New Zealand

Thunderstorms and heavy rain as NZ warned to get ready for Gita

MetService forecasts severe thunderstorms with frequent lightning, and downpours of up to 40 millimetres of rain per hour which may cause flooding.

It said the heavy rain and thunderstorm activity should ease south of Hokitika late morning, and between Hokitika and Westport by about 2pm this afternoon.

MetService has predicted the rest of the weekend to be fairly nice.

However it won't be nice for long as Cyclone Gita is expected to make its way to New Zealand early next week.

NZ pledges further $1.5 million to Pacific Islands Cyclone Gita relief

The money is on top of the $750,000 (US$552,000) that the Government has already contributed to the relief efforts.

“This additional funding will be directed to Tonga, Samoa and Fiji which have all felt the impact of the cyclone,” said Peters.

“A picture of the extent of damage caused by Cyclone Gita is emerging and it is clear a big response and clean-up job lies ahead. We are here to help our neighbours get through this,” he said.

Fears over deportations to cyclone-ravaged Tonga

Immigration New Zealand said today there were no imminent planned deportations to Tonga, and it would take a pragmatic and compassionate approach to the issue.

"INZ always takes into account all the circumstances in an individual case before going ahead with any deportations, including the effects of Cyclone Gita," a spokesman said.

But Richard Small said while deportations may be suspended for a short period, officials needed to think about how long it would take for countries to recover from natural disasters.

Kiwis World Cup review completed

New Zealand Rugby League has received a draft copy of the review which will be presented to the board at the end of the month.

The Kiwis failed to make the semi finals of the tournament, beaten by Tonga in pool play and then eliminated by Fiji in the quarterfinals.

In a statement New Zealand Rugby League chair Reon Edwards said the panel's findings will be made public early in March 2018, however the Board has agreed to make two immediate changes.

Cyclone fears: New Zealand could face direct hit, warnings for Auckland and Northland

And Weatherwatch.co.nz says that although it's not completely clear if it will affect the country, previous cyclones have been deadly because of dangerous rips and large waves.

The tropical cyclone is due to form around Fiji or Tonga and, according to computer modellings, will intensify as it drifts west, possibly becoming "severe".

It's also claiming that it will "be a much bigger storm than [Cyclone] Fehi", which struck the Pacific last week.

RSE scheme likely to keep growing, says NZ minister

Around 11,000 Pacific people are working in New Zealand's viticulture and horticulture sectors this season under the RSE scheme.

Since 2014, the number of RSE workers has risen each year, due to increased demand from employers.

The Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said he thinks the RSE scheme will keep growing.

"We're seeing the industries that make use of the scheme growing. There is potential for it to maybe expand into other industries as well in the future. That's something that we're considering at this stage.

Bus crash pain: 'I lost my leg, the army won't allow me to join

The bus driver, Talakai Aholelei, 66, was yesterday sentenced to five-and-a-half months home detention and had his licence suspended for two years, after he earlier pleaded guilty to 30 careless driving charges.

He has also paid $36,000 in reparations to the victims.

The courtroom at the Waitākere District Court was packed with Aholelei's supporters, as well as some of the crash victims and their families - including some who had flown from Tonga.

More Pacific people appeal to stay in NZ for medical treatment

Among them are Tongans requiring life saving medical treatment like dialysis. While kidney disease is a common ailment in Tonga, treatment isn't publicly available there.

Renal specialist in Auckland Dr Viliami Tutone said the number of non-residents from the Pacific he treats was definitely on the rise.

Dr Tutone, who is a Nephrologist, said it was a tough and sad reality.

"We do have our fair share at Middlemore of non-residents," he said.

New Zealand rugby player has surgery on broken jaw

Veainu, who represented Tonga at the 2015 World Cup, was hurt while taking a high ball during his side's 33-10 loss to Irish club Munster in their European Champions Cup tie last weekend.

The incident provoked a sharp response from Leicester coach Matt O'Connor, who insinuated that Munster player Andrew Conway didn't take enough "care" of Veainu during the collision.

Despite the Irish wing being concussed during the incident, O'Conner was not prepared to let him off the hook - alleging he "smashed" his head into the face of Veainu at Thomond Park in Limerick.

NZ into Cape Town quarters

New Zealand were upset 22-0 in their opening match against the USA before beating Spain 55-0.

The All Blacks sevens had to win their match against Australia to avoid missing the cup quarters in Cape Town for the first time.

New Zealand made a great start to the match, dominating possession and territory to run in three unanswered tries in the first half.

However, Australia fought their way back into the match with two tries in three minutes at the start of the second spell to get themselves within nine points of New Zealand.