Ashhurst locals invited to hear about work to manage traffic

Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

The NZ Transport Agency is inviting members of the public to a drop-in session this Thursday to hear about plans to deal with increased traffic in Ashhurst.

Portfolio Manager Sarah Downs says the Ashhurst community has experienced a significant increase in traffic following the closure of State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge in 2017.

“We know the additional traffic is having an impact on residents’ day-to-day lives and we’re committed to doing what we can to help minimise the impact as much as possible,” Ms Downs says.

“The drop-in session is an opportunity for the community to hear about the work we’re doing and to ask questions or provide feedback.

“Locals know the impacts of the increased traffic on their community better than anyone, so we’re encouraging them all to come along.”

The Transport Agency will also provide a programme for the next stage of works so the community is up to date with the work that is happening and when.

The drop-in session will be held at the Ashhurst Village Valley Centre from 4pm to 7pm on 28 March 2019.

Anyone who can’t make this session, but would like to ask questions or provide feedback, can email

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Rain starts on the West Coast (Monday afternoon) – drivers need to be vigilant overnight and Tuesday

Source: New Zealand Transport Agency


The NZ Transport Agency asks all road users to be vigilant on the South Island’s West Coast highways and roads overnight and into Tuesday with forecast rain having started this afternoon.

Minor surface flooding has been reported in some places between Haast and Ross, State Highway 6. More significant falls are forecast for Tuesday travelling north up the coast and potentially into Arthur’s Pass area.

“The Transport Agency’s crews are maintaining a watch on State Highway 6 and the wider West Coast network including SH73 Arthur’s Pass in case the rain intensifies overnight,” says Transport Agency Network Manager Colin Hey. “If you are on the road tonight and tomorrow, please keep your speeds down, and watch out for speed restrictions and road crews. Use your lights.”

MetService: link)

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Construction of Old Mangere Bridge replacement expected mid-year

Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

The NZ Transport Agency is making good progress towards building a new bridge between Onehunga and Mangere to replace the Old Mangere Bridge which closed for safety reasons late last year.

A contract for the construction is expected to be awarded in the next few months.

Work will begin around the middle of the year and the bridge is expected to take about two and a half years to build. That includes demolition of the old bridge which can’t safely be left in the harbour. To ensure the heritage of the old bridge isn’t lost, the Transport Agency has a salvage plan which means parts of the old bridge will be incorporated in the new bridge design.

NZ Transport Agency Director Regional Relationships for the Upper North Island, Steve Mutton says that there is already a lot of excitement about the new bridge.

“Between 2012 and 2015, the Transport Agency did a lot of work with local people and groups to find out what they loved about the old bridge and how we could best replace it with a new facility.

“We are encouraging people to visit our website to see what feedback we received at that time and that we’ve included in the new bridge design.”

“Consent for the bridge was granted in 2016 and so we know it’s important that we re-connect with the community about what we are building, and we will be doing this over the coming months.”

Since the Transport Agency closed the old bridge for safety reasons in November due to its continued deterioration, people walking and cycling have been using the pathway under the SH20 motorway bridge to cross the harbour. Significant improvements were made to make the path safer and feel more pleasant for people to use. A new, higher handrail was installed, lighting improved, and the path was repainted and has new signage. There are four security guards on the route 24/7 and CCTV will be installed shortly.

“We have had a great response from people using the new route. A survey in December showed that 91 percent of people were either very happy or happy with the safety on the route following the improvements. We are continuing to follow up suggestions that people give us about what else we could do; such as trimming the bushes on the south side which is happening soon.”

“We’ve been collecting data which shows around the same number of people on foot and bikes are using the new route as used the Old Māngere Bridge, so it’s great news that people are still using this route.”

More information about the construction programme will be available over the coming months. For more information visit the project website

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New Zealand Economic Sector – Reserve Bank of New Zealand Forecasting with a Global VAR model

Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Source: Reserve Bank of New Zealand

The Reserve Bank has released the latest publication in its Analytical Notes series: Forecasting with a Global VAR model  (PDF) By Thomas van Florenstein Mulder & Tugrul Vehbi – AN2019/03

The Bank assesses the impact of international conditions on the New Zealand economy using a range of models. Among them, is the Global Vector Autoregressive model (GVAR), which is designed to analyse economic and financial interdependencies between countries.

The GVAR is primarily used by the Bank to examine the transmission of global shocks or disturbances to the New Zealand economy. This Analytical Note examines to what extent the GVAR can also forecast macroeconomic conditions in New Zealand and its main trading partners.

We test several specifications of the GVAR and calculate out-of-sample forecasts for GDP, inflation, interest rates, exchange rates and equity prices for New Zealand, U.S., China, Australia, Canada and the euro area. We then evaluate whether GVAR forecasts are more accurate than other statistical models and whether the model’s GDP forecasts can outperform economists’ forecasts published by Consensus Economics.

We find that forecasts obtained from simple specifications of the GVAR tend to outperform other simple statistical models of inflation and GDP. The GVAR also outperforms economists’ GDP growth forecasts from Consensus Economics. These results emphasise the benefits of incorporating international linkages to improve forecast accuracy and suggest that the GVAR is a useful addition to the range of models used by the Reserve Bank to forecast the international economy.


Antarctic New Zealand – Antarctica Unfrozen, a podcast series

Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Source: Antarctic New Zealand

A young Cantabrian is hoping to unfreeze Antarctic science mystery with a new podcast series.

Antarctica Unfrozen, created by 21-year-old Blake Antarctic Ambassador Harry Seagar, launches today.

In February he spent 11 days in Antarctica hosted by Antarctica New Zealand.

Seagar says he’s hoping his podcasts will inspire everyday people to have a conversation about the environment.

“I’m just your average Joe who knows a little about Antarctica and cares about climate change, I want to share that with the world and keep a conversation going.”

The podcast has 10 different episodes covering a range of topics from climate change, to wildlife and living at Scott Base.

“The episodes are conversation style, I’m asking these amazingly passionate people why they are excited about Antarctica and how we can get others passionate about the environment as well,” he says.

Sir Peter Blake Trust CEO James Gibson says Harry’s podcast project is a new, innovative way of sharing the Blake Antarctic Ambassador experience with all New Zealanders.

“When Sir Peter Blake was on board Seamaster he was using what was then innovative technology to communicate about global environmental issues.  So we’re excited to see Harry using today’s technology to tell stories about the important science work that goes on to help us understand how Antarctica is changing,” he says.

Antarctica New Zealand General Manager of Communications Megan Martin says the podcast will be a great way for New Zealanders to get an insight into Antarctic science.

“Antarctica and the Southern Ocean drive global climate and ocean circulation; what happens there effects the rest of the planet. It’s a fascinating place, but it’s difficult to get to.

“Harry’s podcast will help to take people on a virtual journey to the ice, showing them what we do to support Antarctic science and why it’s important,” she says.


The podcast is available on all major streaming platforms including Spotify and Apple Podcasts now.


Approval sought for new fungicide

Source: Environmental Protection Authority

25 March 2019

Public submissions have opened on an application to manufacture a fungicide in New Zealand for use in the control of a disease which affects wheat.

Dow AgroSciences (NZ) Ltd is seeking approval to manufacture GF-3308, for control of speckled leaf blotch (Septoria tritici) and also to suppress brown leaf rust (Puccinia triticina).

The applicant proposes that GF-3308 would be applied by ground-based and aerial broadcast spray methods.

The EPA’s General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms, Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter says, “The active ingredient in GF-3308 – fenpicoxamid – is a new active ingredient in New Zealand. It is approved in the European Union, as well as Guatemala, Panama, and Ecuador.

“The applicant, Dow AgroSciences, says GF-3308 would help to reduce the significant financial impact the fungal disease Septoria tritici has on wheat growers. It says there are reports of resistance in Septoria tritici to existing fungicides, in New Zealand and other wheat-producing countries, and this product would provide an additional tool for resistance management.

“Dow also notes that GF-3308 is highly toxic in aquatic environments, however it considers that standard control measures used by the EPA to mitigate any risks from spray drift – such as specifying spray droplet size and buffer zones – could be considered for GF-3308.”

This application is being publicly notified to enable the public to comment and to put all relevant information before the decision makers.

Public submissions close at 5pm on 9 May 2019.

Visit the consultation page for more information 


Under pressure

Source: University of Waikato

Professor Holly Thorpe and colleagues are aiming to remove some of the stigma around issues faced by young women athletes.

She is involved in the University of Waikato’s third Female Athlete Health Symposium – HPSNZ, happening in Auckland on the 4th of April. The focus on women is needed because almost everything that people know about female athletes from training mechanisms, internal drive, external motivation, recovery, and nutrition has been based on men and generalised for women.

The pressures young athletes face are greater than they have ever been before, and those pressures are coming from a range of different places: schools, parents, coaches, social media, their peers, and themselves. Professor Thorpe says young athletes are often bombarded with expectations and contradictory messages. “So what we are seeing is increasing rates of low energy availability, relative energy deficiency, injuries, burnout. These things are happening to younger and younger athletes.”

Young women athletes are not only at a vulnerable age, but it is also a critical phase. Dr Thorpe says they are setting up their future health, particularly their bone health. “Hormonal changes associated with not fueling properly can affect most of your key health systems, including your long-term bone health. If a young athlete is not getting good nutrition during her early career, then her bone health may be compromised for the rest of her life. Also your relationship with your body, eating disorders, self-confidence, these kinds of things are being set up here, and they can go on to have major implications for their lives more broadly. We need to get the message through to young athletes, and we also have to reach teachers and coaches at this critical time in the athletes lives.”

But sometimes the conversations are really quite hard to have. Dr Thorpe uses the example of a male coach who may feel uncomfortable talking to a young woman about her periods. “But when we frame it up around performance, and help these coaches understand that their athlete’s performance will drop and their long-term health is going to be compromised if they aren’t fuelling their training properly, then they tend to take these issues more seriously. Coaches can no-longer put their head in the sand. They see their athlete dropping weight, getting sick or injured all the time, their performance is impacted, but many don’t know how to have these conversations. What we’re trying to do with the Symposium is help coaches and health professionals, as well as parents, teachers and athletes, know what to look for, know where they can get help, and break down some of that stigma.” This is a key strategy underpinning the event: “to help debunk some of the myths and breakdown stigma, the symposium will feature a range of coaches as well as athletes who have worked through these issues and learned a lot of important lessons along the way. Their voices and stories are very powerful”.

Dr Thorpe also says it is about empowering young people with education about their own bodies. “They are not just victims to all these pressures, many of them are very smart switched on young people. They’re just being spun around by lots of different sources of information, pressures and expectations. So we’re also trying to empower young people with this knowledge.” Thorpe says the Symposium will “bring together sport scientists, health professionals, coaches, and athletes, to broaden the knowledge base, and really help those on the front line of youth sport. Bringing the different disciplines together, this is about making the latest research accessible, putting it into everyday language, and creating space for conversations about the most effective ways of supporting young athletes towards healthy and successful lives in sport”. New Zealand is leading the way in such interdisciplinary approaches to female athlete health.

Dr Thorpe and her University of Waikato colleague Dr Stacy Sims are presenting at the 2019 Female Athlete Health Symposium that is being organized by the University of Waikato in conjunction with High Performance Sport New Zealand and with support from ACC among other health providers. Thorpe and Sims are also part of the High Performance Sport New Zealand working group WHISPA (Health Women in Sport: A Performance Advantage), and are collaborating on a range of research projects focused on female athlete health.


Royal Commission needed into Christchurch attacks

Source: National Party

Opposition Leader Simon Bridges says a Royal Commission of Inquiry is needed into our Security and Intelligence Agencies following the Christchurch terror attacks and our security legislation needs to be revisited with some urgency to ensure New Zealanders are kept safe.

“A Royal Commission is the only suitable level of inquiry to ensure this is investigated thoroughly and independently.

“We need to understand whether this could have been prevented. It will need to ask hard questions about whether our security and intelligence agencies had their focus in the right places.

“In 2013 the Government of the day made the decision to abandon Project Speargun which would have scanned internet traffic coming into New Zealand and given an extended degree of protection to all New Zealanders. Similar systems are used in other jurisdictions. 

“We currently have Cortex as part of our cyber-security systems, which is much narrower and designed to protect institutions. It’s never easy to balance the rights of privacy against security but where we draw the line must now be reconsidered.

“However, an inquiry cannot be an excuse by the Government not to answer questions in the meantime. Our security risk has now changed and New Zealanders need to be kept safe. The Royal Commission should look at the past, and Parliament should get on with actions for the future.”  


Public asked to help with beetle surveillance

Source: Ministry for Primary Industries


Media contact: MPI media team

Biosecurity New Zealand is asking the public to report any sign of the wood-boring granulate ambrosia beetle.

The unwanted pest has been detected in 4 Auckland areas since 20 February.

This is the first time the beetle has been found in New Zealand. While it is unclear how the beetle arrived in New Zealand, the evidence to date suggests it may have been in the country for at least 2 years.

The beetle is regarded as a serious pest overseas. It is known to feed on a wide range of broadleaf trees, including horticultural species such as avocado, and can spread fungal diseases.

Biosecurity New Zealand is currently assessing the potential risk from the beetle to New Zealand, says Brendan Gould, biosecurity surveillance and incursion manager.

“We need to know if New Zealand has a wider population, which is why we are asking the public to report any possible sightings.”

The beetle resides under bark, making it difficult to detect.

Mr Gould says a tell-tale sign is distinctive protrusions of frass (compacted sawdust) from bark that look like toothpicks. They are caused by the beetles pushing frass out of tunnels bored into the trees. Other symptoms include sap oozing from the tunnel entrances and branch dieback.

He says officials are working with local authorities to identify the extent of the spread, including inspecting known host trees and placing lured traps around the detection sites.

Biosecurity New Zealand has also directed the removal of infested oak trees at one of the sites.

The beetle is native to tropical and subtropical East Asia. It has been found in many areas in the world, including Africa, the USA, Central America, Europe, some Pacific Islands, and most recently in Queensland.

Anyone who believes they have seen the granulate ambrosia beetle or any sign of frass on trees should take a photo and call Biosecurity New Zealand’s exotic pests and diseases hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

Fact sheet about the beetle, including photos [PDF, 427 KB]


Study highlights detrimental effect of overlooking female athletes’ nutritional needs

Source: University of Otago

Monday 25 March 2019 11:48am

As poor nutrition can negatively affect everything from bone to reproductive health, more attention needs to be paid to the specific nutritional needs of female athletes, a collaborative study from the University of Otago and University of Waikato argues.
Dr Katherine Black.
Dr Katherine Black, of Otago’s Department of Human Nutrition, says most research into sport and nutrition focuses on male athletes, but the number of women participating in sport is growing, and female athletes have specific nutritional challenges and needs.
“They are not just male athlete adjusted for weight,” she says.
Dr Black and colleagues from Waikato and High Performance Sport New Zealand, carried out a literature review on the subject of low energy availability (LEA).
LEA is when available energy in the body is too low for optimal physiological functioning, leading to altered hormonal profiles and eventually total loss of menstruation.
Along with having significant negative impacts on bone, endocrine, immunological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, reproductive, and psychological health, LEA also results in long-term decreases in athletic performance.
The researchers’ findings, just published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal, show reported prevalence of LEA varies from two per cent (club level endurance athletes) to 77 per cent (professional ballet dancers).
“Female athletes often have energy intakes which do not match their high level of energy expenditure. Sometimes this is because they purposefully restrict their caloric intake for performance or aesthetic reasons, other times it can happen accidentally due to increased training loads, competitions, or lack of knowledge about how to best fuel for the demands of their sport or exercise.
“A further factor affecting energy intakes of females is that food consumption is influenced by hormonal factors so there can be significant variations in appetite and energy intake across their menstrual cycles,” she says.
Despite the severe negative health and performance consequences, Dr Black says awareness of LEA is low.
“It is only recently that we are starting to discover the true extent of poor nutrition in association with exercise amongst females.
“As we encourage more women to exercise, we also need to know how to ensure their health is not compromised,” she says.
Coaches, parents and athletes need to be aware of signs of low energy intakes, such as increased injury or illness, and seek advice where needed. Athletes also need to know menstrual irregularities are not normal.
“The focus of LEA research and practice should be on prevention instead of prevalence – start early and develop good nutrition, training and body image habits to carry through.”
Some ways athletes and coaches can avoid LEA include understanding the different nutrient requirements across stages of the menstrual cycle; promoting recovery by eating after exercising; designing training programmes to take into account signs of LEA, fatigue or overtraining; putting significant care and planning into advising athletes who wish to reduce body fat whilst training; and optimising energy-dense foods and promoting liquid-based recovery options.
One way the industry is helping educate on this issue is via High Performance Sport New Zealand’s Women’s Health in Sport: A Performance Advantage project. The group holds regular meetings between researchers and practitioners to create best practice principles on a range of female athlete issues.
“By specifically highlighting the health effects of LEA, and proper fuelling for training and performance, could improve the health outcomes of many female athletes, which will carry through their sporting career,” Dr Black says.
Publication details:
Nutritional Needs of the Female Athlete: Risk and Prevention of Low Energy AvailabilityKatherine E. Black, Dane F. Baker, Stacy T. SimsStrength & Conditioning JournalDOI: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000464
For more information, contact:
Dr Katherine BlackDepartment of Human NutritionUniversity of OtagoTel: +64 3 479 8358Email: