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Police launch moral crusade against old people

Written By: - Date published: 9:04 am, October 27th, 2016 - 65 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, death with dignity, police, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

From the “you have to be joking” file, the police set up a breath testing station outside a public meeting where assisted suicide was being discussed so it could collect personal details of people attending the meeting.

It is not the first time that possible supporters of assisted dying have been targeted by police.  There was this earlier report of harassment including how one elderly woman was arrested and held overnight in custody for importing a class C drug. The background is described in Stuff:

Two elderly Wellington women with suicide drugs have been pounced on by police, who are conducting a national operation thought to be targeting a euthanasia group.

Police have confirmed a Lower Hutt woman was arrested and faces two charges of importing a class C drug as part of an “ongoing investigation”.

It is understood a second elderly woman was also involved in the October 7 raid, part of what police are calling Operation Painter, and that one of the women spent the night in a police cell.

Exit International director Philip Nitschke said police raided several elderly members of his group as part of a world-first clampdown on his organisation.

“It is ludicrous to try to argue that these raids are in the best interest of the Exit members raided,” he said.

“They are clearly designed to intimidate and frighten, and send a message that the elderly are not to have control over their own death.”

Police have repeatedly refused to say what the drug was, the age of the arrested woman, or when she would appear in court. They have also refused to comment on claims they had got hold of Exit’s membership list and were working their way through it.

The article infers that the drug was Pentobarbital which cannot be obtained in New Zealand but can be imported.

Then there was the report of the mass data collection via breath screening test.  Again from Stuff:

Police have admitted they used a breath-testing checkpoint to target people who had attended an Exit International euthanasia meeting.

The move has been criticised as an “unlawful checkpoint to interrogate pensioners” by one lawyer, while another said it was probably a breach of police powers.

A complaint has already been laid with the Independent Police Conduct Authority about the officers’ actions in Lower Hutt earlier this month, and at least one other is likely to be laid in coming days.

Longtime Voluntary Euthanasia Society member Wilhelmina Irving got a visit from police after attending the Exit International meeting in Lower Hutt early in October.

Police said on Wednesday evening that they had also notified the IPCA themselves.

The police targets, mostly elderly women, had been attending the meeting on a Sunday afternoon early this month in Maungaraki.

Inspector Chris Bensemann has confirmed the checkpoint ploy, saying police had a duty of care and a “responsibility to the community to investigate any situation where we have reasonable grounds to suspect that persons are being assisted in the commission of suicide”.

As they left, about 4pm, all were pulled over at the checkpoint and – before being asked to blow into the machine – were made to give their names and addresses, and show their driver’s licences.

In the days that followed, at least 10 of them received visits from police officers, asking questions about their association with Exit, a pro-euthanasia group.

Questions put to police late last week and over Labour Weekend went unanswered. But on Wednesday, Inspector Chris Bensemann supplied a written statement confirming the checkpoint was to “identify people attending an Exit International meeting in Lower Hutt”, and was carried out “in good faith and for good reasons”.

Using transport law powers to stop people and hand over their details under the pretext of checking for drunk driving is as big an abuse of police power as you can imagine.

Barrister Michael Bott thinks the police have misused their powers.  From Radio New Zealand:

 

Human rights lawyer Michael Bott said officers misused used their power under the Land Transport Act, which allowed them to stop people, ask for licences and carry out breath tests for road safety.

“What you’ve got is New Zealand police undertaking what appears to be some kind of moral crusade on spurious grounds to such a degree that they’re prepared to use ‘stop and questioning’ powers under the Land Transport Act for ulterior motives, which seems completely improper,” he said.

In their defence, police said they had a responsibility to investigate any situation where they had reasonable grounds to “suspect that people are being assisted in the commission of suicide”.

But Mr Bott said police had no right to intervene in the way they did.

“The mere fact that you attend a meeting with a group who believe in the right to commit suicide in certain circumstances – if you’re unwell or terminally ill – doesn’t mean you actually endorse those aims, or that in fact you’re contemplating assisting someone with bringing about their own demise.

“So you really haven’t got good cause to do that.”

And Law Professor Mark Henigan thinks the same.  From the same article:

Otago University law professor Mark Henaghan agreed the officers had acted unlawfully.

“Under the Bill of Rights Act, there is a provision that people should not be unlawfully detained. They [the elderly people] weren’t detained in the sense of being put in a cell but they were detained, and they were stopped and questioned, and were asked to hand over their licence,” he said.

“The police have no more power than I have to stop someone and say ‘I want to see your licence’, unless they’re using (their power) for the purpose it was designed for, which is the blood alcohol purpose.

“They’re really not using power that they have, so they’re effectively detaining people. If you haven’t got the power to do it then it’s illegal detention.”
The matter is now before the Independent Police Complaints Authority.

65 comments on “Police launch moral crusade against old people ”

  1. Richard Rawshark 1

    I don’t even know how it can be an abuse of powers.

    FFS these people are planning to break the law!!! If they were P Dealers that traffic stop would be ok, if used to collect info on drug dealing, but since they are oldies well.

    NO.

    Some jerk organizing suicide kits get’s stopped. end of. The police should not have their hands tied in collecting information when a serious crime is suspected, that’s their fkn job. Saving lives. Jeez Wayne..

    Really upsets me attacking the police on this, they do so much shit things like tasering mental health people yet we slap them for trying to gently probe a suicide squad.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      FFS these people are planning to break the law!!!

      Do you have proof of that?
      They could have just been planning the ongoing campaign to legalise assisted suicide for those that are terminally ill.

      If they were P Dealers that traffic stop would be ok,

      False equivalence. If the police knew that a group of people were in a building with large amounts of P they wouldn’t have set up a drink driving checkpoint but would have raided the place.

      Really upsets me attacking the police on this, they do so much shit things like tasering mental health people yet we slap them for trying to gently probe a suicide squad.

      We’re getting pissed off with them doing something that they shouldn’t be doing.

      • Richard Rawshark 1.1.1

        Well DTB, I read a very good article about it yesterday, there’s this guy in the UK who helps people make suicide kits and shows them how to do it, this NZ group is partaking, so yeah the police know what they were up to that’s not the question.

        I got pulled last week random stop name address age, drivers licence first and asked while he held it. then he checked details in his car after he’d asked me to say that into the breathalyser.

        They point the breathalyser at you and tell you to say your name and address.
        they have already gotten your drivers license.

        Normal.

        • Psycho Milt 1.1.1.1

          Well, normal if they’re wanting to see if you’re a drunk driver or not. Not normal at all though if they don’t like this meeting you were just attending and want to find out who you are so they can keep tabs on you. Very not normal – unlawful, in fact.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.2

          Well DTB, I read a very good article about it yesterday, there’s this guy in the UK who helps people make suicide kits and shows them how to do it, this NZ group is partaking, so yeah the police know what they were up to that’s not the question.

          No they don’t. If they did then there would have been arrests and charges laid.

          This was a fishing expedition and bullying. Nothing more.

          They point the breathalyser at you and tell you to say your name and address.
          they have already gotten your drivers license.

          That may be what happens at a breath testing stop. What shouldn’t happen is that the breath testing stop is set up specifically to get the details of people at a meeting that’s none of the police’s business. That that information is then used, by the police, to intimidate those people.

          So, no, not normal and it’s not something that we want to become normal.

    • Siobhan 1.2

      There are some laws that are based on complex social and moral standards and over time these may change.
      A good example being Homosexuality.
      There comes a point where a percentage of the population wish to have a change in the law.
      They should be able to meet publicly, or indeed privately, to discuss the issues, especially as to how the law relates to them.
      The police often show discretion on these issues.
      An example being Marijuana Law reform.
      No one turned up at Paul Holmes or Helen Kellys house to check if they were smoking the Pot. (well, not as far as I know)
      The Marijuana group engage in public protests.
      During the Homosexual debate gay people and their supporters wore badges etc. They may well have been targeted by the Police, but I am sure in retrospect we would consider that to be a waste of Police resources.
      It is called Democracy, and, some would say, moral evolution.
      And personally, I would rather have a cop show up next time the house gets robbed, rather than worrying about a terminally unwell individual who wishes to leave the planet in their own time.

      • Richard Rawshark 1.2.1

        As a Bi-polar person, at times I have had a suicide kit. I did it myself, I didn’t get help and It was my choice.

        The issue I have pertains to the organizer not so much the act. If you wish to terminate your life by your choice I have no issue with that, what I do have real concerns about is when a third party is involved.

        Hence I fully support the police checking this out to ensure the UK bloke assisting these people was not some mass murderer getting his jollies.

        How they went about it, I don’t have any issue with.

        My morals, my opinion Siobhan you hit it on the head, it’s a real conversation topic this one due to the intense morality questions. Could almost be a thread in itself.

        • Bill 1.2.1.1

          If I was putting together a pack of pills or whatever because I wanted to kill myself, wouldn’t it be better to do it in a knowledgeable way, rather than in a hit and miss fashion?

          If I was taking a drug for recreational purposes, wouldn’t it be better to be in possession of solid knowledge about its effects rather than ‘blind’ experimenting?

          If I attended a political meeting and there was unlawful stuff discussed,(say a meeting about picket line actions for example), would it be reasonable for me to leave that meeting and be confronted by police gathering personal information under false or unconvincing pretexts?

          Just some of the questions that immediately jump to mind.

          • Richard Rawshark 1.2.1.1.1

            Police came out tonight with their reasoning, wasn’t a pre planned anything, thinking on their feet, and they had been informed by the coroner, from what I read, they seem to be between a rock and a hard place on this one.

            I myself will give them the benefit of the doubt for swearing to preserve life. Assisting a suicide is illegal and should be for many reasons i’m sure everyone can work out. So that’s why on this I think it’s acceptable.

        • Siobhan 1.2.1.2

          I absolutely respect your opinion Rawshark, especially given your story.
          I guess the point I would make is that these are elderly women who are interested in having 3rd party involvement. Women who, for starters, amy have no idea on how to access a suicide kit. Even if they have access to the ‘interweb’ they could out of their depth and may well end up hurting not just themselves, but others.

          They are probably also very much the proverbial ‘law abiding citizens’, they may be scared, wanting one thing, but knowing it’s against the law.
          Some of them are probably still of the generation who are so ‘socially conditioned’ that they have gone their entire lives not even telling their husbands who they vote for. They may never have even filled the car at the petrol station before. Crazy I know, but I meet women like this surprisingly often.

          So again, these are people who are vulnerable to making bad calls if left to their own devices. Who knows, maybe even attending a meeting and having a kit may actually extend their lives, and certainly free them from unnecessary stress.

          • RedBaronCV 1.2.1.2.1

            “vulnerable to making bad calls” in my book equals big daddy paternalism .

            The bad call was the cops.

    • mickysavage 1.3

      It is clearly an abuse of power. The ability to stop is contained in the Land Transport Act not the Land Transport and Harassment of possible supporters of Assisted Dying Act.

      They are meant to be trying to catch drunk drivers not harass old people.

      • Bill 1.3.1

        Why didn’t they just infiltrate the meeting and/or the org as they normally do, or at least attempt to do, if they had ‘worries’?

        Could it just maybe be they’re reckoning that such covert shit doesn’t send a message? I’m picking they reckoned they were thinking. And this bullshit is what their thinking led to.

    • North 1.4

      Overarching juvenile judgment precipitating invasive unlawfulness and abuse of power. Pretty thick really. DTB has it right in one Rawshark. You’ve shot from the lip without thinking. Which given the contradictions you frequently display indicates an unfortunate penchant for the same.

      Hounding old people is what it is. More of the arsehole New Zealand where “Real men ride women!” One ray of hope – Richie McCaw says “Nah” to the Aussies.

      Edit: In, I guess, shooting from the lip myself I responded to your first comment without reading your subsequent comments Repectfully, you have your stuff, those people have theirs. it’s not yours to rationalise unlawful ‘enforcement’. Further, I’m not sure that the police oath measures up to what I imagine forms the Hippocratic Oath.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    As they left, about 4pm, all were pulled over at the checkpoint and – before being asked to blow into the machine – were made to give their names and addresses, and show their driver’s licences.

    Now where was such process used before?

    Oh, that’s right, Nazi Germany against the Jews and modern Israel against the Palestinians.

    They [the elderly people] weren’t detained in the sense of being put in a cell but they were detained, and they were stopped and questioned, and were asked to hand over their licence

    And under false pretences.

    The matter is now before the Independent Police Complaints Authority.

    Which means that it will get rubber stamped and nothing will happen.

    • Richard Rawshark 2.1

      SO now we are comparing it to Nazi Germany!

      How many coffee’s this morning DTB, be honest?

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        SO now we are comparing it to Nazi Germany!

        Yes because that’s what it’s like.

        • Richard Rawshark 2.1.1.1

          Well i’m the odd one out on this, strange for me that. I’ll have to take it onboard and rethink my idea’s as to why.

  3. I can see how this comes about. Catching burglars is difficult and time-consuming, and stopping gangs from carrying out their wide range of crimes is difficult, time-consuming and extremely dangerous. Hassling old people for attending a euthanasia meeting, on the other hand, is a doddle. If you’ve got some key performance indicators to tick off, you pick easy ways to do it, not hard ones. Just another consequence of running public services as though they were a business.

  4. joe90 4

    Outrageous!. How dare police rouse at gun point stop young people old white people at a check point because of their suspected involvement in a scheme to import a class C substance.
    /

  5. Richard Rawshark 5

    Meanwhile, they taser a mental health guy, once running away, tasers only to be used if threatened.

    Then tasered him whilst on the ground handcuffed.

    that does not bother you more than this, or bashing kids for having loud sirens on their push bikes. Or the many assaults they do under the safety of the law that shields them from consequences. I’m no cop lover, had my fair share of bashing from them as a youth, but as I got older I realized there’s always wankers in every job.

    But to chastise them for taking information whatever way they could is petty.

    • I know that cop who bashed one of those shits who steal PA systems and use them to annoy everyone within a kilometer radius committed a crime and ought to be punished, but also can’t help thinking “Onya mate.”

      • Richard Rawshark 5.1.1

        Maybe onya, but the police go through extensive training and evaluation to weed out this sort of thing.

        They are well trained on the laws of use surrounding tazers. Boudaries…

        So when they tazer people running away and plead , we all know they got caught one time having deliberately done it many times ignoring the training and deployment guidelines.

        AKA it’s all a fucking load of shit spread like butter for the masses to consume.

        Whilst they carry on doing what they please. Your mate’s done that many times trust me.

        • North 5.1.1.1

          Rawshark…….the young men and women at police college are NOT well trained in law nor are they or can they be imparted the maturity needed to protect it evenly. As my dear old grandfather who suffered beatings and humiliation for being a unionist in ’51 always said……”the police mind!”

          Happens that 60 plus years later I’m in a position where I see manifestations of it only a daily basis. Bullying by the ignorant and not infrequently ill-motivated is what it is. Glib PR assurances from the upper echelons of the police don’t alter that.

          • Richard Rawshark 5.1.1.1.1

            Perhaps rephrasing it, the police assure us they train cadets to the highest degree , and in pepper spray, Tazers dog bites and baton lumps and how to turn any camera off, ensure your not being taped before stunning your victim until he spills the beans. Or dies, whichever comes first.

            would that be closer.

      • McFlock 5.1.2

        lol yeah it’s part of the duality of man I guess.

        But we must seek to rise above our baser instincts 🙂

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      But to chastise them for taking information whatever way they could is petty.

      It was not information that they were entitled to.

  6. weka 6

    So if I get stopped at an alcohol check point am I legally obliged to provide my name, address and driver’s licence? What if it wasn’t an alcohol check point, just a random stop to check for rego?

    And if the police come to my house later and want to talk to me, am I obligated to talk to them?

    • TheExtremist 6.1

      As far as I am aware you must provide name, address and DOB when asked by the police for any reason.
      You cannot be compelled to provide any more information that nor talk any further without a lawyer presence.
      If the police come to your house you do not need to talk to them at all.

      • dukeofurl 6.1.1

        “..you must provide name, address and DOB when asked by the police for any reason…”

        Not so. Only if you are driving a motor vehicle or are suspected of an offence relating to sale of alcohol

        • RJL 6.1.1.1

          Yes. It is an offense to not provide (or provide false) name, address and age information to the police when requested.

          But the police are only legally entitled to request this information if you are driving a motor vehicle (and they are stopping you under the Land Transport Act), or you are suspected of alcohol offences, or they have arrested you.

          The police have previous form for doing this sort of thing. For example, biker gang meetings just happen to occur near drink driving checkpoints (or vice versa):
          http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/67549505/biker-gang-members-greeted-by-police-roadblock

          • TheExtremist 6.1.1.1.1

            Ah right, hence saying “as far as I am aware”.

            But I like Joe90’s below approach the best

          • Richard Rawshark 6.1.1.1.2

            Practicality of refusing to answer your name whenever stopped by the police, even if not driving and stone cold sober walking down the street, will quickly lead to your arrest. You maybe right at the time, but by the time you get to a judge you will be so wrong.. so so wrong.

            obstruction, resisting oh you’ll be grandly fucked.

            just comply.

            • RJL 6.1.1.1.2.1

              Sure, if you fear reprisal and violence from the police it might be sane to comply with illegal requests like this from the police — which suggests that something is monstrously wrong with our police force, of course.

              Although it is also completely sane to ask for police id., etc and it is completely appropriate to complain to the IPCA (joke that it is) if the police made the request in circumstances other than those they are legally entitled to do so. Which is what is happening in this case.

              • Richard Rawshark

                Just reality RjL, now I suppose if your wearing a business suit and are 40 it may not be always that way, but if your under 30 out at night and they want to know where your heading and what your name is, I think you’d be wise to tell them the minimum without getting yourself locked up for getting cocky. They really do like wiping the smile off cheeky faces when people tell them “you can’t do that”

      • joe90 6.1.2

        Rules for dealing with the plods – identify yourself, be courteous, cooperate and comply but tell them nothing, take them nowhere and never ever make a formal statement, unless you’re lawyered up.

  7. Richard Rawshark 7

    Your legally required to give your name address and date of birth if I remember rightly, up to you to say anything else.

    If any police officer asks you anytime they damn well please.

    drivers license if your driving.

  8. The Real Matthew 8

    This is outrageous behaviour from a Police force whose focus is on stopping drivers going 4kmph over the speed limit and old grannies rather than stopping hard crime.

    It’s beyond time the Police Minister took a more active role in Policing.

  9. saveNZ 9

    Big Brother, anyone?

  10. Gangnam Style 10

    “The police are given the power to set up checkpoints to combat drink-driving. We do not give them powers for one purpose so they can abuse them for another.” David Seymour.

  11. McFlock 11

    It would actually have been smarter of the cops to go old school, taking number plates and photographing attendees, rather than being dickish about it.

    But I suspect that the referral from the coroner has gotten into someone senior’s bonnet, so the cops “exercised their initiative”. Sigh – any power given to the police will be a bused sooner or later.

    • Richard Rawshark 11.1

      Arrogance and laziness or they would have McFlock, they could easily have gotten the information the old fashioned way, but due to the examples of our Nats, the arrogance of do as you like and dismiss negativity has taken over the country. IMHO

      and Judith will back their wrong doing all the way, just like she supported Whaleoil and the raids on Hagar.

      • McFlock 11.1.1

        I also wonder if turnover and workload means that regular frontline cops have lost those old skills and needed to reinvent the wheel.

      • Chuck 11.1.2

        “Arrogance and laziness or they would have McFlock”

        Nope your on the wrong track RR.

        If it was a covert operation then the “old fashioned way” would have been used.

        But it was not a covert operation, in fact since the police visited a number of these old ladies a day or 2 after, it was clearly designed to send a message to them that euthanasia is currently unlawful.

        • Richard Rawshark 11.1.2.1

          Oh no doubt chuck. We had drifted off course a little I think me n Mc Flock..

          I see it that way too, nothing like a we know what your up to and are watching you to scare the pants off them. I bet that’s exactly what they intended too.

          Then perhaps a culture of the ends justify the means, mentality from government. Passing down to the lower teirs of government?

          I mean we have had a lot of gutsy feely ignore scientific fact do what we fucking like from them.

        • Groundhog 11.1.2.2

          Which it is, and hopefully will remain so.

        • McFlock 11.1.2.3

          So they used unlawful detention to send a message? That can’t go wrong. /sarc

          The message was the visit later. My point is that they could have had the same coverage and gained the same information more cheaply with two in a car rather than trying to stop and check everyone who left a meeting.

  12. In Vino 12

    If one wants to be more sinister, how about Bomber Bradbury’s take that this is just a training exercise preparing the Police for more serious ops in the future? I remember back in the 70s some of the hippies would say, “The fuzz is everywhere, man..” I later learned that they often were, man. (Or ‘it often was’…)

    • Chuck 12.1

      The critical part of your paragraph In Vino is “Bomber Bradbury’s take”.

      • George Hendry 12.1.1

        Thanks, IV, and hi again Chuck 🙂

        @ “Bomber Bradbury’s take” :

        A polarising figure, Mr Bradbury is greatly admired by some and decisively dismissed by others. Here, I don’t think his take should be dismissed out of hand.

        As this case was decidedly non-urgent, the police had time to think it through carefully.

        As noted elsewhere, there were more efficient/legal and less public/expensive ways to get the info/issue the warning. So why did they do it this way?

        These ladies were reasonably high social status and highly articulate – they were certainly going to speak out. And they did, so ‘tellingly’ that the police quickly ‘admitted’ to their legally questionable modus operandi, which is to be ‘investigated’ by the IPCA.

        When something happens as a consequence of police action, it’s not impossible that the police foresaw and intended it.

        “Yes. We did that. We crap on the law, we bullshit about concern for life and you see straight through it. You discuss it, which helps to normalise it, so we can use it again next time, maybe with something else added on.”

        Given their form, Chuck, is it really so improbable?

        • Chuck 12.1.1.1

          Hi George,

          Over night the police have released more information, and it seems it was part of an ongoing investigation of one and possible several recent deaths referred to them by the coroner (suspected assisted suicide). The first death the person did not even have a terminal illness.

          It was not simply stopping old ladies on the whim from some senior police officer.

          I do agree the police need to tread very carefully here, hence why they have asked the IPCA to run the ruler over this.

  13. Whateva next? 13

    Checking for jihadi brides I spect

  14. Ross 14

    I really don’t get it. Police keep telling us that they’re short staffed, that they have had to close down police stations or man them only occasionally. Yet they have enough time and manpower to hassle little old ladies. 🙂

  15. RedBaronCV 15

    I personally really really can’t wait for a checkpoint outside the lawyers and others meeting with an MP to discuss the rules around tax havens. That facilitates the crime of money laundering don’t you know?

    Some tosser ought to be fired for this one !

  16. RedBaronCV 16

    And while I’m on the subject I’ve been stopped at checkpoints where the “police” are wearing Hi Vis vests that cover any number they may have. However, I have seriously wondered if they are actually “police” or some outsourced contractor maybe because the ones on the checkpoints are on the far far side of about 45++ and about 5 foot three inches tall. I didn’t think there are many front line cops that are elderly women.

    I’ll get the camera out next time.

  17. infused 17

    The police are the biggest gang/bullies in the country.

  18. Thinkerr 18

    All we need now is for the government to bring in a mandatory death sentence for people convicted of attempting euthenasia, and NZ will truly be the laughing stock of the rest of the world.

    Seriously, when the police can target and detain people for having freedom of thought, things have become far more serious, even, than things like GCSB collecting everyone’s data for possible later use.

    Our parents, uncles, etc fought and died to stop us having to live in a country like we have now.

  19. Rob Gilchrist 19

    Police have used the ‘FAKE EBA’check point for years. If fact it’s was a’ tactical tool’ that was used frequently when I worked for them. It’s a legal way for police to get details of all occupants in a vehicle. The law states that everyone in a vehicle pulled over by police must supply their details. I don’t know how many times e used it but it was many. If you have a group of activists driving to a demo and want to know who they are, how well they are prepared, their intentions etc then a 3T (traffic. Stop) was a quick and Edgefield roll to gain intelligence. K
    I can’t recall an exact number of times it was used but it would be 40-50 over the time I worked for police

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  • Minister of Māori Development pays tribute to Rudy Taylor
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  • Speech to Infrastructure NZ Symposium
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    6 days ago
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    6 days ago
  • Jump in apprentice and trainee numbers
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    7 days ago
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  • Prime Minister meets with key ASEAN and East Asia Summit partners
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    2 weeks ago
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  • A Progressive Agenda
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    2 weeks ago
  • Wellington Pasifika Business Awards
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