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Some of the more amusing stories of 2014

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/12/2014

NZ man Daniel Jackson moving a fridge on the top of a car. © Facebook NZ man Daniel Jackson moving a fridge on the top of a car.

Odd stories sometimes hog the headlines as much as death, destruction and Dirty Politics. New Zealand throws up its fair share of quirky yarns, many sparked by people up to no good.

Here are some of the more amusing stories from 2014:

In June, a would-be burglar couldn't give the police the slip when he became stuck in the extractor vent of a Christchurch fish and chip shop.

The 18-year-old had tried to break in to the Papanui takeaways in the middle of winter and had to be treated for hypothermia after spending several hours stuck in the vent and temperatures dropped to 6C. Firefighters were called in to cut him out, cold and greasy.

He should have gone commando.

In February, a Hamilton burglar was linked to a smash and grab from a synthetic cannabis shop after his red undies proved the vital clue. Police found him nearby but couldn't link him to the crime because he had changed his clothes. They were about to drive him home when one "undercover" officer noticed his red undies were caught on the shop's CCTV.

He was busted.

Every vehicle is a moving truck, according to people in both west Auckland and Dunedin.

Daniel Jackson said there were no problems moving a fridge on the top of a car because he was also perched on the back of the car, in jandals, stopping it falling off. The New Lynn moving manoeuvre was caught on camera and posted on Facebook, prompting police to follow up the case.

A few months later, Dunedin motorists witnessed a man sitting on a couch and hanging onto a car as it towed them behind, sparks flying from the rear of the vehicle. The couch was later spotted on the roof of the vehicle, with the man hanging out the window holding onto his prized couch.

Murderer and pedophile Phillip Smith brazenly escaped the country and fled to Brazil wearing a toupe and an ill-gotten passport, but it was a much sorrier story for Stephen Maddren.

The 25-year-old escaped from Otago Prison in the middle of winter. He was described as having a shoulder-length mullet and no teeth and his freedom came to a rather toothless end when he was found curled up in a hot water cupboard on a Milton farm.

Police believed he may have been there for three days, and had hoarded a stash of cold pies, hotdogs and cheese rolls.

Police said Maddren was quiet after his capture, and "a bit down in the mouth".

Waikato police were left feeling a little green in December when they accused an Auckland man with kayak problems of being Irish.

Jonathan Waters had his kayak blown sideways across the roof of his car and had pulled over to fix it when a police officer came across it. The photo looked good so a press release was issued but the officer mistook Waters'

accent. The Irishman's kayak headline quickly went round the world and so did the subsequent apology to anyone of Irish descent who may have been offended.

There are about 6.5 million people living in Ireland and maybe up to 80 million with Irish blood around the world. We don't know how many were offended.

It was an odd story to start with. England league players claimed they were shocked by the scale of the drunken antics of students at the Wingatui Races before their November Test against New Zealand in Dunedin. Normal service resumed after the match when player Josh Hodgson was filmed at a student party bulldozing his way through a door.

In a country with 6.7 million dairy cows and the best production season on record, it was rather contrary that there was a shortage of chocolate milk on the shelves.

The milk concerned was Lewis Road Creamery's Chocolate Milk, which apparently tastes so good people were willing to queue for an hour for it under the supervision of security guards, there were purchase limits and it was traded on the black market ($25 for 750ml anyone?).

Streakers were in the news again this year, and two chose the chilly southern city of Dunedin for it. West Coast man Ephraim McIntyre dropped his trousers but kept his top on to scuttle across the covered stadium's turf during the Kiwis-England league Test.

However, Adam Holtslag came off second-best when he stripped off everything and ran onto the ground during the All Blacks-England Test. He was slammed hard from behind by security guard and Canterbury rugby player Brad Hemopo.

In Napier, Ruda Kupa dashed on to the field and was aiming for Richie McCaw, but only managed to slap Israel Dagg on the backside.

Since 2001 and 9/11, airport security has been tightened so much that queues are now generally accepted as part of air travel.

Not so for New Zealand's top transport official, who decided he was in a hurry and would skip past security measures at Christchurch Airport in July.

Four months later Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee was fined $2000 and given a ticking off by one of the agencies under his umbrella. It was "deeply embarrassing," he said. He has since lost that portfolio.

Big brother? How about big mother? The Ministry of Health in October revealed a plan to send text messages to beneficiaries to remind them to brush their teeth.

It works with people trying to stop smoking so it was thought it would also help address poor dental hygiene.

But critics said the programme just deepened the stereotypes that beneficiaries can't do anything themselves, get a job, even brush their teeth.

"Badgering unemployed people in this way intrudes on their basic civil rights," said Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Batch Hales.

However, a trial showed it might work. Brushing rates rose from 53 per cent to 73 per cent.

And finally, in the field of groundbreaking medical research, one Auckland GP has cracked the age-old question of why waiting rooms contain only out-of-date magazines - people are stealing all the gossip rags.

Bruce Arroll set out to answer the "burning research question" after growing fed up with complaints.

His researchers put a mix of 87 magazines in a waiting room and one month later only one gossip mag was left.

"Practices should consider using old copies of the Economist and Time magazine as a first step towards saving costs," Prof Arroll said.

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