Coronavirus update: One death and five more Covid-19 cases | Stuff.co.nz

There has been another Covid-19 related death in New Zealand.

The woman in her 70s was one of the residents from an Auckland rest home transferred to Waitakere hospital.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield also announced there are five more cases, bringing the total number of people affected by Covid-19 to 1445.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF
Leaves gather at Witherlea School, Marlborough.

This included two confirmed cases, and three probable cases. 

Education Minister Chris Hipkins joined director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield for the daily Covid-19 briefing on Tuesday.

Cabinet decided the country would stay in level 4 until 11.59pm on Monday April 27.

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Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said The current plan is for schools to be able to re-open for a Teacher Only Day on April 28 as part of their preparation, and the Government expects those who need to attend, to be able to from 29 April 29.

​Hipkins discussed the rules around schools during alert level three and explained what will be happening this week, in the lead up to schools opening safely.

  Under alert level 3, most children will be learning from home still. Schools will only be open for families that need to have their children at school, he said.

“Education for students in years 11 to 13 will continue remotely,” Hipkins said.

Universities will be mostly remote, only allowing staff and students to only attend when crucial – such as hands on research.

“If students went home to join their family bubble, they must stay home.”

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From next Wednesday, some schools will be welcoming back students.

Referring to early childhood concerns, Hipkins said he would continue to talk with the sector and provide further guidance.

“We’ve reached the point where the director-general of health is confident there is no widespread community transmission … so the chance of it coming through the gate or door is low,” he said.

The public health advice said it was safe for children to learn together, though Hipkins acknowledged that maintaining physical distancing would be difficult.

As leader of the House, he also gave an update about what will happen when Parliament sits again next week.

Christopher Furlong
Schools and early learning centres can be accessed this week for cleaning, maintenance and any other preparations.

This week, businesses will be allowed to get ready to open, such as re-entering premises to receive stock if necessary, but will have to stick to social distancing and their bubbles.

The same principle applies for preparing schools.

Schools and early learning centres can be accessed this week for cleaning, maintenance and any other preparations.

The current plan is for schools to be able to re-open for a Teacher Only Day on April 28 as part of their preparation, and the Government expects those who need to attend to be able to do so from  April 29. 

However, Ardern acknowledged it may take a bit longer for some schools and early learning centres to be ready.

During level 3, the Government still wants the vast majority of children and young people learning from home. 

The official advice is for children who can stay at home should, and so should at-risk students.

Early childhood centres, and schools right up to year 10, will physically be open for families that need them.

Ardern said children should still learn from home if they can – except for those situations where it was not possible.

For example, parents who cannot manage the kids as well as work. Those who do go to school will be kept within one bubble while there.

She was not expecting large numbers of pupils to be in attendance.

Bloomfield said international evidence and New Zealand’s experience so far shows that Covid-19 does not affect or infect children and teens in the same way as adults. There were low infection rates, they don’t become too unwell and don’t tend to pass the virus to adults.

School principals said they are still awaiting guidance on what level 3 will look like in the classroom. 

Senior ministry officials met with education unions and school associations early on Monday to discuss those guidelines. 

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Karolina Kowalkiewicz Needs Titanium Plate For Broken Face, May Have To Retire – MiddleEasy.com

Karolina Kowalkiewicz Needs Extensive Facial Surgery Following Auckland Loss

Karolina Kowalkiewicz took quite a beating in her most recent contest. Now it seems possible that she will be unable to fight again, following a need for surgery.

Kowalkiewicz faced Xianon Yan last month, at UFC Auckland. She was beat pillar to post, en route to a unanimous decision loss. However what concerned fans was the massive amount of damage she took during the fight.

The bout was somewhat controversial, due to some questionable officiating on the cageside doctor’s part. In between the first and second rounds, the doctor came to look at Karolina’s eye, as she had noticably been struggling to see after taking a shot to the face. Despite the fact the doctor allowed the bout to continue, she struggled seeing for the rest of the fight, with the damage only compounding.

Now it seems the decision for Karolina Kowalkiewicz to keep fighting is having some serious repercussions. She recently took to her Instagram Stories to answer questions about her health. Here, she revealed that she would be undergoing surgery on Thursday, to get a titanium plate in her face. Moreover, this has left concerns that she may not be able to compete anymore.

“I hope it wasn’t my last fight but now I’m focused on my health,” she said in her story.

If this truly was the last time Karolina Kowalkiewicz is able to fight, it is a massive shame. While there is no point in focusing on what should have happened, it is hard to not feel like the doctor or someone in her corner should have stopped the fight earlier. Regardless, MiddleEasy wishes her a successful surgery, and speedy recovery.

For more MMA News, Rumors and Updates follow the Red Monster on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram

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Christchurch mosque attacks: Gunman pleads guilty to murder, attempted murder and terrorism | Stuff.co.nz

The man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks has entered shock guilty pleas, bringing relief to survivors and victims’ families.

Amid extraordinary coronavirus lockdown restrictions, Brenton Tarrant, 29, appeared via video-link in the High Court at Christchurch on Thursday morning and admitted 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and a charge of engaging in a terrorist act.

He’d previously pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was scheduled to stand trial on June 2.

GEORGE HEARD/STUFF
Fifty-one people died as a result of the March 15, 2019 attack.

Tarrant, who wore a grey prisoner sweater, was largely silent and emotionless throughout the hearing. He sat alone in a white room with a grey door at Auckland Prison, Paremoremo, where he’s held in maximum security.

The terrorist’s lawyers, Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson, appeared via video-link from another court room.

Brenton Tarrant pleads guilty to murder, attempted murder and terrorism via AVL in the Christchurch High Court.

The names of all 51 people killed were read to Tarrant, before he was asked how he pleaded to the murder charges.

He replied: “Yes, guilty.”

The same process was followed for the attempted murder charges.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF
Terrorist Brenton Tarrant pictured at his first court appearance, the day after the mosque shootings.

Justice Cameron Mander remanded Tarrant in custody, but has not yet set a date for sentencing, when the summary of facts would be made public.

Few people knew of the special hearing, which was only scheduled late Wednesday, on the eve of an unprecedented nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Six New Zealand journalists attended. Also in court were the imams from both targeted mosques. An-nur (Al Noor) imam Gamal Fouda was visibly upset as the guilty pleas were entered.

JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF
Mustafa Boztas still has a fragment of a bullet inside him.

The hearing concluded at 10.30am, but the judge suppressed the outcome for an hour to allow victims, who were unaware of the hearing, to be notified.

The decision to hold the hearing amid the national state of emergency was not made lightly.

Earlier in the week Tarrant indicated to counsel that he might change his pleas. A formal request was made on Wednesday that the matter be brought before the court.

DAVID WALKER/STUFF
Omar Abdel-Ghany, whose father Ahmed Gamal Eldin Abdel-Ghany was killed at Masjid An-Nur.

Mander said both the Crown and defence asked to have the hearing expedited, despite the severe health restrictions.

The courts were considered an essential public service that was able to deal with “priority proceedings without compromising people’s health”.

The judge said he felt the court had the capacity to safely hear the matter by limiting the number of people in court. In total, 17 people were present.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reflects on the last year following the Christchurch mosque shootings.

It was regrettable the Covid-19 restrictions prevented victims from attending, he said, but the imams had been asked to be present to bear witness to the proceedings.

“It was my assessment that taking the defendant’s pleas at this time was the appropriate course in the circumstances,” Mander said.

“The entry of guilty pleas represents a very significant step towards bringing finality to this criminal proceeding, and I considered the need to take the opportunity to progress the matter was particularly acute coming as it has at a time when the risk of further delay as a result of Covid-19 was looming as realistic possibility.”

Mander said the defendant would not be sentenced before the court returned to normal operations.

The defendant had been remanded to a nominal date of May 1. It was hoped a sentencing date would be confirmed in the interim.

“It is fully anticipated that all who wish to attend court for the sentencing hearing will be able to do so in person.”  

On March 15 last year, Tarrant drove from his Dunedin home to Christchurch with an arsenal of guns and ammunition he’d amassed since moving from Australia to New Zealand in 2017.

The white supremacist entered Masjid An-nur (also known as the Al Noor Mosque) on Deans Ave as Friday prayers were beginning, about 1.40pm, and opened fire – killing and wounding dozens of people.

He then drove across town to the Linwood Mosque where he continued his shooting spree.

Tarrant was arrested a short time later after his car, a gold Subaru Outback, was rammed off the road by two police officers on Brougham St as he tried to make his way to a third target, though to be a mosque in Ashburton, where he planned to carry out another attack.

When police searched the vehicle they found several guns and petrol bombs.

NZ’S WORST MASS SHOOTING

In total, 51 people were killed in the terrorist attack, the worst mass shooting by an individual in New Zealand history.

Tarrant was the first person to be charged under NZ’s Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

Omar Abdel-Ghany, whose father Ahmed Gamal Eldin Abdel-Ghany was killed at Masjid An-Nur, said he could not understand what caused Tarrant to change his plea.

“I’m both shocked and relieved. Shocked at the sudden change in plea, relieved that my family and I, along with other victims won’t have to relive it all through the courts.”

Muslim Association of Canterbury spokesman Tony Green said his immediate reaction was one of enormous relief and great gratitude.

“I think the victims will feel a huge weight has been lifted from their shoulders. Our position has always been to let justice take its course, but a trial would have put a lot of pressure on our families. If you look at the anguish caused by the trial of Grace Millane’s killer you can see how bad it would be for 51 families.”

Mustafa Boztas, who lay on the ground inside the Masjid An-nur with a bullet in his leg, pretending to be dead, said from Turkey he always knew Tarrant would be found guilty. 

“I feel he basically played with our minds and emotionally upset us more for no reason.”

Boztas said he would have stayed in the country instead of going overseas if he’d known Tarrant was going to plead guilty. 

“While it can’t undo the damage it has brought upon our community and country, it gives me hope that this help bring not only justice but some closure to those touched by this event.

“To the families, I hope this brings you peace, and a sense that love can conquer hate. While this closes the criminal proceedings for the shootings, please know there is still a long way to go in recovery for some of us, so thank you for your continued support.”

Yasir Amin, whose father 67-year-old Muhammad Amin Nasir was shot in the back by the gunman shooting from his car, said the guilty pleas were good news.

“It’s good to avoid a trial because we would be reminded of everything, every day of the six week trial. We’ve avoided that mental torture and we’re not in a situation where the outcome is not 100 per cent sure.”

Nasir was to undergo another operation on Monday but the operation was postponed due to Covid-19 measures. He had spent two months in hospital after the shootings and had another 20-day stay in December.

“He is now doing well. He goes for walks and eats well.”

Just about every organ in his father’s body except his heart had been damaged by the shotgun pellets, Amin said.

Nasir was shot about 200 metres from the mosque on Deans Ave. The gunman drove past Amin and his father, who were walking to the mosque along the footpath, when he aimed a shotgun at them from his car. Both ran for their lives but Nasir was shot. Their plight was captured by a motel CCTV camera. 

‘HE’S GOT TO PAY THE TIME’

Tarrant’s grandmother, Marie Fitzgerald, had no idea about the plea until called by Stuff.

“I feel sorry he did the crime, but he’s got to pay the time now.”

She declined to comment further.

Victim Support chief executive Kevin Tso said support was ongoing for hundreds of victims who still need help coping with the trauma of the event and rebuilding their lives.

“We’re pleased victims no longer have to face the trauma of the trial.”

The victims had shown remarkable courage and resilience in the face of a heart-breaking, shocking and senseless tragedy, Tso said.

“They have our utmost respect and promise that we will be here for them for as long as they need us.”

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the pleas were a “significant milestone in respect of one of our darkest days”.

“I want to acknowledge the victims, their families and the community of Christchurch – the many lives that were changed forever. They have inspired all of us to be a kind and more tolerant community.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it would provide some relief to the many people whose lives were “shattered” on March 15.

“These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, and other witnesses, the ordeal of a trial,” she said.

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So much for saying you want a quiet life, Meghan Markle | Stuff.co.nz

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COMMENT: ​So Meghan Markle is reportedly attending the Met Gala in May. Because where better to celebrate your newfound privacy and “space” than at “the Oscars of the East Coast”, “the Super Bowl of red-carpet events”?

What could be more perfectly suited to anyone fleeing “intense scrutiny” and “commoditisation” than a mega-bash to which anti-commodification activist Kim Kardashian once turned up dressed in a nude-effect wet-look dress? A celebrity Pavlova, where the 225 photographers will take an estimated 50 shots a minute, before blasting millions of images out into the ether? Although why this is more appealing than a royal visit to the Mumbles Lifeboat station in South Wales is anyone’s guess.

Anthony Devlin
Has Meghan Markle lost the sympathy of the public?

According to sources at the weekend, Markle is to leave Prince Harry at home for the night, so “she can establish herself once more in Hollywood”, apparently attending the Met Gala with Vogue’s editor, Edward Enninful. This makes about as much sense as a woman who craves the quiet life asking her LA agent to find her a leading role in a superhero film, “something that pays big” – which is exactly what one Sunday paper claims Markle has done.

As the Sussexes fly back to Britain to complete their final engagements as working members of the Firm – and face the Royal family for the first time since The Statement, the petulant Instagram post from a fortnight ago in which they whined about being made to drop the “SussexRoyal” brand despite there being nothing legal to stop them using it – the pair may have no choice but to brazen it out.

I’m not sure the Sussexes will understand just how colossal a miscalculation that statement was. After all, you have a young man and his wife turning on a 93-year-old grandmother at one of the toughest moments of her life. You have them disregarding the pain and sadness prompted by Prince Philip’s ill health, Prince Andrew’s involvement with a paedophile and her beloved grandsons falling out – all because they have a brand to promote. Is there any way back from that?

Had you asked me a month ago, I would have said yes. Despite the acts of clumsiness and the missteps we’ve witnessed over the past two years, I would still have said yes. So they invited a bunch of A-listers that they’d only met once to their wedding. How many of us would do the same if we knew George and Amal would actually come? Was their dispensing of certain royal traditions really so bad? The insistence on Archie’s christening remaining private and the setting up of their own “breakaway” website?

Harry has always been his own person. At this point, one could still push a convincing narrative that these two were “breathing new life” into an outdated institution.

But the precise moment the couple began to lose the public’s sympathy wasn’t when they chose the hospitality of a billionaire in Vancouver Island over that of the Queen at Christmas, or indeed when they decided to make the desired “break from royal duties” permanent. No – that moment can be charted back to a lament the misty-eyed Duchess of Sussex made in the ITV documentary charting the couple’s African tour last year: “Not many people have asked if I’m OK.”

Because that single sentence managed to eclipse everything the couple were in southern Africa to highlight – from the 1,000 minefields that have yet to be cleared in Angola, to the abject poverty in Malawi and HIV-hit children in Botswana – and make it all about Markle.

Prince Harry Meghan Markle met with crowds when they visited Auckland.

It may be unfair to blame Meghan any more than Harry for these recent missteps. But one thing is certain: neither the words nor the sentiments in The Statement appear to be those of a happy young couple, revelling in the joy of each other and their nine-month-old baby.

And I worry that something is unravelling behind the scenes. Because if their intention were really to enjoy a quiet life, why would they care about a title that can only ever be used for professional profit and status?

Why would the team of LA-based agents, lawyers and publicists be necessary and the showbusiness parties and blockbuster film roles so appealing?

You don’t need those things or grand branding to live a serene and peaceful life. But solid family relationships? They’re essential.

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‘They saved my life’: Stabbing victim meets bystanders who came to her rescue | Stuff.co.nz

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A young Auckland woman who almost died after being stabbed by her ex-boyfriend more than 20 times has met the bystanders who “saved her life”.

In November 2018, Crystal Tupou was lured to Anzac Ave by ex-boyfriend Micah Santos who used a fake Facebook profile to invite her to lunch.

When she arrived at the meeting spot, Tupou said she came across the “one person I didn’t want to see”.

NZ POLICE
Crystal Tupou said she wanted to share her story to encourage other victims of domestic violence to seek help.

After arguing and threatening to kill her, Santos attacked Tupou, repeatedly stabbing her in the street.

In August 2019, Santos plead guilty to attempted murder and was jailed for six years.

NZ POLICE
Crystal Tupou was stabbed more than 20 times by her ex-boyfriend Micah Santos.

Now, Tupou has met with the three men, Steve Smith, Daniel Coombe and Walker Hunt, who ran to her aid and stopped Santos.

Detective Tim Johnston said Santos told police he only stopped stabbing Tupou after seeing the men.

“I believe if they did not do that, the victim may have got more serious injuries and may not have survived.”

NZ POLICE
Crystal Tupou embraces Steve Smith, the first person to come to her aid during the attack.

Johnston said the men didn’t hesitate to help Tupou and put their own lives at risk.

“Their actions were nothing short of heroic.”

In a video shared by police of Tupou meeting Smith, Coombe and Hunt, she was in tears as she embraced them.

NZ POLICE
Detective Tim Johnston said Crystal Tupou may not have survived the attack had the men not intervened.

Smith, who was the first to reach Tupou, was also in tears.

“It’s very emotional to see something like that,” he said, “breaks my heart”.

Coombe said what Tupou went through was “horrendous” but people aren’t powerless to change the outcome of events.

ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF
Police at the scene of the stabbing on Anzac Ave, central Auckland.

Tupou said she was “incredibly grateful” for the men who stepped in that day.

“They saved my life. There’s no way I’d ever be able to repay them but I hope a big thank you would be enough, and not only that but I want everyone to know that they’ve played a big part in getting me here, because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here and alive today.”

Santos took two knives from the kitchen of his Henderson home in a Louis Vuitton bag and caught the train to meet up with Tupou on the day of the attack.

CATRIN OWEN/STUFF
Micah Santos was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to attempted murder.

After the three men scared Santos off, he ran from the scene, dropping a knife and his bag.

He was arrested at Orakei train station after calling 111 and telling the phone operator what he had done.

By sharing her story, Tupou hoped it may help other women in controlling or abusive victims seek help.

“There were signs but I chose to see the good side of him. People would say bad things about him but I chose to ignore it.

“I knew that one day it would get out of hand, and I let it happen.”

Police encouraged anyone who was in, or knew someone who was in a harmful relationship to ask for help.

WHERE TO GET HELP

Women’s Refuge Centre 0800 773 843

Family Violence Line 0800 456 450

Shine National Helpline 0508 744 633

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‘Desexed’ dog gives birth to eight puppies | Stuff.co.nz

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This article was first published by RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission. 

An Auckland couple who picked up a supposedly desexed dog from a Hawke’s Bay pound before Christmas are now caring for eight puppies. 

Sarah Bryant and Hera Nathan are now trying to get answers – and money – from the Hastings District Council, who she claims have offered to put the young pups down. 

Bryant told First Up‘s Lydia Batham that the advertisement on their website stated it would cost $250 for Bella to be desexed, vaccinated, wormed, and get flea treatment.

Bella was picked up the weekend before Christmas last year by Nathan’s sister, who handed over the sum upon arrival but was told Bella was not vaccinated, Bryant said.

“[She] just assumed that was part of the agreement and didn’t ask any questions. She was told she had to sign an adoption form on our behalf, so she did that, and on the form there’s a few boxes and it says vaccinated, wormed, desexed, etc, and there was a cross in the vaccination box, but that was the only one that had any marking in it.”

Bryant said they were confused when they were told by the sister that Bella was not vaccinated, but took her to the vet to get it done.

That was when they decided to ask to check on the other items on the list, including desexing.

“[The vet] looked at [Bella] and said she doesn’t have a scar or anything, it doesn’t appear like she is [desexed], it actually appears like she is on heat. 

“He said he wouldn’t desex her while she is on heat, apparently there’s a potential for that to cause a whole lot of bleeding and issues, so he said to bring her back in March to have her desexed or she could potentially be pregnant, and I’m not going to know for a couple of weeks, so bring her back.”

SUPPLIED/SARAH BRYANT
Bella was adopted the weekend before Christmas by Auckland couple Sarah Bryant and Hera Nathan.

In the meantime, Bryant said they had been trying to contact the pound but got no response. 

When Bella was taken again to be checked, the vet said it could be potentially be a false pregnancy but couldn’t be sure, Bryant said.

“He said the only way you’re going to know, so we can figure out if you can do desexing or not, is to take her in for an ultrasound.”

But while they waited for the day of the booked ultrasound appointment to arrive, Bella delivered eight puppies.

“It was definitely a surprise, and at the time we were just like ‘well it’s happening now’, and just sat with her and waited for all the puppies to come out … and made sure they were healthy.”

Bryant said it was “not what we signed up for”, and had been in touch with the council to possibly ask for money back or pay for Bella’s treatment and something to contribute towards the puppies.

“[The person contacted at the council] said that that wasn’t part of their policy and that their policy would be that we could surrender them and they could put them down, and so I said that’s not an option for us.”

After another chat, the council offered a refund of up to $250 for the desexing, vaccination, worming, flea treatment or again to surrender Bella with the puppies, Bryant said.

She said she was angry about being told they would be put down.

“I tried calling back to say that’s not an acceptable resolution and we need to work this through, and that was on Tuesday and I left a message, and I haven’t heard back again from them.”

SUPPLIED/SARAH BRYANT
Bella and her pups.

In a statement, Hastings District Council said dogs that were adopted were treated for fleas, wormed, vaccinated, microchipped, registered and desexed prior to release at a cost of $250.

However, the council claims that because the owners wanted the dog immediately, it was agreed for them to pay $250 up front but they would have to make their own arrangements for treatment and desexing.

It said the dog was registered and microchipped prior to release, and that the person who picked Bella up was aware none of the treatments, including desexing, were done.

The council said it offered to pay for the treatments up to a cost of $250, but 36 days later, Bella had puppies. 

Since Bella was at such an early stage of gestation when taken, the council said it could not have known she was pregnant.

“We have had discussions with the owner since the birth of the pups – they are wanting us to pay to look after the pups for three months, but this is not council’s responsibility.

“When you adopt a dog, or get a dog from anywhere, you run the risk that it may have health or behavioural issues or, as in this case, be pregnant.”

The council reiterated its offer for the owners to surrender Bella and the puppies, but said they could either foster them until they could be rehomed, or get SPCA’s help with this.

“Unfortunately, in some circumstances euthanasia is the best option.”

Bryant said she was in the process of filling out a Disputes Tribunal form, and would like to see the council apologise.

“I would really like them to change their policy and do what it says on their website they would do.”

Meanwhile, she said the puppies were  the “cutest little things”, and they were getting support from the community.

This article was first published by RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission. 

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Manwatū rugby mourns the death of ‘elder statesman’ Owen Gleeson | Stuff.co.nz

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WARWICK SMITH/STUFF
Owen Gleeson came from a staunch Manwatū rugby family and was regarded with respect as one of the union’s elder statesmen.

Manawatū rugby is reeling from the loss of another well-respected elder, after the death of  87-year-old Owen Gleeson at the weekend.

Gleeson was regarded as the elder statesman of Manawatū rugby after a long and storied career as a player, coach, president and life member of the Manwatū Rugby Union.

Union chairman Tim Myers said the rugby community had lost another legend,  just a week after the sudden death of former All Black Sam Strahan.

Both men were staunch supporters of Manawatū rugby, who made great contributions to the sport. “Like Sam, Owen was a true gentleman who will be missed by all who came into contact with him. Our thoughts are with his family,” Myers said.

Gleeson, standing on the right, served with the K Force in Korea.

Gleeson started his career as a flanker for the Feilding and Marist teams, before he was deployed to the Korean War in 1952, after volunteering to serve.

Gleeson was part of the New Zealand Kayforce rugby team, drawn from those serving in the Korean War, that toured Japan in 1953.

 After returning home, he played 24 games for Manawatū between 1954 and 1957.

The Gleeson name is a big one in Manawatū rugby. His son Mark Gleeson is a Manawatū Rugby Union board member, and Gleeson’s career began in the footsteps of his father William and his older brother Jack.

Jack Gleeson is a legendary All Black coaches, who led the team’s first grand slam tour of Britain for 50 years in 1978.

But first, he was the Manawatū coach, before handing the reins over to his little brother in 1970.

Rugby historian and chairman of the New Zealand Rugby Mueseum in Palmerston North Clive Akers said the younger Gleeson was also a great coach, with a real eye for talent, and his four years as Manawatū selector and coach left a big mark on the team.

Akers said he always thought Gleeson deserved to share the credit with his successor for the province’s famous Ranfurly Shield win in 1976.

The match against Auckland was Manawatū’s 13th challenge for the shield and its first win. Coincidently, Manawatū would fend off 13 challenges before losing the shield in 1978.

SUE WILSON/STUFF
Three legends of Manawatū rugby, pictured in 2011, from left, Hugh Blair, Sam Strahan, and Owen Gleeson.

Akers said it was Gleeson who systematically built and recruited a talented pool of younger players, largely from among Massey University students. Players such as Doug Rollerston and winger Hugh Blair went on to play a big part in the team’s Shield success.

After his coaching days, Gleeson continued to contribute to the Manawtū union, including a stint as president.

“He was very well respected and a top bloke. He was regarded as the elder statesman of Manawatū rugby,” Akers said.

​”Losing Sam Strahan was a big blow and now we’ve lost Owen too.”

Both men were always around to offer advice to the younger generations and tried to make every game despite their advancing years. Although, Gleeson’s declining health meant he couldn’t get to as many as he’d of liked in later years, Akers said.

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Whakaari/White Island: Official death toll rises to 17 | Stuff.co.nz

The official death toll from the Whakaari/White Island eruption has risen to 17 after a victim died in hospital on Sunday.

Deputy Commissioner John Tims confirmed the death on Monday morning.

He said the person died while in Middlemore Hospital on Sunday night, with police being advised shortly before 11pm.

The person’s death brings the official number of deceased to 17. Of the deaths, 16 died in New Zealand and one in Australia.

Whakaari/White Island erupted at 2.11pm on December 9.

The official toll, from the December 9 eruption, does not include two people still missing, presumed dead, in the waters around the island.

They are Kiwi tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman, 40, and Australian teenager Winona Langford, 17.

Marshall-Inman was farewelled in a memorial in Whakatāne on Friday where he was remembered as a “superman”, a “hero” and, now, a “guardian of Whakaari”.

The search for the two missing was scaled back late last week when Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement admitted they’d so far been unsuccessful in their search.

The search was now being handled by Bay of Plenty police.

District commander Superintendent Andy McGregor said an extensive aerial search for further victims of the Whakaari/White Island eruption between the island and the mainland was conducted by Coastguard and police over the weekend.

No further items of significance were located, he said in a statement on Monday.

Police will review the search area to date and make a decision on further search activity, he said.

In a press conference on Thursday Clement described how much it hurt his staff that they hadn’t been able to return them.

COMPOSITE: SUPPLIED
The official toll does not include Winona Langford and Hayden Marshall-Inman who are still missing, presumed dead, in the waters around the island.

They are Kiwi tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman, 40, and Australian tennager Winona Langford, 17.

“It hurts us and it hurts our people,” he said.

He also revealed that police divers at one stage were “within metres” of recovering Marshall-Inman’s body when it was believed to have been sighted in the water near Whakaari’s jetty on December 11.

“The reality was the conditions of the ocean meant they could not get close,” Clement said.

“The people on that day have thought long and hard about that. It’s what they come here to do. They’re disappointed. They backed themselves to retrieve a body and they missed out.”

Last week, Middlemore Hospital announced that more than 600 elective surgeries were set to be delayed as they dealt with the eruption’s aftermath.

WHAKATANE BEACON
Hayden Marshall-Inman’s brother, Mark Inman, spoke during Friday’s memorial.

In the first week following the eruption, the National Burns Service – hosted by south Auckland’s Middlemore, but including centres at Waikato, Hutt Valley and Christchurch hospitals – saw more burns than it typically would in a year.

On Friday John Cartwright, incident controller of Counties Manukau DHB’s incident management team, said the extent of burns the Whakaari patients experienced required many operating theatre hours, on multiple days, by large surgical and anaesthetic teams.

The nature of the burns suffered was complicated by the gasses and chemicals present in the eruption. That meant surgeries had to be carried out more rapidly than was the case for “thermal only” burns.

Waikato Hospital took in the largest load of patients, eight critically injured, on the evening of the disaster.

Last week trauma director Grant Christey said it appeared as masks protected the lungs of people caught in the eruption.

“We thought there would be a lot more lung injuries, as well, from inhalation,” Christey said.

“What we learned later, from the people who went out there, was most of [the tourists] had gas masks on,” he said. They put their gas masks firmly on their faces and closed their eyes and tried to get through it.”

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New Zealand restaurant trolls Israel Folau with LGBT donation | QNews

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Israel Folau has unknowingly donated to an LGBTIQ youth charity thanks to an Auckland restaurant.

Vegan restaurant Gorilla Kitchen wrote on their Facebook page that Folau and his wife Maria dined with them earlier this month.

After Folau’s new anti-gay sermon last week, the restaurant said they had decided to donate the couple’s payment to a New Zealand LGBTIQ charity.

“We are proud to say that Israel Folau and his wife Maria Folau have inadvertently shown their support to Rainbow Youth,” they wrote.

“We don’t turn anyone away at Gorilla Kitchen, because we love everyone, not just animals. So when Israel and Maria came in again a couple of weeks ago we happily served them, hydrated them and fed them.

“What they didn’t realise was their money spent at Gorilla Kitchen was going to be donated to Rainbow Youth.

“[It’s] an organisation that embraces diversity and offers support for our young and vulnerable rainbow community.

“Glad to see they are not #notashamed for supporting such a great cause.”

Israel Folau under fire for new anti-gay sermon

Last weekend, Israel Folau claimed the Australian bushfires is God’s punishment for same-sex marriage and abortion.

“They have changed that law and legalised same-sex marriage and now those things are okay in society, going against the laws of what God says,” he told his Sydney church.

“You have changed the law and changed the ordinance of these things. Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come in a short period of time.

“God is speaking to you guys, Australia. You need to repent and you need to take these laws and turn it back to what is right by God.”

Even staunch supporter Alan Jones and Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticised Folau for the “appallingly insensitive” comments.

However Queensland MP Bob Katter defended Folau, comparing him to disgraced Cardinal George Pell in a jaw-dropping statement.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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Boyfriend chokes girlfriend to death in unique sex style

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The defence in the trial of a man accused of murdering British backpacker Grace Millane has begun its case in New Zealand.

According to The Telegraph, the defendant, a 27-year-old New Zealander who cannot be named for legal reasons, claims Grace died accidentally during sex at the end of a Tinder date in December last year.

Today the court was told that British backpacker Grace belonged to BDSM dating sites and allowed a former partner to choke her during sex.

An ex-boyfriend of the university graduate from Essex said they had used a system of safe words and signals to make sure she was never in danger.

In a statement read to the jury at Auckland High Court the man, whose identity is protected, said: ‘When we researched it we knew the word was asphyxiation. Grace and I discussed keeping hands wide and on the side of the neck, never on the front.

‘Grace and I would have a safe word most of the time which we had discussed, something like “turtle” or something ridiculous.

‘Grace and I used a tapping practice too. If Grace tapped me three times then it would stop.

‘Grace would tap out maybe one in four times. Grace would be sure to do this and I trusted that anytime it was too much for Grace she would do this.

‘Grace and I were careful to discuss not only the physical but the psychological aspects to practising BDSM.’ Statements from police revealed that Grace had been active on BDSM dating site Whiplr an hour before meeting the defendant outside a central city casino.

Defence barrister Ron Mansfield told the jury: ‘All the evidence shows that Miss Millane was a loving, bright, intelligent young woman and she was.

‘That is her reputation and that should be her reputation and her memory at the start of this trial and at the conclusion if it.

‘The fact that we need to discuss with you what she liked to do in the bedroom should have no impact on he reputation at all.’

He added: ‘It’s important that we are fully informed. It’s not the time for embarrassment or immaturity.

‘If this couple engaged in consensual sexual activity which included pressure being applied to her neck with her consent and that went wrong, that is not murder.

‘Death through this mechanism may thankfully be rare but it does happen and sadly it happened here.’ Grace died at the defendant’s apartment in Auckland last December.

Mr Mansfield said he admits Grace died from pressure he placed on her neck but said expert evidence was consistent with his account that it was consensual, not violent.

In his police interview, played at the trial last week, the defendant said he only realised Grace was dead when he found her lying on the floor.

He admits he later crammed her body into a suitcase which he buried in a shallow grave in nearby woodland. Grace Millane’s alleged murderer’s first interview with police.

Mr Mansfield claimed the defendant’s failure to call for help, disposal of Grace’s body and initial lies to police were due to ‘panic’.

He told the jury: ‘He may have thought he wouldn’t be believed, but don’t prove him right.’

The court has also heard evidence from pathologist Dr Fintan Garavan, appearing for the defence, who told the jury that due to the volume of alcohol Grace had drunk during the date, her heart may have gone into a ‘terminal tailspin’ when she was choked.

He told the jury a combination of obstruction of the blood flow, pressure on her nervous system and being drunk meant she might have died quickly.

He said there were no signs of her having struggled and that it ‘would not be obvious to a person nearby unless you know what you are looking for’ that she was in any danger.

A second defence barrister, Ian Brookie, told the court Grace had drunk six cocktails and a tequila shot and had shared three half-litre jugs of margaritas and sangria with her alleged killer while on their date.

Dr Garavan said: ‘It very likely has become an important indirect player in causing death’, explaining that being drunk could turn off a ‘safety valve’ which would normally trigger someone to fight for breath. He agreed the primary cause of death was asphyxiation, which he said would have required just one kilogram of pressure.

But under cross-examination, Dr Garavan agreed that once someone had become unresponsive during choking, the hold on their neck would have to continue for several minutes before death occurred. He added: ‘You would expect a sober person would notice something but not necessarily a drunk person.’ The trial continues.

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