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A devastating drought is currently gripping Northland.

Drought-like conditions have been worsening across the region this month. Some farmers have had to cull stock, while water and feed reserves running low.

The government said that they will put $80,000 in to help local farmers.

Northland has been dry since November, with little rain forecast for the next couple of weeks.

Whangarei’s 100,000 residents will be soon asked to cut their water use to enable water into the Far North and Kaipara communities.

Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi has won an Oscar for his film Jojo Rabbit. He won the award for best-adapted screenplay.

The Oscar for the filmmaker was handed out at the 92nd Academy Awards held in Hollywood.

R&B singer Janelle Monae started the ceremony with the star-studded audience dancing in the aisles with her spirited opening number, Come Alive.

She was followed by comedians Steve Martin and Chris Rock who got the crowd rolling in the aisles with funny welcome.

For New Zealand audiences Waititi won his award early on. He gave a heartfelt speech, thanking his mum and then dedicating the award to indigenous kids around the world.

“I dedicate this to all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art and dance and write stories, we are the original storytellers and we can make it here, as well”.

Moving onto the big awards, the night belonged to South Korean director and screenwriter Bong Joon-ho whose movie Parasite won the main awards.

The Korean language film took home four awards, almost a clean sweep of all the major categories, winning Best International Feature Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and the big award, Best Picture. It made history by becoming the first non-English feature to win the coveted prize

Best Picture – Parasite
Best Actress – Renée Zellweger
Best Actor – Joaquin Phoenix
Best Director – Bong Joon-ho

Best Supporting Actress – Laura Dern

Best Supporting Actor – Brad Pitt

Best Animated Feature – Toy Story 4

Best Original Screenplay – Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won (Parasite)
Best Adapted Screenplay – Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit)

New Zealand has celebrated 180 years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Numerous services were held around the country to remember this important day in our history.

Around 2500 people gathered at Waitangi, the home of the Treaty.

During the ceremony, prayers were said by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Police Commissioner Mike Bush, Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon. Ardern concluded her prayer with the last verse of the national anthem.

Kindness and unity seemed to be the main message conveyed at this year’s dawn ceremony.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson wrote her own karakia in te reo which spoke of the importance to respect and look after our whenua.

Flooding has devastated areas of the Southland as record rain levels have fallen over the last 3 days.

Residents in areas of Gore and Mataura have been asked to evacuate from their homes. This comes after three days of heavy rain put the Mataura River at risk of breaking its banks.

A state of emergency was declared in Southland yesterday afternoon.

Civil Defence has told residents in Southland to have their bags packed if last-minute evacuations are needed.

Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks said some houses close to rivers were being sandbagged incase of flooding.

She said “I’ve lived here for a long time and I can’t recall constant rain like we’ve had in the last three days.”

Air New Zealand has announced it’s sold more than one million domestic airfares for under $50 in the last year.

The airline lowered its lowest fares on 41 domestic routes in February 2019. Some fares were reduced by up to 50%.

Air NZ’s Cam Wallace says the response from customers has been fantastic. 

Around 600,000 of those flights sold under $50 were on the airline’s regional network. These are flights that service smaller towns.

The price drop came in reponse to complaints about the high prices people paid to travel to smaller destinations.

In November, 2019, rival airline Jetstar stopped regional operations in Aotearoa, making Air NZ the only option on some routes. 

A state of emergency has been declared in Fiordland.

The move comes after flooding cut off the only road out of Milford Sound. At this stage, it is estimated that around 380 people stranded.

State Highway 94, between Te Anau and Milford, has numerous slips and flooding. It is currently closed and expected to be that way for several days.

The Transport Agency said the highway – the only road in or out of Milford Sound – would remain closed throughout today and into tomorrow morning.

Southland Mayor Gary Tong said the state of emergency applies to Milford, Te Anau and Manapouri.

The Milford Track, one of New Zealand’s great walks, was cleared during the weekend.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that it will ban foreign visitors from China entering into New Zealand.

Any foreign travellers who leave from or transit through China will be refused entry to New Zealand from Monday.

The ban is due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus in Wuhan.

New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate family will be allowed to enter the country. However, they will need to isolate themselves for 14 days after arrival.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade has also raised its travel advice for China to “Do not travel”, the highest level.

The US and Australia have already made this decision.

A new study has found that New Zealand households throw out 1.7 billion plastic containers each year.

Most of the containers are thrown out in their rubbish and recycling bins.

The research was carried out by the Waste Management Institute. They also found that almost 40% of plastic bottles and containers that could be recycled actually ended up in landfills.

The company looked at the recycling and rubbish bins of more than 850 households from eight locations around the country were audited for the research.

It found that 97 million plastic drink and milk bottles are put in rubbish bins, instead of recycling bins.

The most common item being disposed of in either recycling or rubbish bins was single-use drink bottles – 188 per household per year.

WasteMINZ said New Zealand was the first country in the world to have such an in-depth understanding of its kerbside recycling of plastic.

All Black rugby star Ardie Savea has been banned from Tik Tok by his doctor.

Ardie is recovering from a serious knee injury and is supposed to be resting.

At a recent visit to the doctor he was told if he wants to play Super Rugby – New Zealand’s rugby competition – he has to stop making clips for TikTok, in which he often dances.

Since being injured during a New Zealand All Blacks World Cup October 2019, Ardie hasn’t been able to play the sport.

He has had to rest his knee and stop his usual active life.

Savea has acknowledged that time away from the game has been frustrating. All the free time has led to him making videos of himself dancing for the popular video clip app!

I’m doing all these TikToks and people are saying ‘um aren’t you supposed to be injured?’

Ardie is expected to return to playing rugby later on in the season… as long as he follows his doctor’s orders!!

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a general election date.

The 2020 New Zealand general election will be held on 19 September.

The date means Parliament will sit for the last time on August 6 and will be officially finished on August 12.

As well as electing a new government, voters will be asked to take part in two referenda. One on voluntary euthanasia and the legalisation of cannabis.

Ardern said that Labour’s intention was to deliver a “positive and factual election campaign”.