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.

 

2018 citizenship numbers

The top ten nationalities who got New Zealand citizenship last year:

  • United Kingdom including England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – 5471
  • India – 4845
  • Samoa including Western Samoa – 3185
  • Philippines – 3079
  • South Africa  – 2691
  • Fiji – 2542
  • China including Hong Kong, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Macau and Macao – 1175
  • Tonga – 848
  • Australia – 767
  • United States – 756

Totals:

  • 2017 – 36,450
  • 2018 – 35,737

A small drop.

From ODT who also show for  Dunedin a slight Drop in citizenship numbers but still well up on previous years:

Nationalities becoming citizens in Dunedin in 2018:

  • United Kingdom – 145
  • India – 52
  • Philippines – 43
  • South Africa – 42
  • United States – 28
  • China – 23
  • Australia – 23
  • Sri Lanka – 17
  • Thailand – 15
  • Tonga – 12
  • Other – 153

While featuring in the top ten for New Zealand, Samoans and Fijians are presumably in Other.

New Zealand is the fifth most ethnically diverse country in the OECD, with 25% of the population being born overseas. And the above spread of ethnicities indicate to an extent the spread of ethnicities.

 

Eagles impress receptive crowd in Dunedin stadium

In their first visit to Dunedin the Eagles played to a near to packed stadium last night, with the crowd cheering, clapping and singing in support all the way through an impressive two and a half hour gig. While not an avid fan I like a lot of their songs, and I thought that live they were bloody good.

ODT report attendance at 33,000. Earlier in the week they played twice in Auckland.

The Eagles delivered an immaculate performance at Dunedin's Forsyth-Barr stadium.

Most of their songs are very well known, which is what everyone wanted to hear. The Eagles have many big hits, and they were all played professionally as well as with pride and energy, but one that I had not hear and still don’t know the name of, that followed a rapturous reception for Hotel California, was one of my favourites.

I was sitting high in the south stand, a long way from the stage at the east end of the stadium about 100 meters away, but the three large screens ensured I saw enough of the action.

The sound quality was very good, with vocals and and instruments coming through clearly, and the bass drum bang on the mark for oomph and feel. This is a huge credit to those who set up the sound system. The stadium must be very difficult to deal with, being a large and oddly shaped enclosure – at rugby matches it has a large swimming pool type crowd echo.

Sure there were some songs that were just ok. The Eagles cater for a wide range of musical tastes. But there were enough highlights to make it one of the best concerts I have been to.

Apart from having great songs the Eagles are a bunch of very accomplished and multi talented musicians. Five of them shared lead vocal duties with all joining in backing harmonies. Their contrasting vocal styles add to the variety and interest, from crooners to the more rough rock of Joe Walsh, who also lifted the act with his lead guitar.

Drummer and sometimes guitarist Don Henley, guitarists Vince Gill and Deacon Frey, and bassist Timothy B. Schmidt all had turns in the spotlight.

Henley formed the Eagles in 1971 with Glenn Frey, who died in 2016 and has since been replaced by his son Deacon (who fills his shows very capably) along with Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner. Walsh replaced Leadon in 1975, and Schmidt replaced Meisner in 1977. Gill, who has a long musical history of his own, was enlisted in 2017.

Apart from the youthful Deacon Frey the Eagles are all old rockers. Henley, Walsh and Schmidt are all in their seventies, and Gill is about a decade younger. But their voices and energy still keep the Eagles up there with the best.

It was a very enjoyable evening. There’s other music I listen to more than the Eagles but they were still well worth hearing live – it was better than recorded versions.


I’ve worked out what the penultimate song was from set lists from earlier in their world tour – it looks like it’s the same as last night, even the encore and encore #2 charades are the same.

Here’s a version of Rocky Mountain Way from last year:

One of their rockier numbers, a style of music I prefer.

That video performance looks much the same as last night.

Lime scooters returning to Auckland, Dunedin, but remain controversial

After being suddenly removed from Auckland and Dunedin streets a week ago Lime scooters are set to return to the streets and cycleways and footpaths.

ODT:  Lime scooters back next week after assurances

Lime e-scooters have been given the all-clear to return to Dunedin streets but fans may have to wait until next week for their next trip.

Lime voluntarily withdrew its e-scooters in Dunedin last week, hours after Auckland temporarily suspended the company’s licence to operate, citing concerns about random brake lock-ups causing injuries to riders.

Auckland Council also announced yesterday it would allow Lime to operate again, providing it meets certain conditions regarding reporting safety incidents and concerning scooter maintenance.

Representatives from Lime and the Dunedin City Council met yesterday to discuss the e-scooters’ return after their voluntary removal more than a week ago, due to safety concerns.

Council community services general manager Simon Pickford said Lime had agreed verbally to a set of five conditions and once they agreed in writing the council would be happy for the scooters to return.

Conditions included reporting any serious safety incidents, anywhere in the world, to the council within 48 hours, the weekly inspection of e-scooters used in Dunedin and more information about safety and rider behaviour.

“Once we have written confirmation that they agree to these conditions, Lime scooters will be back on Dunedin streets.”

When the Lime scooters first arrived inn Dunedin earlier this year they were welcomed by some as a revolutionary wave of green transport. I saw them parked and ridden around town, and saw no problems apart from them being parked in  some silly places – someone left one right outside the entrance to the building I work in one morning. That isn’t the scooter’s fault, it was an inconsiderate rider.

How much have they changed things? Apart from helping some people get around town and annoying some other people it’s hard to judge.

They seem to have been used by people for fun or as an alternative to walking. I have seen little sign of them replacing cars for commuting. I saw one guy ride one into a central city car park, get of fit and get in his big black SUV and drive away. There would be far more environmental good from reversing the shift to bigger vehicles often transporting just one person.

Apart from the technical problems and accidents I think the main problem has been the sudden change – 300 hundred scooters appeared literally overnight. Usage and acceptance takes time to adapt and evolve.

It’s impossible to judge their effect on traffic in Dunedin, because they were introduced here at a time of major seasonal change. They arrived at one of the quietest times of year, the January holidays.

At the end of January, early February there is always a big increase in traffic when schools start back. And that builds considerably through February as tertiary students return in force. In the last two weeks traffic has been at least as bad as I have seen it in central Dunedin.

Maybe a few hundred scooters will help, but I suspect the (minority) stupid use will keep being highlighted, some of the moaning about cyclists will divert to moaning about scooterists, the council will think about changing laws and redesigning everything yet again for a small number of road users, and life will adapt one way or another.

One (small) change I have noticed that I haven’t seen before – I have seen a few people riding their own scooters. If I used one I’d prefer my own to taking a Lime lottery.

Microscooters advertise two:

  • Emicro Falcon (compact) $1799.95, range 10 km, charge time 1 hour
  • Emicro Condor $1995.95, range 20 km, charge time 3 hours

If I used the Falcon to go to work I’d have to charge it during the day for the return trip. The Condor would make the distance on an overnight charge, but it probably woukldn’t make it up small but steep hill at my work end (not a major), and a large steep hill at my home end, going up about 100 metres. A harbour cycleway would be good too ride, but having to come across town and traffic (main street and state highway north and south included) would be a pain and hazardous (the cycleways only run north-south).

Blacksheeptrading have e-scooters as cheap as $950:

  • RIDE FASTER & TRAVEL FURTHER The Ninebot KickScooter by Segway (ES2) can go up to 25km/h and travel up to 25 km. Its rear shock absorption ensures a comfortable ride and the customizable ambient and rear lights are not only fun, but allow riders to be seen in low light.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT & FOLDABLE The one-click folding system allows this lightweight electric KickScooter to be carried on public transportation, stored in your car and more. It conveniently goes anywhere.

Related (ODT): Residents must adapt: Staynes

Dunedin’s one-way cycle lane network and subsequent changes to traffic and parking are things residents will have to adapt to, officials say.

The NZ Transport Agency and Dunedin City Council project was officially opened yesterday, on budget at $8million.

Other cycleway projects in Dunedin have gone way over budget. One redesigned intersection had to be reredesigned after it was found that fire engines coukldn’t negotiate it.

Dunedin deputy mayor Chris Staynes said whenever there was a perception the council was taking something away from motorists “we all get bombarded by unhappy people”.

He said people would have to adapt.

Adapt to more traffic delays and inconvenience so a few can ride more safely on some routes only?

This week the Otago Daily Times counted 90 cyclists using the lane running south on Castle near Dundas St in one hour between 7.50am and 8.50am, and 38 in the same time period travelling north towards Stuart St on Cumberland St.

From what I have seen usage has increased, from hardly any to a few, especially on Anzac Avenue which had all car parks over two blocks replaced with a painted cycleway on both sides.

A count of cyclists on the lanes this week showed they are being used, but NZTA regional relationships director Jim Harland said he would like to see more.

Mr Harland described that as a good start, but hoped it would get “a lot higher”.

The cycle lanes had only been built recently, and he hoped the numbers would increase.

After spending millions of dollars they ‘hope’ numbers will increase?

 

 

 

Lime scooters suspended in Auckland and Dunedin

 

Dean Kimpton, Auckland Council Chief Operating Officer said that he met with Auckland Transport (AT) and Lime representatives to discuss the issues, and had decided on a temporary ban.

“We have been clear with Lime representatives that the equipment used on our transport network must be safe for use.

“The safety of people using e-scooters and those that share the environment with them is our number one priority.”

The suspension will last until Monday, when Lime will have another opportunity to present information to AT and the Auckland Council regarding equipment safety.

Mr Kimpton said there had been 92 reported “irregular braking incidents” in Auckland, which resulted in 19 separate injury claims.

If the suspension is then lifted, AT and Auckland Council say Lime will have to adhere to a new list of operating regulations.

These include Lime providing incident reports every 48 hours and meeting weekly with relevant staff to discuss Lime’s response to any incidents.

Auckland Council will also be appointing an independent reviewer to overlook Lime’s safety management and processes.

Mr Kimpton said Lime agreed to the conditions and once the council is provided with the necessary information, “we will make a further decision on whether Lime’s license suspension will be lifted.”

 

The decision was confirmed by Dunedin City Council community services general manager Simon Pickford late this afternoon, following a meeting with Lime’s Dunedin representatives earlier today.

Mr Pickford said Lime’s Dunedin representatives had volunteered to follow Auckland’s example and remove the scooters from Dunedin streets.

The scooters would not be able to return to Dunedin streets until issues in Auckland were resolved to the satisfaction of Auckland Council.

Lime scooter introduction has had mixed response

Since the introduction Lime scooters were launched in Dunedin 10 days ago there has been a lot of free publicity for a commercial enterprise, but not all of it has been good.

It is now common to see clutters of scooters cluttering footpaths in the mornings, but they get scattered during the day. Out and about yesterday there were quite a few being used.

There has been some stupidity. It only took a day for someone to try one down Baldwin Street – I didn’t see it explained how they got it up. The electric scooters don’t do well on hills. I saw someone having to push one up London Street (just off George Street) after giving up trying to power up. There’s a lot of hills in Dunedin, but there’s quite a bit of flat too, especially around the CBD and University and Polytech campuses.

There have been reports of a steady stream of injured riders going to the Emergency Department. This isn’t surprising. I haven’t seen anyone wearing a helmet, and I saw someone riding one wearing jandals, so feet are obviously at risk.

There has been one serious accident that has raised serious questions. An international student was knocked off a scooter by a truck in the early hours of Friday morning – Scooter rider out of surgery, remains serious.

There has been an unconfirmed report that the scooter went through a red light, but regardless of that questions are being asked about being able to use one at night, the scooters don’t have lights and are supposed to be taken off the road at night.

ODT:  Don’t ‘demonise’ Lime scooters over crash – Bidrose

An investigation is ongoing, but the ODT has been told the woman rode through a red light at the intersection and into the path of the truck.

A police spokeswoman would not confirm that, saying the Serious Crash Unit had examined the scene but “we are not able to speculate on the cause of the crash while the investigation is ongoing”.

Lime also refused to answer specific questions about why the scooter was on the street at that hour of the morning.

The company signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Dunedin City Council that included a requirement for scooters to be removed from public places each evening.

The ODT understands “juicers” — those who collect and charge the battery-powered vehicles — have been told to collect scooters needing charging from 9 o’clock every evening.

All other scooters were to be off the streets by midnight, and were not to be returned again until the following morning.

There have been inevitable reports of pedestrian clashes with scooters on footpaths. This has also been an issue in other places where the scooters have been introduced. And this has prompted calls for speed restrictions.

Stuff:  Government looks set to impose 10kmh Lime scooter speed limit

Work is under way on law changes that will impose a 10kmh speed limit for Lime electric scooters, with the Government set to consult on the new rules early this year.

But the scooters soon became a topic of controversy, with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff ordering an urgent scooter safety report in October after councillor Christine Fletcher was almost hit by a rider.

Goff later raised safety concerns with Transport Minister Phil Twyford. In his letter, he asked that the Ministry of Transport instruct police to pull up “dangerous scooter use” and raised the possibility of a e-scooter speed limit.

Stuff has been provided with a copy of Twyford’s response.

It shows the Government is considering a package of law changes called Accessible Streets, which aim to increase the safety of all users on the footpath.

“Among the proposed measures is a proposed maximum speed limit for all vehicles that are allowed on the footpath,” Twyford wrote.

“I expect that this package will be ready for consultation in early 2019.”

A spokeswoman for duty minister Grant Robertson said the maximum speed limit proposed under Accessible Streets was 10kmh.

If implemented, the limit would apply to Lime scooters being used on the footpath, she said.

A spokesman for Goff said the mayor would like to hear from the public on what speed would be appropriate.

10 kmh seems too over the top, I can walk that fast.

I don’t know how they could be just limited to that on footpaths. A blanket 10 kmh limit would possibly stuff the market for Lime.

A speed limit along with compulsory helmet wearing would be more of an issue. And what about requiring safe footwear, and even knee, elbow and hand protection? Scooters could easily be regulated out of contention as a viable transport alternative.

Like anything new the Lime scooters in Dunedin have received a mixed reception. They could be a good thing, but are not without their problems.

 

 

 

Lime in Dunedin

I received a lime tree for Christmas. I’m not sure how well it will grow here in Dunedin, but lemons do ok if you protect young trees from frost, so it is worth trying.

But different limes are arriving here today – ODT: Lime time here for Dunedin

Dunedin has officially joined the Lime scooter craze as 300 e-scooters hit the streets this morning.

From today, Dunedin will join Auckland, Christchurch and Hutt City as part of the United States company’s New Zealand fleet.

Unlike in Christchurch and Auckland, Lime would not be paying a fee to operate in the city, as it did not require a permit.

In Dunedin, two wheels good, four wheels bad, so this encouragement isn’t a surprise.

The company has hired about 30 employees, both full-time and part-time, to run the service in the city.

That’s a lot of employees, about ten per scooter, but it isn’t clear what hours they will work.

As I understand it employees collect scooters where they are left and charge them. Or are the contractors? I think that elsewhere they are paid per collection/charge.

In the six weeks after the New Zealand service became available last year, more than 500,000 trips were taken by 150,000 different riders, according to figures released by the company.

Time will tell if the become ‘a craze’ here or not.

I wonder how well they will go up Stuart Street, or High Street, or View Street. And I wonder how many are tested out on Baldwin Street. Brakes would be more important than uphill grunt.

There were also nearly 300 ACC claims for injuries sustained while using the scooters in the same period.

That shouldn’t be a problem here, a new hospital is planned to be built in the next ten years or so.

Key details:

  • Phone app used to locate a scooter and hire
  • $1 to hire plus 30 cents a minute
  • Helmets recommended but not compulsory
  • Allowed on roads, footpaths, separated cycle lanes and shared paths
  • Not allowed on dedicated (painted) cycle lanes

That last one is likely to be ignored given that they are allowed to be used just about everywhere else including footpaths.

Parish withdraws from Anglican Church over same-sex marriage

An Anglican parish in Dunedin has voted for disaffiliation with the Anglican Church due to opposition to the ‘abomination’ of homosexuality and opposition to blessing same-sex marriages.

Several other parishes around the country have taken similar action.

ODT:  Parish to leave church

A Dunedin parish opposed to the blessing of same-sex civil marriages has withdrawn from the Anglican Church, its minister saying homosexuality is an “abomination”.

St Matthew’s in Stafford St this week voted to disaffiliate from the church.

The decision means those in the parish who supported the move — it is understood  79% voted for disaffiliation — will have to find a new place to worship.

Bishop of Dunedin the Rt Rev Steven Benford confirmed the move yesterday. He said St Matthew’s voted to disaffiliate at a special meeting on Monday, in what was “a result of the General Synod resolution on the blessing of same-sex civil marriages passed in May 2018”.

In May, Dr Benford sent an email to his congregation in response to the move to allow priests to bless same-sex marriages and civil unions.

The vicar (or is that ex-vicar?) would not discuss the matter, but has previously made strong anti-homosexual comments.

St Matthew’s vicar, the Rev Stu Crosson, declined to discuss the matter yesterday.

But earlier this year Mr Crosson wrote the move to allow the blessing of same-sex marriages “appears to me to be a step into false teaching, contrary to the unified witness of scripture, a denial of what it means to be faithful, human, image bearers, in our maleness and femaleness and as such an idolatrous step away from our God”.

Mr Crosson said to bless something God called an abomination and the apostle Paul described as “inviting the wrath of God” seemed destined to invite the judgement of God upon the church.

To ‘restore’ the parts of the Bible they choose.

In a May document the parish suggested aligning itself with the Global Anglican Church, a movement that describes itself as “a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican communion”.

The parish could also “plant a new church in Dunedin, not under the Anglican banner”.

I’m not sure how well they have thought through the implications of de-affiliation.

Anglican diocesan registrar Andrew Metcalfe said yesterday the church and its buildings were owned by the Anglican Church.

A process would begin to deal with matters such as how to deal with paid staff at the church, he said.

The church would look for advice from Canterbury and discuss how it dealt with the churches there that disaffiliated.

“It is, for them and for us, unknown territory in many ways.

Perhaps they should have checked this territory out before deciding to disaffiliate. They are now shorty of a venue, and may also be short of staff and finances.

It may be a challenge trying to stick to archaic Bible based principles in a modern world.

 

0.5-2.0 metre sea level rise possible, more frequent floods

A ‘best case’ scenario of an average 0.5 metre sea level rise, with far more frequent extreme coastal water levels, would caause a lot of problems. A ‘worst case’ scenario is an average 2 metre rise, equivalent to ‘100 year floods’ every day. If scientists are wrong it could be less – or more.

Noted:  The impact rising sea levels will have on New Zealand

Under present projections, the sea level around New Zealand is expected to rise between 30cm and 1m this century as warming ocean waters expand, mountain glaciers retreat and polar ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica shrink. Even if global emissions were to stop today, more warming over the next few decades is inevitable, bringing a trail of storms, ocean surges, flooding and erosion.

The Ministry for the Environment says extreme coastal water levels, currently expected to be reached or exceeded once every 100 years, will, by 2050-2070, occur on average at least once a year.

Evidence is already piling up. Waihi Beach in the Bay of Plenty, Beach Road south of Ōamaru, and small seaside towns in Taranaki and the West Coast  all bear the signs of coastal erosion. Low-lying areas in Napier, Whakatane, Tauranga, Motueka, Nelson, parts of Auckland and Wellington have all been inundated by storms.

Just before Christmas, the Whakatane District Council declared 34 properties in Matata in the Bay of Plenty “unliveable” due to severe flooding risk.

“We are a coastal nation so we are going to get whacked by sea-level rise,” says GNS climate scientist Tim Naish, head of a new Government-funded programme set up to assess the magnitude and rate of sea-level rise. “We’re talking places we will not be able to live in because a so-called one-in-100-year flooding event becomes a daily event.”

Worst-case scenario, he says, is an average 2m sea-level rise by the end of the century. Best-case scenario, if we achieve the goals of the Paris climate agreement and keep temperature rise well below 2°C, is 50cm of sea-level rise.

A 2 metre rise would cause major problems for a large part of Dunedin, the reclaimed South Dunedin area. It would also stuff the Portobello road, parts of the road to Port Chalmers (which links the city and Otago province to the port) and also the road to Aramoana.

Stuff:  Coastal hazards report warns sea-level rises a ‘slowly unfolding red-zone’

The threat of rising sea levels has been likened to a “slowly unfolding red-zone” as a major Parliamentary report warns thousands of homes could become uninhabitable.

Environment Commissioner Dr Jan Wright released her national report on coastal hazards on Thursday, recommending a major overhaul of the way New Zealand prepared for coastal erosion and rising sea-levels.

She found Christchurch and Dunedin would be the cities most affected by future sea-level rises, resulting in potential damage costing billions of dollars.

In Christchurch, nearly 10,000 homes and 200 kilometres of road were less than 1.5 metres above the spring high tide mark, more than Auckland and Wellington combined.

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull said the report showed the city would likely be the “most extensively affected” by coastal hazards.

“We have an exceptionally large number of homes at risk, as well as infrastructure.”

The report found nearly 2700 homes, mostly in South Dunedin, were less than 50cm above the spring high tide mark.

This already impacts on many property values. Anything like a 2 metre average rise would also impact significantly on Mosgiel and the Taieri Plain, where floods are already common. The Momona airport runway would go under.

But we always have the option of arguing that nothing adverse will happen and doing nothing is fine.

Catholic abuse issue festers on with more insiders speaking up

Even the official Catholic line is for a significant change in approach to world-wide scandals of abuse that have been swept under the church gowns for decades.

The Pope is under increasing pressure and criticism:

The ‘gravely negligent’ charge (and similar) is becoming common, including in New Zealand. There is a campaign to change the name of a Dunedin High School named after a Bishop who effectively allowed priests to continue abusing.

In August:  Not ready to condemn Kavanagh

The Bishop of Dunedin is not yet ready to condemn a predecessor, but says the actions of a priest who aided a paedophile Christian Brother would ”definitely not” be appropriate today.

Bishop Michael Dooley yesterday defended former Dunedin bishop John Kavanagh, who had jurisdiction over Fr Magnus Murray and Br Desmond Fay at the time of their offending in Dunedin.

Fr Murray, who in 2003 admitted offences against four Dunedin boys dating back to 1958-72, was sent to Australia by Bishop Kavanagh for treatment after details of his offending were raised in 1972.

Bishop Kavanagh later endorsed Fr Murray’s return to public ministry in the North Island, where more victims have since emerged.

Bishop Kavanagh also had ultimate jurisdiction over Br Desmond Fay, who was principal at Christian Brothers Junior School when he allegedly abused a young boy who later committed suicide.

Br Fay, who also taught at St Edmund’s School in South Dunedin, was sent overseas after the intervention of a Dunedin Catholic priest, Fr Kevin Kean.

Moving abusing priests on to other locations where abuse continued seems to be a common story.

ODT last Thursday: Emotions high amid calls for name change

Tears mixed with calls for healing as more than 50 people gathered in Dunedin to demand a new name for Kavanagh College last night.

The meeting was organised by former Kavanagh College pupils Christian McNab (25) and Sam Murphy (26) following ODT Insight revelations about sexual offending within the Dunedin diocese.

Much of the abuse occurred under the watch of Dunedin Catholic bishop at the time John Kavanagh, from whom the college took its name in 1989.

And, as current Dunedin Bishop Michael Dooley watched from the audience, survivors and their supporters stood, one by one, to share their stories and join the call for a name change last night.

Board member Paul O’Neill told last night’s meeting the decision was ultimately for Bishop Dooley to make, but the issue was being considered ”seriously”.

So one bishop gets to make the decision. A bishop who has so far failed to adequately acknowledge the severity of the situation for the Catholic Church in Dunedin and in New Zealand. This seems to be a failing that goes right to the top, the Pope.

But some in the church are prepared to stand up. Last Monday Alexandra’s priest speaks out

A Central Otago priest has broken his silence by criticising the Catholic Church’s handling of historic sexual abuse allegations.

Alexandra parish priest Fr Vaughan Leslie said the church’s response, within New Zealand and overseas, had helped fuel the “abuse crisis” now engulfing the church.

It had failed to remove men from ministry when credible complaints were received, and “misguided protectionism” had occurred “at the expense of truth and justice”, he said.

The response also highlighted the need for culture change within the church hierarchy, here and overseas, to put an end to a situation in which “in-groups of clergy hold all the reins of power”.

“I speak out because I love the Catholic Church, but not always the way she is run.

Saying this as a priest could well challenge some members of the Catholic hierarchy, but not doing so makes me guilty of saying the status quo is OK – which I do not believe [will do] if we are to regain our credibility, particularly in the moral area.

“Only when this occurs will victims of all forms of church-based abuse be able to trust the church again and have confidence that her processes will effectively protect the vulnerable, now and in the future.”

He had been compelled to speak out once before, in 2003, when he wrote to Dunedin paedophile priest Fr Magnus Murray in prison, urging him to seek forgiveness for his “truly evil” crimes.

Fr Murray had responded by complaining to the church hierarchy from his prison cell, and Fr Leslie was reprimanded for his actions.

He would not name the church official who reprimanded him, but said it was now clear clergy needed to hold other clergy and the church leadership – himself included – to account.

I don’t know if church leaders are capable of dealing with this properly. Praying amongst themselves doesn’t cut it.

Ageing bishops seem lout of touch with the damage this is doing their church. Their reluctance to publicly hold people to account leaves a further stain – are they trying to avoid responsibility for hiding and perpetuating past abuses?