Minister of Health Clark drove to bike park for a ride under lockdown

Minister of Health David Clark took some time out from his busy schedule on Thursday to drive to a bike park in Dunedin to ride an easy trail. His van was the only vehicle in the car park the park is accessed from so social distancing was probably way enough (some people may have rode their bikes to the park to use it).

Clark’s prominently painted van was photographed at the park, and he admitted going for a ride between conference calls (he is currently working from home).

Lockdown rules about recreation are a bit vague but this is setting a bad example by a Minister prominent in Governnment making stringent rules for the public.

Stuff: Health Minister drives to local park to ride his mountain bike, amid coronavirus lockdown

Clark, who earlier on Thursday told Stuff the coronavirus response was his “singular focus”, said he didn’t “want to give anyone the perception” that he was taking the lockdown lightly, after his van was photographed at Logan Park — a 2.3km distance from his home.

Clark, in a statement responding to queries from Stuff, confirmed he went for a bike ride between video conference meetings on Thursday afternoon.

“As health minister I try to model healthy behaviour … This was my only chance to get out for some exercise in daylight hours,” the statement read.

Clark said he drove to a mountain bike trail called “The Big Easy”. The trail, according to the Mountain Biking Otago club website, is an “easy” rated trail that is 6km long.

“The track itself is not challenging, and is widely used by families and foot-traffic. I know that now is not the time for people to be engaging in higher-risk exercise activities,” he said.

“I don’t want to give anyone the perception that I take these matters lightly. This is a reminder to me to think carefully about how best to fit some exercise into my new-normal routine.”

Is this a big deal? There have been calls (from political opponents mainly as far as I have seen) for Clark to be sacked as minister for flouting the lockdown rules.

If this had been a general member of public it might have been criticised, but if the police became involved they would probably have ‘educated’ the driver/rider.

But is this a case of a Minister setting a bad example (now he has been outed)?

The rules over what we can do in the level 4 lockdown are a bit vague. We have been told we can go out for exercise in the vicinity of our homes but not to drive across town. We have also been told to avoid doing things that may end up requiring emergency help.

Clark is inferring that doing an easy bike trail at least reduced the risks.

A Nelson emergency department doctor, Tom Jerram, on Thursday said people should not mountain bike, even on easy trails, during the lockdown as they may injure themselves and take up hospital resources.

“We may not have the hospital capacity to treat you and we want to reserve all our capacity for fighting this illness,” Jerram said.

He lives in the vicinity so could have ridden his bike to park (and would probably not have been noticed), and that would arguably have been more risk (hill route but with low traffic).

But does look a bit hapless from a Minister that appears to be struggling with the huge responsibilities he has. And it’s a bit embarrassing for the Government.

It does have the appearance of one rule (or guidelines) for the public but politicians can do as they please.

Clark, earlier on Thursday, said he had declined to receive a highly anticipated review of the health system due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“My singular focus is on the health response to Covid-19,” he said.

Except when he takes a bit of time out. A daytime excursion does seem a major misjudgement for Clark.

Another problem with this is that members of the general public may see this as a signal that they can push the boundaries of the lockdown.

I don’t know if this should be a sackable offence (I’m reluctant to jump on ‘sack him’ type bandwagons).

It is a very bad time to be bringing in a new Minister of Health – unless the prime Minister wants an excuse to put someone more competent in one of the most important roles in Government in the most challenging of circumstances.


This doesn’t help: Message from Cycling New Zealand around riding in public – keeping everyone healthy and safe 

this pandemic is bigger than sport and bigger than cycling and so whatever you choose to do, please know that Cycling New Zealand absolutely stand by following the Ministry of Health Guidelines found here at  https://covid19.govt.nz

Their guidelines are updated regularly and will provide you with the most correct and relevant information around what you can do to keep physically active whilst keeping you and your loved ones safe and healthy.

Alert Level 4 means we must severely limit travel, with driving only permitted for essential travel such as getting food or medicine from your local area. The best way to reduce the risk of exposure to yourself and others is to stay at home.   However, we do realise that people will want to get out and exercise.

If you do go out, please limit yourself to short walks or rides, following the government’s recommended hygiene guidelines.  Here are some tips to help you protect yourself and others in the current environment

  • If you can, ride indoors on a trainer or exercycle
  • If outdoors, ride solo or in your family bubble.
  • Ride from home.  Don’t drive and then ride.
  • Ride short and local so that you do not increase the pressure on the emergency services if something goes wrong. This means no long-distance or epic rides away from your region or extreme riding.
  • Ride sensibly and safely to avoid accidents and putting unnecessary pressure on medical services or expose yourself to the heightened risk of infection

Nothing in the ODT yet about Clark, but they have these two articles:

Dunedin residents enjoyed a balmy evening yesterday with a walk on St Clair Beach.

Tougher measures may be needed to deal with those breaching lockdown rules, Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult says, after people were caught jumping off Albert Town Bridge yesterday.

Dunedin virtually deserted

8-8:30 am on a normal working Friday in Dunedin and the roads are usually close to their busiest. Not under Covid-19 lockdown.

The Octagon has a few parked cars, no sign of people.:

The corner of State Highway 1 (heading south) and Andersons Bay Rod is one of the busiest intersections (usually):

Dunedin traffic cam.

That’s all heading into the city on a change of lights from the southern motorway.

Lookout Point showing the motorway heading into the city at a major intersection:

Dunedin traffic cam.

Stuart Street, one of the main feeder routes into the CBD from the hill suburbs:

Highgate bridge cam.

So the lockdown seems to be working fairly well.

Webcams here: https://www.dunedin.govt.nz/dunedin-city/webcams

And the Leith Saddle on the Northern Motorway:

https://www.metservice.com/traffic-camera/leith-saddle

 

Dunedin school to close after student tests positive for virus

Until now New Zealand schools have been left out of large gathering bans to try to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus, but today a Dunedin school pupil tested positive and is in self-isolation, and his school will close for 48 hours at least.

ODT: Pupil tests positive, school to close

A Logan Park High school pupil has tested positive for coronavirus, meaning his school will close for at least 48 hours.

The Otago Daily Times was told that parents of pupils at the school received emails this evening confirming the news.

The pupil is the son of a Dunedin man who recently returned from Germany and has also tested positive for the virus, the Southern District Health Board said this evening.

The SDHB announced earlier today that contact tracing was under way after the man – in his 40s – tested positive and that results for two other family members were expected back today.

This evening it was confirmed the pupil had tested positive and the school would close for 48 hours as a consequence.

The DHB said contact tracing was now being undertaken to identify anyone who may have come into close contact with the parent, and it would be working with the school and family to identify any close contacts of the student over the next 24 to 48 hours.

Close contacts will be contacted by Public Health staff and will go into self-isolation for 14 days from their last contact with the student.

The school was working with both education staff and public health officials.  It will now close for at least 48 hours while close contacts are traced and put in self isolation and casual contacts given advice about what to do if they become unwell.  The school will be carefully cleaned before reopening.

So the first school to be shut down due to the virus. There is likely to be more, if not a blanket shutdown sooner or later.

And spread is inevitable.

Meanwhile, shortly before learning about the testing at Logan Park, a Dunedin mum whose teenage son goes to that school learned her youngest son was also being tested.

The woman, whom the Otago Daily Times is not naming, said her three-year-old son had been tested for the virus after being sent home sick from daycare.

She was expecting to receive results within 24 hours.

I don’t have much personal concern, but this is close to home. Logan Park High School is the closest secondary school to where I live, and there are possible ways people I have contact with have had contact with the Dunedin cases. I guess the contact tracing will identify any of this.

It brings home, or close to home, how this is affecting all of us and could affect us significantly more.

 

Allans Beach, Otago Peninsula

What to do when so much travel and events are being limited due to the Covid-19 virus? Dunedin has a wide variety of beaches within half an hour of anywhere in the city, and also has established a reputation for wildlife.

Yesterday I decided to go to one of the beaches, Allans Beach on the Pacific Ocean side of the Otago Peninsula. It is usually relatively uncluttered, and often has sea lions lying on the sand.

The peninsula is a short drive from the city, with small settlements along the harbour side, with a number of good eating options. So (a very good) lunch first, this time in Macandrew Bay – other places to eat are Glenfalloch, Portobello (multiple) and Taiaroa head (at the albatross centre).

Turning across the peninsula at Portobello aafter a short drive you get to the large tidal Hoopers Inlet. At low tide there were a lot of birds, waders, ducks and black swans in abundance.

About 30 km from home is the Allans beach car park – it was fuller than usual but still space available.

It’s a short (5 minute) walk across a paddock and through dunes to the beach, and it was not exactly crowded, but by Dunedin standards it was busy, with people in all directions. Easy to keep at virus distance.

There were two New Zealand sea lions lazing on the beach right at the entrance, but with the tide out there was plenty of space to walk around them.

Heading left it’s about a couple of hundred meters to the rock scattered eastern end of the beach, only accessible at low tide.

Allans Beach at low tide looking east

There was a seal lying on a pile of seaweed, and another seal on the rocks at the end of the beach, keeping an eye on spectators.

Sea lions are a lot larger than seals and like sleeping in the beach, often flicking sand over themselves. Seals have pointer noses, more prominent whiskers and mostly prefer basking on rocks but are sometimes on the sand. Numbers of both are gradually re-establishing and increasing around the peninsula over the last thirty years, having been virtually wiped out by sealers in the early days of European settlement.

There can also be yellow eyed penguins at Allans Beach but you usually only see them early when they head out to sea and late in the day when they return. Once I have seen one standing on the beach during the day moulting.

Turning west it’s nearly 2 km to the other end of the beach, but well worth the walk.

Allans Beach at low tide looking west

Dotted along the beach were a number of other sea lions. There were more around the corner as the sand extends into the inlet. There were about twelve in total, but there were also tracks into the sand dunes where they often go for some privacy.

Sea lions are a common sight on Allans beach

Once on the nearby Victory Beach I needed a pea and headed into the tussocks, and nearly walked right into a sea lion. If you leave them some space they are not usually bothered by people, but I wouldn’t want to get too close, or surprise one.

At at western end at low tide the channel from the inlet is narrow, but too deep and too much current to go into. On the far sandy rock strewn bank there were two seals jousting with each other.

Allans Beach isn’t much of a bird beach (Long Beach on the mainland is one of the best for birds, it’s near a breeding colony).

At the outlet end of the beach at low tide there is a wide expanse of hard sand with many current and wave sculpted pools. Kids love this as the water is warmer than the ocean and they can choose size and depth (up to half a metre or so). There were a bunch of happy kids there yesterday

Tidal pools on Allans Beach

There were more surfers than usual but less surf than usual. One of the features of Allans Beach is the wild surf.

The walk back along the beach was just as enjoyable, spotting and dodging sea lines along the way.

Heading home I usually take the alternate route (the high road), which goes further round the inlet (many more birds wading and diving) and more pukekos along the road than I have seen before.

The road then climbs up and along the spine of the peninsula, past the Larnach Castle turnoff (the castle isn’t visible from the road. There are great views south and seaward, and nearer the city north over the harbour. It’s a narrow road with a bit of traffic, with not many places to stop so you need to be wary of sightseers and dawdlers.

Then it’s back to the city and then home. It was a half day well spent.

I often ‘get away from it’, and there are plenty of options (last weekend I spend a day heading north to Moeraki with another big beach, the famous boulders, fishing village with good food options, and one of my favourite stops, the lighthouse with a growing number of seals sleeping and playing and often yellow eyed penguins (last week there were, unusually, four penguins hanging around during the afternoon).

With all the virus stuff happening over the next month or two getting out into the fresh air away from crowds will be a good option.

Greeenpeace expects more from Government on environmental issues

People and organisations on the left have expressed dismay at the lack of progressive policies being implemented by the Government, which while including the Greens also has NZ First holding things back.

Greenpeace campaigner Genevieve Toop

  • What’s your short assessment on environmental action?

“The government took power riding on a wave of promises to tackle climate change and clean up our rivers. Early on in their tenure they took the kind of bold and decisive action required to do this. They banned new oil and gas exploration, slashed public subsidies to big irrigation and industrial dairy expansion and banned plastic bags.

“These decisions were great news for the environment and a demonstration of people power. They were a welcome reprieve from nine years of the National-led government which pushed for more oil exploration, incentivised industrial dairy expansion, slashed conservation funding, and let plastic pollution skyrocket.

“But since these decisions, the government’s visionary rhetoric has not been matched with the kind of transformational policy reform that is urgently needed. The government have begun to favour incremental change and in several instances they have let big polluters carry on business-as-usual.

“Austrian oil giant OMV is currently exploring for new oil and gas in our waters, a mega-dairy conversion is underway in the iconic Mackenzie Basin, the fishing industry is still bottom trawling 3000 tonnes of coral every year and there is still no backing for a solar revolution to help us get off our dependence on oil gas and coal and end imports of polluting SUVs.”

  • How does the government’s progress on environmental issues stack up?

“Ardern’s government have signalled a change in direction for New Zealand compared with the previous government. However, they have failed to match rhetoric with real action.

“Incremental and reformist policies cannot hope to create the systemic change needed to stem the tide of pollution and stop the ecological breakdown. Aside from the oil and gas exploration ban, this government have yet to step up to the plate with the visionary and transformational change needed.

“This is surprising given the obvious urgency of the climate crisis and the huge mandate for action that they have for example the recent climate strikes.”

  • Do you think the government pays enough attention to environmental issues?

“No. We are in the midst of a global climate emergency which is threatening all life on earth. A government that was taking this seriously would be devoting a sizeable chunk of Budget 2019 towards funding the transition towards a sustainable economy.

“Flagship policies should include a billion-dollar regenerative farming fund, massive investment in solar for schools, homes, public buildings and marae and a big boost for electric and public transport.”

  • What would you score the coalition out of 10 for its action on environmental issues?

“We’ll give them 5/10.”

On the OMV exploration, Green Dunedin mayor Aaron Hawkins is grumpy about them test drilling down our way.

OMV went through the normal processes necessary to get permission  to do this test drilling.

Snow as sparse as good mayoral candidates

Snow in Dunedin! Well, a very light smattering on some of the hills. There’s a few sparse patches here at home, at about 100 metres. There’s  very cold wind, and it’s 3.2 degrees outside at present (up a degree from an hour ago). But it isn’t unusual to get cold snaps here at this time year. The high for today is predicted to be 11, but up to 16 tomorrow and 19 on Saturday. Variety is normal.

The northern motorway has been affected with trucks stopped on the Leith Saddle at 300m.

(Update – traffic was moving by 7:15 am)

And where people live there’s barely a smattering.

The snow there is as sparse as good candidates in the local body elections.

There are 14 people standing for mayor with none standing out as a good prospect.

The two apparent front runners, multi-term councillors may or may not be the best of an uninspiring lot.

Aaron Hawkins seems to have been a hard working councillor and I think deserves getting back on council, but is fairly hard left and is standing officially as a Green party candidate. He’s been a strong promoter of the grossly underused cycle lanes tacked onto the side of the busiest streets in the city (the state highway), and on other cycle lanes it’s unusual to see cycles.

He was recently accused by first term councillors as treating them as juniors – Race heats up as mud flies online

Cr Hawkins triggered the exchange by publicly questioning Cr O’Malley’s decision to endorse Cr Lee Vandervis, during a candidates’ meeting in Opoho last week, as his second pick for the mayoralty.

Cr O’Malley hit back on Sunday, accusing Cr Hawkins of attempting “character assassination” during an election campaign.

He went further, claiming Cr Hawkins had “blocked or sabotaged” every one of Cr O’Malley’s attempts at progressive initiatives over three years.

“He is part of a bullying and controlling group which have frozen out all the new councillors that came on in the last election and even referred to us as junior councillors for the first two years.”

Cr Hawkins denied the claims and fired back, accusing his colleague of promoting “baseless suspicion”.

The exchange divided supporters, as Cr David Benson-Pope weighed in to accuse Cr O’Malley of being motivated by securing a committee chairman role if Cr Vandervis won the mayoralty.

Others – including Cr Andrew Whiley and candidates Mandy Mayhem-Bullock, Scout Barbour-Evans and Richard Seagar – all backed Cr O’Malley.

Scout Barbour-Evans went further, contacting the Otago Daily Times to say Cr Hawkins’ bullying behaviour was one of the reasons the candidate resigned from the Green Party in April.

“Hawkins being a bully goes much further than within council … His signature move is the cackle every time certain people speak. Within the party I was one of those people.”

Lee Vandervis was second in the last mayoral election so must rate a chance, but he is best known for opposing things and getting into trouble for allegedly abusive and bullying behaviour. I know from personal experience he gets agitated easily. Working together with a council would seem to be out of character for him. He’s just clocked up the 12th complaint against him this term.

ODT: Complaint made against Vandervis

Dunedin city councillor and mayoral candidate Lee Vandervis is the subject of a fresh complaint, after becoming embroiled in another verbal altercation with a Dunedin City Council staff member.

The councillor already has 11 complaints against him this term.

The Otago Daily Times has been told by several sources Cr Vandervis received a parking ticket last week, and went to the council’s customer services reception to complain it was unfair.

While he was there, an exchange with a female staff member descended into shouting by Cr Vandervis, the ODT was told.

Voting may be as sparse as the snow, with ‘who the hell do I vote for?’ probably being the most common question asked.

It seems to be a real problem with both local body and national politics these days. It’s something that seems to attract more and more career politicians, and less quality candidates.

 

Growing anger in Dunedin over traffic and cycleways

There is growing annoyance and sometimes anger over noticeably worsening traffic congestion, while the obtrusive cycle lanes that have been installed are only often empty of cyclists.

Yesterday on Facebook Clint Dane posted:

Right, before I start I want to make it clear I don’t give a flying fuck about Aucklands traffic problems, they’ve had problems for years and that’s their business.

Now then, is there any way of bringing the sudden problems with our traffic to someone’s attention that might be able to get something done about it?

I left work tonight near McDonalds on Andy Bay Road and took 30 minutes to get to centre city New World!! This is becoming a regular occurrence and I put it down to the cycleway and cycleway alone.

There are no longer places to pull over heading north on the one way system if you’re wanting to park somewhere so if you’re wanting to parallel park you now hold up a massive line of traffic. As well as this the timing of the lights is all kinds of fucked up and is in no way helped by the stupid bicycle red/orange/green lights. I’ve waited time and time again to turn and couldn’t because of those lights and you know what? I’VE NEVER SEEN A FUCKING CYCLIST! The world is going all in on trying to make things gs as eco friendly as possible yet the council and NZTA have done a bang up job of forcing a huge number of cars to idle for extended periods which only increases the amount of pollution they pump out so in reality they’ve made it worse.

I propose we gather everyone that was involved in the decision making regarding the cycleway and stone them publicly, who wants to join in?

I must admit to being frustrated when prevented from turning because of a read cycle light, with no sign of any cyclists. And roads and lanes have been narrowed to make way for hardly used cycle lanes.

There have been over 200 comments, many in agreement but with some other views, like;

I think Dunedin is just a lot busier with more cars on the road in general, right along Highgate at 3pm and 5pm is crazy!

2:30 pm onwards (and also 8-9 am) is noticeably congested except during school holidays.

But things seem to be worse after the cycle lanes have been installed. there also seems to be growing cycle rage.

More reasoned criticism from Carmen Houlahan:

I agree it is kaos out there. People need cycles ways. However, i do not think cycle ways should have been put on a busy one way. I think bike lanes could have been put around the back streets that is safer for the cyclists. There is no where to park any more and the concrete slabs are dangerous as they are hard to get around. To make matters worse someone seems to jave gone around changing lanes so you go into one lane that used to go one way then you have to try to get to the other lane. There should be signs warning that road lanes have changed.

And who put the circles every where? I don’t know what consultation was done on this but they aren’ t even round abouts. I have raised this before.

Recently a number of intersections have simply had raised round bits plonked in the middle of them, with no reforming of the roads. They are sort of roundabouts, but seem to mostly just cause confusion and make it harder to drive through intersections.

Sadly we are going to have disruptions for years to come. I am running for mayor and council at the DCC this year and I will be pushing for things to improve. Surely it has to be better than it is?

Traffic, parking and cycle lanes are likely to be a feature of this year’s local body elections.

I have noticed a slight increase of cycle use, from hardly any to a few. But days like today in particular (heavy rain, high winds, cold) there will be few on two wheels, while everyone has to negotiate the reconstructed roads.

 

Dunedin student charge with making ‘anti-Muslim slurs”

A student with name suppression appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday where he admitted a charge of disorderly behaviour (likely to cause violence).

ODT:  Anti-Muslim slurs day after attack

A Dunedin student has admitted making expletive-laden anti-Muslim slurs just one day after the terrorist attack in Christchurch.

The student admitted a charge of disorderly behaviour (likely to cause violence), which holds a maximum penalty of three months’ imprisonment or a fine of $2000.

Police saw the man on the street in the student sector yelling words to the effect of: “Muslims are not welcome in our country, go home Muslims!”

Other revellers told officers there had been repeated earlier slurs too.

Police, who were patrolling areas around the mosque, were on Castle St, clearing up to 200 people from the road.

At the intersection with Dundas St, the defendant approached their vehicle and shouted his racist message.

“He yelled this repeatedly amongst the crowd of people on the street,” police said.

The teen was firmly told that his comments were “inappropriate and insensitive”.

However, the defendant was unapologetic, stating he was entitled to his opinion and freedom of speech.

He accused officers of trying to intimidate them and accused them of being “right-wing fascists”.

While this discussion was ongoing, three women told police that earlier in the evening the teenager had repeatedly shouted “f*** the Muslims”.

Others on the street began to abuse the defendant for his comments and police arrested him.

What this person was doing was awful and inappropriate. Is arresting him the best way to deal with it? In those circumstances it may have been.

Defence counsel Andrew More told the court his client’s father was at yesterday’s hearing and had been “surprised and disappointed” in his son’s behaviour.

Judge Michael Crosbie called it “no more or less than overt racism”.

It’s kind of weird for me to see this – I have appeared before Judge Crosbie (in the dock once), and Mr More appeared  for private prosecutor Dermot Nottingham at one hearing when applications were made to have the charges dismissed (charges were withdrawn at the next hearing).

He refused to sentence the teenager on the spot because he wanted to know what the repercussions would be with the University of Otago.

A university spokesman said any students who committed criminal offences were dealt with once any court process had concluded.

The student will be sentenced in June. The charge has a maximum penalty of three months’ imprisonment or a fine of $2000.

 

 

“Never felt more at home than she had in the last 10 days”.

Jacinda Ardern has continued to engage with and reassure Muslims around New Zealand. Yesterday she visited the Dunedin mosque that was considered as a target by the Christchurch terrorist, and also a Muslim child care centre.

Newshub: Dunedin Muslim’s ‘astounding message’ to Jacinda Ardern about New Zealand after Christchurch attack

A Muslim woman in Dunedin told Jacinda Ardern she only feels at home in New Zealand since the Christchurch terror attack.

The Prime Minister visited Dunedin’s Al Huda Mosque on Wednesday, which the alleged 28-year-old gunman reportedly said in his manifesto was the original target of the March 15 shooting.

The Prime Minister said she felt it was appropriate to visit the Dunedin mosque to reiterate her message of safety and inclusion for the Muslim community in the wake of the attack that left 50 dead and dozens injured.

Ardern said there was one woman in the mosque who told her she had lived in New Zealand for more than a decade but had “never felt more at home than she had in the last 10 days”.

“I found that such an astounding message in the wake of what the community has experienced,” the Prime Minister said, adding that she discussed safety with the community, particularly with Muslim women who “wear their faith”.

I think that there is no doubt that many New Zealanders have increased their understanding and reduced suspicion of Muslims living in New Zealand, many of whom are immigrants.

It’s good to see that this has had a positive spin-off.

ODT:  City’s Muslims say thank you to PM

As the Prime Minister consoled and consulted with Dunedin Muslims yesterday they had only two words for her – thank you.

Jacinda Ardern travelled to the city yesterday to show solidarity to the Islamic community following the Christchurch mosque shootings.

Parents huddled outside the Au-Nur Child Education and Care Centre in South Dunedin awaiting her arrival in the morning.

Ms Ardern, wearing a hijab, hugged parents and Muslim community leaders before entering the Islamic kindergarten.

Centre head teacher Rosy Jaforullah said Ms Ardern’s presence was reassuring to the parents.

”They now feel safer sending their children to Au-Nur.”

She admitted this would not be the case for some parents who still kept them at home out of fear.

”For that I don’t know what to do.”

It has been a difficult time for many Muslims.

In the early afternoon, Ms Ardern spoke to hundreds of Dunedin Muslims at the Al Huda mosque, which was the gunman’s original target.

University of Otago student Aisya Ahmad Zamri said there was a sense of gratitude among the people there.

”We feel overwhelmed by how she showcases her leadership skills. Not every prime minster would come here and do that.”

Otago Muslim Association chairman Mohammed Rizwan said mosque members largely wanted to thank Ms Ardern.

”We are quite happy with how she has handled this.”

Some at the mosque questioned how the Prime Minister would keep the country safe in the future. She assured them this was at the top of the Government’s mind.

Further engagement with the Muslim community is being encouraged: ‘Talk to us’ – open day at mosque

The large number of Dunedin residents asking to pray alongside the Muslim community at Al Huda mosque has prompted the Otago Muslim Association to hold an open day this Sunday.

Association chairman Mohammed Rizwan said the Clyde St mosque would be open to the public between 10am and 5pm.

”Heaps of people have been asking if they can come and visit the mosque and pray with us, and out of safety, we have been saying no to them.

”But now we have decided we should have a mosque open day, just to invite people to come and see what it is like inside and they can see us, they can talk to us, we can talk to them and we can have activities inside the mosque.”

He said the event aimed to show appreciation and acknowledge the great support being received from the wider community.

I don’t want to go and pray, but I think I will go on Sunday to talk.

Dr Rizwan was delighted to see support for the Muslim community was not waning.

He said it was possible groups of all nationalities, cultures and religions would get together to organise an event celebrating Dunedin’s diversity, and ultimately creating unity.

I think that all of us could work on this more, and not just at specific events. There are immigrants living in five of the six households in my immediate neighbourhood.

 

Updates – 49 confirmed dead in Christchurch terrorist attacks

49 people have been confirmed dead as a result of two near simultaneous terrorist attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday. One Australian man has been arrested and charged with murder.  Another  man and a woman have also been apprehended. A fourth man was arrested but that was not related to the mosque massacres. Parts of a street in Dunedin has cordon off in a related investigation. Mosques around New Zealand are under police protection.

Military style rifles were used in the attacks, and two bombs were found on the vehicle of one of those who was apprehended.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush put out a number of updates on what had happened. Here is the latest from late last night.

Police continue to deal with what is an unprecedented event for New Zealand. The loss of life and the number of those who have been injured is tragic.

As the Prime Minister has stated, this has been designated a terrorist attack.

This has been an abhorrent event and my thoughts are with all of those affected in Christchurch. Be assured NZ Police stand with you all tonight.

We now know that 49 people have been killed in the attacks, 41 people at the Deans Avenue mosque, and seven at the Linwood Avenue mosque. One person died in hospital.

The number of those being treated in hospital has been updated to 48 people.

A 28-year-old man has been charged with murder and is due to appear in the Christchurch District Court tomorrow morning.

Two others remain in custody. Another person was arrested earlier today however that was not related to these events.

This is still an ongoing situation and Police has a significant number of staff on the ground in Christchurch

We are unable at this stage to provide details about matters leading up to the attacks. It is very early days and these matters will form part of the investigation.

There is an increased Police presence across Christchurch and surrounding areas. Our priority is to keep all New Zealanders safe.

There are community events planned across the country this weekend and there will be a visible Police presence at these events for safety and reassurance.

We thank the public for their ongoing co-operation and we would like to reassure members of the public that a large Police presence will remain in the city for the time being. The safety of the community is our priority.

Police wish to notify the public of the Restoring Family Links (RFL) website(link is external) where people can register missing persons or register themselves as alive. People living in New Zealand can also register missing persons on 0800 115 019.

Information will continue to be provided as it becomes available.

Our thoughts remain with all of those affected.

And:

Police are currently in attendance at a property on Somerville Street, Dunedin. This is a location of interest in relation to the serious firearms incident in Christchurch today.

Evacuations of properties in the immediate area have taken place as a precaution.

Alternative accommodation has been provided for residents requiring it and cordons are in place in the Somerville Street and Everton Road area.

There is no further information available at this time.

From the police page on Facebook:

Police are aware there is extremely distressing footage relating to the incident in Christchurch circulating online. We would strongly urge that the link not be shared. We are working to have any footage removed.

I don’t want any of this footage or links to the footage on Your NZ. One aim of the killings was to attract media attention and pub


Saturday morning: Update 9

We are continuing to make enquiries after yesterday’s tragic events in Christchurch.

As the Prime Minister stated yesterday, this has been designated a terrorist attack.

49 people have died and 42 are being treated for injuries. Two of those injured are critical and this includes a four-year-old child who is being transported to Starship Hospital this morning.

A 28-year-old man will appear in Christchurch District Court today charged with murder.

Two others remain in custody.

Our investigations are in their early stages and we will be looking closely to build a picture of any of the individuals involved and all of their activities prior to this horrific event.

There is no guarantee the risk is limited to Canterbury and we need all New Zealanders to be extra vigilant.

Our message to you is simple: if you see something suspicious, say something – call 111 immediately.

Police is aware there are distressing materials related to this event circulating widely online. We would urge anyone who has been affected by seeing these materials to seek appropriate support.

We would also like to remind the public that it is an offence to distribute an objectionable publication and that is punishable by imprisonment.

Once again I want to reassure the public that a large Police presence remains in the city for the time being.

There will be a heightened Police presence at community events today for safety and reassurance.

Dozens of officers continue to be deployed into the region today, and Police’s Eagle helicopter has flown to Christchurch to assist those on the ground.

Police and the wider government will be working with leaders and members of the Islamic Community to provide assistance, reassurance and support.

Deputy Commissioner of Māori and Ethnic Services Wally Haumaha has travelled to Christchurch alongside 15 ethnic liaison officers to support the community.

These specialists will work alongside local staff to support the families and help repatriate them with their loved ones in a way that is consistent with Muslim beliefs, while taking into account these circumstances and obligations to the coroner.

I also plan to fly to Christchurch this morning, and will be speaking to media at the earliest opportunity. More detail on that will be advised in due course.

Again I want to offer my sincere condolences to those affected, on behalf of New Zealand Police.

Presuming more updates are released they will be added to this post today.

From Update 11:

The 28-year-old man charged with murder in relation to this attack has appeared in Christchurch District Court this morning.

While the man is currently facing only one charge, further charges will be laid. Details of those charges will be communicated at the earliest possible opportunity.