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LAST UPDATED: 25.03.2015 9:00AM
NZ into Cricket World Cup final Wednesday 25th March 2015

Grant Elliott is the toast of the nation this morning after launching the Black Caps into their first Cricket World Cup final.

With two balls remaining and the Black Caps needing five runs to win, Elliott hit South African fast bowler Dale Steyn for six to give New Zealand a four wicket win in their semi-final at Eden Park.

The dramatic win broke the jinx that had seen the New Zealand team lose six previous world cup semi-finals. The Black Caps will now play the winner of the tomorrow's second semi-final in Sydney between Australia and India.

Set 298 in 43 overs, after South Africa's innings was curtailed by rain New Zealand got off to a rollicking start with skipper Brendon McCullum making 59 off 26 balls to have the Black Caps 71-1 after six overs.

But at 149 for four the match was in the balance.

Corey Anderson, who scored 58, and Elliott combined for a 103-run fifth wicket partnership to bring New Zealand to the brink of victory.

Elliott, who is nicknamed "the hairy javelin" for his stature and body hair, said he tried to remain detached throughout his innings, but it was difficult, especially in the closing stages.

“I really did feel the pressure, I had two balls and Dan (Vettori) said we weren't going to run to the keeper again so I knew it was up to me,” he said.


State house sale plan 'sugar-coated' Wednesday 25th March 2015

The Government is being accused of exploiting charities to push through its state house sell-off plan, Radio New Zealand reports.

Labour says the Government has used the Salvation Army's good name to reassure the public that houses will be sold to charities, when in it actually plans to sell them to private companies.

The Salvation Army has decided not to buy state houses due to a lack of resources.

In Parliament yesterday, minister responsible for Housing New Zealand Bill English said he could not rule out the idea that state houses could be sold to private developers.

But English said anyone who wanted to buy state houses, with low-income and vulnerable tenants in them, would need to go through the process of registering as a community housing provider.

Housing Lobby spokesperson Sue Henry said the Government had softened up the public by reassuring people that charities, rather than investors, would take on the state houses.

"We've said right from day one that the intent was always to flog them off to the speculators," Henry said.

"And we've also believed that the charities and the iwi were just the Trojan horse to carry the baton so the other reforms could be pushed through."

NZ boosts cyclone aid by $1m Tuesday 24th March 2015

New Zealand is contributing a further $1 million to the recovery effort following Cyclone Pam, with the additional money split between Vanuatu and Tuvalu, Radio New Zealand reports.

Destruction on Mataso Island.

Photo: Koroi Hawkins/RNZ

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the money for Vanuatu will allow a 10-person New Zealand Urban Search and Rescue team to deploy there, to help with the production of clean drinking water, clearing roads and some building demolition.

The $500,000 for Tuvalu would be used to purchase relief supplies, and provide agricultural, food security and transport assistance.

McCully said an Air Force Hercules will also be provided to help transport Fiji disaster response personnel to Vanuatu.

“This cooperation between New Zealand and Fiji is a positive development that reflects the steps we have been taking to reengage with Fiji politically and militarily,” McCully said.

The latest aid brings New Zealand's total contribution to $3.5 million.

Spy claims 'most concerning' Tuesday 24th March 2015

Journalist Nicky Hager says documents leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden show the GCSB spied on candidates vying to lead the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in a bid to help New Zealand's contender Tim Groser in 2013.

Victoria University Professor of Strategic Studies, Robert Ayson, said if the claim was correct, it raised questions for the public about the GCSB's role, Radio New Zealand reports.

“If those allegations are correct, based on those documents that have been released, then I think it's starting to become a bit of an issue for me.

“I mean, is that what we want to have an intelligence service for?”

Auckland University law professor and Trans Pacific Partnership opponent, Jane Kelsey, believes the GCSB had a dedicated team for spying on trade.

“Well, we suspect strongly that the Five Eyes (spy network), most of whom are involved in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations, have been keeping a close eye, not only on those of us who are non-government critics, but also possibly some of the governments in the negotiations.”

United Future leader Peter Dunne suspects there was no ministerial warrant signed authorising the GCSB to spy for Tim Groser.

“I think this is far more likely to have been a case of the GCSB deciding off its own volition that this was a good idea,” he said.

Prime Minister John Key has also refused to elaborate on the claims and Trade Minister Tim Groser refused to provide any details about the GCSB's alleged spying on his behalf.

“If we were to start commenting on individual allegations the whole system would come out,” he said.

Black Caps express confidence ahead of semi-final Tuesday 24th March 2015

Tens of thousands of cricket-mad fans will pack Auckland's Eden Park today for what is sure to be a hotly-contested semi-final between the Black Caps and South Africa, Radio New Zealand reports.

The final New Zealand-held Cricket World Cup match is almost sold out, and MetService says this morning's wet weather shouldn't be a problem for the match.

Forecaster Georgina Griffiths said 6-7mm of rain had fallen on Eden Park in the early hours but the showers would ease.

There was a risk of shower at the start of the match at 2pm, but the sun should come out during the afternoon.

New Zealand, unbeaten so far in the tournament, have lost six previous World Cup semi-finals; in 1975, 79, 92, 99, 2007 and 2011. The Proteas have also never made a final.

New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum says the way the Black Caps have been playing is exciting. To win World Cups in crunch games they need to remain true to that, he says, and he doesn't expect that will change today.

The Black Caps are one of only two teams in the tournament, along with defending champions India, to have won all seven matches they have played.

McCullum says they talk a lot about this being the greatest time of their lives and the trip that they've been on so far has been one that they will all remember.

Proteas captain AB de Villiers says he's paid no attention to New Zealand being deemed the favourites for the clash, adding that if his side plays to their full potential, nobody is going to stop them.

The winners will meet either Australia or India in the final in Melbourne on Sunday.

Court allows students to row at Maadi Cup Monday 23rd March 2015

Two rowers from Christchurch school St Bedes who jumped onto a baggage conveyor at Auckland Airport have not been stopped from rowing in the Maadi Cup today.

The school told Jordan Kennedy and Jack Bell they would not be allowed to compete in the inter-school competition at Lake Karapiro due to their actions, but their parents disputed the decision and took the matter to court.

The High Court prevented St Bede's from implementing its decision. The Court will release the reasons for its decisions later today.


Unease over jobs for international students Monday 23rd March 2015

Educators are divided over using the promise of jobs and permanent residence to entice foreign students to this country, Radio New Zealand reports.

Unitec's international student office.

Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

Work rights and immigration points are regarded as important incentives for attracting international students in the face of stiff competition from countries including Australia and Canada. Some say that is fine, but others worry the balance has tipped too far.

Official figures show 37 percent of the students who came to New Zealand five or six years ago stayed on to work, and in the 2013-2014 financial year, 42 percent of skilled migrants were previously students here. Educators expect those percentages to grow because Indian enrolments are growing fast, and they are generally more interested in work and settlement than other student groups.

Education New Zealand chief executive Grant McPherson said employment and immigration had become more important for international students, but he did not believe tertiary institutions were making those the focus of their offering.

But at private tertiary institution the Auckland Institute of Studies, president Richard Goodall told Radio New Zealand's Insight programme the emphasis on employment and settlement had changed the institution.

The chairperson of language school association English New Zealand, Darren Conway, said it was appropriate to have a pathway to migration for foreign students, however he worried that some institutions were going too far in promising employment and residence.

“You can't sell what you can't guarantee. For example, if you're promising those sorts of outcomes it puts a lot more pressure on you to pass people doesn't it? So there's an ethical blurring there. And we don't as institutions control the settlement outcome so I do have some level of discomfort about the orientation of those sorts of organisations.”

Salvation Army won't buy state houses Monday 23rd March 2015

The Salvation Army is ruling out the purchase of state-owned social housing stock saying buying the properties would stretch its resources too far, Radio New Zealand reports.

The Government plans to sell up to 8000 state houses to community groups by 2017 and up to 2000 of them this year alone.

The Salvation Army, which owns more than 400 rental houses, mainly for the elderly, was tagged as a likely buyer, however, the group's social housing spokesman Campbell Roberts said their own research proved the transfer would be too complex, and running the properties too difficult.

“We would be faced with significant maintenance issues, houses which have got the wrong tenants ... we would also need to do extensive development,” he said.

“We would be putting so much resource into this that we could not actually put resource into anything else.”

Labour Party leader Andrew Little said the Government would have to go back to the drawing board, and he said he suspected the starting point would be for the Government to turn back to Housing New Zealand and tell it to do its job properly.

Green Party housing spokesperson Kevin Hague said the decision left the Government's social housing policy in tatters.

“Every second sentence that a minister has uttered about his policy has included the Salvation Army. They're clearly the lead social agency that the Government hoped to have involved.”

However Finance and Housing New Zealand Minister Bill English told Morning Report the Government was still working with the community housing sector and the Salvation Army's decision did not jeopardise the sale programme.

Lawyer files action to choose time of death Monday 23rd March 2015

A 41-year-old Wellington lawyer dying of brain cancer is taking historic legal action in the High Court to allow her to die when she wants to without prosecution, Radio New Zealand reports.

Lecretia Seales was diagnosed with a terminal tumour four years ago and has been told she may only have months to live. Yesterday she took the unprecedented step of asking the court for a ruling that would ensure her doctor would not be charged if she helps her to die.

Seales told Radio New Zealand earlier this month she wanted the right to choose the time if, and when, the disease became intolerable.

“I guess it's fear of suffering, and I've seen older relatives really suffer. I don't want that for me. I also ... I just don't want to lose my mind, because it's been such an important part of my life.”

The statement of claim, filed yesterday, argues if a doctor cannot lawfully help her die, then she will face a choice between taking her own life or suffering a slow and painful death. Her legal team wants to expedite the case because of her declining health.

The President of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, Dr Jack Havill, said it echoed a recent Canadian Supreme Court case, as it used human rights legislation to argue a person should be able to decide when they die.

However, Family First believes that allowing assisted suicide would put depressed, elderly, sick and disabled people at risk, and that the situation should not be solved in the courtroom or by a change in law, but through palliative care.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Euthanasia-Free New Zealand, David Richmond, said though it was impossible not to be moved by Seales' situation, if her legal action was successful it would adversely affect the rights of others.

Kiwi FM to shut down at end of the month Friday 20th March 2015

After a decade on the air, Kiwi FM is shutting down at the end of the month.

The station initially played 100 per cent New Zealand music before moving to a 70/30 split with international music in recent years.

Mediaworks group content director Leon Wratt said in a statement that the company planned to focus on its other radio stations, George FM and Mai FM.

"There are now more options than ever to listen to home grown music, and it is time for us to focus on other priorities," he said.

About 28,000 listeners tuned into Kiwi FM every week and they were responsible for around one per cent of local music played on New Zealand radio stations.

The last day of broadcast in March 31 and the station frequencies will then return to the crown, Mediaworks said.

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