‘I hear that lonesome whistle, hang my head and cry’ What New Zealand inmates will eat on Dec. 25

What I remember from prison 35 years ago was, it was lonely.

There were fights, dramas, scandals, but that was nothing to the continual loneliness.

johnny_cash_at_folsom_prisonAccording to the New Zealand Heraldthere will be no trimmings, treats or trifle for the 10,000-odd prisoners behind bars this Christmas.

The Department of Corrections has today released details of the Christmas Day menu for the inmates at its 18 prisons across the country.

Inmates will man the kitchens on the day, preparing 10,000 meals of roast chicken, gravy, roast potatoes, carrots, green peas, two slices of bread and apple pie with custard.

All prison meals are designed and prepared in line with nutrition guidelines recommended by the Ministry of Health.

The main Christmas meal will be provided at lunchtime, with sandwiches given in the evening, Corrections said today.

As with any other day, vegetarian and other special dietary requirements will also be catered for.

Be the bug, easy to figure out: Charges laid over NZ gastro outbreak

In August, 2016, 5,200 people were sickened with Campylobactor  after the Havelock North, NZ, water supply was contaminated.

vomit-dontLast week, the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s public health unit followed up reports of a gastro illness circulating in the community.

On Nov. 18, 2016 Hawke’s Bay Regional Council laid charges against a party for alleged offences uncovered in the course of its investigation into the contamination of Havelock North drinking water.

The charges were laid after the council investigated the source of the contamination that resulted in more than 5000 people getting sick, and the condition of water supply bores in the area.

The council said its investigations had found evidence of a breach of the maintenance conditions of the party’s resource consent. If a breach was proved, the resource consent no longer permitted the taking of water.

The council has commenced a prosecution against the party, alleging the unlawful taking of water from the aquifer arising from the alleged failure to meet well head maintenance conditions.

Council chief executive Andrew Newman said the drinking water contamination has had a devastating effect on the Havelock North community with wider regional impacts and the council was “very keen to see the cause of the contamination identified and to ensure it does not happen again”.  

He said his council had more than 15 people working on its investigations.

These included council scientists, and Environmental Science Research (ESR) with expertise in the environment, land use, water and climate, as well as dye tracing experts.

He said their investigations had included surface and groundwater quality, the bore infrastructure, water pathways in the local environment and livestock in nearby paddocks.

Toddler contracts serious E. coli infection on NZ family farm

Eight months on from a rescue helicopter dash to Starship children’s hospital, two-year-old Grace Dheda is enjoying being back on her family’s farm – even though it nearly killed her.

grace-dhedaIn March, Grace and her family were savouring rural life in Wellsford.

Mum Megan and Dad Kirin were planning their up-coming wedding. 

That all came to a sudden halt when their daughter began to show signs of illness.

After two days of vomiting and diarrhea, a doctor diagnosed a tummy bug.

Grace was sent home and prescribed plenty of fluids, Megan says.

At home Grace played on the deck like her normal self, but collapsed at bedtime.

Grace was rushed back to the doctors.

“They put her on oxygen straight away. She’d been unconscious for about 45 minutes and they were starting to worry about potential brain damage.”

Given the severity of the situation and the closest ambulance an hour away, the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter was called.

Grace and Megan were ferried to a helipad and arrived to see the chopper landing.

“It was such a relief to see the helicopter,” Megan says.

Megan recalls, “At first nobody knew what was wrong with her and why she was having these seizures. It wasn’t until a few days before we left the hospital that we found out she had contracted E. coli and HUS (Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome).”

HUS is a severe complication of the E. coli infection that can lead to kidney failure.

At first it was thought that Grace had contracted the bacterial infection through the water supply, however this was later tested and found to be normal.

It is now believed that she contracted it via the farm animals.

Megan says, “We’ve got cows here on the farm and I don’t like Grace going anywhere near them. The doctor told me I have ‘parental anxiety.’ ‘I love the farm life, but I’m a bit paranoid now and have about 20 bottles of sanitiser around the place.”

The Helicopter Trust is actively fundraising at present in order to purchase three new ventilators for use on their helicopters and in their Rapid Response Vehicle.

5530 sick 39% of residents: Health board discloses full extent of Campy in NZ water outbreak

Forty-five people, mostly over 70 were admitted to hospital with campylobacter a Hawke’s Bay District Health Board update reveals.

poop-water-nz-nov-16The DHB has conducted four surveys since the event in August, the latest on September 27 and 28, the results of which they collated with the previous findings.

The surveys were conducted by telephone and the latest figures brought the estimated total number of residents affected by gastroenteritis to 5530 or 39 per cent of Havelock North’s population, 1072 of those confirmed cases.

Of those hospitalised, as of October 10, 27 were aged over 70, followed by four in the 60-69 year age group, four in the 40-49 age group and three in the 50-59 age group.

Four people under the age of 20 also ended up in hospital.

The total number of people who had developed the rare complication from campylobacter, Guillan Barre Syndrome, was reported to be three people. As the incubation time was up to four weeks, it was considered that any new cases now would not be linked to the original outbreak.

Of the estimated 5530 residents who were affected, 32 per cent had a recurrence of the bug, and as of September 28 four people were experiencing ongoing symptoms.

At the time an estimated 78 per cent of people who had symptoms took time off work or school.

NZ food safety laws stopping early childcare centres from giving kids food, charges Council

Scientists, and other mere mortals, get lost in their public voice when they speak about things they have no clue about.

hockey-parentsI agree with the active citizen, participatory democracy, but there are people who take some (rudimentary) form of training, like food servers and hockey coaches, which is much more than the critics ever do, and the posers should just shut the fuck up.

So when Early Childhood Council boss Peter Reynolds says, new rules have made early childhood education centres less safe because most food poisoning and allergic reactions in ECEs are as a result of food prepared at home, I gotta say, you got a source for that?

New food safety laws are forcing childcare centres to stop providing food for kids, or increase fees, the Early Childhood Council says.

Centres were now finding themselves facing bills into the thousands of dollars in inspections and compliance fees, which is likely to be passed onto parents,

The Food Act 2014 came into force in March, and was designed to ensure all food sold in New Zealand is safe.

Many centres have “had enough”, he said, and were now opting out of providing food.

Good choice. You’re not a certified kitchen, and stop feeding kids. Or this NSFV.

Blessed are the cheese-makers: Storm parliament in NZ

A small-scale cheese maker is hauling her raw milk cheese to Parliament.

florida-swampKatikati’s Mount Eliza Cheese owner Jill Whalley says New Zealand artisan producers of raw milk cheese find high compliance costs crippling – about $60 a kilo.

That makes European products cheaper to import and it’s not fair, she says.

The Food and Safety Reform Bill is currently under consideration by a select committee.

“We want a level playing field,” says Whalley.

She believes it’s prohibitive to a thriving artisan cheese industry.

“If they took the same approach to road safety as they do to food safety, we would all have to drive at three miles per hour, with a person in front waving a red flag.”

Whalley argues pastuerisation destroys the milk’s good bacteria which protects the cheese from harmful bacteria.

Small cheese makers have greater control over hygiene and other variables and can prevent it from happening, Whalley says.

I also have some land in Florida you may want buy.

Chlorine is your friend, but chlorinating water in Christchurch’s northwest is off the table

As the third case of Guillain-Barre Syndrome has been linked to the Campylobacter contamination of Havelock North’s water supply, New Zealand, chlorinating water in Christchurch’s northwest is off the table, for now.

eight_col_1m1a9865The Christchurch City Council went against its own staff advice and unanimously decided on Thursday not to consider temporarily chlorinating the water from eight shallow wells that feed into three pump stations, serving about 20,000 residents.

The council instead decided to accelerate a $16 million programme to replace 22 shallow bores, supplying 80,000 northwest households.

The work was originally due to be finished by June 30, 2018, but most of the wells would now be decommissioned by March 2017. Fourteen of the most vulnerable shallow wells have already either been decommissioned or shut down.

Accelerating the work would cost an additional $480,000.

The council would also embark on a programme to raise community awareness of the risks of drinking untreated water from the shallow bores.

Canterbury’s medical officer of health, Alistair Humphrey, last month asked the council to explain why its continued use of the shallow wells did not present “an untenable risk”. Humphrey’s request was prompted by a gastro outbreak caused by campylobacter in the water supplying the town of Havelock North in Hawke’s Bay.

Staff will now talk to Humphrey to see if he was satisfied with the council’s response, without chlorinating the water. They will report back to the council in November.

Water from the bores was tested for E.coli daily, but it took at least 24 hours to get the results, so there was always a 24-hour period where contamination could go undetected, council three waters and waste boss John Mackie said.

He said the council complied with the water standards, but his professional advice to the council was to chlorinate the water, which would eliminate the risk.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel asked Mackie if the risk from the shallow bores had changed in the last few years. He said no.

She said it was only the perception of risk that had been heightened since the Havelock North contamination.

 

Inquiry into NZ water contamination under way

An independent inquiry into the contamination of Havelock North’s water supply will begin its work this week, the Government has announced, as a woman sickened with Campylobacter was diagnosed with symptoms confirmed as Guillain-Barre syndrome.

wellington-waterAttorney-General Chris Finlayson has also revealed the members of the inquiry, who have to report back with their findings by March next year.

Last month, the Government announced an inquiry into the Havelock North campylobacter outbreak, which has affected thousands of residents and been linked to the deaths of two elderly people.

Finlayson said the inquiry would be chaired by retired Court of Appeal judge Lyn Stevens QC.

“The members of the inquiry panel have the extensive legal, public health, local government and water management expertise required to conduct an inquiry of this nature,” Finlayson said.

The inquiry would start this week, but had until March 31 next year to report back.

It would focus on how the Havelock North water supply became contaminated and how it was dealt with, how local and central government agencies responded to the public health outbreak, and how to reduce the risk of a similar outbreak happening in future.

The latest outbreak made 5200 people sick and hospitalised 22. Two elderly women who died were found to have contracted campylobacter, but both had other health issues.

An investigation is under way to find how the bug made its way into the water. Evidence to date indicates it came from sheep or cattle and may have originated from near the bores.

So how is Wellington’s water made safe: chlorinated, fluoridated, then delivered to your glass.

Rachel Thomas of The Dominion reports that Kaitoke and Wainuiomata are home to Wellington’s two river-based water sources.

Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Chris Laidlaw says the catchments of both the river sources in Kaitoke and Wainuiomata are in protected forest parks where there is virtually no human activity. 

“There’s no agriculture up there and very little intrusions with the water. It’s pure water we get from the hills.”

That said, all water sourced from rivers is at permanent risk of contamination from faecal or other organic matter.

That is why it is chlorinated, says Lower Hutt Deputy Mayor David Bassett, who is also chairman of Wellington Water’s governance committee.

“It’s better to err on the side of caution, and we are very risk averse when it comes to Wellington’s river water supply.”

Most of the residents in Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Porirua and Wellington get either chlorinated river water, or a mix of chlorinated river water and aquifer water.

The region’s confined aquifer can be found at Waiwhetu in Lower Hutt. It is the only source of unchlorinated, unfluoridated water in the region, and supplies drinking water to more than 70,000 Hutt City residents.

Water from the aquifer is free of bacteria and other contaminants, Bassett says.

That is because it is at least a year old and goes through a natural filtration process as it makes its way through the aquifer layers.

“It doesn’t need to be chlorinated, and so long as the network [of pipes] is secure, it is safe to drink at the tap – and we test the water throughout the network to make sure that it remains safe.”

Over the past year, there have been four positive E.coli tests at reservoirs in the unchlorinated network, Bassett says.

When that happens, Wellington Water notifies regional health authorities, shuts off the system, chlorinates the relevant reservoir, and re-tests the water until it is all-clear. 

5200 sickened with campy: Havelock North’s water supply has been given the all clear

Havelock North’s water supply no longer needs to be boiled, its council has announced nearly three weeks after first discovering a contamination.

Havelock North, New ZealandAbout 5200 people – a third of the New Zealand town’s population – have been affected since a campylobacter contamination was found in its water supply last month.

Since August 12, residents have been asked to boil drinking water, but on Saturday the Hastings District Council said tests had revealed the water was again safe to drink straight form the tap.

“The third clear [daily] water test in a row came back today, allowing the boil water notice to be lifted,” chief executive Ross McLeod said.

The water in the area will continue to be chlorinated for at least three months.

The government has launched an independent inquiry into the contamination.

The cost of the outbreak is going to cost ratepayers more than $700,000.

The Hastings District Council’s Finance Committee is expected to sign off on the expenditure at its meeting tomorrow.

The money is needed to cover the remission of water rates for each household in Havelock North, which is costing the council $300,000 in total.

It will also be used to fund the $110,000 recovery package for struggling businesses.

An extra $300,000 will also be put aside for additional costs arising from the water contamination, including extra water testing, engineering and technical investigations, water supply planning and enquiry costs.

Who steals mussels? People in NZ

MPI Fisheries-Northland reports on facebook that yesterday a member of the public reported a group taking too many mussels from the Whangarei Heads area.

mussel.theftFishery Officers responded to the call and met the men as they came ashore with their vessel. The group had a total of 2,683 mussels between three of them.

The trio were directed to our Whangarei office for the purpose of a formal interview, however the men had other ideas. They decided to take a detour and not go to the office as directed, they will now face not only serious Fisheries Act charges for the shellfish but also for obstructing Fishery Officers.

Blatant offending of this nature will not be tolerated, the men could face charges of up to $250,000 as well as forfeiture of their vehicle, vessel and trailer (all of which was confiscated at the time).

Reminder: the daily limit for green lipped mussels in the Northland area is 50 per gatherer.

And I’ve gone with this version of the video because the lyrics are so beautiful.