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Category Archives: New Zealand

Sources – French prospect Rayan Rupert to play in New Zealand – ESPN

Posted: June 11, 2022 at 2:01 am

France's Rayan Rupert -- one of the most promising young wing players in the world -- is signing a deal to join the New Zealand Breakers of the Australian national basketball league next season, sources told ESPN.

Rupert, who is 6-foot-7 with a 7-3 wingspan, is projected to be the 21st pick in ESPN's 2023 NBA Mock Draft. Another French forward, Ousmane Dieng, a projected first-round pick in the 2022 NBA draft, made the leap to the Breakers last season.

Rupert, who just turned 18, has drawn comparisons to Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges because of the defensive versatility that comes with his wingspan, his ability to get into the passing lanes and the intensity with which he plays on defense.

Rupert has an intriguing family history in basketball. His sister, Iliana, was the 12th overall pick by the Las Vegas Aces in the 2021 WNBA draft. His father, Thierry, was a EuroLeague player and captain of the French national team. He died in 2013 after a heart-related emergency.

Rupert graduated from the INSEP Academy in France, which also trained Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Ronny Turiaf. He averaged 13.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.1 steals in 27 games this season.

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New Zealand take charge of second Test with England left to rue missed chances – The Guardian

Posted: at 2:01 am

The psychology of the toss in Test cricket is a curious thing. On a delightful opening day at Trent Bridge New Zealand positively cantered to 318 for four by stumps but, while the run-rate was too high for Englands liking, the hosts could have kidded themselves this was only slightly above par had they been asked to field.

Instead Ben Stokes was the captain given the choice when the coin landed first thing, meaning that for all of his sides upbeat perspiration and those four breakthroughs, their returns can only be viewed less favourably.

Their catching also resumed normal service after last weeks uptick, four chances going down and Joe Roots drop off Daryl Mitchell, three runs into an unbeaten 81, the most costly. As tends to be the case when these sides meet on a cricket field, the entertainment levels were high and sliding doors moments plentiful.

The Nottingham crowd was treated to bright sunshine and some wonderfully crisp strokeplay from the tourists, not least during the unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 149 between Mitchell and Tom Blundell that rekindled their bromance from Lords and saw the latter cruise his way to 67 not out. And Stokes was not without his reasons. There was a tinge of green on the pitch and the New Zealand top order that failed twice in last weeks five-wicket defeat had lost Kane Williamson to a positive Covid-19 test overnight.

Tom Latham, deputising for the sixth time in seven Tests, said he, too, would have bowled first and had an all-seam attack that suggested no attempt at kidology. Until a ball is bowled, fingers are always crossed to some degree.

The surface, however, was also dry, hard and, despite some decent carry, on the slow side. New Zealand are such a phlegmatic bunch, too, that the loss of Williamson a player grappling for form as it was had little effect. The tourists took a wonderfully positive approach to their insertion and over the course of the three sessions sent 43 fours racing across a fast outfield, as well as clearing the rope twice.

A slow afternoon at Trent Bridge was livened up by a startling 56th-over moment for one fan trying to enjoy a quiet drink in the Trent Bridge sunshine. New Zealand batterDaryl Mitchellsmashed a six into the stands and directly into a woman's pint, with the splash showering nearby fans. The umpire dried the ball with a tea towel as Jack Leach and Ben Stokes (pictured) looked closely for a reason to switch it, while New Zealands players paid for a refill.

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With 26 from Latham the lowest score among New Zealands top six, needless to say this was not the day that Stokes had in mind. Englands captain was the bowler to make things happen along the way, claiming figures of two for 40, while Jimmy Anderson picked up a couple himself and was, predictably, the most parsimonious on show.

Stuart Broad tried to orchestrate some energy from his home supporters and, though expensive, was unfortunate not to claim a wicket during a devilish five-over burst after lunch when Zak Crawley put down Henry Nicholls on 17. Matt Potts was used curiously at times he is not an enforcer, we learned while Jack Leach, back from concussion, enjoyed some early turn but saw a tough chance off Blundell put down by Root.

There were no early signs that a cascade of wickets would be possible and by the 20th over Stokes had played all five cards in his hand. Roots trousers already featured a heavy smear of crimson from his attempts to get some swing but it was not forthcoming, Latham and Will Young instead setting the tone with a sprightly 84-run opening stand.

Young was the chief instigator, creaming nine fours and two in succession off Stokes to get within one blow of his first half-century in six innings. Instead the aggression instantly made way for a tentative defensive shot and Crawley clung on at second slip. With Anderson then returning to the Pavilion end and getting Latham caught at midwicket via a long-hop the very next ball, England finally had cause for celebration.

One of the more amusing subplots of the morning had been Englands attempts to get the ball changed. Weirdly, this died down after New Zealand resumed on 108 for two in the afternoon and suddenly the original started to move. After a ding-dong battle between Broad and Nicholls it was Stokes who profited from the balls new lease of life, New Zealands No 4 edging a beautiful outswinger behind on 30 and trudging off.

At the other end Devon Conway was playing a princely little innings, the newly promoted No 3 unfurling a succession of crisp cover drives. But four runs away from his half-century he played for swing from Anderson, only for the ball to hold its line and flick the inside edge. Ben Foakes, on a personally excellent day, made no mistake.

The scoreboard read 169 for four but should have been 170 for five moments later. Mitchell, new to the crease, was put down by Root at second slip on three to deny Stokes his third. It was a simple low pouch and one that would be heavily punished, Mitchell rolling over his form from that memorable century at Lords.

Reaching 195 for four at tea, Mitchell and Blundell then plundered 123 runs in a final session that saw three overs disappear into the ether at the close. The former also killed off any swing when he launched Leach for a mighty six down the ground and the ball gloriously plopped into the pint glass of an unsuspecting punter.

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Leach did force a couple of unsuccessful reviews as England waited patiently for the second new ball. But when it came a fourth opportunity went to ground, Broad teasing an edge from Blundell on 63 only to see it fly at catchable height between Crawley at second slip and Jonny Bairstow at third.

According to Andy Zaltzman on Test Match Special, this was the 30th time since 1993 that England had inserted a team at home but only the second that their visitors had passed the 300-mark just four wickets down. New Zealand, 1-0 down in the series and without Williamson here, had unquestionably won the day.

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New Zealand take charge of second Test with England left to rue missed chances - The Guardian

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New Zealand batters thrive without Williamson and teach England lesson – The Guardian

Posted: at 2:01 am

And now for 900 words on the role played by all different types of soil in the development of New Zealands first-class cricket system. Really. This column probably needs a gratuitous reference to Britney Spears here just by way of apology to the people whose job it is to worry about the Guardians search engine optimisation ratings.

Well as New Zealand played, it was a good day for this kind of thing at Trent Bridge, where it felt, at times, like Englands attack was being taken apart by a firm of accomplished provincial solicitors, Blundell & Young, perhaps, or Mitchell, Conway & Co. Between them, they reeled off four scores of 45 or more while rattling along at the best part of four runs an over.

This is the first away Test New Zealand have played in the past decade without one or the other of Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson in the team. Taylor, their all-time leading run-scorer, retired in January, and Williamson, who only needs another 400 runs to overtake him at the top of that particular list, pulled out on Thursday evening after he tested positive for Covid. And they managed just fine without them. Think about how England have batted in these past 18 months. Now ask yourself how many runs youd back them to make if you took Joe Root out of their line-up and the rest lost the toss against this attack on a green-top.

Englands opening bowlers are old enough to remember a time when it really wasnt like this. The last time one of these two teams won the toss and put the other in at Trent Bridge was when New Zealand did it in 2008. England made 364 and still ended up winning by an innings. Jimmy Anderson took seven wickets, Ryan Sidebottom took six, and New Zealand just about managed to bat for 100 overs in the match. Williamson hadnt made his debut yet, Brendon McCullum was batting at No 3, Taylor was at No 4, and the rest of the batting order was made up of, well, take a minute here and see how many of them you can remember.

There was Daniel Flynn, who played 24 Tests, Jamie How, who played 19, Aaron Redmond, eight, and Gareth Hopkins, four. How many did you get? They were all fair first-class batters, each with an average in the mid-30s, but they didnt make a single century between them in Test cricket, where their averages fell to the mid-20s or under. If you remember any of them from that tour, its probably Flynn, a bright young thing who lost two of his teeth when Anderson hit him with a bouncer at Old Trafford. Im not sure that this batting line-up is so very much more talented than that one. Theyre certainly a lot better prepared for Test cricket.

It was around this same time that New Zealand Cricket decided they needed to stop using their low, slow, up-and-down domestic pitches and start playing on flatter, harder surfaces that would be more similar to the ones their batsmen would have to play on in Tests. NZC had just brought in what they called a warrant of fitness for first-class pitches, and ordered groundstaff across the country to start preparing pitches that were better for batting, but still had enough bounce in them to reward bowlers who were willing to put the effort in in the first innings. So a lot of grounds relaid a lot of their squares with Patumahoe clay, which has more pace and bounce than the Waikari clay they had been using.

The upshot was that the number of 500+ totals in their first-class cricket rose from one in every five innings to one in three, while the overall domestic batting average rose from 28 in the 2000s, to 32 in the 2010s. Which means New Zealands is the only first-class competition in the world with an average in the 30s, and the only one that comes to the equivalent figure in Test cricket, too.

A decade later, the knock-on effect is that the typical New Zealand batter is better at playing off the back foot, and has learned to build longer innings. It also means theyve stopped turning out so many dibbly-dobbly bowlers and have, instead, such a battery of fast, highly skilled quicks that has allowed them to pick four fine fast men here and leave a fifth, Neil Wagner, out of the side.

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If all this sounds a little familiar, it is because weve been having the very same debate in England, but a decade later. It was only last year that Root said that England needed to start playing the county championship on pitches that were better for batting, so that the batters come into this environment of Test cricket and have that knowledge of what its like to go out in the second innings and know the opposition have 450 on the board, the fast bowlers have a range of skills that can exploit flat wickets and the spinners get to do more bowling.

New Zealand have been using that sort of formula for a decade now and are reaping the rewards of it. The satisfaction of watching them make his point for him will have been precious little consolation to Root, you guess, while he stood at slip watching Tom Blundell and Daryl Mitchell put on another 100-run stand for the fifth wicket.

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New Zealand batters thrive without Williamson and teach England lesson - The Guardian

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Air New Zealand raises annual earnings forecast on improved demand – Reuters

Posted: at 2:01 am

The logo for Air New Zealand is displayed at their office located at Sydney International Airport, Australia, June 20, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray

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June 10 (Reuters) - Air New Zealand Ltd (AIR.NZ) on Friday improved its forecast for fiscal 2022, benefiting from a pick-up in demand following the opening up of domestic and international borders.

New Zealand recently said it would fully reopen its international borders from end-July, and the country welcomed travelers from trans-Tasman neighbor Australia for the first time since mid-2021 in April. read more

The airline now expects an annual loss before tax and significant items to be less than NZ$750 million ($478.73 million), compared to a prior forecast of less than NZ$800 million.

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In May, the carrier said its annual loss could come in better than expected, owing to an improvement in passenger bookings for short haul and international services.

Domestic demand has improved in recent weeks with business-related demand returning to about 90% of pre-COVID levels, the airline said.

Air New Zealand, however, added it remains mindful of uncertain macroeconomic conditions, including COVID-19 led travel restrictions in some parts of the world and high jet fuel prices.

(This story has been refiled to correct to trans-Tasman, from trans-Tasmanian, in paragraph 2)

($1 = 1.5667 New Zealand dollars)

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Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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New Zealand plans in tatters after Kane Williamson is ruled out with Covid-19 – The Guardian

Posted: at 2:01 am

New Zealand saw their hopes of levelling the ongoing series against England suffer a significant setback after Kane Williamson, captain and leading batsman, was ruled out of todays second Test after contracting Covid-19.

Williamson was present at training on Thursday and in an upbeat pre-match press conference extolled the virtues of Test cricket in response to a recent forecast from Greg Barclay, chair of the International Cricket Council, that the format will shrink in future.

But late in the evening news broke that the 31-year-old has tested positive for the virus. A five-day isolation period follows Williamson could in theory return for the third Test at Headingley and now Tom Latham will lead the tourists in Nottingham as they look to fight back from the five-wicket defeat at Lords.

Asked earlier for his response to Barclays prediction that Test cricket will be cut amid the rise of domestic Twenty20 leagues, Williamson said: We love our Test cricket, as do all nations who have the opportunity to play it. Its the pinnacle of the sport and we want to see more of it. Theres a number of people who have to make decisions but theres certainly a love for it among Test nations.

England: Alex Lees, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (capt), Ben Foakes(wkt), Matt Potts, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson.

New Zealand: Tom Latham (capt)*, Will Young, Hamish Rutherford, Devon Conway, Henry Nicholls, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Blundell (wkt), Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.

*Kane Williamson ruled out due to Covid positive

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New Zealand, the world champions, already battle for fixtures and this three-match series against England is a rarity. Their lack of fixtures is demonstrated by the fact that Williamson made his Test debut in 2010, two years prior to Joe Root, and before his positive result was in line for an 88th cap to Roots 119th.

Williamson has 24 Test centuries two fewer than Root but had been battling for form on tour. After a poor IPL campaign of one half-century and a strike-rate below 100, the right-hander suffered a golden duck in their solitary warm-up and was nicked off early in both innings at Lords by the England debutant Matt Potts.

Though New Zealand lost a tight series opener that could have gone either way, those two failures for Williamson were overcome as Daryl Mitchell (108) and Tom Blundell (96) at least fired in their second innings. Englands batting unit remains far more reliant on Roots class even if Ben Stokes and Ben Foakes supported his celestial unbeaten 115 in the run chase and this is another case of hoping the support cast step up.

This did not occur in Nottingham last year, when Roots scores of 64 and 109 against India perhaps his finest Test century made for another lone-hand performance in a rain-affected draw. As Root explained after hitting the winning runs at Lords last Sunday, he was also defying the strains of captaincy.

You can end up taking it home and it can affect your personal situation, which Joe was very brave to say, said Stokes, when asked if those comments served as a reminder of what he himself has signed up for as Roots successor.

Joe, without that added pressure of being captain, it was almost like he was 18 again and Im pretty sure it wont be long before he is snipping peoples socks again, Williamson said. Its great he doesnt have that mountain of added pressure of being captain on his shoulders, he can just go out there and score the runs like he does.

At a training session that began with a penalty shootout and Brendon McCullum, the head coach, as one of the goalkeepers, Stokes once again named his XI a day before the toss. In theory, England are unchanged as they seek a first series win for their new captain, even if Matt Parkinson drops out after acting as a concussion sub for Jack Leach.

It looks a sensible call in terms of Leachs incumbency and the history of Trent Bridge. Seamers are likely to lead the way, with Stuart Broad positively bouncing about his latest homecoming. But while hot takes were inevitable when English cricket briefly resumed its maddening relationship with leg-spin, Parkinson should not take his instant demotion after a surprise Test debut as an implied criticism.

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A hard pitch with a tinge of green awaits at a ground where New Zealand have won once, through the genius of Richard Hadlee in 1986. Williamson was unsure of his team prior to his positive Covid test and though Colin de Grandhommes heel injury had opened up a slot for Henry Nicholls in the middle order after a calf injury, opener Hamish Rutherford has now joined the squad from Leicestershire.

Williamsons uncertainty chiefly surrounded the make-up of his bowling attack. Though the medium pace of Mitchell could in theory pick up the slack in De Grandhommes absence, it may be that Neil Wagner, tenacious purveyor of left-arm seam, replaces the spin of Ajaz Patel.

Complicating this temptation to play an all-seam attack is the expectation of bright sunshine over the course of the five days. Like talk of a reduction in the number of Test matches played in future, it is a forecast that is slightly troubling the tourists.

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New Zealand sets up helpline for adults sexually attracted to children – The Guardian

Posted: at 2:01 am

Adults in New Zealand who are sexually attracted to children will be able refer themselves to a specialist therapeutic service as part of a government-funded research project designed to prevent abuse.

Stand Strong, Walk Tall is a pilot programme set up by two clinical psychologists with expertise in sexual abuse prevention Dr Sarah Christofferson at the University of Canterbury and Dr Gwenda Willis from the University of Auckland.

Roughly one in six young people in New Zealand experience sexual abuse before they turn 18, Christofferson said.

Its a massive problem and thats why we want to be looking at adding to the puzzle and, collectively, how we can work to bring this down.

But there is an important distinction between attraction and action, she said.

What research tells us more and more, is that this [attraction] is not something that has been chosen its something that theyve learned about themselves. So there shouldnt be any judgment or any stigma.

Christofferson said a conservative estimate would be around 3% 5% of the adult male population in New Zealand would have experienced feelings of sexual attraction to a minor.

The service aims to help prevent child sexual abuse and to enable participants lead safe and fulfilling lives.

The programme, which begins this month, will ask participants to self-refer via website or text. Participant details will remain confidential.

Until now, there have been limited avenues for someone to seek help if they are feeling distressed by their attractions, Christofferson said. Thats why part of our goal is really trying to promote that we are a safe place, that we understand, were specialists and we know that attraction is different from action.

New Zealand is not the first to offer a preventative service to paedophiles and, more broadly, adults attracted to under-18s the most famous example being the Dunkelfeld Project in Germany.

The clinicians found that 84% of child sexual abuse convictions in New Zealand each year were of individuals not previously known to have committed sexual offences.

Yet most prevention work has focused on stopping repeat offending, by targeting those already convicted of sexual offence, Christofferson said.

This is important work, however, there is an opportunity to broaden these prevention efforts to reach a wider group who may be unknown to the justice system.

In New Zealand, contact Victim Support on 0800 842 846: Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz; Whats Up: online chat (3pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 helpline (12pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-11pm weekends)

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I just flew to Sydney, and yes, New Zealand is (still) a hermit kingdom – Stuff

Posted: at 2:00 am

Brook Sabin is a travel journalist with Stuff.

OPINION: I was like a rabid dog under my mask. I may have even been foaming. I was furious.

I started the day masked and socially distanced in New Zealand. Just six hours later, I was in an overflowing underground bar in Sydney with 30-odd people packed so closely together we could smell each other's breath. Not one person was masked. Not even the staff.

After more than two years of cautious mask wearing, this wasn't a culture shock. It was a Covid shock.

This bar served wine, beer and potentially a free side plate of Covid. You might just be lucky, and escape with a hangover. Or you might get a virus that's killed more than six million people. I won't drink to that.

DAVID WHITE AND BROOK SABIN/Stuff

After spending time in Sydney, its become clear that we are still a hermit kingdom.

READ MORE:* Economics forum to explore opening up the 'hermit kingdom'* Lessons from our family holiday in Covid-ravaged Australia - It's not all bad* Tolerance for another lockdown 'dropping like a stone', says Waikato mayor

I kept my mask on and people looked at me like I was an alien. I kept trying to shut my eyes, because every time someone breathed on me it felt like Covid was merrily making its way into me via my eyeballs.

One guy explained you only use your mask if you're sick, or if your household contact has Covid (yes, you aren't required to isolate).

Arriving in Sydney was like rewinding the clock to 2019.

Aside from a passing mention on the plane, there were no Covid checks at the airport (I just had to fill out a form online before we departed).

Brook Sabin/Stuff

Me, the alien, with my mask on.

We were required to go straight to our hotel, and isolate until we returned a negative RAT test - which seemed sensible. That's where the Covid precautions ended.

We were checked in by staff without masks it's the first time I've seen the full face of a hotel worker in more than two years.

Malls, shops, restaurants, movies - almost no-one was wearing masks. There is a requirement for public transport, but it is widely ignored.

Over the day, I asked as many people as possible why they weren't wearing masks. The answer was almost universal: we've had the virus, and moved on. I specifically asked older people too, as I thought they might have a different view. They didnt.

Now, of course, that is an overly simplistic dismissal of a very complex virus.

Even if youve had Covid, there is a risk of reinfection. And the 8861 people who died of Covid in Australia can't move on. That's not to mention the tens of thousands if not more who face complications from long Covid. (Keith Lynch has an excellent deep dive into the issue here.)

But there was a genuine sense that Omicron has changed things: infection is inevitable. So why delay the inevitable?

Some also argued they were better to get the virus before their vaccine-induced immunity waned.(Once again, Keiths piece is worth a read).

Brook Sabin/Stuff

Almost everyone was unmasked during my trip to Sydney including at the Vivid light festival.

I made a decision that night in the hotel lobby to dramatically jump ship and adopt the Sydney way of life. If I got Covid, so be it. (Full disclosure: I'm in my early 30s with moderate asthma). I know this wouldn't be the right decision for everyone.

Over the next ten days, something pretty remarkable happened. I forgot about Covid. For the first time in more than two years, it didn't rule my social interactions. I went to the Vivid festival, where tens of thousands were crammed into small spaces. I came in contact with hundreds if not thousands - of people. I ate out for all meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. At around 30 restaurants, all packed. It felt liberating.

I havent had the virus (that I know of), and I didnt get it over there.

The only reminder of Covid came when returning home. I had to get a pre-departure test, but couldn't find a place to do it (I was in a small town outside Sydney). I wasted most of my last day organising it. And then there was the overly-bureaucratic and confusing seven task travel declaration needed to get back into my own country.

It also seemed pointless. You're required to RAT test after entering New Zealand, and on day five - so that should catch most cases.

NZ Traveller Declaration/Supplied

The New Zealand Traveller Declaration requires seven tasks to be checked off and must be submitted before you fly.

There is also so much Covid in New Zealand, per capita, many are more at risk of catching it here. Even the pharmacist questioned the need for the test as he was taking my money.

Arriving in New Zealand felt like I'd be teleported back to a place where Covid rules our lives. The Australian way of life had rubbed off on me so much that I twice forgot my mask heading to the supermarket.

The trouble with Covid restrictions is that they are so sweeping, for a disease that is so individual. My risk is very different to someone in their 80s who has emphysema. Sure, that person should continue precautions but should they be imposed on all of us?

Brook Sabin/Stuff

Thousands of unmasked people lined Sydneys waterfront for the opening weekend of the Vivid festival.

Sir John Key's declaration that New Zealand was a hermit kingdom never sat well with me back in 2021 - it was made in the context of Delta, which I wouldn't want to catch. I'm grateful most of us were protected through the worst of the pandemic.

To me, however, his criticism rings true now. Omicron is different.

Covid is going nowhere and the restriction-free life isn't as scary as it seems. More people need to head overseas and realise there is life after Covid.

Coming home felt like I was returning to a land of unnecessary restrictions. One where our overly-cautious attitude that worked so well during the early stages of the pandemic needs a recalibration.

Because much of the world is getting on with life. And we need to as well.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.

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Cheat Sheet: Why is New Zealand so obsessed with the weather? – Stuff

Posted: at 2:00 am

As a nation, New Zealand cannot get enough of the weather.

Tales of storms, and temperature- and weather-related chaos, attract readers en masse. Scroll through any social media timeline after a decent storm and feeds are inundated with photos of the carnage.

We crunched the numbers and spoke to Ben Noll, meteorologist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), to find out why Kiwis love a bit of weather.

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NIWA meteorologist Ben Noll, who is from the US, has found Kiwis to be more obsessed with weather than most.

Is the weather even that big of a deal, though?

You bet it is. People love it. Weather articles on stuff.co.nz consistently get a massive response. In May, Stuff weather stories accumulated 3,572,484 page views. To date, June weather stories have already generated 1,375,620 views. It is not just a winter thing either. In January, weather stories earned just shy of 7 million views.

Okay, but surely youd get that with any country?

According to Noll, you absolutely do. The US-born meteorologist says most people assume the US is the truly obsessed, weather-loving nation. After all, they have some pretty exciting stuff going on. From tornado chasers, to hurricanes and snow storms, the US has it all.

But pretty much every country thinks it has the weather obsession crown, Noll says.

So NZs fascination isnt all that special then?

Actually yes, it is. While every country may think they are smitten with weather, we Kiwis really love it. Noll says as an American he noticed New Zealand makes a pretty good case for being the most obsessed.

Okay, but why weather?

For a start, the diversity of the weather we get in New Zealand makes for great conversation. Weather talk is an easy elevator icebreaker, and the fact our weather has a bit of everything makes it exciting enough to keep coming back for more.

The combination of whats going on on land, and being surrounded by this massive ocean on all sides adds to the allure, Noll says.

It helps that winter is filled with storm stories and the odd tornado, too.

BRAD MACKAY/FACEBOOK

Waikanae resident captured this video of the tornado coming through on his CCTV. .

So we just love the chaos?

Youd think so, but nope. Noll says while winter generates some pretty intense weather chat, our summer weather obsession is just as strong. In fact, the NIWA team have a running joke about New Zealands Christmas forecast.

In the build up to summer, the NIWA team has a bit of a bet going as to when the first reporter will call, looking for a Christmas day forecast.

It usually happens in September or October but of course we can't provide a specific forecast for a day a few months in advance. Nevertheless, every year it seems to happen.

But if we love any old story, what makes a truly great one?

It pretty much comes down to what will be memorable for you.

For Noll, that story was his wedding in February 2022. It was the day cyclone Dovi arrived.

He said a wedding day would be the one day you really would not want a tropical cyclone to make landfall, and the irony is not lost on him that he, a meteorologist, picked a cyclone day to tie the knot.

I think something that creates that memorable experience, tying that human side of things, would make the best story.

Hang on, you mean this obsession is just so we have something to talk about?

Well, yeah, pretty much.

Noll says it makes for the easiest conversation starter, no matter the social situation.

Its like that ubiquitous chatter, it's an icebreaker for every situation.

Supplied

Winter has arrived with snowfall of up to 40cm falling in parts of the South Island.

Cant we just chat about any old thing?

Sure, but the weather is something that impacts everything and everyone. Noll says it brings people together, when people are pretty divided over a lot of issues.

Theres no way around it. Its one of those things where everyones in it together. You can have your own opinions about things, but the weather is the weather.

Do I need to understand it before striking a conversation?

Not really, but Noll suggests an understanding of the science behind a weather app can prove useful.

Anyone can be a weather forecaster in the year 2022, but if someone asks you about a phenomenon are you able to explain it or are you just a weather app-caster? he says.

I cant even scroll through my social media feed without seeing weather posts, whats that about?

It adds to the excitement, says Noll.

Social media has taken it up a level. We see people who are thrilled to send in photos of clouds and tornados or big waves. Were able to see these events from different angles almost in real time because of that, he says.

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Five of the best small New Zealand towns to visit in June – Stuff

Posted: at 2:00 am

Hibernating is so 2020/2021.

With snap lockdowns a thing of the past (all going well), nows the time to make the most of the frigid weather thats set in. Think congestion-clearing walks, early-bird snow sessions, Matariki feasts and glasses of red by roaring pub fires.

Some of New Zealands small towns are at their most vibrant in winter, fizzing to life as visitors in search of snow and their famously good food and wine descend. Others find a peace and quiet that eludes them at other times of year, making them perfect for a rejuvenating low-key break.

Here are five of the best to visit this June. Let us know your winter small-town picks in the comments.

READ MORE:* 100 epic ways to enjoy winter in New Zealand * Winter wonderlands: Where to see the best scenery * New Zealand's most iconic mountains to see before you die

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Cardrona nails the cute alpine town vibe.

With snowy mountains, an old-school pub and scenery that wouldnt look out of place in the Scottish Highlands (especially if you stumble upon the distillery), this old gold rush settlement packs the best of the New Zealand winter into one photogenic wee package.

And we do mean wee. Theres not much more to Cardrona than its famous ski fields and pub, but theyre so good they simply must be experienced at least once and every winter ideally.

Set to open on June 11, Cardrona Alpine Resort caters for skiers and snowboarders of all levels across its 565 hectares of terrain, offering such a good time that, as one of its T-shirts says, its been promoting sick days since 1980. The mountain also happens to be a mini culinary mecca, with eight cafs and restaurants on offer. Quickly replenish expended calories at Captains Pizzeria (perhaps with a glass of local craft beer), head to Mezz for sophisticated aprs-ski fare, or sip hot chocolate or champers on a beanbag overlooking the Southern Alps and Wakatipu Basin at Vista Bar.

Another excellent way to get active is to take a horse trek through the snow-sprinkled hills of the high country (theyve already had a good dumping this year).

The Cardronas high country pub trail will see you ride through a working merino sheep farm and tussock country with spirit-lifting views of the Crown and Pisa ranges before tieing your horse up outside the legendary Cardrona Hotel for a beverage in the beer garden. If youre feeling lazy or dont like horses, opt for a quad bike adventure instead.

Stephen Heard

Horse trekking in Cardrona.

Established in 1853, the Cardrona is one of the oldest hotels in the country its cute but basic-looking clapboard facade belying the quality of the food and comprehensive drinks list. Look forward to traditional pub grub with a local twist. Think lamb burgers with mint salsa verde and cheeseburger spring rolls.

Pass Bradrona the infamous bra-strewn fence raising funds for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation to find yourself at Cardrona Distillery, which transforms locally sourced alpine water and foraged ingredients into award-winning single malt whiskey along with gin, vodka and liqueurs. Take the 75-minute tour to see the grain to glass process first-hand and taste a selection of spirits, or simply pop into the cellar door to pick up your tipple of choice.

BROOK SABIN

The Sky Waka gondola will take you to New Zealands highest cafe.

Get a head start on the snow fiends wholl flock to the Mt Ruapehu ski area when it fully opens in July by visiting in uncrowded June.

Open this month, Happy Valley is considered one of the best spots in the country for beginner skiers and snowboarders its long, gentle slope is ideal for finding your extended feet. If that sounds too much like hard work, book a one-hour sledding slot through Happy Valley Rentals for $29 per adult and $15 per kid aged five to 17. The carpet lift means you wont even have to walk to the top.

Nearby Meads Wall a short walk from the bottom of the Rangatira Chairlift is a free alternative. Its a popular spot for sledding and snowperson building when theres enough of the cold white stuff (and, at the time of writing, snow was forecast).

Snow or no snow, its worth riding the Sky Waka New Zealands longest gondola to New Zealands highest cafe, where you can grab a coffee or lunch with a primo view of The Pinnacles.

Lorna Thornber/Stuff

The Tama Lakes Track is an easier alternative to the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

If the weather gods refuse to play snow ball (or they do and youre comfortable trudging through the slippery stuff), there are some top tramping tracks to try out. Tama Lakes Track a quieter, easier alternative to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is truly deserving of the term hidden gem. Also located within dual World Heritage-listed Tongariro National Park, it offers similar scenery including sensational views of surreally coloured lakes and mounts Ruapehu and Nguruhoe minus the thigh-burning ascents.

If the bank balance allows, treat yourself to a night or few in Chateau Tongariro which, oozing old-school elegance, should make you feel like Kiwi royalty. Come evening, enjoy a cocktail in the roaring twenties-style lounge complete with roaring fire before sitting down to a chteaubriand dinner beneath sparkling chandeliers. And save time for a soak in the heated al fresco plunge pool.

Stewart Nimmo/Stuff

Explore the ice caves and arches of Fox Glacier on a heli-hike.

Not just a one-hit wonder, theres far more to this tiny town than its eponymous glacier.

One of New Zealands prettiest lakes (the mirror-like Lake Matheson), tramping tracks showing off the surrounding glacier-carved landscape and cosy lodges with a European ski resort vibe are among the other reasons to stick around.

Scenic flights are a popular way to check out 12km Fox Glacier, with some also taking in Franz Josef Glacier and Aoraki/Mt Cook. To get on the ice, try heli-hiking or ice climbing with Fox Glacier Guiding. The four-hour flying fox heli hike, which costs $499 per person or $1600 for a family of four, will see you chopper in to a remote stretch of Fox Glacier near Victoria Falls and don crampons to explore an ever-changing landscape thatll make you feel like a character in an IRL version of Frozen.

For free and eco-friendly glacier viewing, take a hike. The 2.6km (one-hour) return Te Moeka O Tawe Valley walk will take you past ancient moraines that cover dead ice left behind by the retreating glacier to within 500 metres of its terminal face. The 20-minute River Walk Lookout Track is an easier and fully accessible alternative or, if youre feeling lazy, just take a scenic drive along Cook Flat Road.

Eventually, youll reach Lake Matheson, where the 4.4km loop track will soon have you seeing double. Continue to the end of the 21km road to find remote Gillespies Beach, where the Tasman Sea appears to meet the Southern Alps. From here, a three-and-a-half hour return walking track leads to still more secluded Galway Beach with its resident seals.

Reflection Lodge, with its views of Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman reflected in a private lake, is a picturesque place to retire to.

Brook Sabin/Stuff

Food and wine are always a focus in Havelock North but, in June, they take centre stage.

Food and wine are always a focus in this Hawkes Bay town, but theyre pretty much the reason for being in June.

The winter version of the Food and Wine Classic (F.A.W.C), which runs until June 26, features more than 40 events showcasing the best of the regions best.

Many events have sold out, but at the time of writing, you could still get tickets for a workshop at Farmhouse Kitchen Cooking School featuring a three-course lunch, a morning tea with cookbook author Nici Wickes at Black Barn Vineyards, and a fig tasting culminating in the traditional piping-in of the figgy pudding at The Figgery Cafe.

In other parts of the region, youll find a truffle-hunting mission followed by a four-course lunch matched with local wines, a fondue and wine session, and walk-up event featuring two for $15 tacos filled with the likes of slow-roasted pork belly, ajo blanco and pineapple salsa paired with you guessed it wine.

If youre worried about piling on the pounds, head up Te Mata Peak you can see all the way to the Mahia Peninsula and Mt Ruapehu on a clear day. Alternatively, get on yer bike and hit the Hawkes Bay Trails. Conveniently, the 200km network of mostly flat trails connects many of the best cafs, restaurants and wineries.

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A popular summertime playground, Akaroa is just as pretty and certainly more peaceful in winter.

Its not quite Chamonix, but theres more than a touch of the small-town French Alps vibe in this historic Banks Peninsula settlement particularly when theres a sprinkling of snow on the hills.

Akaroa Dolphins operates its two-hour scenic cruises year-round, offering an opportunity to see one of the worlds rarest dolphin species in the wild; and Pohatu Penguins will be happy to acquaint you with the Cantabrian branch of the Australasian Little Penguin family on their sea kayaking and 4WD tours.

Self-isolaters and stargazers might like to linger a little longer at Pohatu Penguins and book a night in the onsite cottage, tree house or gypsy wagon get 20% off stays between June 1 and August 31 when you book on its website and enter the code Relax22.

The 1250-hectare Hinewai Reserve, a privately owned ecological restoration project, and three-hour return Childrens Bay walkway (aka Rhino Walk) are great for defrosting legs and feet, and you can warm your heart at Shamarra Alpacas, where you can cuddle what are surely the cutest farm animals in existence on a property with priceless harbour views. You can stock up on winter woollies there too - jerseys, scarves, beanies and blankets are among the items on offer made from soft alpaca wool.

Pretend youre in Gaudis Barcelona in the sculpture garden of the Giants House and, if the weather turns, take cover at Akaroa Museum spread across the historic Langlois-Eteveneaux cottage and the old courthouse and custom house.

With its French and Mori heritage, food is naturally a focus, and harbourside restaurant Ma Maison is set to combine cuisines from both cultures in a five-course degustation menu to mark Matariki on June 22. The Grand Hotel, meanwhile, is hosting a hng and stargazing session on June 24. Its enough to tempt even this sloth out of hibernation. The sourdough starter and streaming services can wait.

Where are your favourite winter small-town picks? Let us know in the comments.

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Senior VP Dave Shaw: UFC ‘actively trying to get back’ to Canada, New Zealand and Australia – MMA Junkie

Posted: at 2:00 am

SINGAPORE UFC senior vice president Dave Shaw has provided an update on the promotions international plans.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the UFC is yet to return to Canada, New Zealand and Australia, where theyve held numerous shows throughout the years.

Laws and restrictions have made it difficult for the octagon to return to those countries, but Shaw says its also a matter of a conflict of scheduling and finding the available slots for the UFC to host events.

We are actively trying to get back to regions and countries like Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Shaw told MMA Junkie. Countries we havent been to in a while that are very important markets for us, not only in terms of the partnerships that weve got, the content relationships that weve got, but also the number of athletes, and of course as you mentioned, some of the champions that we have.

Heres whats happening the world right now as COVID sort of eases a little bit and countries are opening up, is youve got this massive push towards live events. Youve got concerts, youve got exhibitions, youve got sporting events, and were no different. So the challenge for us is actually trying to find venues that are available when we need them to be available.

Canada has played host to some blockbuster pay-per-view events headlined by UFC Hall of Famer and former dual-champ Georges St-Pierre. Shaw said when the UFC return to Canada, itll be for another big show.

We want to get back first and foremost with a pay-per-view to Canada, Shaw said. I dont believe that July and August are the best times to come, its also really difficult to come in March, April, May when hockey playoffs are at sort of their fever pitch. So for us, weve got a few kind ofkey dates for pay-per-views in other regions around the world.

October historically weve been in Vegas, December weve been in Vegas, November weve been in New York, so trying to fit in a PPV in Canada or Australia, theres only so many times throughout the course of the year that we can actually get there and then you run into the problems that I just mentioned with availability. So were actively trying, were trying to get there as soon as possible.

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