New Zealand’s foreign ministry said it makes it “clear with all diplomatic missions in New Zealand that it expects foreign diplomats to abide by New Zealand law, and to waive immunity… if there are allegations of serious crimes”.
The US embassy in Wellington – which is without a permanent ambassador after President Barack Obama’s appointee was recalled by Donald Trump’s administration in January – said it did not comment on the specifics of matters under investigation.
The embassy added: “We take seriously any suggestion that our staff have fallen short of the high standards of conduct expected of US government personnel.”
Kim Dotcom will be allowed to stream his appeal against extradition live online, a judge in New Zealand ruled.
The Megaupload founder is wanted in the United States on charges of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering.
The US had opposed Kim Dotcom’s proposal to broadcast the hearing on YouTube.
He said on Twitter that the decision was “breaking new ground” and streaming would start on August 31.
Kim Dotcom’s lawyer said the move was “democracy at its finest”.
“It provides everybody in the world with a seat in the gallery of the New Zealand courtroom,” Ira Rothken told the AP, saying there would be a 20 minute delay on the live feed.
The German-born entrepreneur ran file-sharing site Megaupload.com, which once had million of users storing files and downloading movies and songs.
The FBI took control of the website and other domain names belonging to the business in January 2012. Federal prosecutors said it had cost movie studios, music labels and other copyright-holders more than $500 million in lost revenue.
In December 2015, a New Zealand court ruled that Kim Dotcom could be extradited to face charges of copyright infringement, racketeering and money laundering.
Kim Dotcom’s lawyers launched an appeal, arguing that he should not be held responsible for the actions of the site’s users, and did not get a fair hearing.
The request for livestreaming came on the first day of the appeal hearing in Auckland, which is expected to last up to eight weeks.
Another defense lawyer, Ron Mansfield, said there were “unprecedented issues of public and international interest” raised by the case and added that coverage should not be limited to traditional media.
Lawyers for the United States had said streaming could influence a potential future jury.
The High Court judge, Justice Murray Gilbert, criticized the fact the request had not been made in advance but said he wanted to hear the views of local media outlets before making a decision.
New Zealand police dog Thames has been found alive in the bush after spending seven days on the run.
Four-year-old, sable-colored German Shepherd Thames went missing in the Mt Holdsworth area west of Carterton, after becoming separated from handler Constable Mike Wakefield during a training exercise on May 3.
Three police teams searched for the missing dog in the Tararua Ranges last week.
One of the search team was his handler, Mike Wakefield, who resumed looking for the dog on May 10 and said he was encouraged to find signs of the dog.
“We found some fresh signs, a big footprint in the mud, that can only be described as Thames’ big boofy foot,” he said.
“I whistled and called but he ran off as if to say come this way before running back and giving me a big lick.
He wolfed down half of my salami which is a treat for him, I gave him a cuddle and we had a big play. I was just lost for words,” said Mike Wakefield.
Mike Wakefield said Thames was in good condition but would be checked out by a vet and both he and the dog would now have a few weeks break.
New Zealand PM John Key has apologized to an Auckland cafe waitress for repeatedly pulling her hair.
According to the unnamed waitress, the prime minister had tugged her ponytail on several occasions, even after she had asked him not to.
John Key’s office said on April 22 that his actions were meant to be “light-hearted” and he apologized.
The incident has sparked criticism from an opposition party and the public.
The waitress wrote on the Daily Blog that the hair-pulling started during last November’s election campaign, when John Key’s National Party was re-elected.
The woman said that she had begun avoiding John Key whenever he came into the cafe, and had told his security officers that she didn’t like her hair being pulled.
She said she finally told John Key in person to stop in March, but he continued to do so.
John Key later apologized and gave the waitress two personalized bottles of wine.
His office said in a statement: “His actions were intended to be light-hearted. It was never his intention to make her feel uncomfortable and he has apologized to her.”
John Key told reporters on April 22 that he had “a very warm and friendly relationship” with staff at the cafe where “we have lots of fun and games there, there’s always lots of practical jokes and things”.
One of the leaders of New Zealand’s Green Party, Metiria Turei, said his actions raised questions about workplace bullying.
“As politicians our job is to make people feel safe at work, not bullied… We should expect higher standards of behavior from our prime minister, not this weird hair-pulling,” Metiria Turei told The New Zealand Herald.
A New Zealand farming body and dairy giant Fonterra have received letters threatening to poison milk formula with pesticide 1080.
Federated Farmers and Fonterra received the anonymous letters in November, said officials, along with sachets of contaminated product.
The letters appeared to be a protest over the use of the pesticide 1080 in agriculture.
New Zealand’s PM John Key said milk formula was still safe to be consumed.
Officials said the person or group who sent the letters had threatened to carry out and publicize their threat unless New Zealand stopped using 1080 by the end of March.
At a news briefing at parliament on Tuesday, PM John Key said the news was being announced now because of increasing media enquiries.
He said there was “a low likelihood of the threat being carried out, but because of the nature of it, both the police and ministers have taken the treat seriously”.
“I want to reassure parents that every step possible has been taken to respond to the threat, to ensure the ongoing safety of our food products.”
John Key called the threat “a form of ecoterrorism, without doubt”, reported the New Zealand Herald.
Police Deputy Commissioner of National Operations Mike Clement said the threat was possibly a hoax but that police were treating it as blackmail. He said a team had been investigating it since November.
“The letter writer may not have really considered the implications of their actions when this communication was drafted,” he said.
Officials said that security measures by players in the supply chain had been significantly tightened since the threats began, and that no traces of 1080 had been found in milk formula. About 40,000 tests have been conducted on products.
“The ability for anybody to deliberately contaminate infant and other formula during manufacturing is extremely low,” said Scott Gallagher, the deputy director general for the ministry for primary industries.
Fonterra chief Theo Spierings called the threat “despicable”.
In a statement, Fonterra said the entire dairy industry had been targeted, but that it could assure its customers that “all of our milk and products are safe and of high quality, and our supply chain continues to be secure and world-class”.
Police are appealing to the public to report anyone who had strong views about 1080 and had made threats before.
Government officials are also asking the public to step up vigilance and check packaging for signs of tampering.
New Zealand is the world’s largest dairy exporter, and Fonterra products are popular in Asia, in particular China.
Fonterra faced a food scare in 2013 when it said contaminated products that could cause botulism had been exported overseas.
It was later found to have been a false alarm, but the scare led to many countries blocking imports of those particular products. China lifted its ban last October.
Rescuers are trying to refloat about 90 stranded pilot whales after more than 100 died on a beach on New Zealand’s South Island.
The rescuers and volunteers at Farewell Spit, Golden Bay, managed to shepherd many mammals into deeper water, only for them to again run aground.
Conservation officials believe they have one last chance to refloat the whales on the high tide.
If that fails, the mammals may have to be put down.
The rescuers are now trying to keep the distressed whales comfortable by pouring water over them.
Those mammals who died are believed to have suffered great physical and emotional trauma.
Local conservation ranger Mike Ogle said it is the biggest beaching incident in 10-15 years.
“Because there’s just so many whales, there are a couple of spots where a lot would gather together and that’s kind of problematic from the aspect that you can’t get in there, it’s just too dangerous,” he said.
Farewell Spit has been the location of many whale beachings.
Experts say its shallow waters seem to confuse whales and hinder their ability to navigate.
Once they are stranded, whales can suffer from dehydration and sunburn.
Pilot whales can grow to about 20ft and are the most common species of whale in New Zealand’s waters.
Andrew Lamason from the Department Of Conservation said it could take days to refloat the whales and even then there would be no guarantees they would survive.
“We’ve had plenty times in the past where the pods have gone out to sea and turned around and come back again,” he said.
“We’re preparing for a big few days.”
Scientists do not know what causes groups of whales to beach themselves.
A few months before Robin Williams committed suicide on August 11, the actor sent out a hopeful message to a terminally ill fan.
According to New Zealand’s Sunday Star-Times, an ill 21-year-old woman named Vivian Wallace caught Robin Williams’ attention earlier this year.
The New Zealand-based Vivian Wallace was diagnosed with lung, bowel, and liver cancer in January and made a five-item bucket list, which included a desire to marry her love Jack, see her daughter Sophie’s first birthday, and to meet Robin Williams before she became too sick to do so.
Vivian Wallace was unable to make it to the US to spend time with Robin Williams, but the actor connected with her by recording a video message for her.
Robin Williams sent out a hopeful message to terminally ill fan Vivian Wallace a few months before his suicide (photo Getty Images)
It was recently revealed that Robin Williams was diagnosed with his own serious illness before his death, as his wife, Susan Schneider, said in a statement last week that he was in “the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease.”
“Hi Vivian, it’s Robin Williams here, saying hey girl,” the comedian says in the video.
“What’s going on down there in New Zealand? Sending all my love to you, Jack, and Sophie. Mark this off your bucket list.”
Ever the comedian, Robin Williams goes on to do his best Matthew McConaughey impression, emulating the actor’s trademark twang and saying: “I said, hey, hey, hey, what’s goin on, what’s goin on, it’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right. I’m just channeling Matthew McConaughey.”
“Much love to you, baby,” Robin Williams finishes, blowing a kiss to Vivian Wallace.
Vivian Wallace’s husband, Jack, told the Sunday Star-Times that the video meant a lot to his struggling wife, and added that the family is “just enjoying the time we have together” and plans to “take things a day at a time”.
Prince William, Kate Middleton and their son Prince George have arrived in Sydney for the next leg of their tour of New Zealand and Australia.
Prince George was in his mother’s arms as the royal couple emerged from a plane at Kingsford Smith Airport.
Kate Middleton carried the 8-month-old down the steps of the aircraft before she and Prince William were met by dignitaries.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will spend 10 days travelling across Australia, visiting its famous sites and honoring its war dead.
Australia’s PM Tony Abbott and Governor-general Peter Cosgrove, their spouses and other figures were among those who met Prince William and Kate Middleton as they descended from the plane.
Kate Middleton, wearing a yellow dress by Roksanda Ilincic, handed Prince George to his father as she accepted flowers from Joscelyn Sweeney, a 22-year-old with Down’s syndrome.
Prince William, Kate Middleton and their son Prince George have arrived in Sydney for the next leg of their tour of New Zealand and Australia (photo Reuters)
A lively Prince George, dressed in a white cotton babygrow with ships on the front, touched hands with the governor-general’s wife Lynne Cosgrove before his parents left for their first engagement at the Sydney Opera House.
Prince William and Kate Middleton completed the first leg of their trip Down Under with a tour of New Zealand.
They arrived in Australia on Wednesday for the second leg as a political scandal erupted, forcing one of the country’s senior figures to pull out of the official greeting party.
Barry O’Farrell resigned as premier of New South Wales just hours before Prince William and Kate Middleton arrived after a document emerged contradicting evidence he gave to an anti-corruption inquiry.
He admitted to a “massive memory fail” after he failed to declare a gift of A$3,000 wine.
The leader of the New South Wales Liberal Party had told an inquiry that he never received the wine and that he could not remember calling businessman Nick Di Girolamo, who sent him the gift in 2011.
Barry O’Farrell resigned after investigators unveiled a hand-written thank you note from him.
He had been due to greet the royal couple on the tarmac, and later at their visit to Sydney Opera House, but did not attend the welcome ceremony at the airport.
Barry O’Farrell was not replaced by another official.
Kate Middleton enjoyed several glasses of local wine at an engagement at the Amisfield Vineyard in New Zealand on Sunday.
The Duchess of Cambridge told wine-makers that she was “really enjoying being able to drink again after having baby George”.
A source close to Prince William and Kate Middleton said: “Kate is not pregnant. They want a bigger family in the future, but she’s not pregnant right now.”
Prince William, 31, and Kate Middleton, 32, joined John Darby, 57, owner of Amisfield Vineyard, who gave the royal couple a tour of the premises. Standing tall in a pair of Stuart Weitzman wedges, Kate Middleton nearly toppled over when she hit a rough patch as she toured the vineyard. An eyewitness told Us Weekly: “She slipped and grabbed William’s arm to steady herself.”
Kate Middleton enjoyed several glasses of local wine at an engagement at the Amisfield Vineyard in New Zealand (photo AP)
At one point on the tour, John Darby offered the Duke and Duchess a glass of 2011 Amisfield pinot noir. The wine expert, who discussed the grapes and climate with the couple, explained: “When it gets very cold we use helicopters to stop the frost over the vines by hovering above and stirring up the cold air.”
Prince William exclaimed: “You’re joking! That’s an expensive way to do it!”
He added: “Wow! If you ever need a spare pilot, I’m here!”
John Darby later told reporters: “The Duchess did take a little sip, but I don’t think she’s a big drinker.”
He also explained: “We nearly moved on without the Duke or Duchess having a glass of our wine, but [Prince William] was keen to try it. He said, <<Hang on, let’s enjoy a glass of wine. We can’t pass up the opportunity>>.”
Prince William and Kate Middleton have carried their son, Prince George, off the plane at the start of a three-week visit to New Zealand and Australia.
It is the first official tour for the 8-month-old prince, who was awake in his mother’s arms as the trio were greeted at Wellington airport by New Zealand’s PM John Key and waiting media.
It was only the second time Prince George has faced the press.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were met with cold, wet and windy weather.
After greeting them on the tarmac, John Key tweeted: “The Royals have landed in Wellington. Let’s make them very welcome, New Zealand.”
Prince William and Kate Middleton arrive in New Zealand with Prince George
Prince William and Kate Middleton were then taken to Government House, the official residence of the governor general, where they received a traditional Maori welcome.
They were greeted with a nose-press, called a hongi, and met Maori warriors.
A minor controversy marked the start of the trip – which ends in Canberra on April 25.
Plunket, New Zealand’s national childcare agency, published photos of a baby seat facing forwards in the royal car, with critics claiming this contradicted Plunket’s advice that children of Prince George’s age should face the rear window.
Kate Middleton’s fashion choices are expected to be closely scrutinized during the tour and she arrived in New Zealand wearing a red coat with gold buttons – from British designer Catherine Walker, who was a firm favorite of Diana, Princess of Wales.
The Duchess teamed her outfit with a red pillbox hat designed by Gina Foster and a silver fern-shaped brooch, a symbol of New Zealand.
She has been loaned the diamond and platinum piece by the Queen, who had herself received it as a gift during a visit to Auckland 60 years ago.
Prince George was seen to be wearing a cream cardigan and matching shoes.
He will be taken to a few specific engagements throughout the trip, and the program stops on most days in the late afternoon to allow his parents to get back to him.
Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince George flew on a scheduled Qantas flight from Heathrow Airport, via Dubai, to Sydney where they transferred to a military plane.
Their engagements in New Zealand will see them take in a yacht race and visit a Maori tribe, a rugby stadium and a vineyard.
In Australia, their destinations include Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Queensland, Adelaide and Canberra.
Helping oversee the care of Prince George will be his newly-appointed nanny Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, who stayed in the background as the royals received their official welcome to New Zealand.
A new official photograph of Prince George with his parents, Kate Middleton and Prince William, has been released ahead of their tour of Australia and New Zealand.
The eight-month-old is pictured in Kate Middleton’s arms while Prince William holds their dog, Lupo.
In the image, taken by royal christening photographer Jason Bell, the family is looking through an open window at their Kensington Palace home.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are due to arrive in New Zealand on April 7.
They then fly to Australia on April 16 and their three-week tour ends on April 25.
In the new image, Prince George is wearing a pale blue jumper bearing his name, while Kate Middleton wears a cream-colored blouse and Prince William a shirt with rolled-up sleeves.
Prince George with his parents ahead of their Australia and New Zealand tour (photo Jason Bell)
Prince George, who is third in line to the throne, is not looking directly at the camera like his parents – instead, he is smiling at the black cocker spaniel next to him.
Other than a glimpse of the curtains, little of the Cambridges’ renovated Kensington Palace home can be seen in the photograph.
It is the first official picture of Prince George to be released since his christening last October.
The visit to Australia and New Zealand will be Prince George’s first official overseas tour. The trip echoes the Prince and Princess of Wales’s visit to Australia and New Zealand in 1983 when the couple took Prince William, then aged nine months, with them.
The tour will begin in Wellington, where Prince William and Kate Middleton will be greeted with a ceremonial welcome to New Zealand, called a Powhiri in Maori.
They will see a yacht race, visit a rugby stadium and a vineyard, and there will also be Maori engagements in Christchurch and Dunedin.
During their time in New Zealand, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend a ceremony in Blenheim to recognize the sacrifice of members of the Australian and New Zealand armed forces in the First World War.
There will be a similar commemorative ceremony in Canberra, Australia.
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Australian itinerary includes visits to Uluru in the Northern Territory, as well as Sydney and Adelaide.
They will also visit an area of the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, that was hit by bushfires last October.
Their 11-strong entourage includes Prince George’s new nanny, Maria Teresa Turrion Borrallo, and a hairdresser.
Prince William has made a number of official trips to Australia and New Zealand in the past, but Kate Middleton is yet to pay an official visit to either country.
The Rolling Stones have decided to call off their Australia and New Zealand tour after the death of Mick Jagger’s girlfriend L’Wren Scott.
L’Wren Scott, 49, was found dead in her New York flat on Monday in an apparent suicide.
Mick Jagger earlier said he failed “to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way”.
In a statement on their website, The Rolling Stones thanked fans for their support.
They said: “The Rolling Stones are deeply sorry and disappointed to announce the postponement of the rest of their 14 On Fire tour of Australia and New Zealand following the death of L’Wren Scott.
The Rolling Stones have decided to call off their Australia and New Zealand tour after the death of Mick Jagger’s girlfriend L’Wren Scott
“Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood wish to thank all of their fans for their support at this difficult time and hope that they will fully understand the reason for this announcement.
“The Rolling Stones are planning to reschedule these postponed shows at a later date.”
The Rolling Stones had been due to begin the tour in Perth on Wednesday, having flown in to the Western Australian city on Sunday.
On his website, Mick Jagger, who started dating Scott in 2001, said they had spent “many wonderful years together”.
L’Wren Scott was found by her assistant at 10:00 a.m. local time on Monday.
Ninety minutes earlier, L’Wren Scott had sent her assistant a text message asking her to come to her Manhattan apartment, without specifying the reason why, the Associated Press news agency reported.
Police said there was no sign of foul play and no note has been found.
The Rolling Stones had planned to perform five concerts in Sydney, Melbourne, Macedon and Brisbane before flying to Auckland, New Zealand, for the final show on April 5.
Ticket holders for the affected shows have been advised to keep hold of their tickets and await further information.
The Rolling Stones’ On Fire tour is scheduled to move to Europe in June, with concerts planned for the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Belgium.
People in New Zealand will vote in a referendum on whether to change the national flag, PM John Key has announced.
John Key, who on Monday called an election for September 20, said the vote would be held within three years.
The current flag shows the Southern Cross constellation and includes the Union Jack – the UK’s national flag – in one corner.
John Key said the flag represented a period of history from which New Zealand had moved on.
“It’s my belief… that the design of the New Zealand flag symbolizes a colonial and post-colonial era whose time has passed,” John Key said in a speech at Victoria University.
“The flag remains dominated by the Union Jack in a way that we ourselves are no longer dominated by the United Kingdom.”
“I am proposing that we take one more step in the evolution of modern New Zealand by acknowledging our independence through a new flag.”
People in New Zealand will vote in a referendum on whether to change the national flag
PM JOhn Key said that he liked the silver fern – popularized by national teams including the All Blacks – as an option, saying efforts by New Zealand’s athletes gave “the silver fern on a black background a distinctive and uniquely New Zealand identity”.
But he said he was open to all ideas and that retaining the current flag was “a very possible outcome of this process”.
A group of cross-party lawmakers would oversee the vote process and a steering group would seek public submissions for new flag designs, he said.
John Key said there was no move to cut ties with the British monarchy.
“We retain a strong and important constitutional link to the monarchy and I get no sense of any groundswell of support to let that go,” he said.
It is not clear to what extent there is support for changing the flag. One poll late last month showed only 28% of respondents wanted to change the flag, compared to 72% who were happy with the current version.
Representatives of service personnel have argued that troops have fought and died under the existing flag.
The opposition Labor party has said it supports the process.
“We’re not going to differ or divide from the government on this issue. It’s a broad constitutional issue, if the country wants a debate about the flag so be it, but it’s not the primary issue for this election,” leader David Cunliffe said.
The polls have been scheduled so that a new government will be in place by the G20 meeting due to take place in Australia in mid-November.
Director James Cameron and the New Zealand government have announced that three sequels to the movie Avatar are to be made in New Zealand.
The move means at least NZ$500 million ($413 million) will be spent in New Zealand and hundreds of jobs created.
It came after the government increased film industry tax rebates up to 25% from the current 15%.
Avatar, which was also shot in New Zealand, was released in 2009 and went on to win three Oscars.
The 3D film is the highest grossing movie of all time.
Avatar, which was also shot in New Zealand, was released in 2009 and went on to win three Oscars
In a statement, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce described the move as “excellent news for the New Zealand screen industry”.
“The Avatar sequels will provide hundreds of jobs and thousands of hours of work directly in the screen sector as well as jobs right across the economy,” he said.
Under the new rebate rules, the base will be raised to 20%, with another 5% available if producers meet specific criteria in terms of benefits to New Zealand.
The changes were aimed at both encouraging domestic production and “increasing the competitiveness of our incentives for international productions in the short to medium term”, a separate statement said.
New Zealand PM John Key called the Avatar announcement “a great Christmas present for those involved in making world-class movies”.
James Cameron said it was “quite a thrill to be officially saying that we’re bringing the Avatar films to New Zealand”.
James Cameron aimed to release the three movies yearly from late 2016.
American yacht Nina carrying eight people and missing in waters between New Zealand and Australia is now presumed to have sunk, say rescuers.
But it is possible survivors are on board the life raft or made land, they add.
On Friday a third unsuccessful day of aerial searches took place, scouring the New Zealand coastline.
Six Americans aged between 17 and 73 were on board, along with a 35-year-old British man.
Some of those on board have been named: Captain David Dyche, 58; his wife, Rosemary, 60; and their son David, 17. Also aboard was their friend Evi Nemeth, 73; a man aged 28; a woman aged 18, and Briton Matthew Wootton, aged 35.
The Dyche family were said to be experienced sailors who had been sailing around the world for several years.
The 85-year-old schooner Nina left Opua on New Zealand’s North Island on May 29.
The last known communications with the crew were on 3 and 4 June – when conditions were very rough, said Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ), with winds of 80 km/h (50 mph) gusting to 110 km/h and swells of up to 8 m (26 feet).
American yacht Nina carrying eight people and missing in waters between New Zealand and Australia is now presumed to have sunk
Evi Nemeth called and texted New Zealand meteorologist Bob McDavitt to seek advice on how to cope with the conditions, and were advised to ride it out.
After family and friends failed to hear from the crew, rescuers were alerted on June 14. They began trying to make contact with the vessel, but were said not to be unduly alarmed as it was equipped with an emergency locator beacon which had not been activated, as well as a satellite phone and spot beacon.
But on June 28 aerial searches began, and two extensive sea-based searches as well as two shoreline searches have yielded no sign of the vessel or crew, said RCCNZ.
Search leader Neville Blakemore said it was now logical to assume the boat sank quickly in a storm, preventing the crew from activating the devices on board – though he added it was still possible survivors could be found.