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However, Mr O'Connor, who
said in December it appeared to
be a stitch up, said today the letter
con rmed his suspicions.
He said the department did not
want to be exposed in court as
"incompetent and arrogant" and
"in a large part responsible for the
systemic failure at Pike River".
e court processes would have
exposed "incompetence at every
level", Mr O'Connor said.
Pike River families spokesman
Bernie Monk said Mr Grieve's
letter had not been distributed to all
families yet, and as a result he could
However, widow Anna Osborne
said it "reeked" of a backroom deal.
She said families handed over
bank account numbers last
year expecting Government
compensation, and instead the
payment came through from Mr
Whittall and the directors.
"If I had known the charges were
going to be dropped and the deal
was for Peter Whittall's insurance
money, I would never have handed
over my bank account number," Mrs
She said Mr Whittall had not lost
a cent in the process because the
insurers had done all the paying.
She said she understood that even
if new evidence came forward now,
Mr Whittall could not be charged
He could get on with is life "and
we still don't have accountability".
Labour Party justice spokesman
Andrew Little, who released the
letter, said what had not been
explained was why the charges
against Mr Whittall were
discharged, not withdrawn, meaning
he could never face any other charge
associated with the Pike River
He also said the letter had been
"sanitised" for public release.
" is dodgy deal prevented the
Pike River families seeing anyone
held to account," Mr Little said.
Whittall 'backroom deal revealed
Continued from p 1.
Rural burglary warning
Police are warning Northland
homeowners to lock up their
equipment and keep an eye out for
suspicious activity after a spate of
rural burglaries targeting expensive
machinery. Sergeant Paul Nicholas, of
Whangarei police, said thieves have
been active on rural properties in
the Mangakahia/Wheki Valley area,
including on Statehighway 14 and
Mangakahia Road in recent weeks,
targeting equipment like ride-on
lawnmowers, chainsaws, quad and
motor bikes and trailers.
--- APNZ-Northern Advocate
A medical centre in Masterton
damaged by re might not be able to
reopen for weeks. Patients and medical
sta ed from a blaze at the Masterton
Medical super-surgery on Tuesday
night while ames tore through the
roof and ceiling tiles melted to the
oor. A temporary clinic was being
arranged across the road.
--- APNZ-Wairarapa Times-Age
Hurunui River users in North
Canterbury have been warned of a
potentially toxic blue-green algae.
Canterbury District Health Board
has warned people and animals,
particularly dogs, to avoid the water
in the Hurunui River at State
highway 1. Dr Alistair Humphrey,
Canterbury Medical O cer of Health,
says the cyanobacteria looks like dark
brown to black mats and can produce
toxins harmful to people and animals.
Bus driver bashed
Christchurch bus driver was bashed,
robbed, and spat at by three people
late Tuesday night. Pierce Michael
Harrison, a 23-year-old gib stopper,
along with 17-year-olds Lucy Anne
Hamilton and Riapo Piripi Tipene,
robbed a driver aged in his 40s on
Marine Parade in New Brighton about
11.30pm, police say. All three appeared
in court yesterday. While the males
assaulted the bus driver the female
grabbed the coin tray from the bus,
and the group made o with a small
amount of cash, police say. e three
alleged o enders were located by a
police dog unit and arrested nearby.
A re that rendered an Ashburton
home unliveable this week has been
deemed suspicious by investigators.
Members of the Ashburton police
CIB and re investigators spent ve
hours at the severely smoke damaged
East Street house on Tuesday after
re ghters doused the bedroom re
--- APNZ-Ashburton Guardian
A truck driver is dead following
a collision between his truck and a
passenger train in Waikato today,
Kiwi Rail has con rmed.
e collision occurred near
Rangiriri just after 9.30am.
A KiwiRail spokeswoman
con rmed the truck's driver had died
as a result of the collision, but there
were no other injuries.
e collision involved the Northern
Explorer passenger service train
travelling south from Auckland.
"It hit a truck at a level crossing
at approximately 9.45am. e truck
driver we understand is deceased.''
It was unknown if there were any
other passengers on board the truck,
the spokeswoman said.
"All passengers are all right and the
train driver is all right. e train was
"We're just guring out whether we
bus passengers for the rest journey or
ere were 108 passengers on
board the train at the time of the
An investigation into the collision
would commence later today, she
said. --- APNZ
Truck driver dies in collision with train
Health Minister Tony Ryall
will retire from politics at the next
election to take up employment
in the private sector.
Mr Ryall, 49, has been a
key gure in the National
Government and is widely
credited for a stable watch over
the health portfolio, introducing
His retirement announcement
was unexpected, and he will
remain in Cabinet until the
election. He said it was the right
time for him to leave, but he
had "greatly enjoyed" being in
" e Government is doing very
well and the National Party is in
He said he had told the Prime
Minister and Deputy Prime
Minister Bill English, who were
"disappointed but supportive."
He said he was proud of
his work as Health Minister,
especially in the areas of elective
surgery, faster cancer treatment,
and preventive health care.
"Our health services have been
transformed with a great e ort
by clinicians and motivated
teams across the sector .. My
more business-like approach
has provided more services and
better care for patients within a
tight budgetary environment."
He said that as State Owned
Enterprises Minister, he had also
enjoyed working with Mr English
to oversee the Government share
o er programme, and working
on the strategies to cap public
service sta .
" ere is still a lot of work to
do in both my portfolios and I
appreciate the Prime Minister
allowing me to continue my
work in Cabinet until the next
Mr Ryall entered Parliament
as MP for East Cape in 1990,
aged 26. He was one of the four
young ministers in National's
so-called 'Brat Pack' of the late
1990s, along with Bill English,
Nick Smith and Roger Sowry.
Plenty. He is renowned around
Parliament for his amboyant
shirt and tie combinations.
He was rst made a minister
under the Jenny Shipley
National Government in 1997,
holding the portfolios of Justice,
State Owned Enterprises, Local
Government, Youth A airs and
Housing New Zealand Ltd.
He is married with two
National Party President Peter
Goodfellow said Mr Ryall would
leave a legacy few could match.
"Tony will leave at this election
with the respect and admiration
of colleagues and his opponents
alike. I wish him and his
family well for whatever new
opportunities lie ahead."
Mr Goodfellow also paid
tribute to Mr Ryall for building
up an 18,000 vote majority in the
Bay of Plenty electorate, saying
it had the second highest party
membership of any electorate.
Northland is the highest.
Labour's health spokeswoman
Annette King was less glowing
about Mr Ryall's e orts in the
health portfolio, giving him
an "A for politics, but a 'barely
achieved' for health."
She said his greatest work had
been in closing down critics
and the bad news in the health
"He has been too controlling,
divisive and created a climate of
fear. He should go now and let
someone else try to repair the
damage in relationships."
She said a recent poll of doctors
showed Dr Ryall was increasingly
"Minister of Health is a tough
job so I understand him leaving,
although I'd like the job back!"
Labour leader David
sta has reawakened
a longstanding rift ---
leader Jim Anderton
has withdrawn his help
for Labour in this year's
Mr McCarten was
con rmed in the role at
a joint press conference
with Mr Cunli e
yesterday. He said he had taken the
job despite initially being critical of
Mr Cunli e because he was "pleasantly
surprised" by the direction the leader
was taking the party.
"We have got to know each other
very well. e chemistry has been
extraordinary. We have a lot of similar
beliefs, and I thought this man could be
the Prime Minister and should be the
Asked if he and Mr Anderton had
reconciled since the then Deputy Prime
Minister split from the Alliance in 2002,
Mr McCarten said the di erences at
that time were "profound" but "we will
work together on this campaign".
Mr Cunli e would not say if Mr
Anderton had agreed with the choice
of Mr McCarten, "but Jim is showing
by his actions that he's coming home to
However, Mr Anderton made it clear
he was not coming home, saying he
helped Labour in the
2013 Christchurch East
byelection and in his old
electorate of Wigram in
2008 "but I will not be
helping in the general
election campaign. I
don't want there to be any
He had not spoken
about Mr McCarten
publicly since the
Alliance split "and I don't
intend to start now ".
Mr McCarten split
from Labour in 1989
in protest at Rogernomics and joined
Mr Anderton to set up New Labour,
which merged with others to become
the Alliance. Mr Anderton set up the
Progressives in 2002 after disagreements
over the governing relationship with
Labour. Since then, Mr McCarten
has helped set up the Maori Party,
the Mana Party and the Unite trade
He has been critical of Mr Cunli e in
his columns for the Herald on Sunday,
including suggesting he resign from
politics for failing to pull his weight in
2012 and accusing him of narcissism
and "the same phoniness as the
Republican United States presidential
nominee Mitt Romney".
Mr Cunli e said he did not want
a "yes-person". He also rejected
claims by Prime Minister John Key
that the McCarten appointment
signi ed a swing to the far left.
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Anderton snubs Labour
Telecom has unveiled a partnership
with Spotify and will o er some mobile
customers free premium accounts with
the on-line music giant.
e company said the partnership
re ects its transformation from being
a traditional telco to a "customer-
inspired provider of digital services,
entertainment, mobile and data".
Spotify, a streaming music service, has
24 million users worldwide. People can
use the service for free or pay a monthly
fee to listen to music without ads and
download music to their cellphone.
is morning, Telecom --- which
will soon change its name to Spark ---
said certain prepaid and on account
customers would get a free Spotify
"Free Spotify Premium is a 'game-
changer' for mobile, and a great rst stake
in the ground after the announcement of
the name change. e music o er will be
a great bonus for existing customers and
we believe it will attract more people
to the Telecom mobile network," said
Telecom retail boss Chris Quin.
"48% of Kiwis say they now listen to
music using their smartphones. Spotify
is the best music service around --- it
lets you listen to the artists you love and
helps you discover more music than ever
before. If you're not getting this already,
you're going to want it."
It comes on the back on an
announcement last week that Telecom
will soon launch an on-line television
platform called Showme Tv, which
chief executive Simon Moutter called a
"NetFlix for New Zealand".
Telecom said from tomorrow all
customers who use the $29 Ultra Mobile
prepaid value pack, or who are signed up
to the $59 monthly Ultra Mobile plan or
higher, will receive a Spotify subscription
at no additional cost.
As part of the announcement,
Telecom staged an event at its o ces.
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
partnership with Spotify
New Act leader Jamie Whyte has back-
tracked on comments that incestuous
relationships between consenting adults
should not be illegal.
Speaking on Radio Live this morning,
Mr Whyte admitted he had regretted
the comments published in an article on
e Ruminator web site.
"I regret the comments, mainly because
I feel I let the party down," he said.
e u-turn comes less than a day
after he told the Herald he stood by his
comments, and his campaign director
Richard Prebble called his comments
"refreshing" and "frank".
In e Ruminator interview, Dr
Whyte --- a former philosophy lecturer
--- was asked whether the state should
inter vene if adult siblings wanted to
marry each other.
"Well personally, I don't think they
(the State) should," he replied, adding it
was "a matter of almost no signi cance
because it just doesn't happen".
Dr Whyte this morning told Radio
Live his comments were out of line with
his position as party leader.
"I regret the comment, not because
I don't believe it, but because I'm the
leader of a political party now. I may
have been a philosophy lecturer in the
past, but I'm not anymore.
"My personal opinions aren't really
Dr Whyte yesterday told said his
response during e Ruminator
interview was based on his belief that "I
don't think the State should intervene
in consensual adult sex or marriage, but
there are two very important elements
here --- consensual and adult".
"I wonder who does believe the state
should intervene in consensual adult
He said he was "very opposed" to
incest. "I nd it very distasteful. I don't
know why anybody would do it, but it's
a question of principle about whether
or not people ought to interfere with
actions that do no harm to third parties
just because they personally wouldn't do
Mr Prebble, a founding member of
Act, also said yesterday he did not see
Dr Whyte's comments as a hindrance
to his task of building support for the
"Actually in some ways it is useful
because it shows Jamie Whyte is not a
politician and I don't think the public
want politicians. Our enemies will
attempt to distort that, but I nd the
guy refreshing and new and I think
the electorate is looking for something
that's fresh and new.
"He's somebody who's very frank and
so when he says things he means it. If
you've got a candidate who happens
to have been a philosophy lecturer at
Cambridge University, you can always
ask him 'gotcha' questions."
Dr Whyte was elected Act leader this
month but o cially takes over from
John Banks this weekend.
Labour MP Shane Jones and National's
Judith Collins poked fun at Dr Whyte's
comments this morning.
"On one side we've got Colin Craig
who doesn't believe in the moon, and he's
got this other guy who wants a role in
deliverance," Mr Jones told Radio Live.
"What a zoo on the right."
Ms Collins said "there were bigger
issues in the world" than incestuous
"It's the Act Party, and they're known
for their interesting and opposite views,
and they don't have to be a broad church
mainstream party like ours.
"He's speaking as a philosopher, not as
a parent," she said. --- APNZ
Act leader 'sorry' for on incest comments
e operator of a Northland
geothermal plant has denied reports of
an explosion and 30,000 litre gas leak
Northern re communication shift
manager Nicole Bernard said more
than 30,000 litres of gas had leaked
at the Ngawha geothermal station in
Kaikohe, causing an explosion just
"We received a call at 5.45 to
an explosion at the power station.
When the Fire Ser vice arrived they
transmitted a third alarm and stated
that 30,000 litres of methane gas was
leaking on site."
However, Russell Shaw, chief
executive of the station's operator Top
Energy, said the reports were false.
e site holds pentane, not methane
" ere's been a gas leak, there's been
no explosion. We have a safety valve on
our pressure vessels.
" at safety valve operator sensed
over-pressure and ... about 5.30am this
morning, the operator, who's the only
person on site, shut the station down
and evacuated the station."
"He called the Fire Service who then
did a controlled re-entry on the site
and to test to see if any gas had been
e Fire Service had been carrying
out tests since 6am and were due to
leave the site by 7.30am, Mr Shaw said.
" ey've found at this stage no
release. e station holds 30,000 litres
(of pentane gas) so if it had gone up in
a big pu of smoke than 30,000 would
have been released, but at this stage
they've found nothing.
" at is the latest report that we've
had from our plant manager."
e safety valves had never gone o
before and it was unknown what had
caused it to happen today, Mr Shaw
"At this stage we don't know and as
a precautionary process, because the
gas is highly ammable, if we have a
release, we evacuate our operators from
site and we go through this process of a
Mr Shaw told TVNZ that the site was
relatively close to the Ngawha village
settlement and the company would be
working with them to let them know
what had happened.
Residents were not in any danger he
A full investigation would be carried
out to determine why the safety valve
had gone o , he said.
Northern re communication shift
manager Nicole Bernard con rmed
there had been no explosion.
"We've been told there was de nitely
no explosion. e sound that was taken
to be an explosion was the safety valves
going o .
"When the Fire Service left the scene
we were told that the site sta were still
establishing whether there was actually
a leak or not." --- APNZ
Northland geothermal plant operator denies explosion report
Whether sur ng the web, playing
video games or watching tv, children's
after-school eating habits in front
of screens have
In a New Zealand study, researchers
simulated an after-school environment
for 20 young boys, providing them with
a mixture of high- and low-energy
snack foods as they sat down for some
e children ate a worrying amount of
high-energy food while playing video
games or sitting in front of television or
computer screens, but it was television
watching results which caused most
e study, led by University of
Auckland PhD student Samantha
Marsh, is thought to be the
world's rst lab-based trial to compare
the energy intakes of boys while
in front of each of the three
During a series of hour-long sessions,
the children, aged 9-13, were o ered
choices of potato chips, salami sticks,
cheese and crackers, chocolate chip
cookies, apples, yoghurt, carrots, zzy
drinks and water.
Afterwards, each reported what
they ate and researchers calculated
their energy intake while sitting in
front of each screen. While viewing
tv, where they watched either Man
v Wild or MythBusters, the average
intake totalled 821 kilocalories --- or|
about half the recommended daily
advertisements on tv, proving that
children could still eat unhealthily
in the absence of marketing. When
playing Xbox 360 games or going
on-line, the children's intake was less,
but still unhealthy, equating to an
average 696 and 685 kilocalories
"We've shown that kids can still eat
a lot while playing video games, even
though a lot of parents thought they
wouldn't, perhaps because they are
constantly using their hands."
In just six years, the obesity rate
among children aged between 5-11 has
jumped from 8 to 11%.
e research, published in the journal
Appetite, will eventually be followed
by more work looking at how children
eat when using more than one screen
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
Children fail food screen test Auckland
Six Afghan interpreters who worked
alongside Victoria Cross holder Willie
Apiata and other New Zealand SAS
soldiers will be resettled in New
Zealand, but there are still fears for the
safety of other workers including one
who narrowly escaped execution at the
hands of the Taliban.
Immigration Minister Michael
Woodhouse has agreed to relocate the
six interpreters within three to four
months in recognition of their support
for the SAS (Special Air Service)
between 2009 and 2011.
Ten of their family members will also
be resettled, probably in Hamilton or
e men are believed to have helped
in high-pro le missions including the
defence of the Afghan Presidential
Palace in January 2010 --- during
which Corporal Apiata was famously
photographed --- and an operation
in Kabul a year later in which SAS
soldier Corporal Doug Grant was
Mr Woodhouse said yesterday: "It's
felt that the interpreters who worked
side by side with our soldiers and in
plain view of the public were exposed to
a special degree of risk that warranted
the o er that was made by the New
" ey'll be great New Zealanders ...
and I think we've done the right thing
In all, 45 interpreters have been o ered
resettlement along with 100 family
members. Two more applications are
ere were fears for one of these
applicants, a 27-year-old known as
Hamid, after it was revealed yesterday
that he had been kidnapped and
tortured by insurgents for three days
before escaping in December.
Kabul-based journalist John
Stephenson told Radio New Zealand
that Hamid had received threats from
Taliban members immediately after
New Zealand forces withdrew last year,
and was kidnapped weeks later.
Labour and the Greens demanded
that the Government fast-track his
Mr Woodhouse said he was seeking
more information on Hamid's work
with New Zealand's Provincial
He said the Government had been
while rejecting only ve applications.
--- APNZ-New Zealand Herald
SAS interpreters win NZ reprieve
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