Jacinda Ardern worried by low turnout for local election

It’s Monday, October 3 and welcome along to The Spinoff’s live updates, made possible by our members. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on

The agenda

  • No decision yet on whether the Russian ambassador will be booted out of NZ.
  • The final $116 cost of living payment lands in bank accounts today.
  • TVNZ dump contestant from FBoy Island NZ.
  • Ardern ‘worried’ by low local election voter turnout.

Jacinda Ardern worried by low turnout for local election

It’s Monday, October 3 and welcome along to The Spinoff’s live updates, made possible by our members. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on

The agenda

  • No decision yet on whether the Russian ambassador will be booted out of NZ.
  • The final $116 cost of living payment lands in bank accounts today.
  • TVNZ dump contestant from FBoy Island NZ.
  • Ardern ‘worried’ by low local election voter turnout.
Oct 3 2022

Christchurch sets pace in latest election turnout numbers

Image: Archi Banal

The daily tally of received local election votes continues to outperform the last couple of elections in Christchurch, and set an example for the rest of the country, with a quarter of eligible votes having now arrived with the returning officer.

In Wellington, the corresponding figure is 15.2%, but it's now tracking above the same point at the last election.

Other elections' latest returns:

Invercargill: 23.5% (26.5% same point in 2019)

Queenstown Lakes: 18.1% (23.6%)

Dunedin: 21.2% (20.2%)

Nelson: 22.5% (22.6%)

Hutt City: 14.2% (19.6%)

Rotorua Lakes: 20.3% (20.9%)

Auckland turnout latest

Voters will be using  Single Transferable Voting and Māori wards for the first time (Image: Tina Tiller)

Five days out from polls closing, turnout in Auckland is a whisker under the same point in the last Super City election, with 16.7% of votes cast, compared to 17% in 2019. That’s an improvement from last week, but even matching that turnout come Saturday would be a disappointment. It would mean just over one out of three eligible voters had returned their ballot.

Anyone posting their ballot is advised to do so by tomorrow, given the vagaries of snail mail. Alternatively, you can drop your vote in one of the boxes around the city. If you're yet to enrol, your voting papers didn't arrive or you've misplaced / spilled something all over them, you can cast a special vote. It's painless. More information here.

Ardern ‘worried’ by low local election voter turnout

Jacinda Ardern. (Photo by Mark Mitchell-Pool/Getty Images)

The prime minister is “worried” about the low level of voter turnout – and hinted it may be time to look at changing how local elections are run.

People have until tomorrow afternoon to post in their local election ballot papers in order to ensure they are counted. Votes can be delivered by hand at certain locations up until polls close on Saturday.

So far, voter turnout has trended slightly lower than in 2019, which in turn is lower than the 2016 election.

Speaking at a press conference, Jacinda Ardern said it may be time to look at what will bring the greatest engagement from voters. “We want as many people as possible participating in their local democracy,” she said. “Traditionally we have seen [turnout] trend relatively low until that final period, but I am worried because you would like to see it higher than it is now.”

The way people engaged with the postal system had declined overall, said Ardern.

Asked about her social media endorsement for Labour-aligned Wellington candidate Paul Eagle, Ardern said there was no decision-making behind why this post had been made today. She would make a similar post in support of Auckland’s Efeso Collins tomorrow, she said.


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A post shared by Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern)

TVNZ to remove FBOY Island NZ contestant following court charge revelations

Wayde Moore

TVNZ has removed Wayde Moore from the upcoming dating series FBOY Island NZ after it was revealed that Moore faced suffocation charges related to a sexual encounter last year. Moore appeared in court after he lured an intoxicated woman home in the hopes of having sex with her and then covered her mouth when she attempted to shout for help.

“Following conversations with all parties, we have decided it is in the best interests of all involved to remove him as a contestant from the show and promotion,” a spokesperson for TVNZ said this afternoon. The woman at the centre of the incident previously told the NZ Herald that the series glorified behaviour that puts women at risk and that Moore’s involvement “doesn’t promote the changes we need to make. It promotes negative sexual activity”.

On FBOY Island, three women are tasked with dating a large group of single men – half of whom are self-proclaimed “nice guys” and half of whom are “F Boys”. The women get to know the men and attempt to decipher their intentions, eliminating contestants along the way with a $100,000 prize on the line.

TVNZ have confirmed that the show will launch on TVNZ+ – without Moore – on October 12 as scheduled. The show’s launch party, scheduled for this Wednesday, has been postponed.

Wayde Moore

Image of the day: POS VOT


Your image of the day is brought to you by democracy:

Photo: Toby Morris

Here’s a photo I took on Friday when I finally posted my voting envelope I’d been carrying around for a week in my bag. You’ll see I had to resort to the classic note on the hand reminder technique, but now that I’ve got that done I’m reminding you all to do it too. It’s time. If you want to put them in the post tomorrow midday is really the last chance to do that to be sure they’ll make it on time, or you can also take them to a library (like I did here) or your council office or some supermarkets before noon on Saturday the 8th. Write a note on your hand if you have to, worked for me.

University staff strikes expected nationwide this week

Orientation Week at the University of Otago (Photo: supplied)

Union members have voted overwhelmingly to strike this week at all eight of New Zealand’s universities.

Tertiary Education Union (TEU), Public Service Association (PSA) and E Tū union members are planning industrial action at Auckland University, AUT, Waikato University, Massey University, Victoria University of Wellington, Canterbury University, Lincoln University and Otago University.

Being sought is an 8% pay increase to match the rising cost of living. “They don’t want to keep watching good colleagues leave tertiary education or move overseas for industries and international universities that value staff more fairly for what they do,” said TEU assistant national secretary of industrial Irena Brörens.

The vote to strike followed a series of paid union meetings nearly a fortnight ago, where members almost unanimously called for strike action ballots.

Brörens said they were taking action for their individual collective agreements and as a sector “to show tertiary employers how serious they are.” PSA assistant secretary Alex Davies added that the vote to strike underlined the “strength of feeling” among members. “We hope our action sends a strong message to university employers that they need to invest in their staff before it’s too late.”

Covid-19 update: 9,975 new cases over the past week, 111 in hospital

Image: Toby Morris

The latest weekly update from the Ministry of Health has confirmed another 9,975 cases of Covid-19 over the past week. On average, the ministry says that means about 1,422 new cases every day.

Of the latest Covid infections, almost 10% – or 1,098 – are reinfections.

There are now 111 people in hospital with Covid-19, including seven now in intensive care.

The confirmed Covid-19 death toll now sits at 2,038, with just one death on average being recorded each day. Officially, the Covid-19 death toll has risen by 33 in the past week although just eight of these have so far been linked to the virus.

It’s been about three weeks since almost all Covid-related protocols were ditched when the traffic light system ended. On September 12, there were 225 people in hospital with the virus and the seven-day rolling average of new infections was 1,480, just slightly higher than today.

TVNZ to review casting processes after FBoy Island revelations

FBOY Island launches later this year (Image / TVNZ)

TVNZ has yet to publicly speak out on the legal drama circling its upcoming new reality show, FBoy Island NZ.

The show, which is set to feature both self-proclaimed “nice guys” and “fboys” vying for either a cash prize or a new relationship, is currently expected to debut on TVNZ+ next week.

But over the weekend it was reported by the Herald that one of the show’s cast members, Wayde Moore, had been charged with suffocating a drunk woman he hoped to have sex with her. He was found not guilty, but admitted to parts of the charge.

While TVNZ has told media it plans to review casting processes in the future, the woman Moore was charged with suffocating wants further action. She told Stuff that Moore should be removed from the show. “[TVNZ] haven’t publicly spoken on the situation properly and they are not handling it well at all,” she said.

“They’re really not taking this as seriously as they should. It silences victims … It’s frustrating.”

A TVNZ spokesperson said nothing regarding this issue was raised from its checks during the casting process.

Final cost of living payment due today

Always useful when you have a new baby.

The final $116 cost of living payment will arrive in the bank accounts of roughly 1.5 million New Zealanders (2.1m are eligible, but thousands did not receive the first two payments) today.

First announced in this year’s budget, the payment, split into three instalments, was targeted at middle income earners impacted by rising inflation.

But after the first payment ended up being paid out to thousands of ineligible New Zealanders (including an unknown number overseas), criticism was levelled at the lack of checks in place. These issues were largely fixed by the start of September when payment number two was rolled out.

After today’s payment, other cost of living support will slowly be removed in the coming months, including subsidies on fuel costs that have been in place since March.

For now, though, enjoy the final COL payment – if you’re eligible.

Further Russian sanctions likely, but no decision on expelling ambassador

Jacinda Ardern in Brussels (Photo: Getty Images)

Further sanctions against Russia are in the pipeline, but the government’s remaining coy about what shape those could take.

Targeted action has been taken against a number of Russian-linked individuals, along with goods and services, since the war broke out earlier this year.

Speaking to RNZ, prime minister Jacinda Ardern reiterated that while more action was likely, no decisions on booting out the Russian ambassador to New Zealand had been made. “We’ve kept on the table the potential option of expelling diplomats, but it’s always been more symbolic,” said Ardern. “In my mind it’s about doing things we know will have a practical impact.”

Every conversation with Ukrainian government representatives suggested sanctions were what mattered most, said Ardern. “They see that as the way to keep pressure on Russia,” she said. “I’m expecting… a bit more advice over the coming two weeks, but we’re checking that we have a sanctions regime that’s as comprehensive as it should be.”

She added: “We’ve taken requests as they’ve come, but the ongoing request from Ukraine is to keep up sanctions.”

The Bulletin: Green party co-leader wants the party inside cabinet

It’s a moot point this far out from the next election, but James Shaw is getting the party’s ducks in a row for any potential coalition negotiations now. The 1News-Kantar poll last week put National in a governing position in coalition with the Act party, but most commentators agree it will be a tight race next year.

In an interview with the Herald’s Thomas Coughlan, Shaw says he wants the party’s ministers inside cabinet. For the last two terms, Green party ministers have sat outside cabinet. Shaw said the next term of government was particularly important for the Greens because, over the next three years, a number of significant climate change decisions come up for renewal.

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