The Australian man charged with murdering 51 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, has suddenly changed his plea to admit all charges at a hastily arranged court appearance. The man accused of the shootings, Brenton Tarrant, a former gym instructor from Australia, was charged with the murders and had maintained a not-guilty plea throughout. His trial was set down for the 2 June in Christchurch high court.
New Zealand’s parliament has passed a bill decriminalizing abortion and allowing women to choose a termination up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Voting to remove the procedure from the country’s Crimes Act changes a law that has been in force since 1977. Previously, two doctors were required to approve an abortion – and this could only happen if there was a “serious danger” to the pregnant woman’s health.
A court in New Zealand has found a Samoan-born chief guilty of more than 20 charges of dealing in slaves and human trafficking. Joseph Auga Matamata, 65, was convicted of offenses over a 25-year period. His victims, who were all Samoan, were too scared to alert the authorities because of his status as a matai or chief, the court heard.
Severe flooding forced thousands of residents in New Zealand’s South Island to flee their homes on Wednesday and left hundreds of tourists stranded at the remote Milford Sound. The Southland region declared a state of emergency after being deluged with more than 1,000 millimeters (39 inches) of rainfall in 60 hours, triggering landslides on large roads and causing rivers to burst their banks.
New Zealand police said on Tuesday they were ending the search for the bodies of two people still missing following the deadly eruption of a volcano earlier this month. Those still missing, presumed dead, are Winona Langford, a 17-year-old Australian tourist, and Hayden Marshall-Inman, a 40-year-old New Zealand tour guide. Their bodies are thought to have been swept into the ocean around the uninhabited volcanic island.
The New Zealand military will deploy to White Island at first light in an attempt to bring eight bodies home to their desperate families – despite a serious risk of the volcano erupting again. Eight specialist military personnel will land on the island on Friday morning local time in an operation that is expected to last several hours, and involves multiple risk factors.
Eight people are missing and “presumed” dead after the volcanic eruption on New Zealand’s White Island, police have said. Deputy Commissioner John Tims said five people had died, 31 were in hospital, three had been discharged from hospital and eight people were missing and “presumed dead” after the volcano suddenly spewed plumes of smoke and debris 3,600m (12,000ft).
A powerful volcanic eruption has rocked New Zealand’s White Island, a small uninhabited volcanic islet sticking up out of the sea in the Bay of Plenty, 50 kilometers offshore of the country’s North Island. Several people have been injured, some reportedly with serious burns, and some have been evacuated to the mainland. At least seven people are critically injured.
The world’s first HIV positive sperm bank has been launched in an effort to reduce the stigma experienced by those living with the virus. Although this does not mean the HIV has been cured, it does mean that the treatment is working well and so the virus cannot be passed on – even through sex without a condom or childbirth.
New Zealand’s parliament has voted in favor of legalizing euthanasia, paving the way for a national referendum on the issue next year. The law would allow terminally ill people with less than six months to live the opportunity to choose assisted dying if approved by two doctors. The bill was passed with a vote of 69-51, ending years of heated parliamentary debate on the topic.