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The best of The Spinoff this week

Compiling the best reading from your friendly local website.

Sam Brooks and Natasha Hoyland: Mining the comedy gold for you: The Spinoff’s pop-up comedy section is here!

“We’re not going to be a bunch of old white guys just writing reviews and spoiling jokes.

We care about comedy, and we care about people who care about comedy. We want you to be kept in the loop and make sure you’re seeing the stuff you actually want to see.

We want the comedy section to make things easier for people who want to see comedy, regardless of whether they’re a big fan, if they’ve hardly seen any comedy, or if they’ve never seen any live comedy at all, we want to open the door for people who have never seen a show in the comedy festival and have no idea where to start.”

Toby Manhire: And just like that there was a vacancy after all: Annette King makes way for Labour’s rising star

“The risk for Little, meanwhile, is that the elevation of Labour’s rising star might fuel conjecture about leadership challenges, whether from Ardern or in tandem with Robertson. For what it’s worth my guess is that she’s genuinely ambivalent, at best, about any future tilt for the top job. But whatever her appetite, there’s a more than decent chance that she could in the coming months overtake Little in the preferred leader polling, which would be hellishly embarrassing, at the very least. And should Labour flunk again in September, she will be expected by many to stick her hand up.”

James Mustapic: Watch the first episode of our new online series Repressed Memories… SENSING MURDER EDITION

Steve Braunias: Breaking (well it was at the time): Ashleigh Young wins $229,837.07 in a major literary prize!!!

“The Spinoff Review of Books emailed her with congratulations and she replied, ‘THANK YOU OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG’. Then there was a line space, because Young is a highly technical poet, and she added: ‘OMG’.

So then we called her and she said, ‘Oh my God!'”

Simon Wilson: The Greens’ mediocre Mt Albert result reveals the hill they have to climb in 2017

“Labour won 77 per cent of the vote; the Greens trailed with 11 per cent. Why did Labour do so well? They had many more people on the ground; the seat was theirs anyway; National and Act stayed away; the Greens don’t do well in by-elections because they’re a list party; and despite recent controversies centre-left voters wanted to signal confidence in Labour. And most of all, everyone likes Jacinda. Sure. But what it all boils down to is this: Labour sucked up all the oxygen and the Greens were left gasping for breath.”

Group Think: Lordetake: The Spinoff’s definitive reviews of ‘Green Light’

“This is Lorde’s best song. So far. Sonically deep, lyrically compelling and formally on point. It plays with lift and expectation, withholding and delivering in not-immediately predictable ways. And there’s no way about a fifth of New Zealand isn’t singing “I’m waiting for it / That green light / I can’t let go” to themselves all day. If there’s a nit to pick, it’s that in utilising a popular and prolific producer, there are a few stylistic tics that have been used prominently in pop songs over the last couple of years (the synth textures, the drum fills), which get ever-so-slightly in the way of ‘Green Light’ being the ‘new sound’ hinted at in the song’s pre-chorus.”

Jess Berentson-Shaw: Pennies from Heaven: Why we need to give all parents cash

“For the past two years my colleagues and I at the Morgan Foundation have been researching “what works” to ensure children from lower income families get the chance to thrive – a chance they are clearly not getting now. We wanted to know which programmes have the power to improve children’s lives. The result of that research is Pennies from heaven. In it we argue it is time to wind it all back and give parents the cash they need to support their families.”

Scott Hamilton: ‘They have six fingers on their hands’: Part 1 of the strange story of Tonga’s lost island of ‘Ata

“My students and I spent a week researching the history and environment of ‘Eua. We hiked to the highest spot on the island, where James Cook drank kava with local chiefs. We listened to a lecture by an Australian forester about the plantations of exotic trees – mahogany, teak, radiata pine – that contest the highland with native species like the banyan, and which supply the materials for most Tongan homes. At night, in the kava houses of ‘Eua’s villages, we heard stories about Cook, and about the American and New Zealand troops who occupied the island during the Second World War.”

Carrie Stoddart-Smith: On whanaungatanga, and how I startled myself by contemplating a vote for Bill English

“Little’s comments were obtuse, intended to disempower Māori voices, an assault on a kaupapa Māori party for his Pākehā kaupapa. The line of rangatira he captured in his derogatory comments include esteemed leaders such as Dr Whatarangi Winiata, Tā Pita Sharples, Dame Tariana Turia, Dame June Mariu, Whaea Rangmarie Naida Glavish and many, many more who built and shaped the political platform of the Māori Party. Their primary purpose to advance Māori aspiration and wellbeing through a kaupapa Māori approach: by Māori, for Māori, with Māori for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

I cannot fathom ever supporting a leader who openly or otherwise strives to disempower indigenous voices. Am I reconsidering voting for the National Party?”

Alex Casey: I went to a Sensing Murder psychic and all I got was a dead budgie flying above my head

“Sue greeted us as we bustled in, focused with the intensity of someone either in love with you or wanting to cold read your every move. I puffed up my chest like a pigeon and adopted an alarmingly open stance that made it hard for me to get through the door. She wasn’t going to get a read on me, not tonight. The woman who walked in before us gave Sue an enormous hug, the woman after us limped to her seat close to the aisle. Mum and I sat at the back, placing whispered bets on who the spirits would choose to communicate to in this surreal, dimension-crossing version of schoolyard pickings.”