Another Northland school buys Meningitis vaccines

Source: National Party

Hikurangi Primary School is the latest Northland school to raise funds to buy meningitis vaccines, meaning their 5-12 year olds will finally get the vaccinations they require, MP for Whangarei Dr Shane Reti says.

“It’s especially poignant for the school as 7 year old student Alexis Albert tragically died from meningitis last year.

“The Government is claiming there is no money to vaccinate Northland children aged 5-12, yet last year Winston Peters gave $10m for a vaccination program in Papua New Guinea and $1m for a meningitis vaccination program in Fiji.

“Last month Health Minister David Clark said there have been no new meningitis cases in Northland since we started vaccinating, but he has since been proved wrong with the first new case of meningitis W diagnosed in Northland last week.

“I want to acknowledge Hikurangi Primary School, Whangarei Rotary and the local community for fundraising to protect these children. I look forward to visiting the school and administering the vaccinations myself.

“Whilst it’s immensely pleasing to see the vaccinations for 5-12 year olds going ahead, it should have been funded by the Government from the start and local communities cannot afford to be covering the Governments shortfalls.

“I call on the Government to announce a full meningitis vaccination program for all Northland children under 20 in next month’s Budget.”


Mega mast confirmed for New Zealand forests

Source: New Zealand Government

Monitoring by the Department of Conservation has confirmed the predicted mega mast or heavy seeding in New Zealand’s forests this autumn, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said today.

Results from extensive seed sampling across the country in February and March point to the biggest beech mast for more than 40 years with exceptionally heavy seed loads in South Island forests. Rimu forests and tussock grasslands in the South Island are also seeding heavily.

Forest seeding provides a bonanza of food for native species but also fuels rodent and stoat plagues that will pose a serious threat to native birds and other wildlife as predator populations build up next spring and summer.

Eugenie Sage said that new funding of $81.2 million in Budget 2018 over four years had enabled DOC to scale up its predator control programme to respond to the threat posed by the mega mast.

“DOC is planning its largest-ever predator control programme for 2019/2020, at a cost of $38 million, to suppress rats, stoats and possums over about one million hectares or 12 per cent of conservation land.

“This is a step up from the previous largest programme of 840,000 ha in 2016 and 600,000 ha in 2014 and 2017 when there were significant but smaller mast events.

“Responding to the increased threat from introduced predators during such a big mast year is critical if we are to retain our unique native species that set New Zealand apart from the rest of the world.

“If we don’t act, we could lose populations of bird species like our tree-hole nesting kākāriki/orange-fronted parakeet and mohua, and bats, which are so vulnerable to rat plagues.

DOC’s Tiakina Ngā Manu predator control programme, previously known as Battle for our Birds, uses aerially applied 1080 pesticide and large-scale trapping to protect native birds, bats, frogs, lizards and giant land snails at the most important sites across the country.

This work is carefully targeted to sustain the most vulnerable populations of kiwi, kākā, kōkako, kea, whio/blue duck, mohua/yellowhead, kākāriki/orange-fronted parakeet, rock wren/tuke, long and short tailed bats/pekapeka, native frogs and Powelliphanta snails.

DOC’s seed sampling programme involved snipping branches by helicopter from over 8000 beech and rimu trees at nearly 200 sites across the North and South Islands and counting more than three million seed pods from 43,000 samples.  More than 1000 tussock plants were also monitored at 63 sites. The estimate of seed-fall this autumn informs predator control planning.

Priority sites for predator control include Kahurangi, Abel Tasman, Arthur’s Pass, Westland, Mt Aspiring and Fiordland national parks, the Catlins and Whirinaki. The programme includes more than 66,000 ha of trapping with the remainder (more than 900,000 ha) aerial 1080 operations

Aerially applied 1080 is the only tool currently available that can effectively knock down rodents over large areas before they reach plague levels after a beech mast. Numerous studies show that it protects vulnerable wildlife and allows birds to produce more chicks to sustain and build their populations.

While most sites have been confirmed and are at an advanced stage of planning, predator control operations will only proceed at mast sites from May this year if rodents reach levels that pose a threat to wildlife. 

The Department has been consulting with iwi partners, regional councils and other pest control agencies, community groups and neighbouring landowners in recent months as part of its planning.


Nominations open for Albert-Eden Junior Sports Awards 2019

Source: Auckland Council

The Albert-Eden Junior Sports Award 2019 will recognize the outstanding young sports people and teams living in our area, and the coaches and referees who support them. 

“These are our inaugural Sports Awards. It’s a new initiative to recognise young people, individuals and teams, who set life patterns early for better health and lasting friendships through being active in sports,” says Glenda Fryer, Deputy-Chair, Albert-Eden Local Board.

To be eligible, the nominees will need to have a strong connection to the Albert-Eden Local Board area which covers the suburbs of Waterview, Pt Chevalier, Mt Albert, Sandringham, Morningside, Ōwairaka, Balmoral, Kingsland, Mt Eden, Epsom, Greenlane, and parts of Eden Terrace and Western Springs.

Who is eligible?

People being nominated must currently reside within the boundaries of the Albert-Eden Local Board area.

Sports organisations or groups being nominated for an award must be located in the Albert-Eden Local Board area and contributing to developing the sporting community.


Judging will be based on:

  • Most improved/most progress
  • Fair play
  • Achievement in competition/exceptional results

Nominate now!

Award winners will be recognised at the Albert-Eden Local Board Junior Sports Awards ceremony, 20 May, from 6pm at Eden Park, Reimers Ave, Kingsland.

For more information or questions phone Linda Bercusson on 021 719 792 or email  

Please include Albert-Eden Junior Sports Awards in the subject line.

The deadline for nominations is 5pm, Friday, 10 May 2019.


Update: Aggravated robbery accused due to appear in court

Source: New Zealand Police

Three men and a woman are due to reappear in court following six aggravated robberies and two burglaries in Christchurch over the past month.

The 18-year-old, 35-year-old and 38-year-old men have been charged with aggravated robbery and burglary.

A 36-year-old woman has also been charged with receiving stolen property.

The accused are due to appear in the Christchurch District Court today.

Detective Inspector Craig Scott says the arrests follow a search warrant at an Edgeware address on Friday night, the Armed Offenders Squad assisted.

“Aggravated robberies are a serious crime and cause significant harm in our community both physically and emotionally.

”We take this type of offending extremely seriously, the arrests confirm our commitment to keeping our communities safe and holding those who transgress our laws to account,” he says.



Human Rights Commission supports business leaders’ stand against racism

Source: Human Rights Commission

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt has praised the business leaders who are taking a public stand against racism in the workplace.

A group of New Zealand business leaders today published an open letter ( calling for a more inclusive country following the Christchurch mosque attacks on 15 March.

I applaud the business leaders who have signed the open letter for speaking out today and giving nothing to racism, Mr Hunt said.

“It’s up to all of us to stand up to racism. Our employers have a crucial role in making sure workplaces are safe and inclusive environments free from discrimination in all forms.”

The group made a joint commitment to further their actions and accountability. As signatories to the open letter, they wrote that they will actively commit to:

  • Creating a culture where words, behaviours and systems that directly or indirectly discriminate against people are not tolerated. This will require an open culture enabling all their organisation’s people to be empowered to speak up when they see casual and systemic discrimination, in a way that supports learning.
  • Supporting their people by giving them access to training, tools and techniques to help them understand what actions and behaviours support – and do not support – inclusivity.
  • Continuously reviewing and updating their organisational-wide processes, such as recruitment, to ensure they remain relevant and promote the diversity and difference needed for organisations, and society to thrive.
  • Celebrating and acknowledging the value of all aspects of diversity and difference in their organisations.

“The message these business leaders are send is an important one. Tackling racism requires all of us to step up. These business leaders promise to be champions of change in our community.”

In 2017 the Human Rights Commission launched it’s Give Nothing To Racism campaign. The  campaign asked Kiwis to acknowledge that racism and prejudice starts small and it needs their support to survive. The campaign encourages people to address small acts of racism that people often let slide.

“I hope other New Zealand businesses get on board with this initiative and work to ensure their workplaces are inclusive, and free from discrimination and racism,” said Mr Hunt.

Organisations can become a signatory to the letter by emailing [email protected] or joining up at


Vietnam Veterans Awarded Gallantry Citation by Australia

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

5 April 2019

Fifteen veterans who supported Australian troops in the Vietnam War have been the first soldiers from a New Zealand military unit to be awarded an Australian Unit Citation for Gallantry.

Families also received the citation on behalf of their loved ones who had died.

The veterans from 161 Battery, 16th Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery, were presented with their citations at Linton Military Camp by Major General Gregory Bilton, Forces Commander of the Australian Army, on behalf of Lieutenant General Rick Burr, Chief of the Australian Army.

The 161 Battery was part of the 1st Australian Task Force on 23 May, 1966, and provided continuous fire support to successive Australian and New Zealand battalions from that date until withdrawn in May 1971.

The gunners received high praise for the accuracy and volume of fire support they provided at critical stages of attacks on the Australian battalion positions and Major General Bilton said he felt privileged to be able to present the insignias for the award to the veterans.

“This is well deserved and long overdue,” he said.

The veterans were accompanied by dozens of family members to witness the award. Defence and Veterans Minister Ron Mark, who reviewed the parade, said the strong relationship between Australia and New Zealand militaries was no more evident than during the Vietnam War and the relationship continued through current deployments.

“Our military relationship now is stronger because of those who came before,” Mr Mark said.

While this is the first Australian Unit Citation for Gallantry offered to a New Zealand military unit, in 2010 approval was given for three New Zealand Army personnel who were attached to D Company, 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment at the Battle of Long Tan in Vietnam in 1966, to accept and wear the Australian Unit Citation for Gallantry awarded to D Company.

Background Information

Members of 161 Battery, Royal New Zealand Artillery, initially deployed to Vietnam near Bien Hoa in July 1965. They moved to Nui Dat in the neighbouring Phuoc Tuy province as part of the newly formed 1st Australian Task Force on 23 May, 1966, and provided continuous fire support to successive Australian and New Zealand battalions from that date until withdrawn in May 1971.

One of the first significant operations for the 1st Australian Task Force was to deploy 120 kilometres from their Nui Dat base to an area in Bien Hoa Province designated “Area of Operation Surfers”. This was an area important to the North Vietnamese Army offensive operations being conducted against Saigon in 1968. The Task Force established Fire Support Bases named Coral and Balmoral.

The battles that followed were among the largest and most protracted fought by the Australian Task Force in the Vietnam War. The gunners of 161 Battery received high praise for the accuracy and volume of fire support they provided at critical stages of attacks on the Australian battalion positions.


Proposal to list medical devices supplied by Becton Dickinson Limited

Source: Pharmac

What we’re proposing

PHARMAC is seeking feedback on a proposal to list a range of needles and syringes in Part III of Section H of the Pharmaceutical Schedule from 1 June 2019, through a non-exclusive provisional agreement with Becton Dickinson Limited (“BD”).

Consultation closes at 4pm on Wednesday, 1 May 2019 and feedback can be emailed to

What would the effect be?

From 1 June 2019, BD’s range of needles and syringes products would be listed under the proposed national agreement for all DHBs to purchase under, subject to consultation and approval by PHARMAC’s Board or delegate (“Agreement”).

This Agreement would not be for sole supply, with DHBs continuing to be able to purchase other suppliers’ brands of needles and syringes. The Agreement includes currently used products and products that are new to DHBs and their funded services and would provide a greater range of products for clinical staff to choose from.

The Agreement would supersede any existing DHB contracts with BD for the devices included in the Agreement. Any medical device listed in the Agreement and purchased by a DHB would be at the price, terms and conditions stated in the Agreement, effective from the date of listing on the Pharmaceutical Schedule.

As part of the Agreement, BD would provide educational services that would be tailored to the individual needs of the DHB, in formats and at times as required by the DHB.

Pricing for the devices in the Agreement, subject to any prior termination of the Agreement, would not be increased without prior consultation and approval by PHARMAC.

Who we think will be interested

About the medical devices

Needles and syringes

Needles and syringes are medical devices predominantly used to inject fluids (such as medicines) into or withdraw fluids from the body (such as blood). Syringes are also used for a variety of other purposes such as for flushing, irrigating and are also used with medical gases and air. These medical devices are used across a wide range of clinical settings.

Included in this proposal are conventional hypodermic needles, syringes, needles and syringes with safety feature, insulin syringes, lancets and a number of specialised needles and syringes used in anaesthesia procedures.

Why we’re proposing this

In 2017 PHARMAC issued a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for needles and syringes.

The RFP was for non-exclusive national agreements for listing in the Pharmaceutical Schedule.

PHARMAC has been working with suppliers to seek provisional agreements and this proposal is the latest to arise from this process. This is the final proposal eventuating from the 2017 Needles and Syringes RFP that we are consulting on.

Details about our proposal

PHARMAC has entered into a provisional Agreement with BD for a range of needles and syringes. Pricing has been made available to appropriate DHB personnel.

The proposal would result in Pharmaceutical Schedule listings for 177 needle and syringe products.


  • BD
  • BD AutoShield Duo
  • BD Eclipse
  • BD Epilor
  • BD Integra      
  • BD Micro-Fine+
  • BD Microtainer
  • BD SafetyGlide
  • BD Ultra-Fine
  • BD Yale

To provide feedback

Send us an email: by 4 pm on Wednesday 1 May 2019.

All feedback received before the closing date will be considered by PHARMAC’s Board (or its delegate) prior to making a decision on this proposal.

Feedback we receive is subject to the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) and we will consider any request to have information withheld in accordance with our obligations under the OIA. Anyone providing feedback, whether on their own account or on behalf of an organisation, and whether in a personal or professional capacity, should be aware that the content of their feedback and their identity may need to be disclosed in response to an OIA request.

We are not able to treat any part of your feedback as confidential unless you specifically request that we do, and then only to the extent permissible under the OIA and other relevant laws and requirements. If you would like us to withhold any commercially sensitive, confidential proprietary, or personal information included in your submission, please clearly state this in your submission and identify the relevant sections of your submission that you would like it withheld. PHARMAC will give due consideration to any such request.

Last updated: 8 April 2019


More questions than answers

Source: Association of Salaried Medical Specialists

The Mental Health and Addiction inquiry report has laudable aims but lacks detail about implementation and side-lines those who work in the sector, says Lyndon Keene, Director of Policy and Research at the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS)

Published in ASMS magazine The Specialist on page 17-18, Mr Keene’s analysis of the report can be read here:

Mr Keene takes issue with the inquiry panel’s decision to be (in the panel’s words) “guided by the needs of people and communities rather than the preferences of the various groups accustomed to the way the system is structured and services are delivered at present”.

Excluding workforce views might account, in part, for a lack of substance about how to deliver the recommendations. Mr Keene says notwithstanding the exclusion of workforce views, the conclusions are reasonable and will find consensus. An emphasis on wellbeing and community, prevention, expanded access to services, and more treatment options are laudable, if rather familiar, aims. The lack of specifics about how to achieve the desired outcomes allows the Government much wriggle-room.

The practicalities of what will change, and how, are no closer to being answered than before the panel was convened, Mr Keene writes.

While the report talks about a “workforce crisis” there is little recognition of issues in the psychiatrist workforce. Indeed, the report incorrectly states there was “a large jump in the number of registered psychiatrists in 2018”.

Trainee numbers have risen in recent years but are lower than in the early 2000s. There is a heavy reliance on international medical graduates (60% of the workforce).

In 2018 there were 492 full-time equivalent psychiatrists employed by DHBs, compared with 482 in 2017.  Caution is needed interpreting the figures because it could reflect an increase in registrations of doctors, including non-specialist medical officers, who were already practising.

District health board workforce figures do not show a large jump in full-time-equivalent psychiatrists.

The report calls for psychiatrists to provide more support for community-based workers. ASMS has long advocated for integrated services and patient-centred care. This approach requires a well-resourced specialist workforce.

Ultimately, it’s the Government – whose official response to the report is expected soon – which determines if the recommendations are transformed into actions.

“The extent to which the Government supports a well-resourced [Mental Health] Commission with teeth will be an early test of its commitment to addressing our mental health crisis,” Mr Keene writes.


Investigation into death on Moutohora Island

Source: New Zealand Police

Whakatane Police are investigating a sudden death that occurred last week on Moutohora Island, also known as Whale Island.

A man suffered injuries from a fall on the island on Thursday 4 April.

The 73-year-old was provided with first aid before he was flown to Tauranga Hospital where he later died.

The death is not being treated as suspicious however Police are currently investigating on behalf of the Coroner.

Worksafe New Zealand is also investigating.


Issued by Police Media Centre


Waiho River Bailey bridge on track for reopening Friday

Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

The NZ Transport Agency says South Westland’s Waiho River Bailey bridge should be ready to open this Friday, 12 April. The exact time cannot be confirmed until later this week.

“The Army engineers and the Downer team have made good progress dismantling the old bridge sections this weekend and last week,” says Pete Connors, System Manager for the Transport Agency. “The Fulton Hogan team and others have also worked hard on the north side, with new piles driven and other key work completed.

“At this stage we believe the main launch of the new structure will occur on Tuesday this week, ahead of some forecast *wet weather. The Bailey will not be open to traffic for at least a couple of days after it arrives at the north side of the river as the bridge needs to be jacked, rocking rollers removed, new permanent bearings installed, and the whole structure safely fastened in place. The approaches also need to be completed once the bridge is positioned.” 

Delays after opening

After the bridge is open to traffic, there is more work to do: sealing the approaches, reinstating guardrail, the pedestrian walkway and other work which will involve closures of up to an hour.

Open for business in South Westland

Mr Connors reminded people that the South Westland townships of Fox, Franz Josef, and Haast, are open for business and welcome visitors from each side of the Waiho in the lead up to the reconnection at the Waiho River. 

Work underway on Saturday, 6 April, dismantling the old structure, ready for the launch of the new bridge:

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