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John Key

Bill English has become New Zealand’s prime minister after John Key unexpectedly resigned from office last week.

The former finance minister and deputy prime minister for the ruling National Party was sworn in at Government House in Wellington.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has been named as deputy prime minister.

The appointments were confirmed after a meeting of the National Party’s caucus.

Image source Wikipedia

Image source Wikipedia

In his first speech following his election, Bill English said he would lead a strong team of lawmakers, full of ideas.

He described Paula Bennett as “smart, accomplished and energetic”.

National Party’s President Peter Goodfellow said Bill English and Paula Bennett would be “outstanding leaders” who would “provide a good mixture of experience and fresh thinking” .

Bill English joined parliament in 1990 and has held several ministerial posts in education, health and finance.

John Key said last week his decision to stand down was for family reasons and “the hardest decision I’ve ever made”.

He said he would not be seeking a fourth term in the 2017 election.

John Key tweeted soon after December 12 announcement: “Congratulations to my good friend @honbillenglish on becoming the new leader of the @nznationalparty and the next Prime Minister of NZ.”

Australia’s PM Malcolm Turnbull also congratulated Bill English in a phone call.

At least two people have died in New Zealand after a powerful magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck South Island.

PM John Key said further details were not yet known.

According to US Geological Survey, the tremor hit just after midnight, some 59 miles from Christchurch.

New Zealand’s officials have confirmed that Christchurch cathedral will be demolished after the 2011 earthquake rendered it beyond repair

A tsunami arrived about two hours later. Officials warned everyone along the eastern coast to head inland or for higher ground.

According to Weatherwatch.co.nz, a gauge at Kaikoura,112 miles north of Christchurch, measured a wave of 8ft 2ins in the early hours of the morning.

At one point, the ministry of civil defense suggested tsunami waves as tall as 16ft could hit the eastern coast.

By just after 08:00 local time, the warning was scaled back to a “marine and beach threat” with waves of just 3ft along a small stretch of coast, including the Chatham Islands, an archipelago 423 miles south-east of the mainland.

Aerial images show tunnels along the coastal highway close to Kaikoura, a popular tourist destination, covered by a landslide. Other pictures of the devastated area show at least one collapsed home.

New Zealanders are used to earthquakes. The country lies on the notorious Ring of Fire, the line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions that circles virtually the entire Pacific rim.

Christchurch is still recovering from the 2011 earthquake that killed 185 people and destroyed the city center.


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.Hair pulling John Key

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.

New Zealanders have been discussing John Key’s actions on Twitter with the hashtags #tailgate. and #ponytailgate.


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

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.

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New Zealand dairy firm Fonterra has apologized for the distress caused to parents because of a scare over contaminated products.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings was speaking in China after it emerged on Saturday that batches of whey protein contained bacteria that can cause botulism.

Contaminated products, including infant formula, were exported to a number of countries, including China.

Botulism is an extremely dangerous form of food poisoning.

“We regret the distress and anxiety which this issue could have caused,” Theo Spierings told reporters in Beijing.

“Parents have the right to know that infant nutrition and other products are safe.”

Theo Spierings added that Fonterra was committed to China and was working with regulators to address the problem.

China and Russia have moved to ban imports of the contaminated products.

Fonterra said it had received confirmation that China had not imposed a blanket ban on its products.

Fonterra has apologized for the distress caused to parents because of a scare over contaminated products

Fonterra has apologized for the distress caused to parents because of a scare over contaminated products

Earlier on Monday, New Zealand PM John Key questioned why Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy exporter, delayed raising the alarm over the contaminated products.

John Key said concerns were raised after a series of tests in May 2012.

“When you’ve got a company that’s our largest company, our largest brand, our largest exporter that is the flagship for New Zealand and your whole business is about food safety and food quality you think they’d take such a precautionary view to these things and say if it’s testing for some reason in an odd way that it would just be discarded until they were absolutely sure that its right,” John Key said.

However, Theo Spierings addressed this by saying that the first sign of a problem only came to light after tests in March this year.

Fonterra said the bacteria came from a dirty pipe at a processing plant for whey protein concentrate.

It said the bacteria had been found in three batches of whey protein which had been used in Nutricia Karicare for infants.

Fonterra has exported the contaminated whey protein concentrate to China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Saudi Arabia.

So far, there have not been any illnesses reported related to the contaminated products.

China relies heavily on New Zealand for its imports of milk powder. The country experienced a tainted milk scandal in 2008 that killed six babies and made about 300,000 ill.

According to Chinese state media, nearly 80% of dairy products imported by China come from New Zealand.

New Zealand is the world’s largest dairy exporter.

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MetService’s website hit by a virus in New Zealand

The Antarctic blast has moved north from South Island at the weekend and has turned New Zealand’s winter into one in more than half century occurrence.

Roads have been closed, flights have been cancelled, mail deliveries have been interrupted, power has been shut off. People have been advised to be prepared for being trapped indoors ( stock-up on emergency food and water).

A lots of state highways are impassable, including Arthurs Pass and Lewis Pass in the South Island Rimutaka Hill and Desert Road North Island. In the Wellington region, five main roads have been closed and 24 crashes were reported on Monday.[googlead tip=”patrat_mic” aliniat=”dreapta”]

Wellington Airport’s flights have been put on hold, over hundred passengers were stranded at Dunedin Airport, in Auckland flights to Queenstown have been cancelled.

In the South Island  nine people required medical care, while in Auckland five people were taken to hospital, four after a tree crashed down on their house and an old man after he was blown by the wind.

Almost two thousand dairy farms dumped tons of milk, since the collection tankers were stranded because of the weather conditions.[googlead tip=”lista_medie” aliniat=”stanga”]

New Zealand’s winter has also brought joy to a lot of people, since they have not seen snow flakes in decades.

The inhabitants of Wellington and Auckland saw their first snow in more than 30 years. Climate scientist Georgina Griffiths of The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said Monday was the coldest day ever recorded in Auckland. Since 1939 the snow never has settled on the Auckland’s ground. The level of snow that fell in Wellington had not been seen since at least 1970s according to MetService.

Some people have lived their entire life in Auckland without seeing any snow. They were astonished, delighted, fascinated. They smiled, they shot pictures, or simply enjoyed the snow.

Stephen Fry commented on Twitter:

“NZ has, bless it, gone officially mad. First snow in Auckland since the 30s. Children running along with open mouths to taste the flakes :)”

Prime Minister John Key said it was the first time he could remember to see a snowfall in Auckland and advised New Zealanders “to be cautious and a little bit careful – make sure they keep an eye out for their family and friends, and if they are aware of their neighbours living alone, it might be a good idea just to check up on them and make sure everything is OK.”

“The conditions are cold enough to bring snow down to 300 metres, the height of the Sky Tower,” MetService spokesman Bob McDavitt said on Monday.

This is one of the major snowfall seen in New Zealand’s winter and weather conditions seems to become more severes.