NZ reporting

Michelle has been a reporter, digital reporter and feature writer, at daily and national newspapers around the country, at The Sunday Star Times, The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Southland Times and the Nelson Mail, for more than 10 years. Most recently she’s specialised in education, property, social issues and human-interest stories at digital news bureau’s. Here are examples of her articles:

  • Michelle Sutton reports on accidents in the forestry industry [Nelson Mail, 29/09/2012]

    Forestry workers are being offered counselling and encouraged to talk about their feelings to avoid accidents in the country's most dangerous industry. Mike Fraser, director of Nelson-based MJ Fraser Logging, has received a national forestry award for health and safety initiatives, which include the use of a counsellor to help forestry workers deal with personal issues and emotions. "I know some people perceived us as hard, rugged bushmen, but like anyone we had our own fair share of personal issues," he said. Mr Fraser first set up the counselling initiative in 1995 after witnessing the trauma of a fatal accident firsthand. It was one of several accidents he had seen since joining the industry as a 22-year-old - the forestry sector has the highest rate of work related fatalities in the country.READ MORE...


  • NZ anti-whaling activist freed from Japanese jail [Sunday Star Times, 10/07/2010]

    New Zealand anti-whaling activist Pete Bethune landed in Auckland this morning, shaken and slightly subdued - but with no regrets. "Yeah, sure it was worth it, I have no regrets," he said, blinking back tears and choking on emotion at Auckland International Airport about 9am. Upon landing, he was taken away to a private area to be reunited with his wife Sharyn and two daughters, Danielle, 16, and Alycia, 13, after spending about four months in a Japanese gaol. "It's good to have him home on New Zealand soil. We will try to keep him home I think," Sharyn said before Pete and his family headed away. He is due to have a family lunch later in the day. READ MORE...
  • Dunedin rocked by student riots [The Southland Times, 2009]

    Two nights of drunken rioting rocked Dunedin at the weekend, with about 70 arrests after the annual Undie 500 car rally. Most of the people arrested were from Dunedin addresses, although police were unable to say yesterday how many of them were students from outside the city, including Southland and Central Otago. Mayhem and violence spilled into the city's student area on Friday and Saturday nights, with police blaming Otago students. The Undie 500 event, organised by Canterbury University engineering students, involves a pub crawl from Christchurch to Dunedin, in cars worth less than $500. READ MORE...
  • On the Scarfie front-line as students battle police [The Southland Times, 14/09/2009]

    Mayhem spilled on to Dunedin's streets for the third consecutive year after the Undie 500 powered into the city. Fairfax reporter Michelle Sutton was at student central in Castle St, in North Dunedin. THE mood of hundreds of students swarming across Castle St seemed ready to take off about midnight on Saturday. Students had been relaxed and friendly earlier, but as they swelled to about 600, the heavy police presence seemed to spur them on. About 11pm there was already a charged atmosphere, with almost an expectation of trouble as dozens of police and hundreds of students covered the street. Tensions reached breaking point just before midnight as students left the Gardens Tavern in Castle St. READ MORE...


  • Families hit hardest on forced sales [Sunday Star Times, 08/08/2010]

    Single mum Tanya Chapple lost her $17 million Queenstown development, has been forced to sign up for the dole, and is among the hundreds of New Zealanders living on the recession edge – never knowing when the receivers will knock on her door to sell her home by mortgagee auction. Chapple, of New Plymouth, is a former property developer but now she is among the record numbers of "mum and dad" homeowners at risk of losing their houses in forced sales. Terralink International figures show the number of individuals losing their family home has sky-rocketed, changing the type of owners being forced to sell property after falling behind mortgage payments. There were 264 mortgagee sales in May this year, up from 246 the previous month, and lower than September last year, when mortgagee sales peaked at 343. READ MORE...
  • Lies sometimes OK; banned former judge [National, 29/07/2009]

    Former Invercargill Family Court judge Michael Guest, applying to be readmitted to the bar after being struck off eight years ago, told a hearing yesterday he believed telling lies was "appropriate'' in some circumstances. Mr Guest, a Dunedin city councillor, made the comment at a Lawyers and Conveyances Disciplinary Tribunal hearing when being questioned by Dunedin lawyer Len Andersen acting for the New Zealand Law Society, which opposes Mr Guest's application. READ MORE...
  • Sex before money for Kiwi couples [Nelson Mail, 07/09/2012]

    New Zealand couples prefer to talk about sex before finances, says Budget Services Nelson. The organisation is urging parents to start talking with each other about how to manage money, and talking about it with their children. "Couples would rather talk about sex then money," said Budget Services administrator Rosalie Grant. "They'd rather talk about sex, they think budgeting is hard." This week is inaugural Money Week, started by the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income to help Kiwis learn about everyday money. READ MORE...
  • Car loan woes cost father his house [Nelson Mail, 05/09/2012]

    Budget Services Nelson is warning parents against guaranteeing loans for children after a young woman defaulted on loan repayments and lost her father his house this year. Budget Services community educator Judith Cowley said it was part of a concerning trend involving more younger woman under 29 struggling with debt in Nelson. The father had acted as a guarantor for his daughter's loan to buy a car and when she defaulted on repayments the finance company sold his home this year to cover the money owed, which it was legally able to do, she said. READ MORE...
  • Single in the city [Nelson Mail, 2012]

    Hundreds of Nelson men and woman have given their views on why dating is dismissed in the city. Last weekend the Nelson Mail revealed Statistics New Zealand figures showing there was a single man drought in the city, with 22 per cent less single men than woman, and residents who were anti-dating. It caused speed dating organiser Jane Metcalfe to dump dating events in Nelson earlier this year after she said they were snubbed by singles in the city. READ MORE...
  • The dangers of dating in Nelson [Nelson Mail, 19/05/2012]

    The odds may be in favour of men meeting a maiden in Nelson, but many singles are dubious about dating in the city. There were almost three times as many separated single women as separated single men in Nelson city, 1359 compared with 591, according to the last census in 2006. Women who spoke to the Nelson Mail this week said the odds were getting worse and there was a single-man drought, while many singles were wary about dating in the city, saying the scene was almost non-existent. READ MORE...
  • Christchurch uninhabitable after earthquake [National, 05/09/2010]

    The cost of Christchurch's earthquake is expected to top $2 billion and the city could take years to recover. Early claims indicated about 20 percent of people's homes were now uninhabitable. The Earthquake Commission, which covers insurance holders after natural disasters, has already recieved 1000 claims and is expecting to process more than 100,000. Chief executive Ian Simpson said about 100,000 claims were expected over the next three moths, the deadline, but international experience showed clean-ups took years. READ MORE...
  • Gang threat in NZ 'distorted' [Nelson Mail, 17/03/2012]

    Police "vigilance" towards New Zealand gangs and Nelson's motorcycle poker run last weekend has been challenged by a Canterbury University researcher. New Zealand gang expert and Canterbury University sociologist Jarrod Gilbert told the Nelson Mail he questioned whether the police vigilance at the poker run, associated with the Red Devils and Hell's Angels gangs, was deserved after his research on New Zealand gangs for the past eight years. It raised questions about whether organised gang crime even existed in New Zealand, he said. READ MORE...


  • NZ's oldest teacher [Sunday Star Times, 2011]

    Whakatane High School music teacher Albert "Ham" Cunningham, with two of his students Terence Apiata, left, and Kahurangi Hunia. Albert Cunnigham is a music teacher playing to a different beat. The 90-year-old is the country's oldest classroom teacher, and has no plans to give up. He entered the classroom in New Zealand at 66 – an age when most teachers are retired – having moved here from Canada. Twenty four years on he is still teaching, taking classes in electric bass at Whakatane High School and saxophone at Kawerau College. READ MORE...
  • Teacher-student R18 relationships [Sunday Star Times, 11/07/2010]

    The nature of teaching means sexual and inappropriate relationships will always occur between staff and students, says the Teachers Council after releasing figures showing it happens about a dozen times a year. This month it also released details on the latest teacher banned from the profession, after he met his "first true love" – a Year 8 female student he taught. Since the Teachers Council was set up in 2002, the number of sexual or inappropriate relationships between teachers and students has averaged about 12 a year, peaking at 18 in 2004 and dropping to 10 last year. READ MORE...


  • Online key to business survival [Nelson Mail, 2012]

    Nelson businesses are cashing in on online opportunities, with leaders saying the trend is changing the face of local firms. Several businesses based in the region say they have only been able to survive because of an online presence rather than a street shopfront. Business consultant Laura McIntyre said the number of customers requiring a digital presence had doubled every year since she started in 2005. READ MORE...
  • Jeweller rings the changes [Nelson Mail, 2012]

    Twenty-three-year-old Benjamin Clark is putting his golden touch to the test. The gold and silver smith is launching his own online jewellery business, specialising in custom-made pieces, within the next month. The new venture, Benjamin Black Goldsmith, is part of a trend of businesses operating in Nelson without a shop front or physical presence. It follows business consultant Laura McIntrye saying the number of customers getting a website or using social media had doubled every year, with hundreds of businesses having an online presence since she started in 2005. READ MORE...
  • Online shoppers [Nelson Mail, 2012]

    Online shopping is slowly catching on in Nelson, say city retailers, but many warn it's no substitute for customer service. National statistics from Nielson shows the number of online shoppers in the country has reached more than 1.6 million, double the number since 2004 and 49 per cent of the population aged over 18. READ MORE...
  • Schools go digital; cell phones in class encouraged [Sunday Star Times, 13/06/2010]

    Cellphone use is so prevalent among teenagers that it would be stupid not to use the devices to engage them in school, a teaching expert says. But schools are also aware that the technology comes with a downside – bullying. Students at Auckland's Howick College are already using cellphones in class to store lessons, and digital devices are expected to become the equivalent of pens and paper in schools within five years as education technology advances. READ MORE...
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