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Category Archives: New Zealand

New Zealand director Jessica Hobbs wins Emmy for The Crown – The Guardian

Posted: September 20, 2021 at 8:50 am

New Zealand director Jessica Hobbs has won the Emmy award for best directing of a drama series, for her work on The Crown.

Hobbs directed the season 4 finale War, which depicts the unravelling marriage of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales.

The visibly shocked director let out an expletive in surprise after her name was read out, and went on to thank writer and creator Peter Morgan, Netflix, and the television academy.

Hobbs thanked her children, and her partner Jonathan, before signalling her appreciation to female directors who have come before her.

Not a lot of women have won this award, so I feel like I am standing on the shoulders of some really extraordinary people. Im very grateful for the path that they led and I would particularly like to pay tribute to my mum, who at 77 is still directing.

Hobbs mother is drama and documentary series maker Aileen OSullivan.

Hobbs was born and raised in Christchurch and began directing short films in her 20s, during an eight year stint as an assistant director. After helming Cliff Curtis teleplay Overnight in 1995, she moved to Australia and added City Life, Heartbreak High, Love My Way and The Slap to her resume. After relocating to England, she directed miniseries Apple Tree Yard, before working on The Crown.

The 2021 award is Hobbs first Emmy win she was also nominated in 2020 for an episode in The Crowns third season.

The drama series was one of the big winners of the night, picking up 11 awards in total including for outstanding drama series and best actress for Olivia Colman.

Most of the cast and crew were beamed into the event from London, after Covid-19 restrictions prevented many from attending. Josh OConnor, who plays Prince Charles in seasons 3 and 4, and won the award for lead actor in a drama series, was the only cast-member in attendance in LA.

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The Deep Seas Near New Zealand Have Yielded 6 New Species of Bizarre Sponges – ScienceAlert

Posted: at 8:50 am

The biodiversity of the deep ocean is difficult to track, given its inhospitality to us soft, air-breathing land dwellers. Down in the darkness, there's much more life than we have accounted for.

Nevertheless, a new discovery is an exciting one: six new species and one previously unknown genus of glass sponge, at depths up to 4,820 meters (15,814 feet), hidden in the aphotic(barely sunlit) waters off the coast of New Zealand.Scientists also discovered two already known species that had never been seen before in New Zealand's oceans.

These finds mean that the region is far more diverse than we knew, which can help inform and plan human activities and conservation efforts.

"The expedition was a great success," said marine biologist Gert Wrheide of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany.

"The finds almost double the number of species of the sponge family Rossellidae found off New Zealand from nine species in five genera to 17 species representing eight genera."

Glass sponges (orhexactinellids) are known around the world, but are relatively rare. These are delicate sponges composed of spicules made of silica the natural substance so commonly found in sand, from which we make glass.

The waters around New Zealand beyond where light penetrates are becoming known as something of a hotspot for glass sponges, but due to the challenges of mapping deep-sea biodiversity, it's unclear exactly how prolific life is down there. So a team of scientists set off on an expedition to explore using a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV).

In 2017, the German research vessel Sonne departed Auckland, with the ROV KIEL6000 on-board a machine designed to plumb the ocean's depths, up to 6,000 meters. For 31 days, the researchers explored the remote southern oceans, retrieving over 200 specimens of sponge from the seafloor.

Among these specimens, the researchers used DNA and morphological analyses to identify the six species previously unknown to science. Two of them were so new, they required an entire new genus which the researchers namedNubes.

Details of the spicules of Nubes tubulata. (Reiswig et al., ZooKeys, 2021)

The new species are Bathydorus poculum (1,150 meters deep), Scyphidium variospinosum (1,630.5 meters), Caulophacus serpens (4,816 meters), C. ramosus (4,819 meters), Nubes tubulata (767 to 782 meters), and N. poculiformis (1,285 meters).

"Our expedition discovered that the deep sea off the coast of New Zealand is considerably more species rich than previously known," Wrheide said.

"In the context of plans to expand deep-sea mining and deep-sea fishing, these findings provide an important set of data that can aid efforts to protect these very special habitats."

The description of the new sponges was led by the world's foremost expert on glass sponges, marine biologist Henry Reiswig of the University of Victoria in Canada, listed as the first author on the paper. Sadly, Reiswig passed away before the paper could be published; his colleagues have dedicated the paper to his memory.

"How do we go on? Well, continue in his name we do," the team wrote. There were two more news sponges whose descriptions were not completed; those will be reported in a separate paper soon.

The research has been published in ZooKeys.

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New Zealand Kids Discovered This Fossil of New Giant Penguin Species on a Field Trip – Smithsonian

Posted: at 8:50 am

Though the fossil shared a resemblance to others found in the region, it had much longer legs. The team decided to name the new species Kairuku waewaeroa, which means long-legged in the Maori language. Simone Giovanardi via EurekAlert

On a summer day in 2006, a group of schoolchildren from the Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club and their club leader were on a fossil-hunting field trip in Kawhia Harbour in New Zealand (Aotearoa). They spotted what they thought was a rusty propeller, but upon closer inspection realized their remarkable discovery was a large fossil encased in sandstone. The bird skeleton has now been identified as a new species of giant penguin that lived around 30 million years ago and stood 4.5 feet tall.

Its sort of surreal to know that a discovery we made as kids so many years ago is contributing to academia today, says Steffan Safey, who was 13 at the time he and his friends found the fossil, in astatement.

The team of paleontologists from Massey University and Bruce Museum used 3-D scanning techniques to create a digital model of the giant penguin. They compared their model to existing species from around the world and found it was a new species that existed between 27.3 and 34.6 million years ago when the region was submerged underwater. The giant penguin fossil, which is one of the most complete specimens to date, would have been roughly the size of a 10-year-old child.

Though the fossil shared a resemblance to others found in the region, it had much longer legs. The team decided to name the new speciesKairuku waewaeroa, which means long-legged in the Maori language, reports Hannah Seo forPopular Science. The researchers published their results this month in theJournal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

These longer legs would have made the penguin much taller than otherKairukuwhile it was walking on land, perhaps around 1.4 meters tall, and may have influenced how fast it could swim or how deep it could dive, study author Daniel Thomas, a Massey University paleontologist, says in astatement. Its been a real privilege to contribute to the story of this incredible penguin. We know how important this fossil is to so many people.

Penguin fossils date back almost as far as dinosaurs, and many of the oldest specimens are from New Zealand. By comparison, emperor penguins, which are the largest living penguins today, are around four feet tall. Giant penguins that lived millions of years ago were also thinner than modern penguins, reports Mindy Weisberger forLive Science.

Part of the reason the ancient penguin grew so large could be because birdsevolve into unusually large specieswhen they're isolated in a habitat free of predators, reportsScience Alerts Tessa Koumoundouros. This new species gives paleontologists a more complete picture of the diversity of giant penguins and their evolutionary history.

"It was a rare privilege for the kids in our club to have the opportunity to discover and rescue this enormous fossil penguin,saysMike Safey, president of the Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club. We always encourage young people to explore and enjoy the great outdoors. There's plenty of cool stuff out there just waiting to be discovered."

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The Kiwi who saved relationship with Rugby Australia, as private equity deals heat up – Fox Sports

Posted: at 8:50 am

As New Zealand Rugby continues to crawl towards a private equity solution, Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan says their own path towards overturning years of underinvestment is on course.

The former News Corp exec also believes bread can be broken with their New Zealand counterparts, with new NZR chair Stuart Mitchell helping ease tensions.

McLennan described Mitchell, who took over from Brent Impey at the end of May, as a good bloke but straight down the line and pivotal in getting the new Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition across the line.

However, McLennan added if relations didnt continue to improve they would reassess the new domestic deal in 2023.

Over the weekend, the New Zealand Herald revealed the NZR were edging towards a resolution in getting their deal with Silver Lake across the line.

The NZ Herald reported the US technology investment giant, which had valued NZR at $3.1 billion previously and offered $387.5 million for a 12.5 per cent stake in the deal, had given an improved valuation for a 7.5 per cent stake.

Improved but still less than the cash-injection promised earlier, which potentially leaves the NZR needing to sell off more of its product later.

The previous deal hit a snag because the NZR had failed in its duty to give the New Zealand Rugby Players Association a seat at the negotiating table.

It left NZR boss Mark Robinson, who has struggled to fill the void left by his predecessor Steve Tew, scrambling for a solution as the Players Association boss Rob Nichol rejected the deal.

Now a series of demands have been included by the Players Association for any potential deal to proceed, including an independent NZ Rugby governance review that assesses the constitution.


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The list of conditions also includes the key principle to provide the opportunity for New Zealanders to invest in NZ Rugby.

Despite the developments, it is not fait accompli the deal will go ahead with one Players Association source telling the NZ Herald it remained a 50/50 chance.

The debacle has left Robinson vulnerable in his role as NZR CEO, with many losing confidence in his ability.

New Zealand sources have told the fractured relationship between the NZR and Super Rugby franchises continues.

The years messy private equity deals, which failed to include New Zealands players, Impeys attack on the players, as well as the fractious relationship with closest ally Rugby Australia, has seen Robinsons stocks take a hit and Nichols grow.

If it wasnt for Stuart Mitchell we would have cut them adrift and done Super AU only, McLennan told

Hes a good guy, someone you can trust and he wants to do the right thing.

We might still wind our relationship back with them over time if the relationship doesnt settle at all levels. Well give it two years and re-evaluate.

RA remains on track to take their own private equity pitch to market in the coming months and said the governing body wont face the same roadblocks, with RUPA boss Justin Harrison with them at every step.

The governing body is still hoping to strike a deal, which will sell off 12.5 per cent of its entities for a game-changing sum of money to help spearhead rugbys future.

McLennan said there was an acceptance across the board the code needs an injection of capital.

Well just run our own race, he said. But we are under capitalised. We still need more.

Theyve got roughly $60 million in the bank and they get more broadcast and sponsorship with a population of under five million. Weve underinvested for 15 years.

Meanwhile, RA will not throw open the borders and ditch the Giteau Law and other eligibility criteria that limits overseas players from representing the Wallabies.

The loosening of eligibility laws has benefited the Wallabies over the past month, with Samu Kerevi, who would not have qualified under the current Giteau Law like Quade Cooper, playing a key role in leading Dave Rennies men to consecutive wins over the world champion Springboks.

RA believes they are striking the right balance in targeting key players like Kerevi, as well as Sean McMahon who has arrived from Japan for the remainder of the Rugby Championship, to help inject star power and experience.

Others like Rory Arnold are expected to be called up for international duty in November for the Spring Tour.

With the help of contracting manager Nick Taylor, RA believes they have pinpointed the right youngsters to keep in Australia like Len Ikitau and Tate McDermott while also bringing back others such as Nic White and Andrew Kellaway.

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New Zealand back on top of the world rankings after win over Argentina – The Guardian

Posted: at 8:50 am

New Zealand snatched South Africas world No 1 ranking and placed one hand on the Rugby Championship trophy after subjecting Argentina to a second successive heavy defeat in Brisbane on Saturday.

The All Blacks 36-13 bonus-point win in front of 38,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium extended their lead to 10 points over the second-placed Springboks in the table while knocking Argentina and Australia out of the tournament.

South Africa, beaten 30-17 by Australia in the first match of Saturdays double-header, will need to defeat New Zealand twice and pile on the tries in their last two matches to earn bonus points to have any hope of stealing the silverware.

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The scale of the Springboks task was underlined as a changed All Blacks team ran over five tries to record their fourth win from four matches in a dominant campaign.

We obviously made a few changes and to keep our performance going with the new combination was pleasing, said the All Blacks coach Ian Foster. We didnt change a lot of our game plans I was delighted with the way we got through that.

Lock Tupou Vaai scored two tries, while Patrick Tuipulotu, the scrum-half TJ Perenara and hooker Samisoni Taukeiaho also crossed to score as the All Blacks continued their rampaging form after hammering the Pumas 39-0 on the Gold Coast last Sunday.

It could have been much worse for Argentina as Fosters side missed out on three tries in the first half and another in the second. Two early tries were cancelled due to forward passes and a third to Rieko Ioane was ruled out before half-time after the centre lunged over illegally when brought down under the posts. Young scrum-half Finlay Christie blew the fourth when he fumbled the ball forward a metre out from an undefended line.

The injury-hit Pumas slumped to their fourth successive loss after opening defeats away to South Africa, but it was a better performance by Mario Ledesmas side.

The All Blacks took a 24-3 lead into the second half, but the Argentina wing Emiliano Boffelli grabbed a 51st-minute try and his conversion shaved the deficit to 16 points. But New Zealand defended strongly in the last quarter before Vaai cantered over unmarked three minutes from the siren for his second try as a tired defence surrendered.

Foster said the All Blacks would celebrate the win but was unfazed about the world No 1 ranking. It doesnt feel like youre ever going to be at the top until you beat the team thats at the top so lets just wait and see, he said.

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New Zealand back on top of the world rankings after win over Argentina - The Guardian

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America’s Cup defence campaign: Mark Dunphy sees $40m shortfall part filled by more Government cash – New Zealand Herald

Posted: at 8:50 am

Mark Dunphy. Photo / Alex Burton

Mark Dunphy has promised to put up $20 million of his own money to keep the next America's Cup in New Zealand, but still sees a $40m shortfall which may need government cash.

Dunphy, the chairman of Greymouth Petroleum, has offered to provide short-term funding to Team New Zealand of up to $5m, if it was on the condition that the 37th America's Cup were to be held in Auckland.

Team New Zealand chief executive Grant Dalton has previously claimed that to put on a credible defence of the cup it needs to be held overseas.

On Saturday, Team New Zealand said Dunphy had not answered a list of questions about his interest, adding that the $5m was a loan, which it did not need.

Now a letter from Dunphy to Team New Zealand has emerged, providing the outline of what Dunphy believes is the shortfall needed to defend the cup in Auckland.

The letter, sent to Team New Zealand director Robert Field and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron commodore Aaron Young on September 14, was based on the assumption that the Government's offer of $31m cash towards the defence stood.

Dunphy said he had received advice from Team New Zealand that this left a shortfall of $80m to continue to hold the next America's Cup in Auckland.

"I am proposing those funds be obtained from a combination of private and public sources," Dunphy wrote.

He believed "at least" $40m would be available from private sources.

"My personal private interests and my associates will commit $20 million," Dunphy added.

20 Sep, 2021 05:53 AMQuick Read

"The balance will be sourced by reconnecting with current and past donors, members, contributors, and [Team New Zealand] shareholders."

One significant past donor had indicated they would support again, but "that party, and other donor parties, require anonymity".

The letter suggests a remaining shortfall of up to $40m.

"I propose that gap be bridged with a combination of further private and government funding. The Government has a significant sunk investment in the Cup facilities and infrastructure in Auckland and, because of the pandemic, wasn't able to achieve a return on that funding with the 2021 event. A 2024 defence would remedy that, as well as showcasing New Zealand's return to the world stage post Covid-19."

Before the letter became public, Team New Zealand not only questioned whether the Government would be prepared to fund the defence if the identities of the donors were not public and characterised the short term funding offer from Dunphy as a loan.Team New Zealand "does not require a loan", the syndicate said in a statement.

Dunphy's letter confirms it would be structured as a loan, however against the $20m he was putting up towards the defence. In an interview, Dunphy told the Herald it would be extended on the basis that talks would be held to keep the event in Auckland.

"I am proposing the Government funding support of $5 million for the team announced on March 17, 2021, be made available. In turn, I will match this government funding in the sum of $5 million, to be drawn by way of loan on account of my $20 million funding referred to above."

'Wishful ideas'

Team New Zealand said on Monday that Dunphy had not yet responded to its request to provide detailed financial terms or who was behind the funding.

"These remain unanswered in his letters. All that has been is a collection of wishful ideas that do not constitute commercial terms."

It said Dunphy's statement on the shortfall assumed that someone else would provide the roughly $10m required for chaseboats.

Team New Zealand said it also assumed that there would be more from the Government, when ministers had already indicated that there would not be more than the money offered back in March.

Team New Zealand said there were "far more important priorities" for the Government.

"ETNZ has always said they regarded the Govt offer as fair and reasonable given the times we are in, and maintain this view," Team New Zealand said in a statement.

Team New Zealand released to the Herald a letter from its chief executive Grant Dalton to Dunphy.

Dalton told Dunphy not to write to Field. "Your enquires are to be addressed to me as Interim Chair and CEO of Emirates Team New Zealand," Dalton wrote.

He also indicated that the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron would not take part in the talks.

"Similarly [commodore] Aaron Young has advised that the RNZYS has no role to play in any negotiations that may or may not eventuate and all enquires are to be directed to myself. I will then distribute accordingly."

Dalton said he had written to Dunphy on September 16 informing him that was aware of "offshore lobbyists that are actively campaigning against the bids and request confirmation that neither yourself or your backers are connected to these lobbying efforts. To date I have received no answer."

Dunphy's letter said that none of the prospective donors was associated with any of the teams challenging for the America's Cup, but Dalton wanted more details.

The questions appear to suggest Dunphy may have been seeking support of several powerful business figures who have been involved in earlier campaigns for the America's Cup.

"Can you confirm that none of the prospective donors currently have or have previously had at any time an association not only with a team ( either that intends entering, is investigating entering or has in fact been an entrant since the Cup left NZ in 2003) or could be considered as third party conduits for a team, its major sponsor or indeed its Principal."

He also wanted to know "the nature of conversations that you or your associates may have had directly or via third parties with [Oracle founder] Larry Ellison, [former Alinghi principal] Ernesto Bertarelli or [Prada chief executive] Patrizio Bertelli."

He also asked for clarifications of the nature of any conversations Dunphy has had with "to solicit the support of the [New York Yacht Club] and who those approaches may have been through."

Dunphy responded to Dalton's letter on Sunday. While it appears he ignored Dalton's instruction to write directly to him, Dunphy appears to deny the implication that the money being raised is from overseas.

"Prospective donors are New Zealanders who have contributed in different campaigns dating from the Fremantle Challenge," Dunphy wrote.

"These parties will not support an offshore defence but will support a home defence."

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Strong winds force godwit migrating from Alaska to New Zealand to turn around – RNZ

Posted: at 8:50 am

An unlucky godwit halfway through his migration from Alaska to New Zealand has turned back after hitting strong winds over the Pacific Ocean.

File photo. Photo: Phil Battley

The male godwit, known as 4BRWB because of the bands on his legs, left the tidal flats in Alaska's Yukon-Kuskokwim delta on 11 September before encountering the strong winds 2000 kilometres into his journey.

Massey University associate professor of Zoology Phil Battley said 4BRWB finished up back at his Alaskan take-off point after 57 hours of constant flight, which seemed like a lot to a human, "but it's not that much to a godwit".

Battley is an ornithologist and godwit expert with a long association with the Pkorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre.

He said the turnaround mid-migration, after 33 hours of flying, was unusual. It was the first time a tracked godwit had turned around because of strong winds.

4BRWB was one of 20 birds fitted with radio transmitters in November 2019.

"He's still got time. He won't have used all his energy - he's just realised he was facing headwinds and thought 'this isn't a good start to a 10-day flight' ... and turned back."

4BRWB weighed 284 grams when he was banded. He is estimated to have weighed 500 grams when he took off from the Yukon, burning his fat reserves over the 11,000km migration.

Other godwits who left Alaska at the same time have made it to our shores, with godwit-watchers reporting an influx of the birds over the last week. But it's also possible others opted to turn back.

4BRWB was tracked on his migration to New Zealand last year where he also had to contend with strong winds.

"Last year, he also had difficult winds - strong easterlies - and he stopped in New Caledonia for a month, before eventually coming back here. If it's been hit by a problem two years in a row, I think you can call it unlucky!

"But he's a bird who knows how to survive by adjusting his behaviour when he has to. Another amazing thing about this bird is he left Yukon on exactly the same date this year as he did last year."

Battley said 4BRWB would not have used up all his energy and there was interest in how long he rested for and the route he took back to New Zealand.

The godwits' 11,000km non-stop migration is one of the longest in the avian world. Last year, a male godwit - 4BBRW - created international headlines when it set what many believe to be a new distance record for the species for the Alaska-Firth of Thames flight, covering more than 12,000km in 9.5 days.

Department of Conservation technical advisor Bruce McKinlay said the research tools being used in this study were allowing those monitoring the species to assess the impact of weather on ultra-long-distance migration in real time, and also understand how adaptable to changing weather migrating godwits were.

The research is helping to build networks of protected areas in East Asia and supporting Department of Conservation's work in China and South Korea.

The real-time reporting of birds stopping over in South Korea in the Northern Hemisphere spring this year was used to enhance boundaries of World Heritage site nominations.

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Body found in Yellowstone National Park amid search for Gabby Petito – New Zealand Herald

Posted: at 8:50 am

Bodycam shows Gabby Petito argued with boyfriend before she vanished in Wyoming national park. Video / AP

Federal Police believe the body recovered in a Wyoming forest is that of missing New York woman Gabby Petito.

Authorities confirmed shortly after the body was found on Sunday local time, that the identity was "consistent with the description" of the 22-year-old woman, who vanished late last month while on a cross-country trip with her fiance Brian Laundrie.

Speaking to media, FBI Denver special agent Charles Jones said the family of Petito had been notified of the discovery.

"On behalf of the FBI personnel, I'd like to extend my sincere and heartfelt condolences to Gabby's family," Jones said, adding that no cause of death had been confirmed.

"As every parent can imagine, this is an incredibly difficult time for the family. We ask that you all respect their privacy as they mourn the loss of their daughter."

Petito last spoke to her mom in Blue Point on August 25, and was reported missing September 11.

Laundrie, 23, who was on a cross-country trip with his beau, returned home in her van on September 1, but without Petito. He refused to help police with the search.

He has now also gone missing and is the subject of a second search in the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County, Florida.

Petito is one of three people who have gone missing in or near Grand Teton park this summer.

Police earlier obtained mobile phone tracking data for Petito and Laundrie.

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The breakthrough meant authorities had some information about the missing pair's movements, but they still needed search warrants to gain "complete access".

An "abandoned" van was also reportedly spotted, as authorities tightened the timeline of the couple's movements.

The couple embarked on a cross-country road trip before Petito vanished - and 23-year-old Laundrie mysteriously returned home without her.

Local police said they had been trying to speak to Laundrie but he was refusing to talk.

His family later said he was missing too.

Now police in Florida are hoping the access to their devices could provide key clues to the whereabouts of the duo, according to ABC7 reporter Jeff Butera.

He revealed in a tweet that although it does not allow police to track Petito and Laundrie in real-time, it could help piece together their movements since the 22-year-old travel blogger disappeared.

The "free-spirited" Long Island native was last seen on August 24, 2021, checking out of a hotel with Laundrie in Salt Lake City, Utah.

She had been travelling with her fiance in a converted van since July 2 and had planned to arrive in Portland, Oregon, and visit a family friend for Halloween.

Just weeks earlier, the pair had been stopped by police and questioned about an apparent domestic dispute that had been reported.

Petito's mother, Nicole Schmidt, revealed that she heard from her daughter on August 27 and 30 but she told Fox News she is not sure if it was actually her as only text messages were exchanged.

She then reported her daughter missing on September 11 at around 6.55pm.

Police say Laundrie had returned home alone to his home in North Port on September 1, before hiring an lawyer and refusing to co-operate with the investigation.

Laundrie allegedly approached a couple at Grand Teton National Park in Colter Bay, Wyoming, on August 29, to ask for a ride.

Wisconsin-based TikTok user Miranda Baker said he told her and her boyfriend he was hiking alone and had been camping for numerous days.

He was named a "person of interest" as he continued to avoid FBI interviews.

But as of Tuesday, his family said he has since also gone missing - sparking a huge double search operation.

His parents told police he had left home Tuesday with a backpack, telling them he was going for a hike in the area.

Police said it was "fair to say" that Laundrie could potentially pose a threat to himself or others.

Petito is described as 5'5 tall, 110 pounds, and has two tattoos, a triangle tattoo on her left arm with flowers and a "Let it be" tattoo written on her right arm.

The FBI Denver appear to be focusing their attention for the 22-year-old on the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Gabby Petito's converted white van was spotted last month near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming two days after the missing Long Island native was last heard from, her family says.

Footage of the 2012 Ford Transit was spotted on Aug. 27 by travel bloggers Jenn and Kyle Bethune and posted to their YouTube Sunday.

"We came across a white van that had Florida plates," Jenn Bethune said. "A small white van. We were going to stop and say hi because we're from Florida too, but the van was completely dark. There was nobody there, so we decided to continue on our way."

The couple, who are documenting their family's travels across the country, said the van seemed "abandoned."

The Bethunes said they saw the van around 6pm or 6:30pm, parked off to the side, and later travelled back on the road and saw it again.

"It's kind of freaky for a late Saturday evening," Kyle Bethune said. "But we just kind of had a brain fart, 'Oh, there's that van.'

The Bethunes' video is only one of several sightings reported to authorities, who have asked for the public's help to determine where Petito could be.

Petito's family said they and the FBI were aware of the Bethune's video.

"We believe this is the van for multiple reasons," the kin wrote Sunday on the "Find Gabby" Facebook page. "Please do not clog up the tip line with the same video. This is in the hands of the right people. Thank you so much, this is exactly why we are asking people to review older photos and video. #FindGabby"

Among the other reported sightings was by traveller Shannon Baker, who told KST-TV that she and her husband were driving through the Jenny Lake area of Grand Teton on Aug. 25 when they saw the van around 5pm.

"I'm sure of it," Baker told KST. "It had the black ladder on the back and the two black rooftops on top, the two bars, and we made the comment that would be the perfect little camper to go around in."

It wasn't until last week, when they saw reports of Petito going missing, that they realised that was the same vehicle.

"I said, 'Oh my god!' That's the same van we saw," Baker said. "Without a doubt, on my husband's life, I know for a fact that was their van."

Authorities have been poring over hundreds of tips and searching large swathes of Wyoming and Utah since Petito was reported missing Sept. 11 and news of her disappearance went viral.

"All those little pieces can be little pieces of the puzzle to helps us figure out where Gabby is," St. Clayton Platt of the Teton County Sheriff's Office told KST.

Petito, 22, last spoke to her mum, Nichole Schmidt, on Aug. 25, and later mysteriously vanished while her Laundrie, 23, returned to their home in Florida alone Sept. 1.

Meanwhile, Laundrie, who lawyered up and refused to talk to investigators, is now the subject of another massive search after disappearing last week from the North Port, Florida, home he shared with Petito and his parents.

Laundrie's parents told police their son went off for a hike in the vast Carlton Reserve near their home on Tuesday and never returned.

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Hundreds of Australians stuck in New Zealand as National Cabinet examines home quarantine for overseas arrivals – ABC News

Posted: at 8:50 am

Anton Minenko thought he would make it home to Australia in time for the birth of his second child.

Around 400 Australians are trying to get home from New Zealand

The suspension of quarantine-free travel from NZ has made it difficult for them to return

National Cabinet will today discuss plans to allow some international travellers to quarantine at home

He and his wife Juanita decided to move home from London, via the United States, earlier this year after spending several years living overseas.

She made it back to Canberra with their three-year-old son, but his plans to follow several months later fell through due to flight cancellations.

The New Zealand citizen and Australian permanent resident tried to travel through Auckland instead, but was halfway through his quarantine period there when so-called "green zone" flights to Australia were paused due to NZ's COVID-19 outbreak.

"I'm still stuck here, my daughter was born on the 2nd of September," he said.

"And so my wife is in Australia right now, she's in Canberra, she's looking after a newborn and my three-year-old son, and I'm still stuck in Auckland, New Zealand with no prospect of getting home just yet."

With the trans-Tasman travel bubble still suspended, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) revealed there were around 400 Australians registered as wanting to return home from New Zealand.

Mr Minenko is becoming increasingly frustrated and anxious.

"This is the time that I'll never get back, right, it's those moments that I've now missed forever," he said.

"For my wife it was extremely difficult because she was going through that emotional and mental toughness but also physically, it was very, very stressful for her.

"She has family around but you know it doesn't compare to having your husband by your side.'

Around the world, there are more than 40,000 Australians trying to navigate the states and territories' international flight caps to get home.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged their frustration, promising home quarantine will soon become an option for those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

As Australia moves closer to the 70 and 80 per cent vaccination targets outlined in the national reopening roadmap, Mr Morrison has asked state and territory leaders to update today's National Cabinet meeting on their home quarantine plans.

Some states, including South Australia, have already introduced mobile phone apps using geo-location and facial recognition softwareto track interstate arrivals.

South Australia has begun a home-based quarantine trial for people returning from New South Walesand Victoria. So how will this work and when will it be used for international arrivals?

Professor Catherine Bennett, the chair in epidemiology at Deakin University, said the introduction of home quarantine for fully vaccinated overseas travellers was an important step forward that would allow more people to return.

"I actually see this coming along quite quickly," she said.

"When we hit those targets which is probably going to be early October at the rate we're going, around the 80 per cent mark, if we've got these outbreaks under control then I think it could happen at that point, certainly in the states that already have the virus in the community."

Leaders at today's National Cabinet meeting are also expected to be briefed on the COVID-19 outbreak in New South Wales, as well as the vaccine rollout.

The most recent federal government figures show more than 44 per cent of Australians aged 16 and over have now been fully vaccinated.

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India to host New Zealand, West Indies, Sri Lanka, South Africa in 4 Tests, 3 ODIs, 14 T20Is in 2021/22 – India Today

Posted: at 8:50 am

India will play two Tests each against New Zealand and Sri Lanka and will host West Indies in three ODIs and as many T20Is. South Africa will tour India in June next year for a five-match T20I series.

India will play two Tests each against New Zealand and Sri Lanka. (Reuters Photo)

India will host the West Indies, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa in four Tests, three ODIs, 14 T20Is later this year and in the first half of 2022 as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced its home season for the 2021/22 season. The Test matches will be played against New Zealand, who beat India in the final of the World Test Championship earlier this year in England, and Sri Lanka.

New Zealand's tour will start with a three-match T20I series that will be played from November 17 to 21 in Jaipur, Ranchi and Kolkata. This will be followed by the first Test which will start on November 25 in Kanpur and the second Test will be played from December 3 in Mumbai. It will mark New Zealand's first Test series in India since 2016 in which the visitors lost a three-match Test series 3-0.

The West Indies will then tour the country for three ODIs and as many T20Is. The ODI series will be played from February 6 to 12 in Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Kolkata. Sri Lanka's tour is then scheduled to start on February 25 with a two-Test series. The first Test will be played in Bengaluru while the second will be hosted in Mohali from March 5. Mohali will also host the first T20I against Sri Lanka on March 13 after which the second and third matches will be played in Dharamshala and Lucknow on March 15 and 18 respectively.

South Africa will then tour India for a five-match T20I series from June 9 to 19. The matches will be played in Chennai, Bengaluru, Nagpur, Rajkot and New Delhi.

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