New Zealand

'Closely failed states' in the Pacific blamed for NZ's drug problems

Shane Jones who holds several portfolios, including forestry and infrastructure, made the remark in response to questions about the Government's Pacific reset strategy - where foreign aid is being boosted by roughly $US500-million dollars over the next four years.

"Many of the problems that we are dealing with here, with P (methamphetamine) and drugs, where do you think that is coming from folks? That is coming from closely failed states in the Pacific," Mr Jones told journalists.

NZ gives Tonga nearly $US10m for power upgrades

The grant is expected to directly benefit over 2,000 households and businesses in 12 villages around Kolomotu'a and Kolofo'ou through a safer, more resilient and cheaper system.

The Nuku'alofa Network Upgrade Project follows on from the successful upgrade of 55 rural villages in Tongatapu.

Just over $US2 million will go towards the Tongatapu Village Network Upgrade following damage caused by February's Cyclone Gita.

Britain and NZ to co-host Pacific climate change forum

The New Zealand Herald reports the Foreign Minister Winston Peters welcomed the pledge on closer co-operation in the Pacific made by his British counterpart Boris Johnson following talks between the pair in London.

The two foreign ministers discussed a range of issues including future negotiations on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement post-Brexit in March 2019, and Peters reiterated New Zealand's support for the UK following the attack in Salisbury.

Denver Test appears certain to go ahead

RLIF chairman John Grant was invited to attend the NRL CEO's meeting, along with representatives of the NZRL and England's Rugby Football League, to discuss with clubs and the RLPA concerns about the flight time and recovery process for players in the Test.

The RLPA is still working through some issues with the countries but there is an acceptance that the Test will go ahead after the NZRL outlined details of the insurance coverage and medical processes for Kiwis players.

Commonwealth Games: Split in Pacific ranks over transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard

Since Hubbard became eligible to compete in international events at the start of last year, she has polarised views in the weightlifting community, particularly in the Pacific.

Head coach of the Samoan team Jerry Wallwork remains firmly opposed to Hubbard competing at the Games.

"A man is a man and a woman is a woman and I know a lot of changes have gone through, but in the past Laurel Hubbard used to be a male champion weightlifter," he said.

Secretary-general of the Oceania Weightlifting Institute Paul Coffa takes a much more conciliatory line.

Former Mongrel Mob president gives up gang life

Toko Kopu, 57, joined the gang aged 15, and rose to become president of an influential Mob chapter.

Life in the gang involved major drug deals, barking like dogs and using Nazi slogans like "sieg heil", he told Daily Mail Australia.

After a period that included robbing a bank and bashing a cop, Kopu traded in his patch for the controversial Destiny Church through its "Man Up" programme, which aims to raise better fathers, brothers and sons.

Young men often turned to crime and gangs because of absent fathers or abuse they suffered, Kopu said.

NZ Government strengthens ties with Pacific region

Jacinda Ardern last week led the Pacific Mission to Samoa, Niue, Tonga and the Cook Islands on her first official visit as Prime Minister.

Aupito William Sio, who travelled with the PM, says there is a definite shift in New Zealand's focus in the Pacific.

"New Zealand is firmly anchored in the Pacific and it was important to transform the relationship from a donor-aid recipient to a one of partnership," he says.

"I think the Pacific governments, the people of the Pacific countries that we visited, certainly felt something different."


NZ not competing with China in Pacific

On Monday, Ardern pledged the government would dedicate almost $10 million in aid and support for Samoa.

She told Morning Report that regardless of what other countries were doing, New Zealand should exercise its duties and responsibilities as partners and friends in the Pacific.

NZ to increase aid to the Pacific - Peters

He is also hinting at an increase in baseline funding for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In a speech to the LOWY Institute in Sydney this week, Mr Peters said New Zealand was a Pacific country, linked by history, culture, politics, and demographics.

"In many respects the Pacific is where New Zealand matters more, wields more influence, and can have more positive impact.

"We also see a region challenged by a dizzying array of social and environmental problems and one attracting an increasing number of external actors and interests."

Heavy rain, wind continues to hit NZ

A front is moving northwards over the upper South Island this morning, then onto the lower North Island this afternoon.

Heavy rain has already fallen in Fiordland and southern Westland, and more is expected in the northwest of the South Island and parts of the lower North Island today.

But MetService severe weather forecaster Eric Brenstrum told Morning Report it should only be a "fraction" of the rain seen last week.

He said the front has weakened as it travelled north - while parts of Fiordland saw 300mm of rain fall yesterday.