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Rescuers wasted hours searching
for an emergency beacon and
eventually discovered it in a pile of
rubbish at a Northland dump after
it was incorrectly disposed of. e
Tuesday incident --- which involved
a rescue helicopter being scrambled
--- has emergency service workers
pleading with the public to ensure
old or obsolete beacons are disposed
of carefully, to ensure they are not set
o by accident.
--- APNZ-Northern Advocate
Girl hit by truck
An eight-year-old girl is seriously
hurt after being hit by a truck near
a pedestrian crossing on State
highway 1, just south of Whangarei
city. Sergeant Lance Goulsbro of
Northland Police Highway Patrol
said there were con icting witness
statements about whether the girl
had been on the pedestrian crossing
when she was hit about 3.40pm
yesterday. e truck had come to a
halt about 30m north of the crossing,
outside Otaika shops.
--- APNZ-Northern Advocate
Salvation Army sta arrived at
work yesterday morning to the
devastating discovery that thieves
had stolen food collected for the
Rotorua Daily Post Christmas
foodbank appeal. Salvation Army
Captain Amanda Martin said the
theft was at the Salvation Army
Church on Old Taupo Road in the
youth hall and was discovered when
sta arrived for work at 9am.
--- APNZ-Rotorua Daily Post
Arrest after carjacking
One man has been arrested
following a knife point carjacking
in New Plymouth. Police said a
taxi driver was on or near Sanders
Avenue when his vehicle was taken
at knife point about 9.20pm on
Tuesday. --- APNZ
Fire ghters were called in
to clean up a chemical spill at
Auckland Airport. A Fire Ser vice
spokesman said three re trucks
were called to the chemical spill at
an Air New Zealand cargo building
on Ogilvie Crescent shortly before
11am. " ere are no fumes and it
seems to be very minor." One of
the appliances was a hazardous
materials unit, he said.
A 4.6 earthquake was recorded at
Haast at 1pm in a preliminary report
from Geonet this morning. It was
45 km south-east of Haast at a depth
Yahoo Xtra customers are again
pulling their hair out as e-mail
ser vices are disrupted once more.
Some users have been unable to
access or properly use their e-mail
for up to three days and others have
had spam e-mails sent from their
An advisory on Telecom's website
asks customers to change their
password but some users have
complained of being unable to do
"E-mail services have been majorly
disrupted now for a third day. I have
just been on the phone to their tech
support and they have no idea when
it will be xed. ey put the blame
at Yahoo's feet," said a customer
"Not only are e-mails not being
delivered to mail client apps, you
can't log into it via Yahoo."
Another frustrated customer,
Derek, said: "... 36 hours and
counting of e-mail outage for the
"I generally have nothing but
respect for Telecom's support
team --- really! --- but their lack of
communication on this one has been
as frustrating as it is atypical."
A customer notice on Telecom's
website apologised for any
inconvenience and said: "Our
technicians are currently working to
resolve this issue."
A Telecom spokeswoman said
a small number of customers had
experienced "some issues" with Yahoo
Xtra e-mail ser vices, but expected
the problem to be xed soon.
"We understand it's incredibly
frustrating for customers," she said.
"We apologise and we're working
on it to get back up and running as
quickly as we can."
Less than two weeks ago Xtra
customers found themselves locked
out of their accounts after a wave of
spam attacks. A previous spam attack
in February compromised around
87,000 accounts. --- APNZ
Telecom Xtra customers again hit by disruptions
e voluntary $3.41 million payout
o ered to the Pike River Mine families
by former Pike River Coal chief
executive Peter Whittall's insurers was
"blood money", widow Anna Osborne
Mrs Osborne said she felt sick to the
stomach after hearing all 12 charges
against Mr Whittall had been dropped,
and had lost faith in the justice system.
"It is just another slap in the face for
e $3.41 million payout was no
consolation for her: "as far as I'm
concerned it's blood money".
Mrs Osborne said she decided to
stay home rather than attend the court
hearing, saying that she could not see
the point when Mr Whittall was not
even going to be there to look at the
"I'm numb. I'm at a loss to understand."
She was now praying that police got
past the rockfall and found evidence so
criminal charges could be laid.
Leeza Verhoeven, mother of Zen
Drew (Verhoeven), 21, who died in the
blast was frustrated.
" is has carried on for a long time
for the families ... It's been coming
three years, I suppose. Nobody deser ved
On reparation: "I suppose the families
deserved the pay out. at's basically all
I can say."
Melissa Byrne, whose partner, Sam
Mackie, 26, was killed in the blast, said
this was "just another huge kick in the
"I feel that no one's going to be held
responsible. Aren't our men worth more
than what they're being portrayed to be
worth right now.
"A big part of me is not surprised
at all but that doesn't take the pain
and hurt away. It still feels absolutely
She said Mr Whittall's prosecution
could have been "a start" in the families
getting some closure.
Neville Rockhouse, 54, whose
youngest son, Ben, 21, was among 29
men killed in the tragedy, said he was
"pretty gutted"by the decision.
Outside court, he called on Prime
Minister John Key and his Government
to rethink introducing corporate
manslaughter to New Zealand.
"For health and safety o ences this is
so unjust it's incredible," he said.
"Corporates can pretty much do
what they please --- that's the message
that comes out of this sorry, terrible
"I believe there needs to be
some punitive measures and corp
manslaughter would achieve that
Green Party MP Kevin Hague said
the outcome was an insult to the
families of the dead men, and to their
" ere was a mountain of evidence
against Mr Whittall, presented to the
Royal Commission and gathered by the
Department of Labour, and for that to
now not go before a Court is an a ront
to New Zealand's basic principles of
" e Government is trying to avoid
the embarrassment --- that it deserves
--- of having Mr Whittall point out,
from the stand, the extraordinary
failures of the Department of Labour."
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn
was stunned when he heard of the
developments this morning.
" is will shock a lot of West Coasters
because through the Commission of
Inquiry it showed there were major
failings by top management and the
Pike River Coal Company and the
process of accountability was with the
Ministry of Business Innovation and
Employment to lay these charges."
Mr Kokshoorn said a lot of people on
the Coast would be hurting because the
accountability has not been followed
Legendary free climber Alain
Robert --- who yesterday scaled
Auckland apartment building the
Metropolis without safety ropes
--- says he feels glad he is "still
alive" after every climb.
Known as the French Spider-
Man, Mr Robert climbed the
40-storey building yesterday as
part of a promotional campaign
by electronics company Samsung.
Stopping often during the climb,
the 51-year-old had Snapchat
conversations, took calls and
snapped some pictures.
Over a 40-year climbing career
he has become known for free
climbing some of the world's most
iconic buildings, wearing only
"basic climbing shoes" with a bag
of chalk for grip.
Mr Robert arrived in the country
last ursday and had spent ve
days studying the Metropolis.
For a man who's conquered New
York's Empire State Building,
the Willis Tower in Chicago
and the Ei el Tower in Paris,
yesterday's climb was not his most
"It was a residential building, so
it was climbing from one balcony
to the next, many of the balconies
were not that far away, except
the last ve balconies which were
bigger, taller and more di cult,"
But no matter the building's size,
he still enjoys the thrill of free
climbing before the unsuspecting
"It feels good, it feels like you've
completed something interesting
--- it feels like you're still alive."
e Metropolis is one of more
than 130 buildings around the
world the French Spider-Man has
climbed. His biggest achievement
was in 2011, when he conquered
the world's tallest building,
Dubai's Burj Khalifa.
It took him just over six hours to
climb the 830m-tall, $1.8 billion
Organisers forced him to use
safety ropes on the Dubai climb
--- something he usually avoids.
Mr Robert's preferred climbing
method, which he used yesterday,
was to use no ropes at all.
" at was the cool thing because
in that sense I found out that
Samsung was quite daring," he
said. "All of the big companies
(that hire him), they don't want
to take that kind of risk, so at
least with Samsung they were
con dent on my knowledge and
my ability to do it."
His climbing technique allows
him to climb using the features of
the outside of buildings, such as
window ledges and frames.
While some of Mr Robert's
climbs are sanctioned, many
of them are not. He has been
arrested more than 100 times
for climbing buildings without
Mr Robert's only problem
during yesterday's climb came
at the very top, when a rope let
down for him to clamber over the
nal ledge was not quite sturdy
enough for his liking. He nished
his ascent via a slightly less
adventurous method --- climbing
through an open window.
Mr Robert's next climb will be
on December 21 in Shaoxing,
China. --- APNZ-New Zealand
PICTURE: Getty Images
Alain Robert aka ' e French Spiderman' climbing the Metropolis Building, in Auckland.
'Spiderman' tackles Auckland high-rise
e Police Commissioner has been
grilled by MPs over the handling of the
Roast Busters rape allegations, conceding
it should have been "sharper".
Commissioner Peter Marshall revealed
he welcomed Police Minister Anne
Tolley's requesting an Independent Police
Conduct Authority investigation into the
now high-pro le saga.
Police have been investigating a group of
teenage boys known as the Roast Busters
since 2011, when a 13-year-old girl made
a formal complaint against some of them.
On-line, some of the boys had bragged
about having sex with drunk and underage
Yesterday, Mr Marshall was grilled by a
select committee in Wellington about the
police response to the case.
Asked for his assessment of the
police response, the commissioner said:
"Certainly, the situation involving the
initial response --- that there had not been
a complaint and then we found there had
been a complaint --- was something that
we should have been sharper on in terms
" at excited, naturally, the members of
the public, and we accept that."
e Roast Busters investigation is
ongoing and is now being led by Detective
Inspector Karyn Malthus, who has
experience in dealing with sexual abuse
cases involving young people.
Waitemata police spokeswoman Beth
Bates said no speci c information could be
released about the investigation.
" e investigation is progressing well and
our focus is still on speaking to a number
of girls," she said.
"It continues to be a very delicate
investigation with a great deal of care
required, and the privacy of the girls and
their families is paramount."
Police Minister Anne Tolley referred the
Roast Busters case to the Independent
Police Conduct Authority, which is now
investigating whether police botched
the handling of the case or conducted a
thorough and appropriate inquiry, as they
e authority has said it is "unable to
comment on timeframes or speci c details
of the case".
Ms Tolley's request was unprecedented
--- but Mr Marshall said he welcomed
it. He maintained the integrity of
the investigation was sound, but the
communication of the information to the
public was not up to scratch.
"I look forward to the report," he said.
"We're just focused on the investigation."
Labour police spokeswoman Jacinda
Ardern, who led the questions yesterday,
was pleased with Mr Marshall's response.
"When these kinds of situations arise,
the public makes as much of a judgment
over the handling of it as they do the issue
itself," she said last night.
"And in this case there certainly were
failings, and the Commissioner has
Ms Ardern was con dent the police were
doing their best to resolve the case.
At the select committee yesterday
Ms Ardern pointed to a drop in public
con dence in the police since the Roast
Busters case, which a survey showed had
fallen from 82% to 76%.
But Mr Marshall defended this record,
saying that the survey often uctuated, had
a margin of error of 3%, and was roughly
the same as this time last year.
e commissioner, who will soon nish
his tenure, said the case was not a blot on
his legacy because crime and road deaths
had dropped steadily under his watch.
"I'm very bullish about what police
have achieved, I think the New Zealand
public is well served by this place."
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Top cop grilled over Roast Busters
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
Police Commissioner Peter Marshall, talks to reporters.
Police have con rmed a
body has been recovered
from the Waikato River
yesterday scouring the
river in the search for
tennis coach Paul Arber.
McAlley said the body
was found shortly
after 7.30am, in north
He would not specify
where the body was
found, and said a formal
identi cation would be
carried out this morning.
Karl ornton said it
was too early to say if
the body was that of Mr
He said two calls were
received by members of
the public shortly before
7am about a a body in
the Waikato River.
" ese sightings
were con rmed by
a responding police
o cer and a recovery
operation was completed
by about 7.40am. " is
was conducted with
the assistance of the
Hamilton Police rescue
launch and members
of the Waikato Search
and Rescue Squad and
the body of the yet to
be identi ed person was
recovered to Waikato
Hospital," he said.
While it was natural
to speculate that it
could be Mr Arber's
body, it was expected to
be some time before a
formal identi cation was
"We have, however,
not received any other
reports of missing
persons we believe
could be linked to this
Body found in
Harvey and Bob Weinstein have
sued Warner Bros' New Line Cinema
claiming they are owned a share of
the pro ts from the second and third
In a suit led yesterday in New York,
the Weinsteins say their 1998 sale of
the rights to J R R Tolkien's e Hobbit
and e Lord of the Rings trilogy to
New Line applies to all subsequent
Hobbit lms. Warner Bros. elected
to split e Hobbit into three lms,
the second of which opens in theatres
Warner Bros. responded with a
statement calling Weinstein's sale of
e Hobbit rights "one of the great
blunders in movie history.''
e studio says the Weinsteins and
Miramax agreed to be paid only for
the rst lm based on e Hobbit,
and it says "that's all they're owed.''
--- New Zealand Herald
Hobbit lms' creators caught in new lawsuit
So-called runaway millionaire Leo Gao
will have Christmas outside prison this
Gao, 33, stole $6.7 million after
discovering $10 million in his bank
account due to a major bank error.
Instead of returning the money, Gao
took o on an overseas spending spree,
splashing out at glitzy hotels and casinos.
Gao's then-partner, Kara Hurring, also
joined him in Macau.
Eventually, the pair were caught out, and
Gao --- who had spent two and a half years
on the run --- was sentenced to four years
and seven months in jail in August last
A decision from the Parole Board,
released yesterday, found the former petrol
station owner was ready for parole and
would be out of prison on December 23.
His parole eligibility date is December 19.
e board, which is charged with
assessing Gao's risk of o ending, said that
despite the sizeable nature of his fraud,
they were satis ed his risk of o ending
could be managed by imposing strict
While in prison, Gao was considered a
low risk o ender, the decision said.
Gao had also admitted his actions had
caused great shame, had broken the law
and contradicted with his family's values.
When considering Gao's case, the Parole
Board found he did not pose an undue risk
to the community, and therefore refusing
him parole once his eligibility date was
reached would be wrong.
ey placed strict conditions on
his release, including restrictions on
interactions with Ms Hurring and access
to bank accounts.
Ms Hurring, who has a son with Gao, was
sentenced to nine months' home detention
over her role in the theft.
Almost $3.8m is still missing from the
$10m transferred into Gao's bank account
in April 2009. --- APNZ
Runaway millionaire to be released by Christmas
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