Saturday, January 16, 2010

Protestors Waiting For Prince William To Arrive In Wellington

We hear that Prince William, second in line to the British throne, is due to open the new Supreme Court Building in Wellington on Monday.

Republican groups are said to be lying in wait for him and are planning to make an issue out of the establishment of the court representing the end of a long link with Britain.

The prince has already caused problems by daring to ask for healthy salmon in place of red meat at a hangi to be held in his honour, which means that hundreds of dollars spent on showcasing the "best cuts of meat from all over NZ" (ed. we thought those were all exported?) may have been a little excessive. Perhaps someone should've asked him what he wanted to eat before ordering it?

It is not known at this time whether the Prince's has also asked for salad or whether his dietary choices are likely to lead to a new export opportunities for NZ salmon, but we're sure that someone is likely to make the most of it very soon.

Professor Noel Cox, chairs of Monarchy New Zealand, has already said the Prince's trip is free advertising for NZ (see Prince's tour is value for money)
"Every time Prince William’s trip to Aotearoa is mentioned, it is a bold advertisement for New Zealand,” says Professor Noel Cox, Chair of Monarchy New Zealand.

References to the Prince’s impending trip have been made in every major newspaper in both countries (Australian and UK) “If we were going to pay for this kind of advertisement, it would cost a fortune.”

A single full page ad in the British newspaper, The Times costs $56,000 NZD. “Kiwis are already getting a great return on their investment.” By raising New Zealand’s profile through his visit, Prince William is giving a huge boost to our tourism industry."
The family firm sees his trip a little differently :
"St James’s Palace insisted that the Prince would not be distracted by any Republican protests. “It is not about Prince William becoming enmeshed in politics."

Buckingham Palace will be hoping that Prince William, who is more popular than his father in most polls, will enhance the standing of the Royal Family. "We are planning for large crowds. There is huge interest,” said Mr Lowther-Pinkerton."
One wonders if those Republican groups have heard the one about the goose and its golden egg.

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Vietnamese Man Killed In Maraekakaho Named As Kim Sol

The Vietnamese vineyard worker who died when his van rolled had only been living in New Zealand for a couple of months. Various news outlets are carrying the following the story about the loss of control crash on a road bend:
 "A Vietnamese man killed when the van he was in rolled near Hastings on Thursday had moved to New Zealand two months ago.
Kim Sol died in Hawke's Bay Hospital yesterday. He was one of eight family members in the van, which rolled after it failed to negotiate a bend on Kereru Road near Maraekakaho, southwest of Hastings, Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter spokeswoman Louise Harvey said.
Six, including Mr Sol, arrived in New Zealand in November and had residency, the Dominion Post reported.
The other two family members, including the driver, had moved to New Zealand about 10 years ago."
He is thought to be the second Vietnamese national to have died this week. So far 21 people have lost their lives in 19 fatal crashes during January.

See also other posts tagged: Dangerous Roads

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Vietnamese Man, Lam Xuan Hu, Dies From Truck Wheel Injuries

Today we heard that the Vietnamese man struck by a loose truck wheel yesterday has died after his life support machine was turned off. Later reports named him as  Lam Xuan Hu, a 24-year-old living in Manukau on a student visa.

News reports said that the he was a passenger on a bus that was hit by one of two large wheels that came flying off a passing truck. The incident happened yesterday in rush hour traffic on the motorway between Otahuhu and Mount Wellington, Auckland.

One of the wheels crashed through the front screen of the bus, rolled down the aisle, rebounded and hit Lam Xuan Hu. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends for their sad loss.

We'll leave aside for one moment the issue that yet another foreign national had met an untimely end on New Zealands roads. We'll focus on the point that this incident was one of many in New Zealand recently that have involved trucks.

German cyclist Mia Pusch, the mother and child in Hastings, the two Spanish tourists, the 7 killed on a holiday weekend, the woman in her 60s south of Napier, the Swedish tourists in Northland, German cyclist Stephan Stoermer, Des Eyre, police superintendent Steve Fitzgerald, and many others all met their end in a truck 'accident'.

Some reports say that the truck was recently serviced and that specialist reports into the vehicle's condition had started. We wonder if road-worthiness was a factor in any of the other crashes and if it is time for a review of truck servicing and maintenance and time to tighten-up Certificate of Fitness checks.

Today's posts - click here

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Name Suppression Farce Continues - Updated

The new national game of 'Name Suppression - pin the tail on the Ass', which is very much in the news at the moment, has reached the level of a Pythonesque farce when it was revealed that the man accused of attempting to murder a police officer (Jeremy Snow) in Papatoetoe just before Christmas (see blog post police officer shot in Paptoetoe) has been granted continued name suppression. He had it removed yesterday only to have it reinstated within an hour pending an appeal to the High Court.

The man* supposedly gave his reason for requesting name suppression as being this - his mum was abroad, couldn't be contacted and he didn't want her finding out from the press. Ok, but that was back at Christmas, surely someone should've tracked her down by now? if she's that out of contact she's hardly likely to be reading press reports about allegations that junior gunned down a rookie cop back home.

We can only surmise that the major reason for the suppression has been suppressed along with his name and that all will be revealed in the fullness of time.

Meanwhile, more importantly, Constable Snow is slowly recovering from his physical and psychological injuries in his Auckland flat and is being cared for by his parents, he's still in a wheelchair and may need a bone graft on his left leg. His recovery may take months, we wish him a full recovery and hope he's back doing the job he loves very soon.

The damages to the NZ judicial system may take longer to heal unless changes to the law are made very swiftly.
See:  Government will look closely at Law Commission report, 16 Nov 2009:
"The report recommends significant changes for name suppression. "There is merit in having tougher standards before people can get name suppression, and in specifying in legislation the ground on which suppression can be granted," Mr Power said.

The commission said courts currently had "broad discretion" to block the publication of names and identifying information. The suppression of names or evidence should be restricted to exceptional cases and be made for compelling reasons, the report said.

Reasons should be specified in legislation and should reflect a high threshold.
The commission said name suppression should be used only where there was a risk of prejudice to a fair trial, undue hardship to victims and the accused or would identify another person who has suppression."
Meanwhile a 'prominent Northland Civil Servant' is also seeking name suppression after pleading guilty to four minor fraud charges - switching price stickers on supermarket goods - the press can't even reveal which government department the man works for. Do the public have the right to know about the criminal convictions and honesty of its public servants? all will be decided next week. link

Update 15 January
* The accused man has been charged with a string of offences:
Attempted murder.
Shooting with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
Unlawfully possessing firearms including .22-calibre rifles, one with a silencer, and a double-barrelled shotgun.
Possessing methamphetamine.
Unlawful possession of a 2006 Audi car valued at $30,000.
Assaulting Kenneth Caine using a firearm as a weapon.
Assaulting Phillip Andrew Kingi using a firearm as a weapon.
Assaulting Amanda Riley using a firearm as a weapon.
Possessing a .38-calibre pistol.
(source NZ Herald)

 Today's posts - click here

'Jobs For Kiwis' Hits Orcharding Industry

Tough luck if you're planning to fund a holiday in New Zealand by picking fruit. According to one article in the Nelson Mail orchardists in the region have been inundated with so many requests for work that they've been able to pick and chose who they employ.

Tourists are likely to get pipped at the post, firstly by Kiwis and then by people with experience in "hard, physical work."

But amazingly, despite the recession and high numbers of unemployed New Zealanders, working holiday visas are still being granted with 19,264 being approved this financial year.

We wonder how many visitors are still paying for visas and then not finding work, should they be asking for refunds? The visas cost Brits £50 each - that's the equivalent of a sweet and juicy £963,200 ($2 million) for the NZ immigration service. Nice little earner.

In July there was a news article published "Migrants groups push to end 'hypocrisy' (9 July) - new migrants still arriving but no jobs: "Migrant support groups will today ask the Government to stop letting migrant workers into New Zealand "knowing full well there are no jobs for them", and to commit to helping those already here and grappling with unemployment."

In November the importance of immigration to the NZ economy was emphasised by the Minister of Immigration when he said: (link)
“It’s clear that government policy has to continue the focus on economic gains from immigration. “Significant achievements in the Government’s first year have included new Business Migration policies to reduce red tape and make it easier for a wider range of business migrants to invest in New Zealand, as well as improvements to the Recognised Seasonal Employer Policy."
All well and good but where are the jobs for them? why take their money, let them in and then give the work to New Zealanders?

See also other posts tagged  with "Jobs for Kiwis"

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Other German Cyclists Killed In March and August. Stephan Stoermer And Jens Richardon

Today we were reminded that Mia Pusch wasn't the only German cyclist to have died in New Zealand in the last twelve months. Much the same as Mia, another German national was also killed by a truck and it was moving in the same direction as he was.

German tourist Stephan Stoermer  had been on a cycling world tour since 2006, he was winding his way through 26 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia since early 2006 before arriving in New Zealand. He died a week before his tour was scheduled to end when he was hit by a logging truck near Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty on March 12, 2009.

As if it was a portent of worse to come two months previously Police Superintendent Steve Fitzgerald, a road safety expert and National Commander of the Police Communications Centres, was killed when he was involved in a collision with a truck as he cycled home in Petone. At one time Mr Fitzgerald oversaw all NZ road policing operations and achieved significant and sustained reductions in road deaths and injury crashes. That same day, and in a separate incident, Des Eyre also died in Wellington when he collided with a truck.

Another German cyclist died on 6 August in a hit an run at Leeston, 45 km south west of Christchurch. 34 year old Jens Richardon (above, centre) had been living in NZ for a few years. He must have been quite familiar with the peculiarities of the roads and of the local driving habits. His body was eventually discovered by a passing motorist at 7.30pm and police located the offender's car, a dark blue BMW 3251, 20km away.

Slumped over bar
The driver of the car that hit him was seen slumped over a bar shortly before the crash. Phillip Kirkwood Hamilton, 40, of Southbridge, pleaded guilty on 6 November 2009 to driving under the influence of alcohol causing death and failing to stop for an injury accident. He had drunk around 10 pints of beer at a bar in Rolleston from around 2.30pm that day. He told police he knew he had hit a cyclist but panicked because he had been drinking.

He was remanded on bail for sentencing until 8 February and the judge ordered a pre-sentence report on his suitability for home detention, and a victim impact statement from the dead cyclist’s wife.

Home detention? for drinking a skinful and then killing another man?! it's an utter disgrace and is beyond belief. That would be an insult to Mr. Richardson's memory and will send a message out to the local community that if you drink, drive and kill someone you'll likely get off with little more than a slapped wrist. There should be zero tolerance for crimes such as these, it's important that justice is seen to be done.

Stephan Stoermer kept a blog of his journey which was completed for him after his death, here is a rough translation from the original German of the last entry: (link
"On 12 March 2009 he arrived at Tauranga Bay of Plenty. He got no further. He got no further. One on the same street in the same direction errant truck ran over him, just like that.

How do we learn from New Zealand in New Zealand is such a thing, more or less than normal: Cyclists must - if they do not want to be killed - to avoid any motor vehicle, no matter which way this comes out.

Niguel Short, author of the famous bike tour leader neuseeländsichen Pedall 'Paradise, writes in the introduction to Bicycle Tours in New Zealand at Relevant Traffic Laws:

Cyclists should give way to cars and trucks ... or you may be run over!
New Zealand might be a crank 'Paradise but it is not Utopia! Thus it might be worth investing in a mirror to keep an eye on the moronic drivers approaching from behind.

The Bay of Plenty Times reported on 17 March 2009 about the accident:

Cyclist this week from one world tour finish
17/03/2009 by Vicki Waterhouse
The tourist killed after he was hit by a truck while cycling near Te Puke had been biking around the   world for the past three years and was due to fly home on Friday.
The man was named today as Stephan Stoermer, 38, of Frankfurt.
Mr. Stoermer died on the way to hospital after he was hit by a fully load logging truck on State Highway 2 near Te Matai Rd last Thursday night.
Mr. Stoermer had traveled through 25 countries on his bicycle, throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Australia.
On his website he talked about being on the move all of his life, but not for the purpose of arriving at a destination.
"I'm always looking for a new, different mode of traveling," he wrote.
Mr. Stoermer began his journey in the northern hemisphere's spring of 2006.
He said on his website he enjoyed touring the world on a bicycle because he always met people with whom he could tour for hours or days and had the most interesting conversations with them.
On this three-year tour he was meeting people from various cultural backgrounds who shared his interest in cycling.
He also sought to promote environmentally friendly travel and motivate people to use bikes.
His website features hundreds of pictures of himself on the road in various locations.
Senior Sergeant Ian Campion of road policing said Mr Stoermer's family in Germany had been notified of his death.
Mr Campion said according to Mr. Stoermer's travel documents, he was due to fly out to Frankfurt on Friday after traversing 26 countries.
&nbsp0wA5oGRlTI/AAAAAAAAAI8/htDHt3C/span>He arrived in New Zealand on December 30 and had traveled the South Iceland.
The Rotorua logging truck driver who drove the truck which hit Mr Stoermer has not been charged over the incident. Police are still investigating the collision.
Mr Campion said it may be some time until the cause of the crash was determined.

This investigation will probably result hardly anything, since there are no surviving witnesses to give except the truck driver himself, who wrote Websklave in March 2009. That's not quite true anymore.  On 30 September reports Stephen Stormer-sister Ulrike Hertel, after receiving a detailed police report:

In fact there were witnesses to the accident, and as a result of the investigation of truck drivers because of "reckless driving resulting in death is indicted."

Would you so much, since (insert a sentence or at least the old rauszunehmen) - simply because it is not true, and we otherwise the New Zealand police and their thorough work can not be met.

What the Websklave obviously likes to do.
Cremation in New Zealand
Stephen Stormer was posted on Saturday, 21 March 2009 at 11h30 cremated at the cemetery in Rotorua NZ. Michiel van Dijk and Anna Lim report on the book of condolence. You have set at the accident scene and a small compass to remember and evergreen.

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Facebook Group Set Up In Memory Of Mia Pusch

A Facebook page has been established to remember Mia Pusch, the brilliant, vivacious young German cyclist who tragically died too soon whilst on a cycling holiday in New Zealand. The page may be found here.

Her mother Gesa has responded to the many heartfelt messages of support left on the wall and we'd like to add our own condolences to both Gesa and Marcus who must be utterly heartbroken.

One message left by Leo Van Lin summed up the problem with cycling in New Zealand:
"Coming from the Netherlands to New Zealand I gave up biking 15 years ago. After two rides and as many crashes I gave up. Too dangerous.
In this country you need a fence around your pool, a belt while you drive, but there is NO protection at all for cyclists. And sadly overseas visitors don't know this enough.
Time for a... wide spread discussion and actions. Let Mia be the last (unnecessary) victim of our cruel roads.
I miss the protection that all bike riders and pedestrians have in the Netherlands. Since the 80's any accident involving a car and a slower road user automatically puts the blame on the automobilist. No exception, no doubt. You drive a car, you are responsible for your and other people's safety!!
Sad, unnecessary, and not the first one. How long, how long............
Time for action. Let her death not be in vain !"

If some good is to come out of all this let her death NOT be in vain, we're hoping the government will act swiftly to increase the safety of all road users, especially cyclists. Support the RideStrong 1.5m to Survive NZ Safe Cycling Strategies 2020 petition here - link

Within the Facebook page is a link to another site (link to a Google translation) also memorializing Mia and in which more information has been given surrounding her death and time in New Zealand.

In it her father has revealed that Mia had been dreaming about doing an overseas cycling trip since high school and that the family had rejected her top choice Africa as a possible destination believing it to be too risky. Instead they opted for New Zealand believing it to have the least risk. We do not know why  they believed it to be safer or if they knew that some countries have warned their citizens about the dangers.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently updated its travel advice for New Zealand, to include mention of the recent accidents of British visitors, many more countries may decide to do the same in light of the many incidents involving Spanish, German, French, Chinese, Japanese and other tourists. Here is what the BF&C office have said:

Pickpocketing and other street crime occur in major urban areas Reports of thefts from unattended vehicles, especially hire cars/camper vans in major tourist areas (e.g. the Coromandel peninsula, Rotorua and Queenstown) are on the increase.  There has also been an increase in the number of thefts from hotel/motel rooms in some tourist areas.

Do not leave possessions in unattended vehicles even if out of sight in a locked boot.  Do not leave valuables in hotel/motel rooms, but use safe boxes when available.  Keep passports, travellers' cheques, credit cards etc separate.

For more general information see our Victims of Crime Abroad page.
Local travel

There have been a number of tragic accidents involving British visitors; these also include extreme sporting accidents. If you intend to participate in extreme sports you should check that the company is well established in the industry and your insurance covers you. If you intend visiting remote areas, you should check with local tourist authorities for advice before setting out. You should ensure that you register your details with a Visitor Information Centre or family or friends. Weather conditions can quickly become treacherous in some areas and you should keep yourself informed of regional weather forecasts.
Road travel

Whilst road conditions are generally good in New Zealand, it takes a little while to get used to local driving conditions.

In 2007 there were 366 road deaths in New Zealand (source: DfT).  This equates to 8.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 4.3 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2008.

You are advised to read a copy of the Road Code (the official guide to traffic rules and traffic safety) before driving.  Particular attention should be given to the section covering the right of way rules, which are different from other countries.  UK driving licences are valid for use for a maximum of 12 months.

Motor insurance is not a legal requirement in New Zealand.  Therefore, even though the UK has a reciprocal Healthcare Agreement with New Zealand, private accident insurance is recommended.  This is because New Zealand law has removed the right of accident victims to sue a third party in the event of an accident.  Instead the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) helps pay for your care if you are injured as the result of an accident.  However, the ACC only covers the cost of treatment in New Zealand and delayed travel or loss of income in a third country is not covered."
More countries should be doing the same, they are doing their citizens a grave disservice by not doing so.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

UK Families Form Group To Push For Tougher Extreme Sport Standards In New Zealand

The families of three British people killed in Adventure Sport activities in New Zealand have formed an support and pressure group to push for better regulation of the industry and have called for all operators to be licensed. See ABC News report of a RadioNZ broadcast

The families of Emily Jordan, Sarah Bond  and Tom Sewell (the latter two both died in quad bike accidents, Sarah on Te Anga Farm, Waitomo and Tom in a fruit orchard in Katikati. Click on their names for their individual stories) have called for an high quality extreme sport licensing system to be established in New Zealand, in an effort to improve safety standards and to regulate novel sports before they are allowed to set-up, much the same as what happens in Great Britain. The group has yet to give itself a name.

When Tom Sewell died a NZPA report stated
"The on-farm handling of quad bikes has been an issue raised by accident investigators and insurers. Bikes have been getting bigger and more powerful. Training of riders has also been an issue."
Emily's father Chris Jordan wrote to PM John Key calling for a review of the industry calling its safety regulation "third world" after his daughter died in a river boarding activity and called the fine given to the company that took her out "an insult". Mad Dog Riverboarding, one of many companies to be tried during 2009, pleaded guilty but the fine was not enough to put them out of business - not only are they still trading and but amazingly  they've also recently applied to expand their operations.

Mr. Jordan wrote in his letter to Mr Key hat he had spent 16 months investigating the way that extreme sports firms are regulated in New Zealand and was “appalled” at what he had found.
He said "It is vital that more young people do not die in this way. It is a tragic, unnecessary waste and they leave many grieving people behind for whom life is forever changed. This situation is damaging New Zealand’s reputation worldwide.

Review already delayed
His letter prompted a review of the industry, which has already been pushed back by two months (See blog post 'Adventure tourism review extended') in order  "to give operators sufficient time to engage more fully with the review" suggesting a lack of buy-in amongst those in industry who see no reason to participate. The report is supposed to be sent to Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson for her consideration by May, 31 next year, just two weeks after Emily's birthday, what a fitting tribute for her if standards are improved and a licensing scheme is established.

We think that this nonchalance on behalf of the operators is probably what's caused the parents to form their pressure group: to ensure that the initial impetus is maintained and the review is not allowed to wither and die before it's even properly started.

The group has our full support, something must be done to improve safety standards in New Zealand  before any more people are killed or seriously injured. Three outcomes we'd like to see from the report are:
  • Better protection of employees and the public through by more comprehensive and well managed risk control strategies, bench marked against international standards. These procedures should  be reviewed regularly to ensure they're effective.
  • Less reliance on ACC to pick up the tab and more muscle exerted by insurance companies on higher risk activities.
  • Heavier penalties for operators who fail to manage risks properly, including closing down operators who are considered to be unsafe and imposing manslaughter charges where applicable. Revenue raised through fines and licensing should be returned to the industry to further improve safety standards.
We also echo the families' call for a licensing system to be established in New Zealand and feel sure that there is a wealth of information and support in the UK which NZ could draw upon in establishing its own, high quality and world class scheme.
      See also NZ guiding industry failing to manage risks properly

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      Sunday, January 10, 2010

      Brazilian Man, Anderson Luiz Dos Santo, Killed In Queenstown - Updated

      The carnage on New Zealand's roads continues with the tragic loss of yet another life. A Brazilian man living in Queenstown since 2005 was killed yesterday in a head-on collision approximately 100 metres from Shotover Bridge. He was later named as Anderson Luiz Dos Santos, age 32. Our thoughts are with his family and friends for their awful loss.

      View larger map, the accident happened on the bend in the road
      There have been scores of serious crashes already this year with at least 13 people killed, at least three of them on two wheeled vehicles and at least one pedestrian. The death toll is already higher the whole of January 2009.  January's carnage includes
      • American journalist, Deborah Howell, who died when struck by a car near Blenheim - link 
      • German cyclist Maria Pusch who was killed in Bulls, Manawatu - link 
      • Diane Wilton-Jones killed at Maungatapu Bridge near Tauranga - link
      • John William Baker, 64 died after his car hit a tree on SH 2 between Napier and Awatoto  link 
      • A serious crash south of Auckland that trapped a woman - link
      • A police officer who was injured when dragged beneath a stolen police car in Christchurch - link
      •  Leith Allan Thomas Hay was badly injured and later died in a head-on crash on State Highway 10 near Kerikeri - link 
      • A woman seriously injured when a truck and car collided on SH 57 near  Ihakara, about 8km north of Levin - link 
      • Two people seriously injured on a notorious piece of road Marine Parade, West of Auckland - link 
      • Two people killed in separate incidents involving a car and a motorcycle. One on Kopaki Road west of Benneydale and the other died on Main Road, Tairua in the Coromandel- link
      An appeal has been set-up to assist with the cost of returning Mr. Santo's body to Brazil, but plans to accept donations from the general public have yet to be finalised. see details here.

          For other posts about dangerous roads and driving conditions in NZ please see posts tagged Dangerous Roads

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