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Posts Tagged ‘Zealand’

Former New Zealand PM denies Iraq troops-for-contracts claim

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 4:33 am

WELLINGTON, Dec 22, 2010 (AFP) – Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark on Wednesday denied sending non-combat troops to Iraq in 2003 to ensure one of her country’s largest companies retained lucrative UN contracts.

A US diplomatic cable released by the WikiLeaks website this week reportedly cited New Zealand defence officials saying Clark opposed the Iraq deployment until she was told dairy giant Fonterra might lose UN “oil-for-food” contracts.

Clark, whose left-leaning Labour government was defeated in 2008 and who now heads the UN Development Programme, told Radio NZ she was “flabbergasted” at the “ridiculous” claim.

“I am absolutely incensed at the suggestion that some defence ministry personnel seem to have made to various diplomats that there was any connection between my support for sending engineers to do humanitarian work in Iraq with the interests of Fonterra,” she said.

“I mean this is simply preposterous.”

Two rotations of 61 New Zealand military engineers spent a year in Basra from September 2003 performing engineering and humanitarian tasks.

Clark said she always opposed the war in Iraq and would never allow commercial considerations to sway her decision-making on the issue.

She said the engineers were sent to Iraq in response to a UN Security Council request for help in reconstruction efforts following the US-led invasion.

Clark also defended the decision to keep secret a move to tighten military ties with the United States in 2007 following a rift dating back to the 1980s over New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy.

She said she did not want to create expectations in New Zealand that the country was resuming the full military alliance with the United States that was in place before the anti-nuclear row erupted.

The former prime minister supported her conservative successor John Key’s choice to maintain the secrecy when New Zealand and Washington restored full intelligence ties last year without telling the public.

“There’s always secrecy around intelligence relationship and I guess that’s where I part company with the founder of WikiLeaks (Julian Assange) and others,” she said.

“I actually believe that you do have to have areas of communication between governments and officials which aren’t on the front pages of newspapers.”

Questioned about WikiLeaks revelations that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked US officials to spy on UN officials, Clark said the international organisation “takes a very a dim view” of such activities.

However, she was not concerned such snooping would reveal anything that was personally embarrassing to her.

“My life is an open book, it has been for so many years. If there’s anything more they can find out, good luck to them,” she said.

Source: SGGP

New Zealand PM demands answers as nation mourns miners

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2010 at 1:20 am

GREYMOUTH, Nov 25, 2010 (AFP) – New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said Thursday he wanted answers on what went “terribly wrong” in a colliery blast that killed 29 men in the nation’s worst mining disaster for almost a century.

He also warned it could take “months” to recover the bodies of the workers who died underground in one of the country’s worst mining disasters, as the grieving mining community pleaded for the return of their loved ones.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key speaks at a press conference in Wellington on November 24, 2010 after authorities said all the 29 men missing in the coal mine have died after a powerful second blast tore through the pit. AFP

As flags across New Zealand flew at half-mast, Key said the nation was struggling to understand the tragedy at the Pike River colliery, where miners trapped by an explosion last Friday were confirmed dead after a second blast Wednesday.

“We need answers to what happened at Pike River. Clearly something’s gone terribly wrong and it’s now claimed the lives of 29 people,” said Key, who has travelled to Greymouth on New Zealand’s South Island to be with the families.

“The nation is grieving and mourning alongside them,” he said.

“It’s only right and natural and fair that the family members would want to have the bodies recovered so that they can have some closure.”

However, a lethal cocktail of volatile gases remained in the mine and Key said this would delay recovery attempts.

“That (recovery) has to occur in a way that is safe to those that would undertake that mission,” he told reporters. Previous international experience had shown the operation could take “quite some months”, he said.

As messages of condolence poured in from around the world, Key praised the rescue efforts, which some relatives of the miners have criticised after the gas threat stopped emergency workers from going underground.

“It wasn’t for the want of trying, or the willingness, or the courage or the bravery of those that would have gone in to undertake the rescue — it was just the reality of the situation,” he said.

“A mine in this condition is a highly volatile environment, liable to explode at any time without any notice.”

Authorities have launched at least four inquiries into the disaster, whose victims ranged from a 17-year-old on his first shift to a 62-year-old veteran, and included two Australians, two Britons and a South African.

“This is a mine that’s claimed the lives of 29 men and they (the families) are are entitled to honest answers about what went wrong, what lessons we can learn,” Key said.

Mine owner Pike River Coal said it would cooperate fully and was holding its own investigation into the disaster at the colliery, a new facility that sent its first shipment of hard coking coal for steelmaking to India only this year.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined Australia’s prime minister, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II — who is also the head of state of New Zealand — and other dignitaries in expressing their “heartfelt condolences”.

New Zealand has lost “29 brave and hard-working men who will be mourned around the world”, Clinton said as the queen said she was “deeply saddened” by the deaths.

“My heart goes out to the families and friends of these 29 brave miners and to all who have been touched by this national disaster,” she said in a message to Key released by Buckingham Palace.

Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn, who declared the incident the “darkest hour” of the South Island’s rugged West Coast region, said the focus has turned to the grim task of recovering the bodies for the grieving families.

“They won’t feel closure until they’re (with) their loved ones,” he told TVNZ.

New Zealand’s other major mining company, Solid Energy, has suspended underground operations at its Spring Creek mine near Pike River and its Huntly mine in the North Island as a mark of respect, chief executive Don Elder said.

A number of specialist mine rescue staff from Spring Creek and Huntly were involved in the Pike River rescue operation.

Source: SGGP

Poison gas fears stall New Zealand mine rescue

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2010 at 4:12 pm

New Zealand PM expresses hope for trapped miners

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2010 at 6:13 am

PM Dung meets New Zealand, Indian PMs, ADB leader

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Sharp quake rattles New Zealand city

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2010 at 4:20 pm

An earthquake rattled the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch on Tuesday, cutting power and phone service and sending some residents running into the streets just weeks after a more powerful quake caused extensive damage.

The magnitude 5.0 temblor was one of hundreds of aftershocks that have hit the city since a magnitude-7 quake on Sept. 4 that wrecked thousands of homes, tore up farmland but did not kill anyone. The latest one shook buildings and sent objects tumbling from shelves, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

“Very scary,” said cafe owner Flick Holmes. “It definitely was a very big one. Everything rocked. Just when you think you’re getting used to it, (another) goes,” she said.

A young boy takes advantage of warped road to skateboard on in Paiapoi, 20km south of Christchurch, New Zealand, Sunday, Sept. 5, 2010.

Regional civil defense official Jon Mitchell said authorities had received reports of damage to stone and brick buildings but no reports of significant damage. The quake had sparked the evacuation of many businesses in the central city, he said.

Prime Minister John Key told reporters he was concerned for the city’s resident who “just want the aftershocks to come to an end.”

Tuesday’s quake was centered six miles (10 kilometers) southwest of the city and just five miles (nine kilometers) below the surface, New Zealand’s geological agency GNS Science said. It was felt strongly because it was so shallow, agency seismologist Bill Fry told New Zealand’s National Radio.

More aftershocks of a similar magnitude were likely and the region could still be experiencing aftershocks in a year’s time, Fry said.

Electricity and phone service were cut to several parts of the city, civil defense officials said.

“All our china is smashed in our kiosk,” said Fiona Fidow at the Cupcake Collection shop in Westfield Mall in suburban Riccarton.

“The mall has been evacuated. Quite a few people are crying and hysterical. There are a lot of frightened people,” she told the “Stuff” news web site.

About 300 workers were evacuated from a construction site at Christchurch International Airport, while the airport itself reopened after it was closed briefly so engineers could check its runways for cracks.

Officials have estimated that 50,000 homes in the city need major repairs from the earlier quake, with some 1,200 houses likely to be demolished and rebuilt. They have estimated that the full bill for quake damage could reach 4 billion New Zealand dollars ($2.9 billion).

Source: SGGP

New Zealand book World Cup berth

In Vietnam Sports on November 15, 2009 at 2:33 pm

WELLINGTON, Nov 15, 2009 (AFP) – The New Zealand men’s hockey team capped a successful weekend for the South Pacific nation on Sunday when they joined their football counterparts as World Cup qualifiers.

New Zealand booked their ticket to February’s hockey World Cup tournament in India when they came from behind to beat Malaysia 2-1 in the final of the qualifying tournament in the southern city of Invercargill.

New Zealand’s Chris Wood and Simon Elliott (R) celebrate their victory over Bahrain at the end of their football 2010 World Cup qualifying match in Wellington on November 14, 2009. (AFP photo)

While New Zealand’s 1-0 football win over Bahrain on Saturday to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa was considered a surprise result, the hockey team were expected to qualify without difficulty.

But Malaysia did not follow the script and took a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute of the final when Razie Abd Rahim found the net from a penalty corner.

It was the first time in the tournament New Zealand had trailed and it took until late in the second half before they were able to draw level and then take the lead.

The tournament’s top scorer Andy Hayward provided both goals with drag flicks from penalty corners, the first in the 57th minute and again three minutes later.

New Zealand coach Shane McLeod said his squad had watched and been inspired by the football win.

“All sports get motivated by the success of others, I think it assisted us with our campaign,” he said.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Bahrain aims for World Cup spot against N. Zealand

In Vietnam Sports on November 13, 2009 at 9:41 am

WELLINGTON, Nov 13, 2009 (AFP) – Footballing minnows Bahrain are bidding to become the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup when they take on New Zealand in a make-or-break qualifier Saturday.

Bahrain’s national squad

The island state fell at the final hurdle on the way to the 2006 World Cup and are desperate to avoid a repeat.

After a scoreless first leg draw in Manama last month, things are evenly poised with New Zealand, who will also be keen to bag a spot at football’s premier event for the first time since 1982.

Bahrain almost made the grade in 2005 when the wealthy Middle East kingdom of 725,000 people drew against Trinidad and Tobago in the away leg of its final qualifier but then lost the decider 1-0 in front of a shocked home crowd.

“We have some players who remember this game and of course they are sad and disappointed because the first game brought a draw in (Trinidad and) Tobago and afterwards they lost everything at home in front of their supporters,” Bahrain coach Milan Macala told a press conference in Wellington Friday.

Now at the same stage of the qualifiers, Bahrain has the opportunity to consign 2005’s disappointment to history.

Macala said even for those players who did not play four years ago, the loss would serve as motivation in the current campaign.

The coach said he was disappointed his team, which finished fifth in the Asian qualifying zone, did not win the first leg after dominating much of the 90 minutes against the Oceania champions.

“I think we were the better team, but here maybe the situation will be a little different.”

Bahrain is 22 places above New Zealand in the world rankings at 61, but Macala was dismissive of their importance, saying he respected the spirit of New Zealand and their strike power up front.

New Zealand needs to win, with a scoring draw as good as a win for their opponents because away goals count for more than those scored at home.

A scoreless draw will see the match go into extra time and — if needed — a penalty shootout.

New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert says the All Whites know they need to take a positive approach if they are to make their first World Cup finals appearance for 28 years.

“We will be absolutely on the front foot from the whistle,” Herbert told journalists.

Herbert and his team are in an unaccustomed spotlight in rugby-mad New Zealand as football for once takes centre stage.

Wellington’s stadium — known as the Cake Tin — has been sold out for weeks and the All Whites will have the noisy support of 35,500 fans, the biggest ever football crowd in New Zealand.

“It’s going to be a great place to be on Saturday,” Herbert said.

But he also knows it will take more than crowd support to overcome a Bahrain side he describes as technically good, with plenty of pace.

“I think they’ll keep coming and I think that’s been evident in their away fixtures and in some cases you can argue they’ve been a better team away from home,” he said.

“We’re under no illusion on what the task is going to be tomorrow night.”

For New Zealand, midfielder Simon Elliott is yet to be confirmed fit as he recovers from a hip strain.

Much will depend on strikers Shane Smeltz — the top scorer this year in Australia’s A-League, Rory Fallon of English side Portsmouth and Celtic’s Chris Killen, with teenager Chris Wood of West Bromwich Albion likely to be on the bench.

Captain Ryan Nelsen of English premiership side Blackburn Rovers will be the key figure in defence with his top flight experience.

Bahrain will be without striker Ala’a Hubail, who was injured soon after the first leg and fellow forward Hussail Ali, who is recovering from a knee injury.

Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share