A Dutch sustainability advocate completed the longest ever journey in an electric vehicle in New Zealand on Friday (July 19) after a three-year drive that took him through more than 30 countries.
Wiebe Wakker set off from the Netherlands in March 2016 in his “Blue Bandit” to showcase the potential of sustainable transport, funded by donations from those following his trip on social media.
“So I wanted to do my bit to promote this technology and show that sustainability is a viable way of transport. So I wanted really to do something that really speaks to the imagination which is driving an electric car from Amsterdam to literally the other side of the world to show that it can be done,” he said.
The 101,000 kilometers (62,800 miles) trip took Wakker through Eastern Europe, Iran, India, Southeast Asia, before traveling around much of Australia and across to New Zealand.
Wakker gave regular updates on his blog and social media throughout the journey, detailing visiting Iran’s biggest car manufacturer in Tehran, a breakdown on the Indonesian island of Java and visits to Australia’s outback and world-famous Uluru.
The drive had relied on the support of strangers across the globe who offered the traveler food, a place to stay and the essential means to charge his car along the way. (REUTERS)
New Zealand emergency services evacuated residents near what they said was a suspected gas explosion in the South Island city of Christchurch on Friday (July 19) that left a house on fire and several people injured.
The city remains on edge four months after a lone gunman killed 51 people and wounded dozens in attacks on two Christchurch mosques in New Zealand’s worst peacetime mass shooting.
There was no indication that Friday’s blast had any wider security implications.
Police said in a statement that initial reports suggested that a number of people had been injured in the incident in the residential suburb of Northwood. Media reports said six people had been taken to hospital.
A house was on fire and police had closed roads and were carrying out evacuations following what they described as a “serious incident.” (REUTERS)
New Zealand’s government on Thursday (June 20) launched a multi-million-dollar, six-month “buy-back” scheme to compensate owners of powerful but newly banned semi-automatic weapons prohibited in the wake of deadly attacks on two mosques in the Southern city of Christchurch.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Minister of Police Stuart Nash said in a joint statement that NZ$208 million ($135.97 million) had been set aside to compensate owners of the banned semi-automatic firearms up to 95% of the original cost, adding in a news conference that they had no idea how many of the firearms were in the community.
“Compensation is necessary because of a new law agreed to by almost the entire parliament in response to the events of the 15th of March. The buy-back and amnesty has one objective – to remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation,” Nash said.
“This compensation scheme recognises licensed firearm owners are now in the possession of prohibited items through no fault of their own, but because of a law change. The approach to prices balances fair compensation for people’s firearms and a fair cost for the taxpayer,” he added.
“We have made a commitment that we want these weapons out of circulation and we believe that this buy-back process is a very important part of that. The costs are uncertain and, you can imagine, for a Minister of Finance that’s not a position I ever want to be in but it is just the reality of the situation we have,” Robertson said.
“We will keep monitoring it, as I say, we’ve put a new piece into the puzzle today but there are further pieces to be put in,” he added.
Owners would have until Dec. 20 to hand in their weapons.
Parliament passed the gun reform law – the first substantial changes to the country’s gun laws in decades – by a vote of 119 to 1 in April. (REUTERS)
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