Thunder, rain and snow

Heavy rain passes over Auckland in this MetService rain radar image from 1.51pm.

13 min ago  Auckland faces the risk of severe thunderstorms, large hail, and even a tornado as a wintry blast moves north.

Your photos: land of the long white winter

$200,000 for flag meetings gallery

James Ringwood's flag for New Zealand

2:43 PM  Public workshops to debate new flag had “modest” attendance but cost $200,000.

Magic mushroom choc bust

A Christchurch man grew magic mushrooms and made chocolate with them to "deal with medical issues".

2:13 PM  Man grew magic mushrooms and made chocolate with them to "deal with medical issues".

Arsenal of weapons at courts

Justice.

1:41 PM  Official records show the public are bringing throwing stars, batons and knives into secure courts.

Smoke alarms save family gallery

A fireman grabbed Bee the cat and "threw her outside" as a fire gutted a house on Wainoni Rd in Avondale, Christchurch.

2:49 PM  Six people, including an 8-week-old baby, escaped a pre-dawn house fire thanks to smoke alarms.

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crime

Work and Income arsonist sentenced

Police investigate an arson at Blenheim's Work and Income building on Christmas Day last year.

7 min ago  Man who set fire to Blenheim Work and Income office found under a table in smouldering building with razor blade.

A new line on Bentley evidence

2:39 PM  A woman interviewed 17 years ago about the murder of Kirsty Bentley says she would make a different statement today.

Top court hears Red Devils case

Magic mushroom chocolate bust

politics

Saudi sheep information delayed

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully is one of the Government Ministers delaying the release of information.

9 min ago  Government delays the release of information around deal that saw millions of taxpayer dollars given to Saudi businessman for a farm in the desert.

Govt 'complacent' on economy

Opposition parties acuse PM of complacency after John Key said there was no need to hit the panic button.

James Ringwood's flag for New Zealand

$200,000 for flag meetings gallery

2:43 PM  Public workshops to debate new flag had “modest” attendance but cost $200,000.

education

Why are NCEA results up? video

NCEA grade inflation graph

1:37 PM  Dramatic increases in NCEA pass rates "clearly indicate grade inflation".

Big job for a small school

It's one of the only schools in the country where NCEA pass rates have not increased since 2004, but the principal isn't concerned.

Waimate High School principal Janette Packman, pictured with the school's 2015 prefects

Moving targets

An influx of overseas workers can transform the task for the local school.

health

DHB budget blowout disappoints

New MidCentral DHB chief executive Kathryn Cook at Palmerston North hospital.

1:35 PM  Members were "disappointed" as MidCentral DHB budget blowout extends to $3m.

All in your mind

The trendy cure-alls of meditation and mindfulness can come with a few downsides.

Female smokers are much more likely to drink alcohol when pregnant, a new study shows.

Drinking while pregnant is 'common'

Between 20 and 80 per cent of expectant mums drink alcohol at low levels, new study shows.

Women of Influence

'It's a huge privilege'

"I think today women still have to make a decision about career and taking time out to have a family and how much time," says Jo-Anne Wilkinson.

Jo-anne Wilkinson was the joint winner of the Women of Influence 2014 award for Social Enterprise.

On being Women of Influence video

Some of our Women of Influence alumni on what being a Woman of Influence means to them.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark, home from the United Nations to accept the Kea World Class New Zealander Supreme Award.

'I'm a role model for NZ women' video

Helen Clark's handshake is still cast iron strong; the self-confidence still supremely intact.

farming

Gay marriage hasn't hurt NZ trade

Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce believes gay marriage could affect his country's trade with Asia.

New Zealand's trade with Asia has increased since same-sex marriage was legalised, rubbishing Aussie minister's claim.

Woman killed in farm accident

A 32-year-old woman has died after an incident on a Southland farm.

PGG Wrightson chief executive Mark Dewdney addressing the company's annual meeting in 2013.

Livestock division investigated

PGG Wrightson has been investigated by the Commerce Commission for breach of the Commerce Act.

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