmed
one person had died and a number of
other people involved in the crash had
suffered minor injuries.
A police spokesperson said at least two
people were in critical condition. The
Serious Crash Unit is investigating.
One dead in crash
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