Monday, September 28, 2009

Road rage attacker not truly remorseful, says victim's son

Updated 2:42PM Tuesday Sep 29, 2009

The son of the man killed in an "appalling" road rage attack says the perpetrator has not shown true remorse.

On his daughter's third birthday, Bio O'Brien, 28, was jailed in the High Court in Auckland today for three years for the manslaughter of Jasmatbhai Patel, 78, in the Auckland suburb of Mt Albert on April 7.

After their two cars were involved in a minor collision, O'Brien dragged Mr Patel from his vehicle and attacked him.

Mr Patel fell and hit his head. He died in Auckland Hospital the next day.

Justice Judith Potter said the starting point of four and a half years was reduced to three years because of O'Brien's early guilty plea, expressions of remorse, and an offer to meet his victim's family.

But Mr Patel's family said they did not want a meeting.

And after sentencing today the victim's son, George, said he did not think O'Brien was truly remorseful.

He said no sentence would be enough, although he respected the New Zealand justice system.

In his victim impact statement read to court, George Patel said his father was not an ordinary man.

"He was the most loving and caring dad."

When George Patel's mother died 20 years ago, he had promised to care for his father.

"His death felt like I lost a personal part of my life."

He said he drove past the spot his father was killed on Carrington Road every day.

"I will never again see or talk to my Dad. It makes me sad and distressed when I see violent acts on telly - I feel my Dad died the same way."

He said he did not wish even his worst enemy to die the way his father had.

His father was a very successful businessman in India and moved to New Zealand for a better life for his family. "He was a kind person who always put others before himself."

The court heard O'Brien and Mr Patel were both driving south on Carrington Rd when Mr Patel's car dented O'Brien's BMW.

O'Brien went to Mr Patel's van and pulled him out to look at the dent.

He pushed and pulled Mr Patel by his shirt and struck him on his face and chest.

He pushed him over and Mr Patel's head hit the kerb. He bled profusely from his left ear and his eyes rolled backwards.

O'Brien moved Mr Patel to the grass and waited for police to arrive.

Police prosecutor Nick Malarao told Justice Potter O'Brien's sentence should send be a deterrent for similar offences.

He said O'Brien was physically bigger than his vulnerable 78-year-old victim.

Defence counsel David Niven said O'Brien expressed remorse as soon as he realised what he had done.

In his statement to police, O'Brien said as soon as Mr Patel hit the ground, "I realised what I had done and tried to assist".

Justice Potter said she did not take into account O'Brien's prior convictions for male assaults female and threatening to kill in 2001.

She said it was an "appalling case of what may be described as road rage."

Driving in Auckland could be frustrating but O'Brien actions were "totally disproportionate" to the incident, she said.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Maori designers get shot at big time

Dominion Post, Stuff
Last updated 14:12 22/09/2009

Fashion Week has made room for promising designers this week, with a section for Maori.

Eight up-and-coming Maori designers are to show their work at Auckland Fashion Week, after being chosen from the inaugural Miromoda Maori Fashion Design Awards.

The overall winner of the Miromoda competition also got to show at Planet IndigenUS Festival in Toronto, Canada.

Wiremu Barriball, a shoe, sunglasses and pressure sportswear designer from Titahi Bay near Wellington was the overall winner of the awards in June.

His collection, called Tu Ake, has direct links to his Maori heritage.

"It's Maori inspired and the things I was brought up with, it's traditional with a contemporary flavour to it."

It was "touch and go" whether he would enter the awards in the first place, he said.

"I wasn't sure I had enough to show, like to cover the models on the catwalk," he laughed.

Entering worked in his favour, and he was blissfully unaware of the trip to Canada attached to coming out on top.

Barriball called himself fresh blood in the fashion world, saying it's something he "just stumbled across".

"I've done so much in my career as an artist, fashion has only come in the last one-and-a-half years. Basically I've been labelled as a fashion designer, I need to have time to get used to it, I don't think I've paid my dues."

Up until winning a spot to show his work, he was quite ignorant about Fashion Week and its prestige, he said.

"It's mind-blowing now to think that we are involved in it. It's embarrassing I've taken it so lightly."

In contrast, Nelson designer Samara Vercoe knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she also won a spot through the Miromoda awards.

A design graduate of Massey University, Vercoe entered the competition with the aim of getting to Fashion Week.

She planned to show eight pieces on Thursday, which she has been frantically working on completing.

Her designs were conceptual, but still commercially viable, based on hand-dying to create a range of moody-blue garments, she said.

"It's all hand-detailed as well, beading and embroidery, there's a lot of time that goes into it."

The details she put into the garments was reflective of her love of vintage clothing and her desire to get people to spend money on quality clothing, rather than buying something made to last only one season.

"I want to encourage people to see the quality and appreciate the time and effort that goes into the clothes so they will treasure it more than discard it."
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Auckland-based designer Kiri Nathan was incorporating vintage influences in her collection, also showing at Miromoda on Thursday.

Her foray into fashion was about following her dreams, she said.

While she studied fashion 16 years ago, she had been working full-time in an unrelated field for the past decade. However, two years ago, she "left her job and chased her dream".

Her focus back on design lead her to win the Supreme award last year at the Style Pasifika Fashion awards, and then she also won at Miromoda.

"I've gone from having a business card to putting a full collection together, having professional photo shoot, catalogues, the whole shebang in 12 weeks."

Her collection was also inspired by vintage, but she has a definite Maori element to her designs.

"The collection is inspired by korowai traditional weave and the other is my grandmother's love of the vintage era, when a woman dresses like a woman, elegant and beautiful."

She will show eight one-off gowns, made of satins, silks and traditional woven korowai. She was a one-woman show with her dresses; she designed and constructed them.

She has never sold one of her works as she has not thought of it as a business yet. Expansion will be something she will think about after Fashion Week.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Brawling rugby schoolboys have suspensions cut

Last updated 14:27 19/09/2009

Former All Black Va'aiga Tuigamala is "elated" by today's successful appeal over the sentences for the Kelston Boy's High School rugby brawlers.

Five students from the Auckland school who were banned from playing rugby for their part in a brawl with rival Auckland Grammar School players have had their sentences drastically reduced.

They were initially suspended for between 10 and 16 months following the brawl during a game on August 15, while players from Auckland Grammar were suspended for between two and seven weeks.

Following an appeal before the Auckland Rugby Union appeal panel today, the Kelston students have had the sentences reduced to between seven and 14 weeks.

Mr Tuigamala, a Kelston old boy who had been critical about the original sentence, said today's outcome showed "common sense prevailing".

But he hoped the students involved had learned from the experience.

"The young men have done well in accepting their responsibility, taking it on the chin, standing up and being men," he said.

"I'm very proud of them. But at the same time they also know the lesson they learned and what they put their families through."

The Kelston Boys' board of trustees and principal had been "absolutely fantastic " in making the students take responsibility for th eir actions, with the students doing anger management courses and community service.

"Today's hearing is wonderful. I am absolutely elated for them, " Mr Tuigamala said.

Kelston lawyer John Haigh QC, said the original sentences were "unfair and unjust" but he was content with today's decision.

The students were "very pleased", he said.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Belt tightening at Fashion Week

TV3 website, Stuff, yahoo news, herald

Times are tough in fashion and Air New Zealand Fashion Week will reflect that. Belts are being tightened to save money. STACEY KNOTT of NZPA talks to two designers who combined forces to drastically cut costs for next week's show.

Fashion Week is a glitzy affair, but it is expensive. For a designer to put on a show to get media and buyers attention, it can cost upward of $20,000.

For the first time, Juliette Hogan, designer for her self-named label, and Anjali Stewart, one half of Twenty-Seven Names, have decided to combine forces and next week share the Auckland runway.

Though sharing something so crucial to commercial success is no easy feat, both said they could not do it with anyone else.

With Hogan in Auckland and Stewart in Wellington, there have been plenty of phone calls, emails and visits to organise the show.

They have had to decide on the models, hair and make-up, lighting, music, who they would invite, then send out invitations.

It has taken months of planning, thousands of dollars, and plenty of sleepless nights to put it all together.

Hogan likened the preparations to writing an essay at university.

She started vaguely thinking about her show three months before the event, but it was always a mad rush in the last minute to pull it together.

"Like writing an essay, you do the research in the two months but actually start writing it in the last two weeks when you have done all the research and looked around and it's all there in your head," she told NZPA.

"It works for me but it's a horrible way to work and I hate it but there's no way of getting away from it."

The designers said the recession has made them think about how they run their businesses.

Hogan started her label when the fashion industry was experiencing a boom. Her first Fashion Week show was in 2006 and she had the luxury to spend a lot on her it, whereas now she was trimming costs wherever she could.

Simple things like invites can save hundreds of dollars, she said.

"This year it's all about email invites so we don't have to pay for envelopes and stamps, being really cost conscious.

"When I first did the show it was expensive. You do the budget at the beginning and realise it costs $800 to put out tickets.

"Last year I made stupid big invitations because I thought they would look beautiful, then they cost $1.50...and you just don't think about it."

While both designers were coy over what to expect next week, both said their collections would evolve from their summer ones.

"We are looking at a musician again, it was Jimi Hendrix for summer, and this time we are looking at another notable musician and a performance artist.
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"It's not like we have intentionally decided to use a major musician for the last few seasons, it just happened," Stewart said.

Hogan said she was sticking to her "well-mannered girl" look.

Apart from the 15-minute show, they are most looking forward to it all being over.

"It becomes your world; this show at Fashion Week is what my life is about, you put it on and the people see the clothes for maybe 30 seconds then in two minutes it's over."

Despite that, they both said it was worth in it terms of the media coverage and the chance to show the story behind the collections.

"It becomes addictive, when you are putting on a show you are showing the collection and your brand story with music, hair and make-up and lighting you really get to portray how you want it that's the only way you can say `this is what my brand is about'," Hogan said.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Unitec student accommodation 'uninhabitable'

2:00PM Friday Sep 04, 2009
The Herald, online, The Weekend Herald, TV3, Newstalk ZB

Some Auckland tertiary students face overwhelming health problems because of the poor accommodation they are forced to live in, a student representative says.

The Unitec Institute of Technology leases two buildings on its Mount Albert campus for accommodation. Three hundred students, many of them from overseas, live there.

There has been a scabies outbreak and two cases of meningitis there, Unitec students' association president Greg Powell said.

It was accommodation close to slum conditions as the buildings were not being maintained, he said.

Each apartment is individually owned by outside parties (a body corporate) so Unitec leases the buildings to rent to the students.

Until recently there was no provision for refunds if unhappy students wanted to leave early. International students must pay their rent for a semester in advance.

Domestic students pay fortnightly for the duration of the period they have signed to stay for, which is usually a year.

Mr Powell said he had for 18 months been fielding complaints from students but conditions had deteriorated recently, making living there a "health hazard".

Some students moved in to find a big blood stain on a mattress, while another student found his mattress covered in ants the day he moved in, Mr Powell said.

At least five people have contracted scabies living there - it was spread through infected mattresses being moved around the rooms.

Gutters were blocked, which caused the water to run down and seep into the walls, increasing dampness problems, he said.

Two residents contracted meningitis - one has been recovering in hospital, the other was Greg Thomas, a first year student.

Mr Thomas is overcoming viral meningitis. He blamed his poor living conditions for the illness and feared he would now fail his course.

Other students spoken to by NZPA complained of low security in the buildings - last month there were five burglaries in three days.

One student said the windows had hardly any resistance and the bedroom doors could be easily opened with a credit card.

Since recent break-ins, Unitec put bars over downstairs windows, making it feel like a prison, said resident Ben Butcher.

"Why make your student accommodation look like a jail?"

Unitec chief financial officer and executive director of finance and infrastructure Paul Conder said it was dealing with each issue.

It would pass complaints to the body corporate.

Unitec needed permission from the apartment owners to make changes on the buildings, he said.

He placed blame on some of the students for not cleaning their apartments properly.

Unitec had responded to insect infestation by fumigating the buildings, and was planning an external review.

By saying it could only make changes with the body corporation's agreement, the Unitec was putting up a "smokescreen" to avoid taking responsibility, Mr Powell said.

"These are their students on their campus, they pay their money to the Unitec cashiers...It's (the accommodation) advertised and marketed as Unitec's in the booklets and pamphlets to overseas students and is on Unitec grounds," he said.

"That screams louder than anything else, it's Unitec problem."

Mr Powell is trying to get a building inspector and the health board to go through the apartments.

Students hated living in the Unitec accommodation and most of them wanted to move out but couldn't for fearing of losing thousands of dollars, he said.