China has halted imports of some New Zealand milk powders after a company disclosed that three batches of an ingredient used in sports drinks and baby formula tested positive for a strain of bacteria that causes botulism.
The New Zealand-based Fonterra Group said Saturday that three batches of its whey protein tested positive for the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Those batches weren't for use in Fonterra-branded products, but they said companies that used the whey protein in their products might issue recalls.
Fonterra, the world's largest dairy exporter, said it had warned companies that bought the whey protein about the problem. "As a result, these customers are urgently investigating whether any of the affected product, which contains a strain of Clostridium, is in their supply chains," the company said.FULL STORY
A wimmer in New Zealand died Wednesday after he was attacked by a great white shark on the country's west coast, authorities said.
The man was found dead in the water on Wednesday afternoon at Muriwai beach, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Auckland, New Zealand police said. The shark was still biting the man's body when he was found, it added.FULL STORY
For the Dawsons of Tauranga, New Zealand, the canoe slalom event at the London Olympics will be a family affair.
Mike Dawson, who is competing in the men's kayak class, will not just be trying to impress his father, who coaches him, or his brother and sister, who will be watching from the crowd. He will also need to ensure he doesn't incur the disapproval of his mother, Kay, who is one of the judges at the event.
The idea of a mother officiating in a competition in which her son is participating may strike some as a little unfair, but the Dawsons and the New Zealand Canoe Federation are eager to stress there's no scope for special treatment in this case.
"The only real advantage mum can give me is her presence at what will be my biggest race ever," said Mike Dawson, who is competing in the Olympics for the first time after finishing 16th in the canoe slalom world championships in Slovakia last year.FULL STORY
Perhaps some benevolent hair-care elves are looking out for a few folks in New Zealand’s South Island.
Or, as police are wondering, maybe a would-be criminal is just testing what he or she can get past customs agents.
Four surprise packages – containing up to 300 New Zealand dollars ($231), friendly handwritten notes and either a hair dryer or a pair of hair clippers – were sent recently from Paris to three people on a remote portion of South Island, the Guardian and the Greymouth (New Zealand) Star reported Tuesday.
Two of the notes said “thank you for being a true friend” in a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, the Guardian reported. But the recipients told police they didn’t know who sent the packages or why they received them, according to the Star.
It could be a prank, and it’s probably not a marketing stunt, police Senior Sergeant Allyson Ealam said at a news conference in Greymouth, the papers reported.
However, Interpol and New Zealand Customs Service agents are checking the return addresses and investigating whether this was part of a test run to ship drugs or launder money, she said, according to both media outlets.
“(The recipients) did the right thing by contacting police about their surprise parcels,” Ealam said, according to the Star. “Maybe they have come from someone who won the lottery over there - or it could be that it’s a nice prank.”
Boston University mourned three study-abroad students killed in New Zealand while visiting locations where "The Lord of the Rings" movies were filmed.
A van in which the students were traveling swerved off a road and rolled over about 7:30 a.m. Saturday near the resort town of Taupo in the center of North Island, the school said.
The university, quoting a U.S. vice consul in Auckland, identified the victims as Daniela Lekhno from Manalapan, New Jersey; Roch Jauberty from Paris; and Austin Brashears, Huntington Beach, California.
Five other students were injured in the crash, including one in critical condition after being flown by helicopter to get medial treatment. Two of those were later released from a hospital.FULL STORY
Actress Lucy Lawless, famous for starring in the television show "Xena: Warrior Princess," was arrested along with six other Greenpeace activists early Monday for boarding a drilling ship last week in New Zealand, according to Greenpeace. She and the others who were aboard the ship without permission were released shortly after their arrest, the activist organization said.
CNN.com spoke with Lawless on Friday while she was having a restless night on the Noble Discoverer, a ship leased to Shell Oil. The ship was docked in the Port of Taranaki when the actress and other activists, on behalf of Greenpeace, made it on board to protest drilling in the Arctic.
The group was able to display signs on the Discoverer's 174-foot drilling tower. One sign said "Stop Shell #SaveTheArctic."
Lawless told CNN on Friday that she expected to be arrested for the stunt but that she and the others intended to remain on the ship for as long as possible. She stressed that exchanges between them and authorities had been peaceful.
"We feel very much that what happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic anymore," Lawless said. "An oil spill can never be cleaned up because of the remoteness and the freezing temperatures. We risk trashing whole ecosystems and poisoning them from plankton on up. It's absolutely unthinkable."
Scientists say they recently captured “supergiant” deep-sea crustaceans nearly a foot long – the likes of which have rarely been seen – in an ocean trench off New Zealand.
The seven amphipods measure about 28 centimeters (about 11 inches) long, which is 10 times the length of normal deep-sea amphipods and nearly three times the size of what are considered giant amphipods, Scotland’s University of Aberdeen said Thursday.
They are the biggest whole specimens of supergiants ever recorded, according to the university.
The team’s deep-sea cameras also caught footage of a supergiant that scientists estimated was about 34 centimeters (13 inches) long.
Though the creatures may remind observers of shrimp, amphipods are an order apart.
Scientists with the university and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research were looking for deep-sea snailfish when a trap made the unexpected catch.
“(After) the traps came on deck … I stopped and thought, ‘What on Earth is that?’ whilst catching a glimpse of an amphipod far bigger than I ever though possible,” the voyage’s leader, Alan Jamieson of the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab, said in a news release. “It’s a bit like finding a footlong cockroach.”
The founder of the shuttered file-sharing site Megaupload appeared in a New Zealand court Monday as the U.S. Department of Justice seeks to extradite him and other company officials on criminal charges. But his lawyer insisted his client is innocent.
The U.S. authorities shut down Megaupload last week and announced indictments against seven people connected to the site, accusing them of operating an "international organized criminal enterprise responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of copyrighted works."
Four of those charged were arrested in New Zealand at the request of the U.S. government. They included Kim Dotcom, the site's founder, who is also known as Kim Schmitz. The New Zealand police detained Dotcom, a German citizen, on Friday after a dramatic raid on his luxury mansion in the affluent North Shore area of Auckland, the country's largest city.FULL STORY
The stern of a cargo ship that ran aground last year on a reef off the coast of New Zealand has slipped further underwater, officials said Tuesday, spewing nearly 10 more tons of oil into the sea.
Some 21 containers holding a hazardous metal called cryolite - a by-product of aluminum smelting - have also slipped off the vessel as it plunged downward, said Maritime New Zealand spokeswoman Michele Poole.
"We had significant storms last weekend and the seas really have not subsided," added Poole. "So it's very rough out there."
Authorities say they do not consider the metals dangerous because they are wrapped in plastic within the container. Should the containers break apart, Poole noted, the metals' toxicity levels would likely be diluted by the surrounding sea water.
The metals are not thought to pose an environmental risk, she said.
Still, emergency management teams were again placed on alert after monitoring devices aboard the ship - named the MV Rena - indicated Tuesday morning that the vessel had further slipped off the Astrolabe Reef, located about 12 nautical miles off the city of Tauranga.
Authorities said six little blue, or korora, penguins have since been recovered after new pockets of oil surfaced later Tuesday, but added that they do not expect a need for a major recovery effort.
The Liberian-flagged vessel struck the reef in October and has split in two.FULL STORY
Eleven people were killed in a hot air balloon crash near the town of Carterton, New Zealand, Saturday morning, according to Radio New Zealand, which quoted local health officials.
Reports of the crash, which happened nearly 90 kilometers northeast of Wellington, were first reported shortly before 7:30 a.m., Radio New Zealand reported.
A witness said the balloon was in flames as it descended, according to Radio New Zealand.FULL STORY
A research ship has arrived to help rescue a Russian fishing vessel that struck ice and became stuck in the frozen waters off of Antarctica 10 days ago, officials in New Zealand said.
The Sparta hit underwater ice December 16, leaving a one-foot hole in the ship's hull, according to the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Center.
The ship has been stranded in an area about 2,000 miles from New Zealand, where the ice has been so thick that rescue ships have had difficulty getting close.
Since becoming stuck, 32 crew members have been working with rescuers to try to patch up the hole to keep the ship from sinking. They had been given tools dropped by a New Zealand Air Force plane, helping them pump out freezing water that was rushing into the ship.
New Zealand joined Australia on Wednesday in criticizing Japan's decision to resume whaling in Antarctic waters later this year and Tokyo's announcement that it will increase security for its whaling fleet.
"The Japanese government (is) making noises that have an ominous feel about them," New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said.
Michihiko Kano, Japan's fisheries minister, said at a news conference Tuesday that a patrol boat from the Fisheries Agency would accompany the Japanese whaling fleet when it heads for the Southern Ocean in December to "strengthen the protection given to the research whaling ships."
The addition of the patrol boat to the whaling fleet comes after last season's whale hunt in the Southern Ocean was cut short when anti-whaling activists from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society blocked strikes on the animals. Sea Shepherd said its actions saved 800 whales, and it promised last week to be back in force this season.
[Updated at 10:39 a.m. ET] The U.S. Geological Survey has revised downward the magnitude of Thursday morning's earthquake off Cuba to magnitude 5.1 from magnitude 6.0.
[Updated at 5:20 a.m. ET] A magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit off the southeastern coast of Cuba early Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
The quake was centered 77 miles north of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and 370 miles southeast of Havana, Cuba. It hit at 4:43 a.m.
Forty-three minutes earlier, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake rumbled off the east coast of Japan, the USGS reported. No tsunami warning was issued.
Both quakes were shallow, striking at a depth of six miles.
And seven minutes before the Japan quake, a magnitude 6.0 quake was recorded off the coast of New Zealand, according to the USGS.
An emperor penguin that lost its way from Antarctica more than two months ago was released back into his native Southern Ocean waters Sunday.
"It's an indescribable feeling to see a patient finally set free," said Dr. Lisa Argilla, manager of veterinary science at Wellington Zoo, where the bird has been recuperating since New Zealanders discovered it in June on a beach north of the capital city.
Argilla said the penguin, nicknamed "Happy Feet" after the 2006 animated movie about emperor penguins, needed "some gentle encouragement" to slide down a ramp off the research vessel that transported it back home.FULL STORY
With the current state of the U.S. dollar and global economy in flux, perhaps it's time to turn to The Force for answers.
The New Zealand Mint may be hoping The Force is good for their business as it prepares to churn out newly-minted "Star Wars" coins. The coins, though they will primarily be collectible in nature, are actually going to be considered legal tender on the South Pacific Niue Island.
"New Zealand Mint is proud to launch one of cinema’s most enduring and beloved franchises, Star Wars, as a legal tender coin set," the Mint's website said. "These coin series will be hugely popular for both Star Wars devotees and coin-collectors alike. This first series is a limited mintage and are quite simply out of this Universe. Don’t deny the Force within you, and get your set today."
For the 2,000 residents of "The Rock" as the island is known, the coins will be full legal tender. Niue is a self-governing island, but is not entirely sovereign from New Zealand. It relies heavily on aid from New Zealand and other countries overseen by Queen Elizabeth II, who will be featured on the flip side of each coin.
According to NPR, the island will receive a royalty payment from the New Zealand mint for using the coins.
The coins, made from 1 ounce of pure silver, will be sold for much more than their $2 face value. But at least fans will have a large selection to choose from. The coins will feature more than 40 characters, but will cost about $20 when you buy them. Or, of course, if you're a super fan you can opt for the Millennium Falcon Coin Set or the Darth Vader Coin set - but the four coins and fancy case will set you back quite a bit with a pricetag of a little more than $380 (without shipping, of course.)
It could be the plot for the pilot of "CSI: New Zealand."
That half-skeleton they've been using for years as a teaching aid isn't a model, it's the real thing.
Principal Bastienne Kruger at Totara North School was about to use the skeleton during a presentation recently when she realized it wasn't plastic but real human bones, the Northern Advocate in New Zealand reports.
"When we realized it was real we wanted to do right by this poor person, but we didn't know how," the paper quoted Kruger as saying. She called the local hospital, which advised her to hand the remains, including a skull and complete ribs, hands and feet for one half of a body, over to the authorities.
Researchers combing through a New Zealand film vault have found a lost work of legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.
The film, titled "The White Shadow," was made in 1923 and released in 1924. It may be the earliest known work of Hitchcock, according to the National Film Preservation Foundation, which will help restore the movie along with the New Zealand Film Archive, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art and UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Only three reels of the six-reel film are known to have survived, according to the New Zealand Film Archive.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning Wednesday for Kermadec Island, Tonga and New Zealand after a tsunami was detected following a major earthquake nearby.
The warning was issued after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 shook the Kermadec Islands at 7:03 a.m. Thursday (3:03 p.m. ET Wednesday), according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake was centered 160 kilometers (99 miles) east of Raoul Island, Kermadec Islands, and 914 kilometers (568 miles) south of Tuku'alofa, Tonga, the survey said.
"Sea level readings confirm that a tsunami was generated," the center said. "This tsunami may have been destructive along coastlines of the region near the earthquake epicenter."FULL STORY
The errant emperor penguin that showed up on a New Zealand beach a week ago appears to be feeling better after emergency treatment, New Zealand media report.
The lost Antarctic bird, the first seen in New Zealand in 43 years, had shown "feisty" behavior and eaten fish after veterinarians and a physician at the Wellington Zoo flushed more than 5 pounds of sand and sticks from its belly, TVNZ reported.
"Every day he survives, we have more confidence," Mauritz Basson, the zoo's general manager for operations, told TV One on Tuesday morning.
Although Basson used a masculine pronoun, the penguin's sex is not known.
"They do use ice to cool themselves down," Basson said by way of explaining the sand in the bird's belly. "I think he was probably trying to cool down sitting on Peka Peka Beach, which is slightly warmer than Antarctica this time of year.
"He consumed the sand, which didn't melt, didn't cool him down, so he ate it until he was full and he deteriorated quickly from there."
Experts are debating what to do next if the bird recovers. For now, it's being kept alone in a cold room with a blanket of ice on the floor. Keepers are reluctant to move it into a population for fear of spreading some undetected disease.
One such expert, John Cockrem, suggest releasing the penguin into the sea, point it toward Antarctica and let it find its own way home if it can.
"The bird had swum here naturally and in spring the juveniles would normally turn around and head south," he told TVNZ. "So if the bird is back in the water it can make its own way south as it would have normally done."