Home' Greymouth Star : December 13th 2013 Contents Greymouth Star
Santa was a little bit grumpy in
For the past three years,
Dunedin retiree Graeme
McDougall has been Santa at the
Golden Centre mall.
But, this year, he says he has
been given the sack.
"When I went down to start
this year, I was told I wasn t
wanted and that they re not
having a Santa this year," the
68-year-old said yesterday.
"It blew me away. ere was no
explanation at all, but I think it s
just the bean counters."
Undeterred, he is instead
offering a Christmas presence in
the Octagon this year.
"I just come down on the cruise
ship days. You meet so many
people from different countries.
I love seeing the joy on the kids
"It s the magic of Christmas.
e children just love it. Santa
hasn t lost any popularity, that s
for real," Mr McDougall said.
"People have been stopping and
asking why I m not in the Golden
Centre. e only Santa this year is
in the Meridian mall. But they re
just skinny kids with cotton wool
stuck on their faces," he said,
"My idea of being Santa is not
to be up on a pedestal, but down
at the kids height, so I can look
them in the eye. I don t do, "Ho,
ho, ho , either. It s not a very
natural laugh. I just tell them
stories and smile and laugh with
Golden Centre general
manager Simon Eddy said the
mall was not being a Christmas
"We haven t had a Santa Grotto
since about 2009. ere just isn t
the space for it any more. We ll
have elves going around the mall
giving out gifts instead."
--- Otago Daily Times
Sacked Santa still has Christmas presence
PICTURE: Otago Daily Times
Australian tourists Natalia, eight, left, and Anastasia, nine, Chochol, of Brisbane, meet Santa (Graeme
McDougall) in the Dunedin Octagon yesterday.
6 - Friday, December 13, 2013
Ph: 03 769 7900
A backpacker home for Christmas had
his laptop, phones and other electronics
stripped --- and was given no reason
why they were taken.
Sam Blackman, 27, was then told his
belongings were being detained in a
search for illegal, objectionable films or
e answer has only baffled Mr
Blackman more. "I don t have anything
of that sort."
He now wants to know how he was
singled out --- and when he will get his
Mr Blackman, 27, arrived at Auckland
International Airport yesterday and
declared loose-leaf tea. A Customs
officer, burrowing through his bag, said
he was not interested in the tea but
collected all Mr Blackman s electronic
In total, he took two smartphones,
an iPad, an external hard drive and
laptop. e officer also demanded his
Mr Blackman said he was told: "We re
going to have to send this to a forensic
Mr Blackman said when he pulled a
phone out of his pocket, the official also
took that, refusing permission for him
to call his parents who were waiting in
the arrival lounge.
Originally, he believed he was singled
out after tweeting from a meeting
in London on mass surveillance,
attended by Guardian editor Alan
Rusbridger, MPs from across Europe,
and spokesmen from groups opposing
But Customs have ruled that out,
instead saying they were searching
everything for objectionable material
under the Films, Videos, and
Publications Classification Act 1993.
A spokeswoman said passengers
considered "high risk" received
attention at the airport. She also said
Customs officials were required to have
"reasonable cause" to believe an offence
had been committed --- but refused to
say what it was.
Tech Liberty director omas Beagle
said the seizure of phones and laptops
was a "major interference in your life" in
the modern world.
He said Customs law had a pre-
digital focus which, when applied to the
technical age, did not take into account
the amount of personal information or
the frequency of use.
Green MP Stefan Browning said he
had "deep concern" over the confiscation
of Mr Blackman s electronic equipment.
What powers do Customs have?
Customs officers have the power to
examine anything coming into the
country under the Customs and Excise
Act 1996. ere are no limits on how
long the examination can take, or how
it is conducted.Is that fair?
Critics say it is not fair when it
comes to computers, phones and other
technical equipment. It means Customs
can seize massive amounts of personal
Lawyers say they cannot demand
passwords. To do so, they would need
to cite "reasonable cause" for doing so,
and escalate the search under different
legislation. But --- if you do not give up
the password --- it is likely you will not
be allowed to bring the item into NZ.
Can you do anything to object?
Not really. Customs officers have the
power to search everyone entering or
leaving New Zealand. ey do not even
need to justify the search.
How do they choose who to search?
ey will not say. But they do not
search everyone. ose search are
considered "high risk".
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
A deputy secretary at the Ministry
of Justice, Nigel Fyfe, has outed
himself as one of two former top
Mfat managers fingered by an
18-month, $510,000 investigation as
attempting to disrupt a restructuring
at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
e other, it is understood is
Derek Leask, the former High
Commissioner to the United
Kingdom, has hit back over the
allegations about him, saying they
are defamatory and that he has
made a complaint with the Privacy
A report on the leak investigation,
made public yesterday, found a
former Labour Party staffer working
at the State Services Commission
and some Mfat staff were probably
responsible for the leaks although it
found no definitive evidence.
e report, ordered by State
Services Commissioner Iain
Rennie and conducted by Paula
Rebstock, found the behaviour of
some managers at Mfat during
the restructuring "fell below the
standards expected of people in their
Two of those staff "developed
strategies to oppose the change
proposals and to disrupt or stop the
change process outside of the staff-
in-confidence consultation process".
e pair were named in the report
as "Person Y " and "Person Z".
Prominent QC Hugh Rennie
yesterday confirmed Person Y is Mr
Fyfe. It is understood Person Z is
Mr Leask, who is now retired.
Hugh Rennie said he was acting for
Mr Fyfe and had been asked by him
to clarify what Iain Rennie had said
about him, his legal representation,
and his involvement in the inquiry.
" e plain intention of the State
Services Commission is to identify
(Mr Fyfe) by indirect means. He
is disclosing his name to avoid any
unfair effect on past and present
Mfat staff." --- APNZ
Two brothers who were seriously
injured in Defence Force exercises
feel they have been "kicked in the guts
again" by a Government decision not
to compensate them despite repeated
Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman
announced yesterday that former
soldiers Damien and George Nepata
would not get an ex-gratia payment for
injuries suffered in separate incidents.
He said he had "huge sympathy" for
the brothers but their cases could not be
distinguished from those of numerous
other soldiers who had been injured, and
noted they had received ACC payments
and Defence Force benefits.
e Maori Affairs select committee had
reviewed their case and recommended
they should be paid compensation, while
not specifying an amount. e foreign
affairs, trade and defence committee
made the same recommendation 10
years ago, but the Labour Government
e Nepata brothers had strong
support from committee chairman and
National MP Tau Henare, Maori Party
co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell and United
Future leader Peter Dunne.
When the decision was announced,
Mr Henare tweeted: "Shattered, utterly
Mr Dunne said the Government s
implication that compensating the
brothers would create a precedent was
of concern, because the committees had
stressed that their situation was unique.
Damien Nepata, who lives in Napier,
was told by a Defence Force official
there were no legal grounds for a payout.
"Bitter disappointment would be an
understatement. It wasn t about legal
basis for compensation, it was about
doing what was morally right," he said.
He suffered burns to 40% of his body
when the Scorpion tank he was driving
rolled and caught fire during training at
Waiouru army camp in July 1994.
Five years earlier, George Nepata
was paralysed in a training accident in
Singapore when he was dropped head-
first by soldiers carrying him up a slope
on a stretcher.
"We ve more or less been kicked in the
guts again," he said.
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Mothers are skipping meals to feed
their children and homeowners are
forgoing insurance as the price of food
continues to rise, an expert says.
e cost of food increased 1.4% in
the year to November, Statistics New
Zealand said, driven largely by the
increased cost of meat, poultry and dairy.
Fresh milk prices were up 6.7%, with
butter up 23% and cheese up 5.4%. Meat
and poultry prices were up 8.2% overall,
with beef up 2.1% and lamb up 4.4%.
Poverty and nutrition expert Associate
Professor Winsome Parnell, of Otago
University, said food prices had been
creeping up by $2 a week over the last
three decades, making it tighter and
tighter for people on fixed incomes.
Perishable goods like milk were the
quickest to fall off the shopping list, and
people also opted for meat-free meals or
chose cheaper cuts.
When people got really stuck, they
would cut out other essential costs like
house insurance. Mothers also went
without in order to feed their children,
Prof Parnell said.
" ere is a tendency to compromise on
the food budget to accommodate other
things, but there s a limit beyond which
you can t go," she said.
"But if it gets extremely severe, well yes,
you can go hungry."
Wellington dietician Vicki Robinson, a
public health nutrition expert, said price
increases were a barrier to people on low
incomes eating healthily, and could lead
to a long-term increase in obesity and
other health problems. "If you don t have
a lot of money and prices of meat go up,
it s probably going to drive you to either
have less meat, or it s going to drive you
to choose less expensive choices, which
tend to be fattier."
But Nutrition Foundation dietitian
Sarah Hanrahan said it was encouraging
that the cost of staples like bread, fruit
and vegetables had remained fairly
steady. " e only thing that had gone up
substantially was milk, out of that staple
range." --- APNZ
Injured army brothers
kicked in the guts by
Govt s refusal of compo
Mums skip meals over
rising food prices
Top bureaucrat outs himself over
Foreign Affairs inquiry
Links Archive December 12th 2013 December 14th 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page