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A New Zealand’s “Super Saturday” of Covid vaccinations has proved a huge hit throughout the country.

In total 130,002 people received an injection. This represents 2.5% of the eligible population.

The total number easily beat the goal of 100,000 vaccine set by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The Vaxathon was shown on TV from 12pm until 6pm. The show used well known musicians, politicans and sports stars to get the vaccination message across.

Air New Zealand, one of New Zealand’s biggest companies, opened one of its Boeing 787s to allow a lucky few to be vaccinated in business class, before eating in-flight snacks while waiting out their observation period.

Over the country vaccine clinics and pop up areas were open for extended hours during Saturday – many staying open until 8pm.

A big emphasis on the day was aimed to get more Maori and Pasifika peoples vaccinated. According to the Ministry of Health, about 5% of the Tongan community in New Zealand were vaccinated on Super Saturday.

The long-tailed bat has been included into the 2021 NEw Zealand Bird of the Year competition.

In an announcement on Monday morning, the Forest and Bird Society , said the long-tailed bat, pekapeka-tou-roa, will be part of the 75 native birds in this year’s competiton.

It is the first time a land mammal has made the final cut.

The New Zealan dBird of the Year Award is in its 16th year. More than 55,000 verified votes were cast in last year’s competition, with the kākāpō taking out the top spot.

The controversial move to include bats in the native bird competition is sure to ruffle some feathers.

Department of Conservation senior ranger Rob Carson-Iles said the long-tailed bat was critically endangered, “the next stop on that continuum is extinction”.

However, the inclusion has been welcomed in South Canterbury, where about 300 long-tailed bat live, the only population on the east coast of the South Island.

The All Whites have completed two wins from two games during the recent international window.

New Zealand followed up their 2-1 win over Caribbean side Curacao at the weekend with a 1-0 win over Bahrain in Manama.

Italy-based Niko Kirwan scored the winner in the 88th minute.

The wins, both against higher ranked nations, should result in an improvement in their current ranking of 121.

The next international window is from November 8th to 16th.

The Oceania World Cup qualifying tournament is set to take place in January in the Middle East with the winner of that then set to play a team from the America’s for a place at the World Cup finals in Qatar.

The Government has announced that all teachers and school staff must be vaccinated.

Covid and Education Minster Chris Hipkins made the announcement earlier this week saying that they must be fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022.

Teachers must have had their first vaccination by the 15th November.

Cabinet also announced that secondary schools and kura will be required to keep a vaccine register for students.

Students over 13 who do not produce evidence of vaccination will be considered unvaccinated.

The key reason of this move is that vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11 are not yet approved. Therefore, to ensure their safety vaccination by people who come into contact with this group is important.

Isabel Macdonald, South New Brighton School

Plastic straws are bad. Most people use them once, then throw them out. Then by some unknown force of evil, many end up in the ocean. Plastic breaks down into microplastics, then fish, seabirds and turtles eat them thinking they’re a yummy little snack. Some people know how terrible plastic straws are, but many are unaware or don’t care, and use them in their daily life.

Some people actually do need straws. Many people with disabilities, or people that are unwell in hospital, truly need plastic straws to drink safely. But in New Zealand alone, we use around 200 million plastic straws every year. That is way too many! New Zealand is actually one of the worst nations in the world for wasting plastic.

We throw away an average of 159 grams each, every day. In Wellington, some restaurants use up to 800 straws every week! Frustratingly, plastic straws are one of the most commonly found pieces of rubbish on our beaches. Sustainable Coastlines, a New Zealand environmental charity, have collected over 65,000 plastic straws in the last ten years on the beaches of Aotearoa. In a recent study, researchers found that there are as many as 8.3 billion plastic straws on the world’s beaches! Over lockdown last year, our neighbours took part in a beach clean up. We collected over three bags of rubbish, including plastic straws and lots of microplastics.

When our class visited EcoSort in Christchurch this year, we found out that anything smaller than a yogurt pottle goes to landfill. Plastic straws are a problem because people are putting them into the recycling and they cannot be recycled here in Christchurch. They are actually almost impossible to recycle so they usually end up in landfill, or worse, in the sea. Unacceptably, many plastics take as long as 200 years or longer to decompose!

On cross country day this year, I went to Coupland’s Bakery in New Brighton after school. I was desperately in need of a slushie to quench my thirst. I felt really disappointed and saddened to see that Coupland’s had plastic straws, and that there were no other options available. I decided to take my cup of slushie home and use our metal reusable straws instead. This motivated me to write a letter to Mr. Lance Coupland, the managing director of Coupland’s Bakeries Ltd.

I was determined to make a change so I started a petition at my school and in my neighbourhood. The petition asked for Coupland’s Bakeries to become more environmentally friendly. I collected over 100 signatures and posted the petition and letter to Mr. Coupland at the head office in Christchurch. I hope to encourage them to change their ways and think about their decisions and their use of plastic. My petition showed that lots of people do care for the environment and are wanting Coupland’s, and other companies, to improve.

Coupland’s could switch to paper straws as many businesses in the food industry have decided to stop using plastic straws. Some cities and countries have already banned plastic straws altogether. McDonald’s has started to change to paper straws and even the Queen of England has decided to stop using plastic straws at her royal estates! I visited Coupland’s Bakery and talked to some of the staff about their plastic straws. They said that Coca-Cola provides the stores with the straws for the slushie machines. They said that they are not very happy about how much plastic packaging Coca-Cola sends them and they would prefer paper straws in the stores.

I had the opportunity to speak to Kathy McClelland, Coupland’s Quality Assurance Coordinator. She informed me that they had been speaking to their marketing team because of my letter and petition. They are waiting for more information from their supplier about changing to paper straws. She also mentioned that they’re looking into changing the trays for the slices and biscuits to a #1 P.E.T. plastic so they could be recyclable (currently #6 E.P.S. ). The numbers that can be recycled in Christchurch are #1, #2 and #5. Kathy also said they have had lots of people emailing Coupland’s because they were unhappy about their use of unrecyclable plastics.

The New Zealand government announced earlier this year they would be banning single use plastics, including plastic straws. Unfortunately, they are phasing them out between 2022 and 2025. That’s a whole four years and 25,000 more plastic straws could end up in the ocean and on our beaches. To help make a positive change, Wellington Council is planning to buy paper straws to distribute around cafes, restaurants and bars, so they can trial being more environmentally friendly. This is a great step, and many businesses have now signed the New Zealand Plastic Packaging Declaration.

Countdown’s general manager, Kiri Hannifin says, “Seeing images of turtles with straws coming out of their nostrils is confronting and although straws account for a small part of marine pollution, they cause significant harm.” It is awesome that so many companies are trying to improve and change their ways by signing this declaration.

Plastic straws are not sustainable for our environment. The production and irresponsible consumption of them needs to stop. Plastic straws also have a negative effect on life below water. I have made an impact by petitioning and contacting a local business to encourage positive change. There is hope for the future. Coupland’s have told me that they are trying to change, and Coca-Cola has signed the declaration to eliminate non-recyclable packaging. So hopefully they will both be bringing in recyclable options and paper straws. While it’s clear plastic straws have a bad influence on the environment, some people do need them so they can’t be completely banned at this point. After researching this issue, with the government’s announcement to phase out single use plastics, plus many businesses trying to become more environmentally aware, I feel almost positive He rā ki tua, better times are coming.

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Acclaimed author and illustrator Donovan Bixley wants the children of Aotearoa to pick up their pencils and find a creative outlet in drawing these school holidays.

Auckland children will spend at least some of the school holidays in lockdown, while alert level restrictions impact options for those in the rest of the country.

So Bixley’s competition to celebrate the release of Draw Some Awesome (more information attached), an interactive book jam packed with fun activities to help youngsters discover their drawing style, is well timed.

Bixley is asking Kiwi kids to look around their homes for an everyday object, be it a shoe or maybe even a hairdryer, which they can use as inspiration to create an amazing art work.

One lucky entrant will receive $100 worth of Donovan Bixley books from Upstart Press for their efforts.

Competition details are available here or see the flyer below.

Conservation groups and iwi are joining together to make Farewell Spit predator free.

Farewell Spit is located at the top of the South Island of Aotearoa.

A partnership has been formed between Manawhenua ki Mohua, HealthPost Nature Trust and Tasman Environmental Trust. The aim is to eradicate pests from more than 12,000 hectares stretching from Farewell Spit to the Whanganui Inlet on the West Coast.

The venture is known as the Onetahua Restoration project. It has received $250,000 from Predator Free 2050 to fund a study on the eradication.

If it goes ahead, the project is forecast to create up to 50 jobs over five years.

Currently there area number of pigs on Farewell Spit which cause issues with native plants and animals.

Dame Patsy Reddy has stepped aside as the Governor-General of New Zealand.

Tuesday the 28th September marked her five-year tenure as the Queen’s representative in New Zealand.

A state farewell has been postponed due to COVID-19 and will be rescheduled.

Dame Cindy Kiro will be sworn in as Governor-General on Thursday, October 21. Chief Justice Dame Helen Winkelmann will act as Administrator of the Government in the interim.

Today the Prime Minister thanked Reddy for her “tireless service” during an “eventful term of office”. She was just the third woman to hold the office of Governor-General after Dame Cath Tizard and Dame Silvia Cartwright.

In Ardern’s farewell, she also acknowledged Dame Patsy’s husband Sir David Gascoigne for standing beside her and supporting her.

Thousands of Godwit birds have arrived back in New Zealand.

The birds have completed a migratory 10,000km non-stop flight from the Arctic

The Eastern bar-tail godwits, or kuaka in Māori, landed at the top of the South Island on Tuesday. They will spend the next few days resting after their huge flight.

The birds make the mammoth journey across the Pacific from their breeding ground in the Arctic to New Zealand every year.

Last year, one godwit was tracked flying more than 12,000km (7,500 miles) from Alaska to New Zealand, setting a new world record for avian non-stop flight.

In total around 80,000 godwits arrive and move into harbours and estuaries across our two islands.

Below is an image showing when and where the godwits travel.