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Fukushima crisis deepens

Written By: - Date published: 10:46 am, March 17th, 2011 - 48 comments
Categories: disaster - Tags: ,

In American football, there’s a move called the ‘Hail Mary pass’ – throw the ball down field and pray. That’s what filling the Fukushima reactors with sea-water has been described as, a Hail Mary pass. It just doesn’t seem to be coming off. Reactor 3 has started emitting more radiation, 4 is on fire, the core may be breached in 2. Even 5 and 6 pose a risk.

Radiation levels are still not immediately dangerous, even close by, but they are preventing workers staying in the vicinity of the reactors for long enough periods to do the work they need to do. In desperation, they tried getting the army to dump water into the spent fuel pond at 4 and the containment building of 3 but that was abandoned due to radiation levels. The plan now is to use police water cannons to get the water in.

The basic problem is that the fuel rods are emitting enough radiation to evaporate the water around them.

Inside the reactor cores, this steam is pumped out, leaving fuel rods exposed to the air. Without the water to absorb the radiation energy they’re putting out, they start to melt through their protective coating. When they touch water, they disassociate it, releasing raw hydrogen and oxygen, which are also pumped out of the core to explode in the outer containment building when they reach combustible levels. Without the water to cool them, the melting continues with the risk that the fuel rods melt through the thick metal casing of the reactor core, or even go critical again, starting the nuclear chain reaction that powers a nuclear plant in operation (the radiation given off at the moment is just the residual level). Reactors 1, 2, and 3 have all had explosions and partial meltdowns. Reactor 2 may also have a breach in its core containment.

In the storage ponds, the spent fuel rods are also putting out a lot of radiation (they’re only ‘spent’ in the sense that their radiation levels have dropped to uneconomic levels and the material can be recycled into useable rods). Again, this is evaporating the water that they’re stored in leaving them exposed and heating themselves. In Reactor 4, a fire, possibly caused by Reactor 3’s explosion has burnt away the building, leaving the spent fuel rods exposed to the air. Temperatures are also rising at Reactors 5 and 6 for the same reason. These three reactors were offline when the tsunami struck, so there’s no heat in the core to worry about.

The one ray of good news today is that the new power line to the plant is nearly complete. This will provide power to the pumping system. In normal operation, the pumping system takes water from the reactor through the turbines to generate electricity and on to a heat exchanger (often the iconic cooling tower, but not a Fukushima), thus cooling the water which then goes back to the core to take away more energy from the fuel rods. But will the pumping systems still be in operational order after all that has happened around them?

And let us not forget that there is still a huge crisis going on due to the earthquake and tsuanmi with over 4,000 confirmed dead and conflicting reports that put the missing at as high as 20,000. There’s also the likelihood of strong (7.0+) aftershocks in the next few days.

In a sign of just how serious this situation is, Emperor Akihito made a televised address to the public asking them to not give up hope. I haven’t been able to find out exactly how rare it is for the Emperor to make a broadcast to the public but the only other time I know of is the first – when Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan in 1945.

48 comments on “Fukushima crisis deepens ”

  1. lprent 1

    1945 was the only other time that a Emperor according to the sources I was reading last night.

    The NYT had a very interesting article on the governance issues in Japan at present which explains a large part of the current confusion. I’ll add the link to this comment when I dig it out.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/world/asia/17tokyo.html?_r=1&hp

  2. Lanthanide 2

    “or even go critical again, starting the nuclear chain reaction that powers a nuclear plant in operation (the radiation given off at the moment is just the residual level)”

    Just to highlight this further, it would essentially be a puddle of melted slag at the bottom of the reactor container that would reach criticality. When shut down, the reactors still produce about 7% of their normal operational heat due to ongoing nuclear decay. So if a new reaction started up, it would start producing considerably more heat in the reactor. This would lead to more water boiling off, potentially leading to a runaway scenario where the water can’t be pumped in fast enough to prevent further rods melting, creating a bigger slag resulting in further nuclear reactions taking place. This could melt through the outer steel and concrete containment if it went on for long enough, or potentially explode inside the reactor core from super-heated steam and hydrogen.

    If a slag puddle did start reacting, there’s very little they can do to stop it. In regular operations the fuel rods are interspersed with neutron-absorbing carbon control rods. The control rods can be moved in or out of the fuel rods, sort of like interlocking combs (this happened automatically as soon as the quake struck). In a pool of slag, there would be no such moderating rods available, the best they could do would be to pump boric acid around the slag, but with aforementioned heat problems that may not achieve much.

    This scenario would be a true “meltdown” situation.

    • What happens then L – I just don’t know much about it.

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        An unmoderated criticality incident will mean a giant uncontrolled release of heat and energy which will burn through and vapourise all containment walls, and lead to a massive release of both direct radiation and radioactive particles.

        In a criticality incident, no nuclear explosion would occur as the shape and configuration of the fissile material would be incorrect, but an ongoing fission reaction would occur.

        Worst case scenario would lead to a large portion of central Japan (thousands or tens of thousands of square km’s) to be uninhabitable for several hundred years, similar to the area around Chernobyl today.

      • Bright Red 2.1.2

        It is imporant to note that there cannot be a nuclear explosion, the nuclear material is not pure enough to go supercritical.

        The spread of radiation from a meltdown would depend also on where the molten slag ends up. At Chernobyl, fires carried long-lived radioactive particles aloft to settle over a wide area.

  3. todd 3

    In the event of a core on the floor, does anybody know what measures can be taken to limit the amount of radiation released?

    • lprent 3.2

      The Russian solution. Put in a concrete base and the drop concrete and anything else available on top to form a sarcophagus.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        Sucks to be the helicopter pilots.

        Wish they had some good old fashioned catapults or ballistas. That’ll get’m covered quick, from a hundred metres away. On second thoughts that’s a bit of a crazy idea, ah well.

      • Bright Red 3.2.2

        it took the USSR 6 months to complete theirs – they had to use robot bulldozers and welders/riveters because the buildings were too radioactive to touch – and it’s leaking to the point where it’s now being replaced.

        Hopefully the Japanese are already planning how to build one. Basically, it’s just a bigger and very very thick version of the containment systems that would have already failed to get to that point. There would be no way to decontaminate the materials inside once it was complete, and the highly radioactive isotopes have half-lives varying from a few days to tens of thousands of years

        • Lanthanide 3.2.2.1

          Yeah, with the potential crack in reactor #2, they need to be considering it. I’m sure someone somewhere in Japan is already.

          They might even end up putting them over reactors 1, 3 and 4 as well, for PR reasons. I wonder if they’ll continue to run 5 and 6.

          • Marty G 3.2.2.1.1

            five and six aare located a little way of from the others, so hopefully they’ll be okf from the others, so hopefully they’ll remain ok

        • Richard 3.2.2.2

          Also the USSR cycled workers from all over their territory to do the construction work — the theory apparently being that as individual workers were only there for a short time, they would all get a small dose of radiation rather than fewer workers receiving larger doses each.

          Also it meant that, as the workers came from all over the USSR, those with radiation exposure were spread throughout the entire population. Rather than having a small population (one city or something) forced to carry a large proportion of its population with exposure related cancers and so forth, the damage was dilluted through-out a larger population.

          Quite a cold calculation somebody did to think that through. But really very clever and sensible.

          • Colonial Viper 3.2.2.2.1

            Quite a cold calculation somebody did to think that through. But really very clever and sensible.

            That’s central state planning for you.

            • Colonial Viper 3.2.2.2.1.1

              Yuli Andreyev, former head of the agency tasked with cleaning up after Chernobyl, told the Guardian that the Japanese had failed to grasp the scale of the disaster. He also said the authorities had to be willing to sacrifice nuclear response workers for the good of the greater public, and should not only be deploying a skeleton staff. “They don’t know what to do,” he said. “The personnel have been removed and those that remain are stretched.”

              From the Guardian online. Told you the Ruskies know how to do this shit.

              • todd

                You know CV, a catapult would be a good idea if radiation levels were too high to fly in a bombardment. A problem exists of the projectile causing further damage when it lands. I was initially thinking of a graphite foam but I’m unsure of the combustion point. Fully sealing the site when there are pressures still unreleased might cause further issues. So some sort of powder or sand consistency might be best. Getting enough of whatever that substance might be could also be an issue. Using too much water might just spread the radiation around. A sarcophagus for such a large facility is going to take a long time to build.

  4. joe90 4

    Spent fuel rods exposed.

    Spent fuel rods in Unit 4 of Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have been exposed, resulting in the emission of “extremely high” levels of radiation, the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday

    • Lanthanide 4.1

      Thanks for that. Reading the entire article, it’s not really clear if they are clarifying what has appeared to have happened at reactor #2 and #4 on Monday through early Wednesday, or if they are now talking about further developments since then. For example the mention the 400 millisieverts /hour rate which I believe was recorded on Monday or Tuesday.

      The statement that there is “no water” in the #4 spent fuel pool is quite worrying.

      The article does however indicate that the increased radiation output from #2 may not have been from containment breach, but from it’s spend fuel pool. A lesser of two evils, but not by much.

  5. ianmac 5

    Marty (and Lanthanide): Great to read some credible factual information. It seems in summary that if they can wet down and cool off, the situation will not worsen.
    There is some pretty strange ill-informed stuff floating out of TV. They seem to be trying to make a bad situation worse by mis-speaking stuff. Deliberate or just ignorant?

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Western news services seem to want to dramatise the whole thing even further. As crazy as it sounds, its not Hollywood enough for them.

      • todd 5.1.1

        3 News continues to think Dai-ichi is located where the dot on the map for Fukushima is, in the middle of the country. Not on the coast where the reactors are actually located. I wonder if they can tie their own shoelaces?

        Apparently the Americans have just provided Japan with some really big water pumps to help douse the reactors. With the new power line hopefully being completed, let’s hope they get there in time. I’ve also read that the Japanese have told the Americans to stay away from Dai-ichi, but who knows what to believe. Unfortunately no news is not always good news in these kinds of situations.

  6. todd 7

    Forecast for Plume’s Path Is a Function of Wind and Weather

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/03/16/science/plume-graphic.html

  7. Jenny 8

    A small crew of technicians, braving radiation and fire, became the only people remaining at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on Tuesday – and perhaps Japan’s last chance of preventing a broader nuclear catastrophe.
    They crawl through labyrinths of equipment in utter darkness pierced only by their flashlights, listening for periodic explosions as hydrogen gas escaping from crippled reactors ignites on contact with air.

    They breathe through uncomfortable respirators or carry heavy oxygen tanks on their backs. They wear white, full-body jumpsuits with snug-fitting hoods that provide scant protection from the invisible radiation sleeting through their bodies.

    They are the faceless 50, the unnamed operators who stayed behind. They have volunteered, or been assigned, to pump seawater on dangerously exposed nuclear fuel, already thought to be partly melting and spewing radioactive material, to prevent full meltdowns that could throw thousands of tons of radioactive dust high into the air and imperil millions of their compatriots.

    Fukushima plant workers brave explosions and fire and deadly radiation in a bid to stop the meltdown

    While workers risk their lives, the authorities and the nuclear company are downplaying the seriousness of the crisis.

    But it’s not what they say.

    It is what they don’t say.

    If you wanted to know how serious the nuclear disaster in Japan really is -then you would need to know what measures the government have taken to protect the families of the nuclear workers engaged in the suicide mission to save the plant.

    Nuclear reactor operators say that their profession is typified by the same kind of esprit de corps found among firefighters and elite military units. Lunchroom conversations at reactors frequently turn to what operators would do in a severe emergency.
    The consensus is always that they would warn their families to flee before staying at their posts to the end, said Michael Friedlander, a former senior operator at three U.S. power plants for 13 years.

    As a condition of selling their lives, what measures have the nuclear company and the government agreed to take on behalf of these workers’ families?

    Have private planes or special government vehicles been laid on, to move their families to a place of safety?

    How far is that from Fukushima?

    Is it further than Tokyo?

    Tens of thousands are said to be leaving Tokyo, Yet no official statement has yet been issued to say that people should stay, that they are over reacting and needn’t leave – Why?

  8. RedLogix 9

    With heavy heart I’m at the point of conceding that this crisis will now need a miracle. In the old fashioned Biblical sense of the word.

    The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission announcement that the #4 Spent Fuel Pool is empty, has now been confirmed by TEPCO officials. This means this building is too dangerous to approach at all.

    The #3 Reactor and Spent Fuel Pool are assumed to be rapidly approaching the same condition.

    I think it is now a race against time. The only thing that can prevent the entire site from becoming too radioactive to survive (even for short periods) is a substantive amount of water into these pools. The only way to achieve this is with the large pumps on site. The only way to run them is with the new cable being run into the Fukushima Daiichi site.

    But the existing pump motors are probably electrically terminated into switchboards that have been under seawater in the basements and cannot ever be used again. This means that massive cables have to be somehow re-terminated into new temporary boards… under the worst conditions imaginable. I know that I’m lacking critical information here, but piecing together what I’ve been able to read so far, I’m not at all confident this can be done in time. And even if it could, it assumes the pipework exists undamaged and can be used for the task.

    This has to be the most unreal and possibly monumental battle to be fought in our lifetimes. It’s an odd sensation, the magical blips and blops of the internet unfold it all in a confusing welter of roller-coater information, ups and downs. Yet at the same time we are so remote; there is no way to reach through this computer screen and offer these desperate humans the aid and comfort they must so need at this moment.

    • Lanthanide 9.1

      I can see why they’re bringing in the helicopters now.

      This really is a terrible situation. Frankly it was entirely predictable as well. The biggest risk to these types of plants has always been the loss of water reticulation, and having pools that aren’t properly shielded from the atmosphere that also require water reticulation for safety is simply madness.

      • Jenny 9.1.1

        It all has the sad air of inevitability.

        The same scenario that unfolded in Chernobyl is being repeated.

        Only a day ago, the authorities declared the use of helicopters was too dangerous because of the danger of radiation to the pilots.

        Now they are using helicopters.

        In Chernobyl all the helicopter pilots died of radiation poisoning.

  9. Jenny 10

    .
    “Chernobyl on steroids”

    “The Fukushima Daiichi plant has seven pools dedicated to spent fuel rods. These are located at the top of six reactor buildings – or were until explosions and fires ravaged the plant. On the ground level there is a common pool in a separate building that was critically damaged by the tsunami. Each reactor building pool holds 3,450 fuel rod assemblies and the common pool holds 6,291 fuel rod assemblies. Each assembly holds sixty-three fuel rods. In short, the Fukushima Daiichi plant contains over 600,000 spent fuel rods – a massive amount of radiation that will soon be released into the atmosphere.”

    “In November 2010 there were 1760 TONS of Uranium fuel rods stored on site.”

    If you do the math that works out to 24.51 lbs / 11.14 Kg of Uranium per square mile of Japanese countryside.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      11kg per square mile isn’t so bad when you consider that it works out to only 4.3kg of spent fuel per square kilometre.

      Since its dense stuff it won’t actually be that much.

      A bit of rain etc and it will be all gone, good as new. 😐

    • wtl 10.2

      Presumably that figure (1760 tons) is of the entire mass of the fuel rods, and the fuel rods are not entirely made of radioactive material – does anyone know what the actual amount of this material is present at the site?

      • Colonial Viper 10.2.1

        wtl – I’ll suggest that it doesn’t quite work like that. A used fuel rod has NO non-radioactive components to it. Any microscopic particle released from any part of the fuel rod is going to be dangerously radioactive.

        Meanwhile this is a heartstopping presentation by the Tokyo Electric Power Company. Delivered late 2010.

        Its like reading the menu on the last Air NZ flight to Antarctica.

        http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/accidents/6-1_powerpoint.pdf

        • Colonial Viper 10.2.1.1

          Just worked out that 1760 short tons of spent fuel rods stored on site is the same mass of material as that in ~930 new Ford Falcons.

          That’s a shit load of radioactivity. Stored in a pretty small car park.

        • Lanthanide 10.2.1.2

          Interesting, thanks for the link. They seem quite interested in the new casket technology, but when you look at the capacity of them (few hundred) vs the pool which can hold 6000, and then the cooling times: 19 months for the pool, >5 or >7 years for the caskets, it’s no wonder they went with the pool system.

          Still doesn’t excuse the pools not being encased in a proper steel/concrete containment vessel, or at least something a bit more sturdy than the big empty secondary containment buildings that exploded due to hydrogen from the reactor.

          • Colonial Viper 10.2.1.2.1

            Over time the US NCR has permitted these storage facilities to re-rack and reconfigure their spent fuel storage pools, to pack more and more rods into the same space.

            Why?

            As a cost saving measure for private industry power operators. And yes, the utilities preferred not to use the dry cask system, putting extra rods into existing pools instead. Each dry cask is about US$1M in cost.

            Some frakin regulation.

      • Lanthanide 10.2.2

        CV is correct, once a rod is spent, the entire thing is radioactive due to neutrons and gamma rays etc produced in the reaction being absorbed by the remaining materials.

        The wikipedia article on nuclear fuel is unfortunately quite poor, but I can say from articles I’ve gleaned over the last week, that these rods start with a uranium oxide ceramic that is 3% U235 which is the fissile material (‘enriched uranium’, weapons grade is > 95%). I’m sure there would be at least some amount further of U238 (much more stable) in there as well. So when a fuel rod is ‘spent’, it is still capable of reacting but is economically infeasible, so they ‘reprocess’ the rods to get the remaining useful U235 out. Reactors will have variations as to what point it is considered economically infeasible to continue using the rods, so (a complete guess I just made up on the top of my head) I think you might expect ‘spent’ rods to generally have 1-2% U235 left?

        The U238 is also radioactive of course, but it has a significantly longer half life and so is less dangerous in and of itself. Having said that however, naturally occurring (‘yellowcake’) ores of it will be in much lower in concentration that what you get in a fuel rod, so probably the concentrated U238 in a fuel rod all by itself would still be at least somewhat hazardous to your health (if not “very” hazardous, I don’t really know).

        In short, the levels of radioactive isotopes being dealt with in ‘spent’ rods is still significantly high enough to be a real concern. Furthermore, the spent rods are sheathed in a different manner to help prevent criticality occurring within the pool, mainly as a precaution I would imagine but it also means that the meltdown scenario I outlined in #2 is still a real threat.

  10. Colonial Viper 12

    Terrifyingly, Japan appears to have a recent history of fatal nuclear accidents at its facilities.

    Here, workers **accidentally** started a nuclear chain reaction 😯

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokaimura_nuclear_accident

    • joe90 12.1

      Not a lot to be confident about when the industry is described as scandal-ridden.

      Behind Japan’s escalating nuclear crisis sits a scandal-ridden energy industry in a comfy relationship with government regulators often willing to overlook safety lapses.
      Leaks of radioactive steam and workers contaminated with radiation are just part of the disturbing catalog of accidents that have occurred over the years and been belatedly reported to the public, if at all.

      In one case, workers hand-mixed uranium in stainless steel buckets, instead of processing by machine, so the fuel could be reused, exposing hundreds of workers to radiation. Two later died

  11. todd 13

    Desperation at Fukushima

    http://thejackalman.blogspot.com/2011/03/desperation-at-fukushima.html

    By late Tuesday, the water meant to cool spent fuel rods in Unit 4 was boiling and by Wednesday, the fuel pond had caught fire and was leaking radiation directly into the atmosphere.

  12. looks like i finally get to make sense of my poem and grafik done ages ago…

    http://pollywannacracka.blogspot.com/2006/08/red-sky-at-nightshepherds-delight_29.html

  13. Jenny 15

    The worst possible scenario is now underway….

    Without actually saying that meltdown is occurring, authorities all but admit that this is the case for three of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors.

    Japan admits: “Nuclear rods melting”

    Continuing their policy of minimising this disaster, the authorities claim:

    “any meltdown can be contained by the various safety structures in place at each reactor”

    • RedLogix 15.1

      Jenny,

      The article linked to is dated the 14th which is a tad out of date. On the other hand there seems to be a relative lack of new up-to-date info around at the moment.

      It would appear as I surmised above that just getting power to the site was the least of the problems, the real challenge would be laying new cables to the existing pump motors and either re-terminating or splicing them in. In ideal conditions this is never easy work; with the plant a radioactive wreck it is a nightmare. My deepest respect goes out to the poor sods who are trying to pull this off.

      The next question as I indicated will be if the pumps and pipework are still intact and capable of achieving the desired flows and pressures into the desired locations. Again we have no information about any of this.

      And even then if the water can be made to flow what of the condition of the reactors and pools themselves? As the article you linked to implies it’s highly likely that Reactors #1, 2, & 3 are at least partially melted. Will just circulating water be enough to halt the process of meltdown? One has to hope it will be, but again very little information.

      Probably the no-one actually knows the answers yet. It’s my gut feeling that we’ve had a miracle; that they’ve succeeded in turning the corner on this… but there is weeks if not months of hard, dangerous work ahead of the operators, before there is any confidence about the stability of this site.

      • Jenny 15.1.1

        Jenny,

        The article linked to is dated the 14th which is a tad out of date. On the other hand there seems to be a relative lack of new up-to-date info around at the moment.

        Strangely the capcha word for my above comment was “quiet”.

        • RedLogix 15.1.1.1

          I’ve been following the Guardian .. it’s seems to have been as good as any.

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/19/japan-survivor-found-kesennuma-tsunami

          Anyone know of a more specialised and up-to-date analysis?

        • RedLogix 15.1.1.2

          Again from the Graniad… which rather backs up my wild-assed guessing above:

          A spokesman for Tokyo Electric, which owns and runs the complex, said it was protected against tsunamis of up to five metres (16ft) but a six-metre wave of water struck Fukushima on 11 March.

          Plant operators said they would reconnect four of the plant’s six reactor units to a power grid on Saturday. Workers have to methodically work through badly damaged and deeply complex electrical systems to make the final linkups without setting off a spark and potentially an explosion.

          “Most of the motors and switchboards were submerged by the tsunami and they cannot be used,” Nishiyama said.

          Even once the power is reconnected, it is not clear if the cooling systems will still work.

          These few paras really understate the complexity of the task; so many things could go wrong. Part of me (a very small part I’ll admit) wishes I was there; this is the kind of geeky techo-battle the stuff dreams, or nightmares, are made of.

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    104 articles by 574 contributing authors Physical science of climate change, effects Delayed impacts of Arctic sea-ice loss on Eurasian severe cold winters Jang et al. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 10.1029/2021jd035286 Observations of climate change, effects Divergent responses of terrestrial carbon use efficiency to climate variation from 2000 ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour’s Eyes Wide Shut To “Unruly Tenants”.
    Not Seeing The Problem: They say there are none so blind as those who will not see. And, right now, Kāinga Ora is studiously not looking. It is clear to everyone that the Minister responsible, Poto Williams, has (like so many of her colleagues) been entirely captured by her officials. ...
    3 days ago
  • Is the mob coming for Charles Darwin?
    Richard Dawkins recently noted the giants of the past are being sanctimoniously judged by nonentities of the present whose only qualification is still being alive to do so. How will the future judge our own time when we are not around? Peter Franklin from Unherd examines whether the woke can ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    3 days ago
  • Blowing a Hole in Your Own Wall: Idiotic Tampering with MIQ
    Managed Isolation/Quarantine has been a fact of life for New Zealand for eighteen months. It’s not popular – there are only so many spaces available at any given time, and the process is famously opaque – but it is the key to saving New Zealand from rampant Coronavirus. That, ...
    3 days ago
  • Now Labour wants secret trials
    Today, the government introduced the Security Information in Proceedings Legislation Bill to the House. The Bill would allow the government to use classified information in civil or criminal proceedings and keep it secret from the other party. So people suing the government for human rights abuses could lose, and defendants ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • The end of a toxic leader
    If there's one thing that Judith Collins is usually good at, it's using scandalous information about other people to her advantage. Not above undermining her own political party, Collins has been known to even leak against her own fellow MPs, particularly those who posed a threat to her as the ...
    4 days ago
  • A transformative government in Germany
    Back in September Germans went to the polls, and handed the politicians a tough job, with no easy majorities for anyone. The Social Democrats, Free Democrats, and Greens agreed to work together in a "traffic light" coalition, but given their political differences (its basicly ACT/Greens/Labour), expectations for real change were ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Political Harakiri
    The National party must always have known that they were taking a risk when they elected Judith Collins as leader. There were, after all, good reasons why they repeatedly declined to accept her candidature when she offered herself – as she frequently did. She was always an inappropriate person to ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    4 days ago
  • Thanksgiving advice, 2021: How to deal with climate change-denying Uncle Pete
    This is a re-post from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by Richard Somerville “Birds of a feather flock together,” so I am sure that nearly all of those reading this article accept the main findings of climate science. Yet many people don’t. Instead, they believe a variety of climate ...
    4 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on the demotion of Simon Bridges
    So Simon Bridges has been bounced from the front bench and stripped of his shadow portfolio responsibilities for the crudely “inappropriate” comments that he allegedly made to a female colleague, Jacqui Dean – and personally apologised for – about five years ago. After years of mocking Labour for its supposed ...
    4 days ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 25 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Dr Rosemary Wette, Associate Professor, Applied Linguistics, University of Auckland: “I’ve been browsing regularly through NZ Politics Daily for several months now. It gives me access to a range of views on current issues (helpfully organised by topic) that I wouldn’t otherwise have time to look up, or ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    4 days ago
  • The bizarre case of the Royal Society investigating academics defending science
    The Royal Society has begun a disciplinary investigation against a group of academics. The academics were defending science and in the past would have expected support from the Royal Society. The Free Speech Union has launched a campaign to defend the academics and academic freedom. Māori professor under investigation for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • Ian Powell: Unionism and nursing in New Zealand
    In the around 35 years I worked for unions (over 30 with the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists and earlier with the New Zealand Educational Institute) I often cogitated over the distinction between unions and unionism. They are intertwined but not inseparable. I associate unionism with collective consciousness able to ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    4 days ago
  • Bryce Edwards: Today’s constitutional disgrace in Parliament
    This Government has a problem with urgency. Critics from both left and right have long complained about their lack of urgency on issues such as climate change, housing, and inequality. Likewise, in terms of the Covid response, there’s been a chorus of criticism that Labour has been complacent and sluggish ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    4 days ago
  • Vaping needs much tighter regulation as we approach Smokefree Aotearoa 2025: Two new studies
    Nick Wilson, Janet Hoek, Jennifer Summers, Driss Ait Ouakrim, Andrew Waa, Richard Edwards, Tony Blakely* Two recent studies provide new insights into the impact vaping may have on public health. The first estimates that use of modern vaping devices could be around a third as harmful to health as smoking. ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    5 days ago
  • Strange Defeat: A Guest Post By Dr. Chris Harris.
    They Did Things Differently Then: And we might still be doing things differently, if the world these "Country Lads" were fighting for, and which endured for nearly 30 years after World War II, had not been supplanted by the world we inhabit now. In spite of its reality, New Zealand's ...
    5 days ago
  • More than 147km – the transformative potential of the Wellington bike network plan
    Feature image by Luke Pilkinton-Ching, University of Otago Wellington   Caroline Shaw, Anja Mizdrak, Ryan Gage* Wellington City Council is currently consulting on a cycle network for Wellington. This is a big deal. WCC are proposing a 147km cycle network around the city, the vast majority of which is new. ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    5 days ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 24 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Liz Brown, Senior communications advisor, Association of Salaried Medical Specialists: “The NZ Politics Daily is a fabulous resource providing a comprehensive one stop shop on what’s making news and how stories are being covered. I look forward to seeing it pop into my inbox every morning.” Anyone can sign ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: Taking us for a ride
    Agricultural emissions has been an oozing sore in our climate change policy for over a decade. Exempted from the ETS in 2008, farmers were meant to be brought in and start paying for their emissions in 2012. Of course, National put a stop to that, and exempted them forever. When ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: An industry in denial
    Over the past few years it has become clear that coal has no future in Aotearoa. Rising carbon prices, a ban on new boilers and a legislated phase-out for existing infrastructure are going to drive it out of the market. To reinforce this, the government signed up for an anti-coal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • The “most open and transparent government ever” again
    The government is about to pass new vaccination mandate legislation under urgency. So obviously, they'd want to ensure it gets the best possible scrutiny in the limited time available by releasing the supporting policy documents, right? Of course not: On the eve of legislation to enable vaccination passes being ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on farmers playing the victim, plus Chile’s right turn
    Among the farming lobby groups, the good cop/bad cop routine has been working a treat. It suits Federated Farmers to keep daylight between itself and the Groundswell movement. Month in, year out the Federation continues to engage with the government over the very same water degradation/climate change regulations that Groundswell ...
    6 days ago
  • Important People
    The Herald has returned to form with a vengeance. In today’s issue, Barry Soper snipes at Jacinda’s handling of her regular press conferences. It seems that she did not give him an early chance to ask his very important question and took no account of his need to depart immediately ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    6 days ago
  • Parliament, the Courts and the end of three strikes (for now)
    Last week, Parliament embarked on the process of repealing the so-called “three strikes” provisions in the Sentencing Act 2002. Given that Labour, the Greens and Te Paati Māori all supported this repeal Bill at first reading (and that NZ First no longer is in government to block the move), three strikes’ eventual legislative demise seems ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    6 days ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 23 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Martyn Bradbury, Editor, The Daily Blog “’NZ Politics Daily’ is one of the most important news and political resources run in New Zealand. The expert collation of opinion and news makes it an invaluable day to day resource as well as an incredible treasure for researchers in the future. ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand’s Emission Reduction Plan
    By Paul Callister and Robert McLachlan Fifty years ago, on 26 November 1971, the film “Notes on a New Zealand City: Wellington”, directed by Paul Maunder, premiered on Wellington TV. The narrator asks if Wellington’s future will involve suburban sprawl, traffic, motorways, suburban shopping malls, and the decentralization of employment; ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    6 days ago
  • Dissing The Farmers.
    Neale vs The Revolting Farmers: One has to admire the way Capital Government Relations CEO, Neale Jones, covers-off all the bases of the current political zeitgeist. In a masterfully composed tweet, he lambasts the Groundswell protesters as sexists, racists and reactionaries, clinging for dear life to “a purely extractive economic ...
    6 days ago
  • How will carbon pricing impact inflation?
    This is a re-post from the Citizens' Climate Lobby blog Inflation — the decline of purchasing power as prices rise — is currently at its highest level in 30 years. This has led to concern among the public and policymakers about the rising costs of many important products like food, shelter, gasoline, ...
    6 days ago
  • (Lack of) Public Service Announcement: The National Library of New Zealand, Internet Archive, and Al...
    The National Library of New Zealand has not covered itself in glory in recent times. The decision to axe most of the Overseas Collection (some 600,000 books) in order to make way for more New Zealand items (which it collects already, and which amounts to some 3,000 items ...
    6 days ago
  • Game over for the HRPP
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Chinese influence and American hate diffusion.
    Over the last decade concerns have been raised about Chinese “influence operations” in NZ and elsewhere. Run by CCP-controlled “United Front” organisations, influence operations are designed to promote PRC interests and pro-PRC views within the economic and political elites of the targeted country as well as Chinese diaspora communities. The ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    6 days ago
  • The Real Interests Of The Country.
    Off Message: Into the extremely fraught relationship between Town and Country, the Groundswell organisers have blundered like an Aberdeen-Angus steer in an organic vege-shop. Unreasonably proud of their rural economic virtues, and dangerously forthright in their enumeration of the cities’ political vices, these Kiwi equivalents of America’s “good ole boys” ...
    7 days ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 22 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Minna Reid, Law student, Victoria University of Wellington “As a Uni student, staying up to date with current affairs is always important. The Daily Politics & Democracy Project by Bryce Edwards is of great service for this. It offers varying news sources I would not have found myself ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    7 days ago
  • Free speech is a people’s frank confession to itself
    by Daphna Whitmore The government is devising new “Hate Speech” laws to save New Zealand from something that has not been defined. When asked what is hate speech the Prime Minister replied “You know it when you see it”. The Human Rights Commission is supporting the law change and sees ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    7 days ago
  • 2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #47
    Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, November 14, 2021 through Sat, November 20, 2021 The following articles sparked above average interest during the week: Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheeple? A.I. Maps 20 Years of Climate Conspiracies, COP Negotiators Demand Nations ...
    1 week ago
  • The F Words, by Barbara Gregorich
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    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • The Scourge of the Aimless Kick
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    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Delta Rocks Gibraltar: Lessons to be learned from Covid-19’s global resurgence.
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    1 week ago
  • I’ll take the masks and vaccines, thank you
    From Stuff:I don't want to be pedantic, but I'm pretty sure neither masks nor vaccines figure much in the Gospel of Saint John; nor has Jesus shown much efficacy in protecting people from anything. ...
    1 week ago
  • Hell To Pay: The alarming similarities between the Anti-Vaccination Movement and the creators of the...
    Never Let Go: If the violent prejudices of the Jim Crow South, echoing through contemporary struggles, teach us anything, it is that the defence of rationality, science and progressivism must never be allowed to falter. Those pre-modern night-riders, filled with unrelenting hate, are still out there. If the troops of ...
    1 week ago
  • A Peak Out of Auckland? + Other Covid Musings
    At last, we have some cause for optimism out of Auckland’s interminable Covid outbreak. Knowing our luck, it might be a false dawn… but there are some signs that we have seen the peak:
    1 week ago
  • Sing Song about Hard Times
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    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • A good problem to have
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Gordon Campbell on the politics of anger, plus a music playlist
    Angry? Are you talkin’ to ME? Of late, the Code Red levels of resentment inspired by the government’s Covid policy almost make one hanker for the days when people could write best-selling books about New Zealanders being The Passionless People. Not anymore. A hissy fit arms race seems to be ...
    1 week ago
  • No, vaccinated people are not ‘just as infectious’ as unvaccinated people if they get COVID
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Electric cars alone won’t save the planet. We’ll need to design cities so people can walk and cy...
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Worn down by bad news? You’re not alone…
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato   Last week’s COVID protest outside parliament served as a warning that New Zealand is not immune to the kinds of anger seen overseas. As Labour Party whip Kieran McAnulty put it, “I think everyone needs to be aware that things are starting to escalate.” ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 19 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Brendon Burns, Marlborough-based communications consultant, former Christchurch MP “Politics Daily is simply the best go-to summary of everything in and around central and local government and much more besides. Compulsory daily reading.” Anyone can sign up to NZPD for free at: https://democracyproject.nz/nz-politics-daily/ Today’s content Govt management of Delta outbreak Michael ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    1 week ago
  • Buying Back The Whenua.
    Dangerous Visionaries: Rex Connor wanted to “buy back the farm” (i.e. nationalise Australia’s mineral wealth) and ended up bringing down the government of Gough Whitlam. Nanaia Mahuta’s Three Waters Project is seen by many as a first step to “buying back the whenua” (repatriating Māori lands and waters). A policy which threatens the longevity of ...
    1 week ago
  • nuremberg, and history
      There’s a lot been said recently about the Nuremberg code. So what is it, and why is it popping up now? As described in this excellent NEJM article, the Code was developed over 80 years ago in August 1947, by judges involved in the “Doctors Trial” at Nuremberg. There were ...
    SciBlogsBy Alison Campbell
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #46, 2021
    Housekeeping: New content New Research is primarily focused on reports published in "the academic literature." Thanks to a diversity of publishers, journals, editors, reviewers, researchers and institutional affiliations, such publications are statistically highly successful at approximating and reflecting our best dispassionate understanding of research topics. Any given personal agenda not ...
    1 week ago
  • Another OIA horror-story
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Bribing for convictions
    Imagine that you've been arrested and are facing criminal charges. Now imagine that the government tries to bribe your lawyer to encourage you to plead guilty. It's obviously corrupt and a complete mockery of justice. But that's exactly what the New Zealand Government wants to do: The Criminal Process ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • How does Labour expect to get away with this?
    Yesterday's decision by the government to open the Auckland border in December was, like all their other recent decisions, immediately panned by public health experts. The polite version, on Stuff, is that Covid will "travel for summer" with Aucklanders, leading to outbreaks. Newsroom's Marc Daalder cuts through the crap and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The Chronicles of Kregsmal and Krunch: Volume III
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    2 weeks ago
  • The Good Ship Jacinda Ardern
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    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate challenges mount for California agriculture
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Jan Ellen Spiegel California agriculture has experienced just about every form of climate change-induced calamity: Heat, drought, fire, floods. None bodes well for the future of farming in this state that is the U.S. king of agriculture. But there are a couple ...
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 18 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Kara Tait, External communications manager, Kiwibank “The morning email from Bryce at the Democracy Project is must-read for communication professionals. It provides a comprehensive overview of the issues covered by New Zealand media in an easy to read format. It supplements my media monitoring and ensures I don’t ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    2 weeks ago

  • Further COVID-19 economic support for Cook Islands and Fiji announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced a further package of support for the Cook Islands and Fiji for COVID-19 economic support and recovery. “Aotearoa New Zealand remains committed to supporting our Pacific fanau and vuvale to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on their economies, and move towards long-term ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • New law will clear the air for tamariki in vehicles
    From today, it’s illegal to smoke or vape in most vehicles carrying children aged under 18 years old - whether the vehicle is moving or not. “Second-hand smoke poses an unacceptable risk to our tamariki and rangatahi,” Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said. “We know children in vehicles ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Nine countries designated very high risk
    Nine southern African countries are being added to the very high risk countries list following public health advice around the newly discovered COVID-19 variant Omicron, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said. This afternoon, a public health risk assessment was carried out to assess the emerging evidence and any risk to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Foreign Affairs Minister concludes final stage of world trip
    Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta today departed North America to return home to Aotearoa, concluding the last stage of her 17-day world trip. The final leg of her trip saw her visit the United States of America and Canada for a number of high-level discussions. While in Washington D.C., ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Milestone launch of Pacific Languages Unit
    Today’s official launch of the Pacific Languages Unit is a milestone for our Pacific communities, the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio said. The Pacific Languages Unit brings together a new set of language supports within the Ministry for Pacific Peoples to provide advice, commission research, maintain standards, promote ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Public Health Lecture – University of Otago
    Public Health - Lessons from New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and opportunities for the future E nga mana, E nga reo,                                          E nga iwi. Tēna koutou katoa. Ka huri ki nga mana whenua o te rohe nei. Tēna koutou. He mihi hoki ki a tatou kua tau mai nei I raro I ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand statement on situation in Honiara, Solomon Islands
    Aotearoa New Zealand is deeply concerned by the events which have been unfolding in Honiara, Solomon Islands, since Wednesday. “New Zealand is a long-standing partner of Solomon Islands, and there are deep and enduring connections between our two countries,” Acting Foreign Affairs Minister David Parker said. “Our engagement in Solomon ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Investment to support maternal mental health
    Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall has announced an investment to help expand maternal mental health services in five District Health Boards. “Supporting parent’s mental wellbeing during their child’s first 1000 days, from conception to two years of age, is critical to the long-term emotional, mental and physical wellbeing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Workplace vaccination requirements extended to cover Police and NZ Defence Force
    With the support of the organisations, additional vaccination requirements will cover sworn members, recruits and authorised officers of the New Zealand Police, and all New Zealand Defence Force staff. First doses of the vaccine for workers in these organisations are required by 17 January 2022, and second doses by 1 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Aotearoa New Zealand and Canada to pursue greater Indigenous collaboration
    During her visit to Ottawa, the Honourable Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Associate Minister for Māori Development, met with the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Canadian Minister of Indigenous Services, and the Honourable Marc Miller, Canadian Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, to further expand and develop the positive relationship ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Māori vaccination rates reach 80% first dose
    Associate Minister of Health (Māori) Hon Peeni Henare today confirmed that Māori across the motu have now reached 80 percent for first doses of the COVID-19 vaccination nationally. “We have seen a huge increase in vaccinations for Māori throughout November, since the beginning of the month the increase for first ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Subsequent Children legislation to change
    The Government has today introduced legislation that will reverse provisions in the Oranga Tamariki Act as part of a path to rebuild trust and confidence in the organisation. “The Oranga Tamariki Amendment Bill makes a number of changes but by far the most important is the partial repeal of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Security Information in Proceedings Legislation Bill introduced to Parliament
    The Minister of Justice has confirmed the introduction of the Security Information in Proceedings Legislation Bill to Parliament. National security information is information which, if disclosed, would be likely to prejudice New Zealand’s security, defence, or international relations. “This Bill adds to the Government’s work to strengthen New Zealand’s protections ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Shortcomings revealed in power cut investigation
    No household should have had their power disconnected 18 recommendations, mostly EA and Transpower related The EA must strengthen its oversight of the system operator An investigation into power cuts that left more than 34,000 households without electricity on one of the coldest nights of the year has found that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • COVID-19 Protection Framework supported by new testing and contact tracing strategy
    Wider use of rapid antigen testing from 1 December Increasing daily laboratory capacity to 60,000 PCR tests Q1 2022 A new national telehealth case investigation service with 475 investigators A nearly $1 billion investment in testing, contact tracing and case investigation A new national testing strategy will provide better protection ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Supporting New Zealanders to recover from COVID-19 in the community
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Additional support for people isolating at home
    New regional MSD COVID-19 welfare teams to coordinate social service support for those isolating at home Regional teams working alongside other government agencies, iwi/Māori and community providers for housing, food and income support Government investment of $204.1m into welfare system support for Care in the Community Minister for Social Development ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Tax bill provides vital support for families
    A boost to Working for Families tax credits, as part of a package of financial support that will see 346,000 families better off, has been passed into law late last night.  Revenue Minister David Parker said the measures would lift the incomes of those receiving the Family Tax Credit, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New text service to support disabled peoples’ vaccinations
    Efforts to support disabled peoples’ vaccinations go from strength-to-strength with the launch of a new text service, Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni announced today. The service, run by Whakarongorau Aotearoa on behalf of the Ministry of Health, is in response to feedback from the disability community and is an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Proactive Calendar Release – October 2021
    ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Pacific community reach vaccination milestone
    Pacific communities across the nation have rolled up their sleeves and played their part to reach a major vaccination milestone, 90 percent  have now had their first vaccination, Aupito William Sio, Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister of Health said. “Reaching this milestone reflects the work Pacific Health Providers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Reconnecting New Zealand – the next steps
    Fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers can travel to NZ from Australia without staying in MIQ from 11.59pm Sunday, 16 January 2022 Fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers can travel to NZ from all other countries from 11.59pm Sunday, 13 February 2022 All fully vaccinated individuals will be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Shot in the arm for Canterbury tourism
    A brand new tourism attraction launched in the Canterbury high country is designed to transform the regional economy from seasonal peaks and troughs of past visitor trends. Regional Economic Development and Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has officially opened the Ōpuke Pools at Methven, which received government backing from the Provincial ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Combined efforts connecting locals to nature
    A Government investment in six community and iwi-led projects across the Hawke’s Bay district will provide nature-based jobs for more than 60 locals, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “Combined, these projects are contributing to a really ambitious conservation effort across the region, while at the same time up-skilling and offering ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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