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Hibiscus Coast State Highway maintenance disruptions
Hibiscus Coast State Highway maintenance disruptions

18 April 2024, 10:32 PM

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is advising motorists of upcoming maintenance work on State Highway 1 (SH1) between Grand Drive and Oteha Valley Road.The work will take place on two separate nights.Sunday, April 21st, between 9pm and 5amThis work will focus on the Grand Drive interchange.Thursday, April 25th, between 9pm and 5am This work will cover the stretch from Oteha Valley Road to the Silverdale interchange.NZTA emphasises that the schedule may change due to weather conditions. Motorists are advised to plan their journeys accordingly.What to expect at Grand Drive interchange (April 21st)Stop-go traffic management on the Grand Drive overbridgeDrivers should slow down and follow instructionsSouthbound off-ramp closure.Detour: Use the Silverdale southbound off-ramp, turn around, and travel back along SH1 to the Orewa northbound off-rampIncreased noise levels due to line markingWhat to expect between Oteha Valley Road and Silverdale interchange (April 25th)Full northbound closure of SH1Closures of the following ramps - Oteha Valley Road northbound on-ramp, Silverdale interchange northbound off-rampBP Service Station Dairy Flat off-ramp and on-ramp (no public access)Detour: Follow signs for the recommended detour via Oteha Valley Road and Dairy Flat HighwayIncreased noise levels due to paving activitiesCheck the NZTA website or download the Hibiscus Coast App for the latest on road closures and detours.

Economic conditions not forecast to improve until mid-2025
Economic conditions not forecast to improve until mid-2025

18 April 2024, 9:19 PM

Households and businesses are being advised to keep a close eye on costs until the middle of next year, when economic conditions are expected to improve.'It's probably another 12 months before it will feel like the worst of the downturn is behind us," Infometrics chief forecaster Gareth Kiernan said.He said households and businesses were likely to see lower interest rates, less contractionary fiscal policy and an improving world economy between mid-2025 and 2027, with annual economic growth returning to 3 percent.But until then, Kiernan said economic pressures would continue to suck more money out of household budgets, while recent job losses would undermine income security.Record high net migration made per-capita results look even worse, with household spending recording its biggest decline per person since 1992, excluding the 2020 lockdown, he said.However, Kiernan said migration numbers should ease following recent government policy changes, though the number of New Zealand-citizen departures settling at a higher level - attracted by a perception of better opportunities in Australia."The economy is being hit harder than expected a few months ago, with hopes of a soft landing disappearing in a flurry of housing market stress and rising unemployment," Kiernan said."The resilience displayed by households during much of 2023 has been sorely tested by mortgage rates of over 7 percent and there is little sign from the Reserve Bank of any relief this year."Infometrics forecast annual inflation to drop below 3 percent by early 2025, which would give the Reserve Bank confidence to begin cutting the official cash rate in November from 5.5 percent to a neutral rate of 4 percent by the end of 2025.

Blues host Brumbies in top-four showdown
Blues host Brumbies in top-four showdown

18 April 2024, 8:23 PM

The Blues welcome back lock Sam Darry for their crucial Super Rugby Pacific clash against the ACT Brumbies at Eden Park tomorrow night.Kick-off is at 7:05 pm.Both teams boast identical win-loss records of 6-1 and sit on 27 points, making this a pivotal match in the race for coveted home playoff positions.Darry, recovered from an MCL knee injury, joins the bench, while winger Mark Tele'a returns to the starting lineup aiming to add to his impressive try tally of five this season.Halfback Taufa Funaki gets the nod for a second consecutive start following a strong performance against the Western Force.Up front, hooker Ricky Riccitelli leads the Blues pack, with Kurt Eklund returning from illness to provide cover on the bench.Head Coach Vern Cotter acknowledges the significance of this encounter."The Brumbies are a force to be reckoned with this season," Cotter said. "They've displayed exceptional attacking and defensive skills, and they'll pose a serious threat at Eden Park.""We're neck and neck on points, and the winner takes sole possession of second place. It's a massive match, no question about it," he emphasised.Cotter is thrilled to have Darry bolster his locking stocks."Sam's return is a welcome boost," Cotter said. "He'll see some action off the bench tonight. He was a key player early on, bringing size and lineout expertise. Having him back adds depth to our locking options, and he's chomping at the bit to be back in a Blues jersey."The Blues take the field with:1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi2. Ricky Riccitelli3. Marcel Renata4. Patrick Tuipulotu (c)5. Laghlan McWhannell6. Akira Ioane7. Dalton Papali’i 8. Hoskins Sotutu9. Taufa Funaki10. Harry Plummer11. Caleb Clarke12. Bryce Heem13. Rieko Ioane14. Mark Tele’a15. Cole Forbes
Reserves:16. Kurt Eklund17. Joshua Fusitu’a18. Angus Ta’avao19. Sam Darry20. Adrian Choat21. Sam Nock22. Lucas Cashmore23. AJ LamNotable absentees include Stephen Perofeta (shoulder), Finlay Christie (groin), Zarn Sullivan (knee), Rob Rush (calf), and Cam Suafoa (illness).

NZ Police involved in takedown of scam platform
NZ Police involved in takedown of scam platform

18 April 2024, 7:48 PM

New Zealand Police joined forces with international authorities to dismantle a major cybercrime operation targeting people worldwide. The sting, named Operation Camperdown, focused on LabHost, a platform that provided tools for creating phishing scams.Phishing scams involve creating fake websites or messages that look like they're from legitimate sources, such as banks or online services. These scams trick people into revealing personal details like passwords or bank account information.Detective Sergeant Richard Briscoe of the New Zealand Police Cybercrime Unit explained that LabHost offered "phishing kits" to cybercriminals. These kits included everything a scammer needed to launch an attack, from fake websites to tools for sending phishing emails and texts.The investigation began in Europe in 2022 and led to the arrest of LabHost administrators in mid-April 2024. New Zealand Police executed search warrants at three locations in Auckland this week, seizing electronic devices and documents linked to suspected LabHost users."This is a strong message to scammers," said Detective Sergeant Briscoe. "New Zealand authorities take cybercrime seriously and will work with international partners to bring those responsible to justice."How to Report a ScamIf you think you've been targeted by a scam, you can report it to the New Zealand Police online at 105.police.govt.nz or by calling 105. You can also report anonymously through Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

Albany axe attacker detained in mental health facility
Albany axe attacker detained in mental health facility

18 April 2024, 7:12 PM

A man who attacked diners with an axe, injuring six people at Chinese restaurants in Albany last year, has learned his fate after he was acquitted by reason of insanity.Fanrong Meng, 25, appeared in the Auckland District Court via visual link from the Mason Clinic before Judge Pippa Sinclair, who ordered that he should be detained as a special patient in a secure psychiatric facility.He can be named for the first time after his bid for permanent name suppression failed.Thursday morning's disposition hearing came after an appearance in November last year when another judge found that while he committed the axe rampage, he was not criminally liable for his actions because he was so unwell he was unable to know what he was doing was wrong.The young man came to New Zealand shortly before the attack on a three-year work visa and suffers from schizophrenia. He stopped taking his medication before immigrating to NZ, citing the cost, the court heard.Meng was flanked by an Immigration Officer at the secure psychiatric facility during the hearing, appearing on a screen in court.Crown prosecutor Taniela-Afu Veikune said Meng should be detained as a special patient in a secure facility, arguing he posed a significant and ongoing risk to others.His lawyer Michael Kan said the man should not be subject to a special patient order, to allow him to be deported to China, where he could live with his parents and receive treatment.Judge Sinclair ordered that Meng be detained in a hospital as a special patient under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992."Given the nature of the incident, public safety must be the paramount consideration," Judge Sinclair said.He can be detained for half the length of the maximum sentence of the most serious charge, wounding grievous bodily harm, which is 14 years, meaning he can be kept in a secure psychiatric facility for seven years.Meng's patient status would need to be reclassified before any deportation proceedings can be launched, it is understood.Kan sought permanent name suppression for his client, saying his family could be targeted in China if his name was published.Veikune opposed suppression and said the high threshold of extreme hardship required under the law for permanent suppression was not met.Judge Sinclair declined the application and said there was no evidence that publication of his name would cause extreme hardship. The judge suppressed the names of the victims.Meng injured six people on 19 June, 2023, starting when he burst into Maya Hotpot in Albany's Corinthian Drive, armed with a pole and an axe, where he struck three diners.Meng then went to the nearby Yue's Dumpling Kitchen, knocked his fourth victim unconscious and then attacked a fifth person.After this, he went to the third and final restaurant, Zhangliang Malatang, and attacked his sixth and final victim.He was arrested at the scene.Meng, who had only arrived in NZ from China in March last year, accepted he attacked people that day.*This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.

Giltrap Group founder Sir Collin Giltrap dies, aged 84
Giltrap Group founder Sir Collin Giltrap dies, aged 84

18 April 2024, 4:58 AM

Sir Colin Giltrap, who founded the influential Giltrap Group focusing on luxury cars and was knighted for services to motorsport, has died.Giltrap Group confirmed he had passed away peacefully with his family overnight aged 84.While he had stepped away from the business after suffering a fall in London last year, the name Giltrap remained prominent in the motor vehicle industry.Today the Giltrap Group website bears a farewell for its founder, "Sir Colin Giltrap 1940-2024".Sir Colin founded the business in the 1960s buying Matamata Motors then steadily expanding into Auckland, buying Coutts of Great North Road in Auckland. His father had run a machinery business and Sir Colin had tinkered with cars in his spare time as a student.Over the years the company became the Giltrap Group and won the rights to sell luxury brands like Daimler, Audi, Triumph, Porsche and Rover.At the same time, Giltrap also became a significant dealer in mid-range cars.A history of the group lists many of the biggest car brands among its dealerships or joint ventures over the years.Recently, he had stepped back from the managing the group to leave sons Michael and Richard in charge.He and his wife Lady Jennifer have been involved with raising money for the Starship Foundation from its inception as well as sponsors of Symphony in the Park.In a statement, the Giltrap Group says he was "well known for building enduring relationships, valuing people and for contributions to the automotive industry and in the world of motorsport, which is legendary."Sir Colin was a keen family and businessman, with an all-consuming life long passion for cars".

Coastal communities engage in Shoreline Adaptation Plans
Coastal communities engage in Shoreline Adaptation Plans

18 April 2024, 2:34 AM

Auckland Council is seeking input from coastal residents to shape the Shoreline Adaptation Programme, a comprehensive effort to address coastal hazards and climate change impacts.Under the Shoreline Adaptation Programme, plans for 20 coastal areas, known as 'shoreline adaptation plans' (SAPs), are being devised. These plans aim to manage council-owned assets and land along Auckland's extensive shoreline, encompassing beaches, cliffs, harbours, and estuaries, over the next century.Collaborative Development ProcessEach SAP is a collaborative effort involving mana whenua, infrastructure providers, technical experts, and coastal communities. This partnership aims to develop flexible, long-term strategies for managing coastlines and adapting to environmental changes.Focus on WhangaparāoaThe Whangaparāoa Peninsula serves as a pilot for SAP development, given its diverse coastal environments, history of hazards, and cultural significance. The recently endorsed Whangaparāoa Pilot SAP addresses coastal processes, climate change, erosion, and flooding across areas like Red Beach, Stanmore Bay, and Gulf Harbour.Map of the area covered in the Whangaparāoa Pilot Shoreline Adaptation Plan.Community EngagementEngagement with local iwi and communities is integral to SAP development. Through consultations and presentations, residents contribute valuable insights into how they use and value coastal areas, shaping strategies for managing council-owned assets.Four Key StrategiesSAPs employ four main strategies: no active intervention, hold the line, limited interventions, and managed realignment. These approaches guide decisions on managing assets, from allowing natural processes to defending against erosion and flooding to relocating infrastructure away from hazard-prone areas.Opportunities for ParticipationResidents are encouraged to participate in current SAP consultations to ensure their voices are heard in shaping the future resilience of Auckland's coastlines.To have your say on SAP consultations, visit: akhaveyoursay.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/shoreline-adaptation-plans

Climate change could reduce global average incomes by 19 percent - study
Climate change could reduce global average incomes by 19 percent - study

17 April 2024, 11:56 PM

Carbon emissions could reduce average incomes by 19 percent across the global economy by 2049, a study suggests.The report, published in Nature on Thursday, stated this would outweigh the costs associated with limiting warming to 1.5C in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement by six times."Projections of the economic damage of climate change are crucial to the adaptation and planning procedures of both public and private entities. However, models are often limited by the daunting and variable nature of long-term climate outcomes."These damages are primarily attributed to temperature variation; however, the authors posit that the consideration of additional climate variables raises estimates by a further 50 percent."Researchers used local temperature and rainfall data from more than 1600 regions around the world and combined it with climate and income data for the last 40 years to model likely outcomes.It shows New Zealand's income could be 2-10 percent lower and Australia's income 10-25 percent lower than if there was no climate change, with much of the impacts arising from changes to average temperatures and annual rainfall.However, the researchers predict countries with the lowest income and lowest historical emissions are predicted to suffer income loss which is 61 percent greater than the higher-income countries and 40 percent greater than higher-emission countries."These figures suggest that the world economy is on course to suffer significant damage from human-caused climate change, with the lowest-income countries the most vulnerable to income loss."Under the Paris Agreement, New Zealand has committed to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by 50 percent below gross emission levels in 2005.A government report, published last year, estimated the country might have to pay billions to achieve its goal, if it kept up its greenhouse gas emissions and carbon credit prices remained high.Victoria University of Wellington economics of disasters and climate change chairperson Ilan Noy said the paper showed the transition to sustainable energy sources was less expensive than the cost already New Zealand already 'committed' to bearing by its past greenhouse emissions."Overall, however, this kind of modelling approach is not suitable to conclude much about the costs of climate change at the local level for us in Aotearoa. This approach does not account for the local peculiarities of our economic activities (in our case, for example, that the Waikato region is much more exposed to changes in heat and rainfall than Auckland because of its different set of economic activities)."But, the fact we cannot conclude much from this work about the local impact does not detract from the main message, that we should rapidly converge to a net-zero world."After all, the argument for us, and for everyone else around the world, to work toward net zero is not that our actions matter locally, but that it is their global impact that is the reason for the urgency we need to adopt."The research was funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit on behalf of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Four-lane highway from Auckland to Kaikohe could benefit Northland by $500m a year
Four-lane highway from Auckland to Kaikohe could benefit Northland by $500m a year

17 April 2024, 8:27 PM

Building a four-lane expressway from Auckland to Kaikohe could benefit the region by more than $500m a year and the government should start work now, a report has found.Those are among the findings of a report commissioned by the Northland Corporate Group (NCG), representing five of the region's biggest companies, and written by thinktank New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) .The report's authors said "robust and resilient" road connections were needed to unlock Northland's potential, and urged the government to upgrade the "dilapidated" State Highway 1 between Auckland and Whangārei as soon as possible.That could be followed by making the road between Whangārei and Kaikohe four lanes.The report was launched at Whangarei's Semenoff Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.NCG co-chair and Northpower chief executive Andrew McLeod said Northland's resources and proximity to Auckland meant the region was well positioned to contribute to the national economy.However, decades of chronic underinvestment and patchwork upgrades to SH1 had isolated Northland and tarnished the region's business reputation, he said.Northland Corporate Group co-chair Andrew McLeod speaks at the launch of the Northland Expressway report. Photo: RNZMcLeod applauded the government's commitment to a new four-lane route around the Brynderwyn Hills, and to four-laning the highway from Whangarei to Port Marsden, and Warkworth to Wellsford."But greater ambition is needed," he said.The NCG was calling for a wholesale upgrade of SH1 from Auckland to Whangārei and beyond to Kaikohe."Without that, we're stuck in a loop of piecemeal upgrades creating bottlenecks and backlogs that will continue to be the chokehold on our economic potential," McLeod said.He also called on the Government to use its new fast-track consenting to accelerate construction of the Northland Expressway, given the fragile nature of the current highway and the likelihood of increasingly frequent extreme weather.McLeod said building "critical road linkages" between Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty had led to economic growth, improved social outcomes and more residential development in those regions.The same could happen in the North, he said.'We can't wait any longer'Rob Kirwan, managing director of Culham Engineering, said his company moved 25,000 tonnes of steel up and down SH1 each year.The Brynderwyns closure meant trucks had to travel via Dargaville, adding an extra day, and costs that couldn't be recovered, to the journey.Kirwan said he'd seen many reports calling for a better roads over the years, but this one was different.That was in part because most political parties agreed the highway needed to be fixed."We can't wait any longer. We just need to get around the table to central government and get them to help us get this going."Kirwan said the next step was for Northlanders to make their voices heard by converging on social media, their MPs and government.Murray Jagger, chairman of Northport and Marsden Maritime Holdings, said given the chance Northland could solve many of Auckland's growing pains.Whangārei had the only deepwater port in New Zealand with room for expansion - but shipping lines had backed away from using it after the highway's repeated closures.Jagger said he had watched the transformation of Hamilton, from provincial centre to thriving city, as the Waikato Expressway was built."The vitality it's brought to the region is huge, and Northland will be exactly the same. As soon as you bring connectivity, all of a sudden you've got vitality and people will want to move here."Transport Minister Simeon Brown has been approached for comment.Addressing Tuesday's launch, Northland MP Grant McCallum said the current government was focussed on infrastructure and getting things done.It had brought back Roads of National Significance and introduced fast-track consenting to speed up major projects, he said.Report findingsThe authors of the Te Tai Tokerau Northland Expressway report found building a four-lane road all the way to Kaikohe would bring "quantified monetary benefits" of $299m to $562m a year by 2050.Those benefits arose from reduced travel times for people and freight, fewer weather-related closures, and fewer serious crashes.Panel speakers, from left, the report's lead author Michael Bealing, McKay Ltd managing director Lindsay Faithfull, and Tupu Tono Ngāpuhi Investment Fund director Ripeka Evans. Photo: RNZAverage travel speeds would increase from the current 67km/h to 80-90km/h, the duration of road closures would drop by 50-100 percent, and deaths and serious injuries would fall by 33-67 percent, the report predicted.It noted however, that the expressway could increase carbon emissions due to increased road travel.The report took into account the findings of a major survey of 800 Northland businesses carried out in 2023.More than half said a four-lane highway would increase their revenue and reduce costs by at least 5 percent, half said they would hire more staff, and a third would bring forward more than $100,000 of investment.Based on those survey results, the report's authors estimated Northland businesses would lift their productivity by 2.5 percent, and Northland's GDP would increase by $2.1 billion per year by 2048.The expressway would also boost GDP in the rest of the country by an estimated $1.2 billion.While no costings have been done for a four-lane Northland Expressway, the authors noted similar projects had cost between $30m and $60m per kilometre.That would make a total cost of $5.5 billion to $11.1 billion, with the 98km Warkworth-Whangārei section costing an estimated $3.0-$5.9b and the 86km from Whangārei-Kaikohe about $2.6-$5.1b.By comparison, the famously expensive, 56km-long Transmission Gully project near Wellington cost $1.5 billion, while the 128km Waikato Expressway came with a price tag of just over $1.6 billion.The report writers said the government should start work immediately on a detailed options appraisal, design, and full cost-benefit analysis.The government should also investigate the use of private financing to accelerate the project, they added.

Gulf Harbour faces unique challenges amid development proposals
Gulf Harbour faces unique challenges amid development proposals

17 April 2024, 7:36 PM

Gulf Harbour, a planned community since the 1990s, contrasts sharply with the proposed Beachlands South development.In Gulf Harbour, a well-thought-out plan emerged decades ago. The community thrived with amenities like the country club, marina, and schools.Meanwhile, Beachlands South aims to transform a haphazard beachside area into a master-planned community over two decades.Gulf Harbour's challenge lies in the threat to its master plan due to the potential closure of the golf course.Intense development characterises Gulf Harbour, evident in its numerous housing options and upcoming projects.However, this intensification strains existing infrastructure, including transportation and services.Access to Gulf Harbour poses a challenge due to limited transport options and congestion on the main road.Conversely, the Beachlands proposal discusses substantial investments in road upgrades to alleviate congestion.Yet, resolving Gulf Harbour's traffic issues would require significant investment, estimated at around $1 billion.Groups like Keep Whangaparāoa’s Green Spaces advocate for preserving green areas and address community concerns.They're poised to present arguments during the public submission process for the Long River Resource Consent Application.The application seeks to amend titles on the Gulf Harbour Country Club Golf Course, sparking community engagement.As Gulf Harbour faces evolving challenges, community voices are crucial in shaping its future.

Inflation drops to 4 percent, lowest rate in nearly three years
Inflation drops to 4 percent, lowest rate in nearly three years

17 April 2024, 3:55 AM

Annual inflation has eased to its lowest level in nearly three years.Stats NZ figures showed consumer prices rose 0.6 percent in the three months ended March, taking the annual rate down to 4.0 percent, the lowest since June 2021.The numbers were in line with economists' expectations but ahead of the Reserve Bank's [RBNZ] forecast of a 0.4 percent quarterly rise and an annual rate of 3.8 percent.The RBNZ said in its latest monetary review last week that inflation remained stubborn in some sectors, requiring interest rates to stay high.However, it was confident it would be back in the 1-3 percent target band by the end of the year.Rising rents, rates, construction of new houses, household energy and alcohol and tobacco costs were the key drivers, offsetting cheaper transport costs.Rent prices increased 4.7 percent in the year ended March, while construction of new houses and rates increased 3.3 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively."Rent prices are increasing at the highest rate since the series was introduced in September 1999," Stats NZ consumers prices senior manager Nicola Growden said.Recreation and culture was also a key driver to the annual increase in inflation, due to rising prices for international accommodation and services such as subscription TV and movie tickets.The fall in transport prices was driven by a 10.3 percent decrease in international airfares and a 2.3 percent fall in petrol prices."Just over half a million New Zealand residents returned from their short-term travel in January and February. Some of them may have accessed the cheaper international airfares seen this quarter," Growden said.Stubborn domestic pricesKiwibank chief economist Jarrod Kerr said when diving into the details of the inflation data, it was "not as good as the headline suggests"."But the domestically generated inflation surprised on the upside. Non-tradables fell just 0.1 percent to 5.8 percent. It's not enough," he said."The stuff the RBNZ is trying to restrain is proving to be even more frustrating. Services inflation actually lifted to 5.3 percent from 4.7 percent. Whereas construction costs did a little more, falling from 4.8 percent to 4.5 percent."Kerr said the underlying trend was important for the RBNZ and expected inflation to return to within its 1-3 percent target by the September quarter, opening the door for rate cuts from November."Core inflation - removing volatile prices - appears to have peaked in late 2022, and currently sits at 4.1 percent. The core measure was unchanged to 4.1 percent, whereas we had expected a slight fall. We expect the downtrend to recommence next quarter," Kerr said.ASB senior economist Kim Mundy said the RBNZ would be wary of the risk of inflation being stuck above 3 percent, and expected the central bank to wait until February 2025 to cut the official cash rate (OCR)."The ongoing strength in domestically-generated inflation was evident and will reinforce the RBNZ's cautious stance," Mundy said."We don't think the data suggest the RBNZ needs to do more, so to speak. Activity data are very weak and highlight that monetary policy is working."Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod told Midday Report domestic price pressures, which were unaffected by OCR movements, could be a big concern for RBNZ."They don't directly affect things like your council rates or your electricity prices and if those prices are remaining hot, it's going to be make that harder for them to get inflation back to 2 percent."Importantly, if we look at the domestic inflation components, the underlying rates there are closer to 6 percent, that's got to be a worrying outlook for the RBNZ."He predicted inflation to drop to about 3 percent this year, but that would still mean continued pressure on household budgets."Getting it back to 2 [percent], where they want it to be, that's going to take some time longer. I don't think we're going to see that until next year at the earliest."The longer interest rates stayed high - which he believed was likely for the rest of this year - the more the economy would remain sluggish and unemployment would rise.

Excessive screen-time poses risks to kids' health
Excessive screen-time poses risks to kids' health

16 April 2024, 9:41 PM

A recent study underscores the dangers of too much screen time for youngsters, pointing to various health, mental health, and cognitive issues.Led by former student Julie Cullen, now at the University of Auckland, the study delves into the effects of prolonged digital device use on children and adolescents.Cullen warns that while digital tools offer educational benefits, excessive usage poses significant health risks to young people.Pinpointing exact limits on screen time proves challenging, with negative impacts typically observed between two to six hours daily.Yet, considering New Zealand's youth spend an average of 42 hours weekly on screens, surpassing the global average, the need for healthier screen habits becomes evident.Moreover, the surge in digital device use at home and in schools outpaces policy and guidance development, creating a gap in managing screen time effectively.New Zealand students rank among the highest globally in screen usage during school hours, with frequent use correlating with diminished educational outcomes.The study reveals a variety of health issues associated with screen use, such as eye strain, hearing loss, and pain syndromes, irrespective of screen activity type.While duration matters, the quality and nature of screen content significantly impact mental health and cognition, depending on a child's developmental stage.The comprehensive review, employing a systematic search strategy, offers a broad assessment of digital technology's impacts on children's health and wellbeing.Recognising the prevalence of screen use among New Zealand's youth, UNESCO calls for measures to ensure safer and more effective technology use in schools.Cullen stresses the importance of pragmatic interventions, including regular breaks, vision tests, and ergonomic practices, to mitigate risks while fostering digital literacy.Prioritising children's health amidst the digital age necessitates collaborative efforts from clinicians, educators, and parents to promote responsible screen usage.

Empowering early education: Cutting red tape to foster growth
Empowering early education: Cutting red tape to foster growth

16 April 2024, 7:31 PM

In a bid to streamline the establishment and operation of early learning services, Associate Education Minister David Seymour announced legislative changes. These changes aim to eliminate hurdles for new services and ease the burden on existing ones."The focus is on empowering providers and parents," Mr Seymour emphasised. "Decisions about where early learning services should be located should be driven by demand from parents."The proposed changes involve scrapping network approval provisions and halting the introduction of new person responsible requirements. Mr Seymour criticised the current system, suggesting that it stifles competition and complicates the setup of new services."Complex regulations hinder professionals from delivering quality, affordable services," he explained. "We must assess whether regulation is truly necessary and strikes the right balance."Additionally, Mr Seymour proposed revoking the National Statement on the Network of Licensed Early Childhood Services to expedite approvals for new services. Consultation on this proposal is open until May 5, 2024.Furthermore, the government plans to ease the burden on service providers by removing the requirement for higher certification levels for supervisory roles. This move aims to prevent increased fees and closures, particularly impacting rural and low-income areas.While teachers will still need recognised qualifications, the changes aim to alleviate staffing and funding challenges. However, all early learning services must adhere to existing licensing and safety regulations.In response to sector concerns, implementation of requirements for changing service provider identities is on hold. Mr Seymour stressed the importance of early learning centres in supporting working parents and highlighted the government's commitment to a comprehensive review of early childhood education regulations."We must reduce unnecessary burdens to enable professionals to focus on children's education and care," he said. "Ultimately, the costs affect parents, and we aim to alleviate their financial strain."

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