Saturday, August 22, 2009

3 Chinese Tourists Robbed, Beaten At Knifepoint By The Men They Tried To Help

"Impressions of our country have been shattered"

"Police say three Chinese tourists who were robbed in the Far North at knifepoint by men they had stopped to help yesterday are "stunned and shocked" at the incident.

The attack happened on a stretch of gravel road which runs through Te Paki Reserves and farm land leading to Te Paki Stream and 90 Mile Beach, from State Highway 1F.

Detective Sergeant Trevor Beatson from Kaitaia police said the tourists had been hailed by two Maori men in a maroon coloured station wagon, who claimed they were lost.

When they stopped to help, the touring group was set upon by the two men who assaulted them, produced knives and then demanded money and property. Mr Beatson said.

"It was the worst possible thing that could have happened to them when they went out of their way to help these two men.

"They had come to New Zealand fully believing it was a safe place to holiday and now their holiday and impressions of our country have been shattered....."

Read more here: Chinese tourists robbed at knife point.

This type of crime is not an isolated incident, it comes just weeks after news of French man Antony Cressend's violent attack on a Northland campsite in Ahipara which is approximately 100km south of Te Paki at the foot of 90 Mile Beach.

Also in the news this week - the trial of 4 men for the brutal bashing of two innocent young couples in North Shore, (one couple was Russian) and the attack on teenager Blake Coleman who was scarred for life with a hammer in Palmerston North.

See also blog posts under the catergory: 'Attacks on tourists' and 'NZ not as safe as you think'

Emily Jordan Riverboarding Death: Court Told Doubts About Mad Dog's Safe Operational Plan. UPDATED

Picture Birmingham Mail
See other posts about the trial here: Emily Jordan

From ODT 21 August

"Allegations a company did not have an "industry standard" safe operational plan and was "irresponsible" for not carrying a rope were some of the issues discussed at length by Maritime New Zealand's whitewater sports expert witness in the Queenstown District Court yesterday.

In the prosecution following the death of English tourist Emily Jordan during a river boarding trip on the Kawarau River on April 29 last year, Maritime New Zealand's whitewater sports expert witness, Donald Calder, said while the company's safe operational plan at the time noted risks in the river, there were no steps shown to "eliminate, isolate or minimise hazards".

"I do not consider the Mad Dog safe operational plan meets industry standards."

...On the day, Ms Jordan and her boyfriend, Jonathan Armour, went on the river-boarding trip, former Mad Dog operations manager Nicholas Kendrick had noted the Kawarau River was low and the rock in Frogz Eddy which Ms Jordan became trapped on was a hazard.

On Tuesday, Mr Kendrick said he had decided to continue with plans to include the section of river but with a directive to keep all clients to river right, in a wider channel past the rock.

Mr Calder told Judge Callaghan he would have either started below that rapid or brought everyone to a calm eddy on the left hand bank and individually escorted them past the rock.

He said clients in a line often swung wider at the "tail" of the group as their reactions were based on those of the person in front of them and a delay down the chain "compounds the error through the group", Mr Calder said.

He believed that was how Mr Armour and Anne Nichols, of the United States, drifted too far left and had to be helped past the rock.

Also too far left, Ms Jordan was swept on to the rock, where she was trapped under water.

Mr Calder disagreed with Mr Kendrick's evidence that a jet ski, at 350kg, would pose too much of a threat to people in the water and was not manoeuvrable enough in rescue situations.

Mr Calder said he had witnessed jet skis at the section of river and they had "good manoeuvrability and can be placed where needed".

"I consider having a jet ski available throughout the trip . . . is one practicable step Mad Dog should have taken."

He stated in his evidence that he considered Mad Dog "was irresponsible by not carrying the rope" - an item "most professionals would say is one of the few basic pieces of equipment . . . for all water activities".

However, defence counsel Michael Parker questioned Mr Calder's claim a 15m rope would have been long enough to rig a pulley system around rocks in the area.

Mr Calder said it would not have reached a second rock, but was long enough to have doubled a person's pulling power on the day.

When asked by Mr Parker if he accepted the rescue was not "straightforward", Mr Calder said had there been a rope, "it should have been a very straightforward rescue".

There had been moves to better regulate the river boarding, sledging or surfing industry before Ms Jordan's death - Mr Calder had kayaked on the Kawarau River shadowing both Mad Dog and Serious Fun River Surfing in January 2008 before Ms Jordan drowned.

Having observed both companies, one of the issues he later discussed with Maritime New Zealand was that the life jackets used were "not fit" for white water."

UPDATE 22 August

Looks like a deal is about to be struck before the defence even presents its case: River-boarding parties hoping for 'outcome'

"Yesterday, on the fifth day of the proceedings, the presentation of the prosecution's evidence was halted as a series of meetings were held between Maritime New Zealand representatives, the prosecution and defence lawyers and McLeod.

About midday, Maritime New Zealand prosecuting counsel Brent Stanaway told Judge Brian Callaghan both parties had agreed to apply for an adjournment until noon on Monday.

Mr Stanaway said the matter was "likely to be resolved" at that point, with "an outcome" at the hearing.

Judge Callaghan agreed to the adjournment. "

See also:

Rafting company operated in a regulatory vacuum

Mad Dog Riverboarding company in court

Emily Jordan not briefed about how to escape

Boyfriend critical about the safety briefing

Rescue approach "ill educated"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Auckland Beaches' Poison - Another 30 Dogs Sick, Sea Slugs Poisoned, Dog Death in Stanmore Bay

Cartoon from the New Zealand Herald

Update: Another dog has died after a walk on Stanmore Bay, this brings the suspected number of dog deaths to 5. Time to come clean about what is really responsible for these deaths? What are other people saying? please see 'Marine/Dog deaths' on (who've missed the laying of Magtoxin pellets, see below) and a thread on headed 'Dead Pilchards and Dolphins (and now dogs too)'

See: Youtube videos
Chemical and pesticide poisoning will NOT be tested for by MAF
from NZCity
5 August 2009
"MAF Biosecurity is investigating a huge jump in the number of cases of dogs which have fallen ill after being on Auckland's east coast beaches.

There have been 30 new cases of sick dogs reported in the past 24 hours.
Two dogs have died and health authorities are warning people not to walk their pets or take children on Hauraki Gulf beaches, nor collect shellfish, until more is known about the mystery illness.

Tests into what has caused the poisoning have so far proved inconclusive.

MAF is not testing for chemical or pesticide poisoning, because the clinical signs the dogs presented are not consistent with that sort of poisoning."
So what are frothing at the mouth, paralysis and death usually associated with? Some news reports have already stated that the dogs weren't affected by toxic algae and birds, sea lions and other marine animals aren't usually affected by marine neurotoxins but penguins, pilchards and dolphins have died. People are still eating fish (eg snapper) caught in the area without any adverse effects.

Feratox (a cyanide based chemical) is also used to control pests in some locations in Auckland. For example Feratox and cyanide paste has been used in marginal creeks in the Takahe Creek, Oturapa-Mullet Creek, Oruawharo River conservation area, Otekawa Creek and Okahukura conservation area and numerous other locations within the Auckland area. Whilst Great Barrier Island has been treated with Diphacinone (Ditrac blocks) in bait stations and Coumatetralyl (Racumin) in bait stations. See Link: Pesticides summary March-June

Ingestion of Diphacinone and Coumatetralyl causes nosebleeds, bleeding gums, bloody urine, fatigue, shortness of breath (dyspnea) and may cause fluid in lungs (pulmonary edema). Pulmonary edema can cause froth to appear at the mouth.

Pindone and Magtoxin Pellets
DOC's pesticide summaries show that Pindone cereal pellets, Pindone Carrot baits and Magtoxin pellets are/will be laid on Rangitoto and Motutapu in July-Oct 2009. See map below in addition to Pestoff20R. Pindone is an anti-coagulant used to control rabbits and Magtoxin releases Phosphine (hydrogen phosphide) gas, said to have the odour of decaying fish. Moderate poisoning with Magtoxin produces weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea and difficulty breathing. Severe poisoning causes pulmonary edema, cyanosis and death, source: Safety Data sheet for Magtoxin. Note pulmonary edema can causing frothing at the mouth,

Recently 'toxic' sea slugs were thought to have been the cause of the dogs' illnesses but experts outside of NZ say that the slugs are unlikely to be the cause and may have themselves have been poisoned - some of their dead bodies have been washed onto the beaches, see : Sea slugs may be victims as well. Is the whole ecosystem of the Hauraki Gulf in danger? This problem now seems to be affecting all links in the food chain. Not so 100% Pure NZ.

Tetrodotoxin was later found to be responsible for the death of the two dogs and was also found in dead sea slugs washed up on the beaches. Tetrodotoxin is highly toxic neurotoxin (100 times more so than potassium cyanide) with no known antidote. It is the product of various types of bacteria such as Pseudoalteromonas tetraodonis, Pseudomonas, Vibrio alginolyticus and some others. Bacterial production of the toxin is found in several species of pufferfish, porcupinefish, ocean sunfish or mola, triggerfish, bBlue-ringed Octopus, rough-skinned newt and Naticidae and numerous other marine life and amphibians. (see wikipedia) where is it either used as a defence mechanism or as a predatory venom. Ingestion causes muscle paralysis and death.

Wikipedia has recently been incorrectly edited to state that puffer-fish were responsible for the intoxication and also poorly cites a newspaper as the source for that information.

At this time there is no evidence has been published to prove that puffer fish have been identified as the source of the toxin, only that the sea slugs and dogs were affected by Tetrodotoxin. If this situation changes we'll be on it.

Gulf deaths cast shadow over conservation plans
Beaches deserted after toxin alert
Mass poison drops scheduled to wipeout pests

Spanish & Australian and French Tourists Injured In Campervan Accidents

A camper van carrying a Spanish family has been involved in a crash with a car on state highway 8 in the Lindis Pass, Cantebury. The accident happened around 7.30 last night on a hairpin bend. It's thought that Australian tourists may also have been caught up in the incident.

View Larger Map

The driver of the car was seriously injured, seven other people were also injured. Full details here: 8 injured, 1 critically in Lindis Crash.

On 17 August a French honeymooning couple were injured when their camper van was involved in a collision with a logging truck north of Napier. The 27 year old male tourist was taken to hospital with several fractured bones and his wife was also treated for injuries. Full story here: Honeymoon ends in hospital.

See also: 8 tourists killed in NZ crash with timber truck: The dead were a married US couple, a Thai woman, a French man, the New Zealand driver and three members of a family from India.
Also see other incidents under: 'Dangerous roads'

Thursday, August 20, 2009

North Shore Attacks, Trial Starts (updated) - Guilty Pleas Entered

17 August
In January of 2008 two particularly brutal and seemingly unprovoked attacks took place in North Shore, Auckland.

A young couple Ericka Rancourt, 21, and Oskar Carroll, 25, were minding their own business and quietly walking home in Lake Rd at around 4am on the 15th when they were viciously attacked by a gang of men. Ericka was so badly injured that she needed brain surgery.

Just hours before a Russian couple, Denis Khotchenko and his girlfriend Lera Nesterova were sitting in their car in Milford when they were set upon, allegedly by the same gang. They were beaten with a baseball bat, Ms Nesterova's eye socket and one of her fingers was broken before she managed to escape by swimming the Milford inlet to find refuge in the home of a local resident. Mr Khotchenko was also injured and beaten around the head.

Also on the same evening there was said to be an attack on a boy on Takapuna beach but it is unclear if this is included in this trial.

At the time of the attacks press reports stated that four Glenfield youths and a youth from Piha were arrested in connection with the attack on the two couples.
Today the trial of the accused began: Piri Valli Kirton, 18, Harlem Haynui Kirton 19, Jono Paul Wilson, 20, and Ruaumoko Taiapa, 21, are jointly charged with aggravated robbery, causing grievous bodily harm, injuring with intent to injure, and assault with intent to rob.
Taiapa is also charged with one count of injuring with intent to injure (source New Zealand Herald)
This trial is going to attract a lot of attention - unprovoked attacks in North Shore are relatively uncommon events and many feel revulsion at the injuries the victims received, especially the women. At the time there was some speculation about the attacks being linked to a gang expansion bid. See : "Savage attacks linked to gang expansion bid"
Update 19 August
Today all four accused entered guilty pleas, Kiriana Taiapa, the mother of one of the four accused, also pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact. She admitted to trying to get rid of 3 metals bars used in the attack. Full details here North Shore attack accused plead guilty
Update 20 August
Evidence from the prosecution continued today and more details about the terrible night of violence emerged, including the assaults on the two separate couples and Daniel Sawfford, a young man cycling along Taharoto Rd at 1am. Evidence was given that the young thugs had watched the movie "American Gangster" before leaving the house looking for trouble in North Shore, Auckland. More here: "Gangster film sets the scene"
19 Jan 2008 Weekend NZ Herald
"New Zealand's fastest-growing gang has spread to the North Shore, and is linked to this week's hyper-violent attacks.

The Weekend Herald has learned that one of those charged with the attacks, an 18-year-old from Glenfield, has a close family connection to the North Shore "recruiter" for the street gang, known as the Killer Beez, that started in the South Auckland suburb of Otara and now has followers throughout the city.

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams last night described the gang's presence as "disturbing".
He said he would meet police next week to make sure street gangs did not get a foothold on the North Shore, and wanted to tell the Killer Beez or any of their counterparts considering crossing the bridge it was no "soft touch"

Police investigating Wednesday’s attacks have raised the possibility that they were done as a “prospecting” exercise for the Killer Beez…”

Emily Jordan River Boarding Death - Rescue Approach "ill educated"

See other posts about the trial here: Emily Jordan

ODT 20 August

"A whitewater sports expert has told a Queenstown court hearing that a rescue rope could have saved the life of a young English woman who drowned while riverboarding in the Kawarau Gorge last year.

The belief that ropes and knives could become hazards themselves in white-water situations was "ill-informed and uneducated", a white-water rafting guide and former New Zealand kayaking representative told Judge Brian Callaghan in the Queenstown District Court yesterday.

Appearing as Maritime New Zealand's expert witness in the prosecution following the death of English tourist Emily Jordan during a Mad Dog River Boarding trip on the Kawarau River last year, Donald Calder said carrying a rope would have increased the guides' chances of rescuing her alive.....

.....On the third day of the hearing, Mr Calder said although there were differences between white-water activities such as kayaking, rafting and river boarding, once a person was out of their vessel, they were all in the same situation.

All white-water participants should expect entrapments because they were "fairly common" and in the past 23 years, he had been involved in a number of entrapment rescues - including of himself.

Although ropes in throw bags did not guarantee a successful rescue, Mr Calder said "most" did, while "some have involved injury and some death".

He said all white-water guides should have as much training as possible in rescue techniques, and river rescue courses were "an integral part" of New Zealand's rafting industry.

He considered it "unhelpful" the recent version of Mad Dog's safety plan had removed a requirement for guides to attend a swift-water rescue training course.

There was also "no excuse" for people in a white-water situation not to carry a throw bag with rope..."

More here: Rescue approach ill-informed: guide

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Emily Jordan Riverboarding Death - Boyfriend Critical Of Risks Briefing

See other posts about the trial here: Emily Jordan

Johnathan Armour, Emily Jordan's boyfriend (see 'British woman Emily Jordan's death' and 'Emily Jordan not briefed on how to escape') today gave evidence via video link from the UK to the court hearing in New Zealand. He criticised the safety briefing given to the couple prior to their river boarding experience, saying if he'd been better informed about the possible dangers he wouldn't have gone. According to the Otago Daily Times a guide on the trip and Mad Dog Operations manager Nicholas Kendrick told the court:
"he had been through the rapid, where Ms Jordan was stuck, about 2000 times and there had never been an issue with being trapped.When asked if they should have given people more information about the dangers of being entrapped, Mr Kendrick said they did not want to scare people about to go on a trip.

The safety briefings gave people as much information as they needed to know while providing guides with an opportunity to assess people's abilities."We tell clients it is a full-on activity and the river is a dangerous place," Mr Kendrick said. The guides made sure the clients were paying attention - "we make them take off their sunglasses . . . no talking . . . we make sure they are listening," he said."Throughout the training process we are trying to motivate clients so they have the right mindset to attack the rapids," he said. "[We tell them] positive actions they can do and not scare them with the dangers."

There had been a waiver raising a possibility of injury, death or damage to personal property and at least three safety briefings.

But Mr Armour said the tone had not been serious and there was no indication that should anyone be entrapped, rescue was not assured, nor were they told methods to get out of entrapment."
Anne Nichols, an American woman who was also on the trip told the court the guides' manner had made some of the serious information seem like jokes:
"Despite previous whitewater rafting experience, Ms Nichols said the trip was "uncomfortable" and "dangerous".

When asked by defence counsel Michael Parker if she made the judgement with "the benefit of hindsight", Ms Nichols said she could have told him after the first rapid.

Ms Jordan had been confident in water, Mr Armour said.However, she fell off her board after the second rapid and he helped her back on just before the Frogz Eddy rapid where she died.

Mr Armour indicated they drifted further left than instructed and a guide pushed him back to the right hand side of the rock.When looking back for Ms Jordan he instead saw an "unmanned board" on the left side of the rock and a hand above the water.

Mr Kendrick said there had been a lengthy attempt to dislodge Ms Jordan who was wedged, possibly in a crevice, around her chest.During that time, the lead on her wrist snapped and when they grabbed her lifejacket it came off.

After a Serious Fun River Surfing group arrived and a rope was obtained, six guides from both companies managed to tie it around her arm and after about another five minutes, Ms Jordan was freed.
However, she could not be resuscitated."
Since the tragedy Maritime NZ has issued guidelines for riverboarding, does this mean that up up until the time of Miss Jordan's death there weren't any?

"Mr Kendrick believed there would have been no way to rescue Ms Jordan alive even if a rope had been used sooner, as it had taken six people more than five minutes of hauling to free her.

He said since the incident, Maritime New Zealand had issued a number of river boarding guidelines - many of which the company already followed. One of the new guidelines was to carry a rope and carabiners."
See 'Riverboarding company operating in a regulatory vacuum'

"Has adventure tourism gone too far?"
from 1 May 2009

"Queenstown in New Zealand, Bariloche in Argentina, Interlaken in Switzerland and Cairns in Australia all pride themselves as world adventure tourism meccas. But unfortunately none of them are without serious injuries or death to paying customers in the last few years. The recent spate of adventure tourism related accidents in Queenstown alone (six serious injuries including at least 3 deaths in the last 12 months) and the death of two travellers on Fraser Island Australia last week has got me thinking - has adventure tourism gone too far?

As we as humans seek more and more adrenalised activities are we putting too much trust into the hands of profit driven adventure tourism operators? on here

Palmerston North Hammer Attack On Teenager Blake Coleman

19 year old Blake Coleman (photo Manawatu Standard)

"The phrase "hitting the town to get hammered" has taken on a whole new meaning for a Palmerston North teenager.

When Blake Coleman, 19, questioned the ages of a group of young teenagers drinking Woodstocks outside a city bar about midnight on Friday, he was met with an angry response.

Thinking it not worth the hassle, Mr Coleman threw his hands in the air, turned his back and walked away with his friends.

Seconds later, he turned his head just as someone approached him from behind and swung a hammer at his face. The blow landed with such force the hammer flew out of the attacker's hands and landed in a gutter nearby, Mr Coleman said.

"We got out of there pretty quick in case they had other weapons ... If one was carrying a hammer then they could have had knives too. (see 'more teens wielding knives')

"My hands were covered in blood and it lined the street from High Flyers to ANZ."

Mr Coleman and his friends were assisted by a passing police paddy wagon and eventually taken to Palmerston North Hospital by ambulance.

He was shocked by the assault and would "definitely have a second think" about going to town again, he said. He received nine stitches to his wound thought to be from the claw end of the hammer a tetanus injection and at least a week off work.

Mr Coleman's mother, Carol Coleman, wanted to raise public awareness about the dangers of walking around The Square at night......."

A 15 year old male was later arrested and charged with assault with a weapon. More here: Teen attacked with hammer

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Emily Jordan Not Briefed About How To Escape, Boyfriend To Give Evidence

picture Daily Mail

See other posts about the trial here: Emily Jordan

From Monday 17 August

"A FORMER Worcester schoolgirl who died taking part in an extreme sport was not briefed about how to escape in an emergency, a court was told.

Emily Jordan, of Trim-pley, near Bewdley, was riverboarding in the Kawarau River Gorge near Queenstown on New Zealand’s south island in April last year.

The former Alice Ottley School (which has now merged with the Royal Grammar School) student became trapped between rocks and drowned. Now 16 months since the accident, the adventure trip operator and its director are standing trial over health and safety failings.

During the first day of the trial yesterday, the court was told how employees of Mad Dog River Boarding did not tell the group how to escape if they got trapped.

The court was also told how company director Brad McLeod’s boat carried neither throw-bags nor ropes the day 21-year-old Miss Jordan died.McLeod and his company face three charges each over Miss Jordan’s death, including failing to ensure the actions or inaction of employees did not harm Miss Jordan Other charges, which have been laid under the Health and Safety Employment Act 1992, are failure to take all practical steps to ensure the safety of employees and the prevention of possible hazards."


"The boyfriend of an English tourist who died while riverboarding with a Queenstown company last year will give evidence by video link at the company's trial.

British woman Emily Jordan, 21, drowned after becoming trapped by rocks while riverboarding on the Kawarau River Gorge last April, on an outing organised by Black Sheep Adventures Ltd, which trades as Mad Dog River Boarding.

Director Brad McLeod and his company deny three charges each laid by Maritime New Zealand under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

Yesterday, prosecutors told Queenstown District Court Mr McLeod's boat was not carrying throw-bags or ropes the day Ms Jordan drowned.

The company was taking tourists on excursions when the river level was unusually low and had not briefed them on how to escape if trapped when riding on the modified wakeboard, the court was told.

Ms Jordan had been under water for about 20 minutes before a boat operated by another company came along. The crew of the second boat used ropes to retrieve her body.

Her boyfriend, Jonny Armour, was standing on the riverbank while rescuers recovered her corpse.

He and an American woman, who was also on the trip, will give evidence in the trial by videolink from London and New York respectively."

Monday, August 17, 2009

British Woman Emily Jordan's Death: Mad Dog Riverboarding Company In Court

See other posts about the trial here: Emily Jordan

From Stuff:

"Mad Dog River Boarding director Brad McLeod is in Queenstown District Court today defending charges laid by Maritime New Zealand after a tourist died on one of the company's excursions.

British woman Emily Jordan, 21, drowned after becoming trapped between two rocks while riverboarding on the Kawarau River Gorge last April.

The outing was organised by Black Sheep Adventures Ltd, which trades as Mad Dog River Boarding.

Mr McLeod and his company deny three charges each laid under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

The hearing is expected to take five days."

Emily's death came just two weeks after six high school students and a teacher were drowned on a canyoning expedition with the Sir Edmund Hilary Outwardbound Centre during inclement weather. The centre was later prosecuted, pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay a $40,000 fine and $440,000 in reparations. Read: 'A year of death on the nation's rivers' 5 May 2008:

"Graduate reveals her terror on NZ rapids which killed Emily Jordan"

A UNIVERSITY graduate last night revealed her own terrifying ordeal tackling the same New Zealand rapids which claimed the life of Midlander Emily Jordan.

Emma Hollindrake, 22, went river-boarding in the Kawarau River gorge just a week before the tragic 21 year-old Worcester student drowned.

Both girls had booked their trips with Queenstown-based Mad Dog River Boarding Company.

Emma told the Sunday Mercury last night: "It was the worst experience of my life - I was absolutely petrified.

"I felt under-confident in my ability on the board which made me worry that I would do something wrong and end up in serious bother. At one point I was almost in tears".....

....On its website, Mad Dog River Boarding Company insists the sport is suited to people who only need "reasonable swimming ability".

Yet the riverboard trip includes six rapids lasting 45 minutes and, according to the site, "leads participants down the mighty Kawarau River, blasting through the infamous Roaring Meg rapids."

But Emma, a Nottingham University graduate who is now travelling the world, questioned the company's safety procedures.

She said: "With Mad Dog there were a few elements which made me doubt that I was as safe as I possibly could be.

"The goggles did not fit, the group was too big and there were not enough guides.

"You are trying your best to stay in control and on your board, and heading down the rapids is hard enough given the space to do it. But in such a large group you often knock into people, knocking you off-course which can be pretty dangerous on a rapid.

"On our trip, there were four guides, that left them with five people each which was not enough to ensure my feeling of safety for the whole trip as it is such a demanding experience.

"Also, the guides told us that we should stay in their paths and turn our boards either right or left when told to do so.

"But as you are being dragged by the river I found that quite frequently you could be in between two different groups, and two different guides, and be too far away to hear or see the signal of when to turn your board.

"The guides were also reluctant to let us not participate.

"Me and one girl went over the first rapid together and she hated it. The guys had to come and assist her and were almost shouting at her when she told them that she did not feel comfortable to continue.

"She did get out of the water but only because she kicked up a fuss. This made me feel uncomfortable about also trying to get out as they were clearly not happy with the situation, so I continued down the river.

"But at one point I swallowed an awful lot of water and was struggling to get my breath back. I shouted to one of the guides that I wasn't sure if I could continue and he told me there was absolutely no way of getting out.""

The UK's Daily Mail also published information from a tourist who'd been riverboarding in NZ:

Photo Daily Mail

"Heather Findlay, 25, who went river-boarding in New Zealand last year, said it was terrifying.

'I got sucked into one rapid called the Man Eater - I couldn't catch my breath and thought I was going to drown.

'I just got caught up in the undercurrent and it kept swirling me around.'

Read more about other concerns over the safety of outdoor activities in NZ: Outdoor adventure in NZ It is thought that the number of tourist adventure injuries in NZ rivals that of road injury victims (New Zealand's road toll is twice that of the UK's )

Kelston Boys and Auckland Grammar Schools Students and Spectators In Punch Up

A truly disgusting display of violence from two of New Zealand's top high schools when over 100 people including students and spectators (some of them drunk) clashed in a mass punch up.

The cause was said to be racial insults and other taunts. It's time to send a message that violence will not be tolerated in NZ, neither will racism, and that a sense of fair play and sportsmanship still exists even at a junior level. Some of these kids may well be tomorrow's All Blacks.

Some public reactions to the brawl. These are of the very many answers to the question posed by the NZ Herald:

Schoolboy rugby brawl: is this reflective of our society?

Ashley (Auckland central)

Of course it is, but we've always been a violent society. It's pathetic really, at primary school the kids that are respected/feared are the bullies, and it's tolerated, even celebrated. Boys need to be tough and all that drivel. Once we change this mindset, from the primary level up, and make violence deplorable, then and only then will things change. Thuggery and machismo, what an unsophisticated and uncultured combination, and we have it in NZ in spades.

Nathan (St Lukes)
The school match spectator behaviour is becoming worse every year. What are we teaching our young people?
There used to be a word called sportmanship. If we cannot control the spectator behaviour adult spectators must be banned from the matches. Only the school students from participating should be allowed. The students behaviour should be monitored by school prefects and teachers. If parents cannot behave then I see no other alternative.

Doctor Don (Auckland)

I note in the video/pictures there was a young lady who was caught up in the brawl. While it appeared she was trying to separate players, one of the Kelston players struck out at her. This is disgusting and this player needs criminal charges to be placed against him.

What we saw is the reason why Auckland rugby are no longer the dominant force in NZ rugby. You have some lads of Pacific origins who are first twice the size of their European counterparts, and they are violent and resort to using their fists when things go wrong and they start losing.

The children from the Pacific have a natural talent, the kids with European backgrounds can analyse and run the game.but more and more leave the sport before they hit their physical maturity due to losing the desire, through being knocked out of the game.

Keisha's Castle-Hughes' Response To John Key

After John Key publicly stating that Keisha Castle-Hughes should 'stick to acting' over her stance on climate change she published a very articulate reply (on and Key has asked to to meet over a cup of tea to chat about her concerns. Here's Keisha's reply, aired on 6 August:
"I think it's derogatory to state that it's not okay for New Zealanders to stand up and take interest in the world around them.Climate change is a global issue that affects our country as a whole. Before being anything else in my life, I am a mother, and that is why I am a part of this campaign. And as a mother i believe i have a right to speak up if i have concerns about the future of my daughter. Discouraging New Zealand youth to participate, think and speak out is not on for the Prime Minister of NZ.

I'm not claiming to be a scientist nor a climate expert. I am just doing what I can as a good global citizen.

John Key's climate change Minister Nick Smith has spent the last two weeks running a public consultation on what NZ should do on climate change. I was under the impression that the NZ Government was therefore interested in what the public had to say. Is the PM all of a sudden NOT interested in public input?

This week is the Pacific Island Forum, where low lying states are calling clearly for help on climate change from countries like New Zealand. The Alliance of Small Island States is asking for developed countries to cut emissions by 45% by 2020. John Key should spend less time commenting on a Kiwi Mum's right to free speech, and more listening to our Pacific neighbours."

Other Pacific Islands Show NZ The Way With Emissions

Following on from yesterday's blog article we have some more from 'Eco' a publication of the CAN groups attending the Bonn Climate negotiations, August 2009. As you can see not only are other Pacific Island nations stepping-up to the plate but they are also setting an example to their neighbours.


Leading From Below

"As we now know, New Zealand’s CC Issues Minister has put forward an unacceptably weak target (10–20% on 1990 levels, hedged with conditions). To add insult to injury, as Ludwig noted yesterday, he has had the gall to challenge Pacific Island countries to show themselves willing to reduce their own emissions – which amount to around 0.03% of the global total. New Zealand’s stand at 0.21% (even without allowing for the sheep).

Fortunately the Pacific Islands have done more than show themselves willing, they are already taking action. Here are a few examples, an incomplete list, that the “Hon.” Nick Smith might like to consider:

• The Fiji Electricity Authority aims to generate at least 90% of its energy needs from renewables by 2011.

• In July 2008, the Tongan government announced a major renewables campaign with a target of having 50% of its electricity from renewables within three years.

Samoa’s adopted national energy policy has a goal of increasing the contribution of RE for energy services and supply by 20% by year 2030, using sources including wind and hydro.

• The Power Utility at Vanuatu (UNELCO) has set itself a goal of generating 33% of its electricity from renewables by 2013. As of April 2008, UNELCO was using coco-fuel for power generation at 25% mix for 200 liters per hour. UNELCO is also installing wind power capacity of 2.75 MW that would in 2010 contribute to 6% of the total electricity generation.

Nauru has set itself a target of 50% renewable energy by 2015 as part of a national strategic plan on energy.

Tuvalu aims to be a 100% renewables country by 2020.

These countries have low responsibility and limited capability, but are doing all they can to secure their survival. Developed countries might follow their example, and consider targets that correspond with their responsibility and capacity – more than 40% by 2020 would be in line with the science."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

100% Pure NZ - You Can't Be Half Pregnant, You Have to Go All The Way. The Age of Stupid

A bit more effort is needed if NZ stands any hope of living up its 100% Pure marketing aspirations. A robust commitment to reducing carbon emission would be a good start in establishing NZ's green credentials. The issue is being taken very seriously indeed by other Pacific Island Nations. many of whom are low-lying and will be devastated by sea level rises.


"Yesterday’s target announcement from New Zealand’s had one – and only one – positive aspect. It surpassed the ‘extremely low’ expectations that ECO announced yesterday, by a whole 5%. Now it’s just ‘really really low’ instead. And still below the Bali range.

Think of it this way: imagine that you have a giant chasm to cross. Call it a ‘grand climate canyon’, if you will. Your entire population lives on one side of the canyon, but scientists warn you that floods, famines and food shortages will cause unimaginable suffering, unless you can find a way to cross to the other side. Your best scientists, lawyers and engineers conference together, do the measurements, and determine that you need to build a bridge exactly 1,000 metres long, to enable your fellow citizens to cross safely to the other side.

But for some unknown reason, your social and government leaders decide to build a bridge that only goes 500m. (And even this might be too high a figure, considering current progress in the LCA.) Citizens see the government making ‘progress’, they celebrate, and they are lulled into the false sense of security that they will be safe. Their leaders happily shepherd them onto the bridge, and they happily march forward, towards their impending doom. And that’s not hyperbole.

In the same way that you can’t be half pregnant, you can’t reduce emissions by only 20% by 2020 and miraculously expect the climate to stabilise below 2 degrees C. You need to go all the way.

It is well known, from various analyses by the UNFCCC and others, that the targets put forward by Annex 1 nations, in sum, amount to only a 10-16% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020. No wonder the IPCC scientists – and some here at CAN – are being driven to drink these days. On the outside, even the youth climate campaigners look hopeful, but under their youthful, happy veneer, even they are getting desperate. The New Zealand target completes a rather dismal Annex I picture.

The same ‘threshold problem’ applies not only to carbon reduction targets, but also to climate finance, technology transfer, adaptation, and REDD/LULUCF. To be safe, you can’t just build half a sea wall. You can’t halftrain a renewable energy engineer. You can’t plant half a tree. You can’t give someone half a course of anti-HIV medicines. You can’t use half a condom. You can’t fly half a plane. You can’t use half a parachute. And you can’t reduce carbon emissions by half the amount that science demands. That’s why they call it ‘runaway’ climate change.

So, here at ECO, our message is this: we fully expect that, by Copenhagen, the idiotic targets put forward thus far by Annex 1 nations will be more than doubled. More than 40%, or bust."

For those who remain unconvinced about climate change (yes, there are many in New Zealand) perhaps this film will change their minds

Australia & New Zealand Trailer HD from Age of Stupid on Vimeo.


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