blog upd may 5

Live UpdatesMay 5 2022

‘Eurasian fluff’ comment sees DGL put on Kiwi Wealth blacklist

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for May 5, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


The agenda

May 5 2022

Something’s cooking at The Spinoff: introducing our new food newsletter

The Boil Up, The Spinoff’s new food newsletter (Design: Tina Tiller)

The Spinoff’s first-ever weekly food newsletter is here. Launching this week, The Boil Up, written by Charlotte Muru-Lanning, is a collection of Aotearoa’s best in food and beverage, delivered to your inbox every Thursday.

Produced in partnership with our friends at Boring Oat Milk, the newsletter will bring you the political, social, trendy, personal and delicious aspects of this country’s diverse and ever-changing culinary landscape.

The Boil Up will be a shared table where we can gather to break bread and contemplate the meaning of food in our lives. From new restaurants to historic family recipes, cocktails to cookbooks, there’ll be something for all tastes.

Subscribe to The Boil Up here and go in the draw to win a three month supply of Boring Oat Milk and cool Boring merch.

Film Commission CEO on ‘special leave’ as internal review begins

ICYMI: Yesterday The Spinoff published details about The Pilgrim, a script written by former lieutenant colonel David Strong. As reported by Duncan Greive, The Pilgrim sounds like the sort of show many of us would want to watch. It was pitched as a “six-episode conspiracy-thriller that melds rich character development of a traumatised SAS officer on the run with massive political corruption in New Zealand and an international conspiracy of impending mineral exploitation of Antarctica”.

But it’s the behind the scenes story that’s more fascinating. After leaving the military, Strong ended up last year being appointed as head of the NZ Film Commission. A month later, an application was approved by NZ On Air to develop The Pilgrim into a TV series.

While Strong’s involvement in The Pilgrim was disclosed to NZ On Air before the funding decision was made, the situation has sparked tension within the screen industry. Multiple parties are now alleged to have lawyered up, Strong is entering his fourth week on “special leave” and an independent review into both this specific instance and the broader management of conflicts of interest at the organisation is about to begin.

Read the full story here

Image: Tina Tiller

Everyone’s a winner in the latest radio survey

Radio network competitors NZME and MediaWorks have both come out on top in the latest round of radio survey results. That’s to say, both networks sent out press releases this afternoon celebrating their own results (as is tradition).

“MediaWorks retains its position as New Zealand’s leading commercial radio network with an audience share of 53.5%,” read one statement.

“With Newstalk ZB remaining the country’s number one commercial radio network and with significant growth in listeners across its radio brands, NZME now reaches more than 2 million Kiwis across its radio stations,” read the other.

Both are true: across the spectrum, MediaWorks – which has a stable of music networks including The Breeze, The Edge and The Rock – pulled in over 2.44 million listeners every week. The network’s new talk station Today FM does not feature as it launched late into the survey period so the true test of its performance will be in survey two.

Newstalk ZB remains dominant in the talk market, which is great news for NZME. The station has over 744,000 listeners, with 511,700 people tuning into the Mike Hosking Breakfast.

Across the spectrum, more than 3.7 million New Zealanders listen to radio every week, with over 3.4 million of those listening to commercial stations.

It’s a Gone by Lunchtime Australian election special!

Everything you need to know (and other things you don’t want to know) about the Australian election. Listen to a brand new bonus episode of Gone By Lunchtime, featuring AAP’s New Zealand correspondent Ben McKay direct from the paradise of Tasmania.

Follow Gone By Lunchtime on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

Breaking: The melancholy kiwifruit are back

The sadly swaying kiwifruit that flanked Jacinda Ardern during her recent Asian trade tour are back – and this time, they’re happy.

A new Zespri commercial shows the aptly named Kiwi Brothers spreading good vibes to other sad fruit. It’s something to behold.

Want to know more about the brothers kiwi? You can read a deep dive into them here.

Introducing season three of the podcast helping you get your Investment Fix

Join Dylan Lawrence, NZTE’s GM of Investment on the Investment Fix podcast (Image: Supplied)

“A bit like an arranged marriage”

The relationship between investors and investees is a pretty crucial one, but how well does it actually work? Season three of NZTE’s Investment Fix podcast series has launched, and this time around they’re looking to answer exactly that question.

Over five episodes, Dylan Lawrence, NZTE’s GM of Investment, joins the founders and CEOs from Mint Innovation, Narrative Muse, Natural Pet Food Group, SafeStack and Yellow Brick Road, as well as some of their key investors, for a series of candid and frank discussions around what works, what doesn’t, and what they’ve learned.

From venture capital and private equity firms to angel and Māori investors, the season takes in a broad range of voices, environments and perspectives – and there’s also a special bonus episode featuring venture capital guru and Silicon Valley legend Randy Komisar. Listen now on Apple or Spotify, or head to the NZTE website to learn more. (Sponsored)

Covid-19 update: 20 more deaths, 386 in hospital, 8,609 new cases

Another 20 people with Covid-19 have died, including a child under 10. The deaths being reported today include 18 people who have died over the past five days and an additional two people who have died since April 24.

The total number of deaths linked to our Covid-19 outbreak has now risen to 821, while the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 14.

Of the people whose deaths are being reporting today, three were from Auckland, one from Waikato, five from Bay of Plenty, two from Hawke’s Bay, one from the greater Wellington region, one from Nelson-Malborough, five from Canterbury and two from Southern.

One of the deaths was a child under 10, while the rest were people over the age of 50. Of these people, 12 were female and eight were male.

There are now 386 people in hospital, a substantial drop on yesterday, with 14 now in intensive care. However, the drop in hospitalisations is largely due to a change in the way numbers are being reported in the Northern region. The Ministry of Health said reporting of hospitalisation numbers in Northern region hospitals will include “only active Covid-19 cases”.

To date, reported case numbers have included people who have recovered from Covid-19 but remain in hospital. The reporting of hospitalisations in other DHBs is unchanged as these already only include active cases.

Another 8,609 community cases have been announced today, while once again the rolling average of community cases has remained fairly static. Today it sits at 7,684 but last Thursday it was 7,705.

“The number of community cases today is an important reminder that we all continue to have a part to play in minimising the spread of Covid-19 in our communities,” said the Ministry of Health. “Please continue to follow public health advice to stay at home, away from school or work if you’re feeling unwell.”

Immunocompromised children aged 5-11 eligible for third vaccine dose

Children who are “severely immunocompromised” and aged between five and 11 are now able to receive a third dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

“People who are severely immunocompromised are at higher risk of severe outcomes from Covid-19 and might not produce a sufficiently strong immune response after two doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine,” said the ministry. “A third primary dose offers extra protection and may help reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus to others.”

The additional dose is optional but recommended, said the ministry. More information can be found here.

Kiwi Wealth blacklists Simon Henry’s company after ‘Eurasian fluff’ comments

DGL has been put on Kiwi Wealth’s investment exemption list after offensive comments its CEO Simon Henry made about My Food Bag founder Nadia Lim. In short, that means customers of investment company Kiwi Wealth will be barred from putting their money into the chemicals manufacturer.

During a recent NBR interview, rich-lister Henry called Lim “Eurasian fluff” and made comments about her “cleavage”, linking it to My Food Bag’s disappointing stock market performance.

Kiwi Wealth CEO Rhiannon McKinnon told The Spinoff live updates she was “appalled” by Henry’s comments. “How could you go on the record with that in 2022?”

After the comments were widely circulated, McKinnon said she “immediately” raised the matter with Kiwi Wealth’s responsible investment analyst. She asked: “One, do we have any holdings in this company and, two, can we exclude it?” The answers were “no” and “yes”, and DGL has was quickly placed on the exemption list. “That level of misogyny is unnecessary in 2022,” said McKinnon.

The “concerning comments” were the initial red flag, but McKinnon said other “ESG” issues were considered by Kiwi Wealth. ESG stands for environmental, social and governance – three non-financial factors that Kiwi Wealth considers when determining possible investment opportunities.

“The concerning speech is the first flag to take a look at the company, but it has broader governance issues,” said McKinnon, who noted that Henry was both CEO and chair of his company. “If there were stronger governance processes in place, I think the likelihood of a CEO going this rogue and making comments like this would be a lot less,” she added.

Asked by The Spinoff why it was the role of a company like Kiwi Wealth to police speech, McKinnon said the company took its role as responsible investors extremely seriously. “I agree it’s not a criminal comment but for us it speaks to a potential broader range of ESG issues within the company,” she said.

DGL’s stock price dipped slightly yesterday, but has largely rebounded overnight.

New Zealanders really want a tax cut – new poll

The latest Newshub poll has brought news that the government probably didn’t want to hear: an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders really want a tax cut.

The Reid Research survey found 68.7% would like to have more of their earnings stay in their bank account, while 23.7% are happy the way things are. Even more interestingly, over half – 54.2% – of Labour voters also want a tax cut, with 35.7% saying no.

Finance minister Grant Robertson made it pretty clear in parliament yesterday that this wasn’t going to happen on his watch. “We do not agree that tax cuts that favour those who earn the most are the priority right now,” Robertson said.

The National Party has advocated for ditching the top tax bracket and readjusting the existing tax thresholds in line with the rise in inflation.

FIRST: When Half Queen met Madonna

The Tāmaki Makaurau DJ tells FIRST about an intense encounter with pop music royalty, putting on a ‘ridiculous’ club night and more.

Read more here

Nadia Lim: ‘Eurasian fluff’ comments could be ‘damaging’ for other women of colour

My Food Bag founder Nadia Lim was left “disappointed” and “saddened” by comments made about her by rich-lister Simon Henry.

It was reported yesterday that Henry, founder and CEO of specialty chemicals company DGL, had labelled Lim “Eurasian fluff” during a recent NBR interview after a photo of her was printed in the My Food Bag prospectus. He then blamed Lim’s supposed “cleavage” for My Food Bag’s disappointing leap into the public market.

Speaking to Newshub’s AM, Lim said she’d never met Simon Henry – but was concerned what impact his comments about her might have on other Asian women in business. “I’m a tough cookie. I have had enough years and support and opportunities to build up a tough skin… and become resilient and confident,” she said. “My big issue with it is, it saddens me how other people and women and women of colour and ethnic backgrounds might see themselves in those comments and how they would feel hurt.”

She added: “What’s so damaging is young people who hear these things over and over again, who then over time somehow start to believe they are less capable and have less to give and contribute than their peers.”

If Lim ever met Henry, she said she’d encourage him to undergo unconscious bias training and invite him in for “a cup of tea” and a korero.

Simon Bridges’ next move(s) revealed

Simon Bridges has already booked a writing gig and a podcast (neither of which are at The Spinoff).

The newly retired National MP will be joining NBR as a columnist, while he’s set to host Stuff’s first “digital audio show” (aka a podcast).

After 14 years in politics, Bridges bowed out last night, delivering a valedictory speech that canvassed practically all areas of his career. He said that New Zealand deserves robust and not “timid” politics, and decried the use of polls to form policy.

“I make this plea, please, please, let’s not be quite so poll and focus group driven. They will make you nice, and beige, and timid. In short, wishy-washy,” Bridges said.

Along with his pair of new media roles, it’s been speculated Bridges has also been lined up to replace Michael Barnett as head of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

Co-own could get you into the property market sooner than you think

Co-own could help you get on the property ladder (Image: Supplied)

There has to be a better way to get on the property ladder than buying 50 years ago. With the prospect of owning a home, a mere dream for so many, the option to Co-own might be the solution people are looking for. 

Co-own lets you team up with friends and whānau to buy a home.

Taking the first step towards owning your own home can be a long, scary prospect, but Co-own could make it feasible for you sooner than you think. 

To find out if Co-own would work for you, visit the Kiwibank website. (Sponsored)

‘Absolutely stupid’: Former speaker says Mallard failing to be impartial

Trevor Mallard’s predecessor as speaker of the house has labelled the decision to bar former MPs from parliament grounds an “absolutely stupid move”.

Trespass notices were this week issued to at least five former MPs, including Winston Peters, Matt King and Rodney Hide. They were banned from visiting parliament for a two-year period following their appearance at the occupation of the parliamentary precinct back in February.

However, following backlash and the threat of legal action from Peters, the trespass notices were yesterday withdrawn.

David Carter, speaker between 2013 and 2017, told RNZ that Mallard should not have barred the ex-MPs. “I think trespass orders should be considered for people who come on and protest and break the law,” he said. “For people who protest peacefully, we should actually encourage protest at parliament.”

While there was “no rulebook” for being speaker, Carter said you have to try and gain respect from all MPs across the political divide. “You’ve actually got to detach yourself from your political persuasions, you go there to be parliament’s person. I don’t see Mallard doing that,” he said.

Mallard has so far refused to front for media appearances.

NZ online regulation ‘outdated’, says chief censor as he ends term

With toxic online activity and disinformation on the rise and in the face of “a massive information asymmetry” between big platforms and public authorities, New Zealand’s regulatory framework has been revealed as “outdated”, David Shanks, the chief censor, has told The Spinoff. Speaking as he leaves his tenure at the helm of the Classification Office after five years, he said: “In practical terms, I think I’d struggle to say it is fit for purpose in the current environment.”

Stressing that similar challenges were being confronted around the world, Shanks said that the European Union offered the best example of how to respond in the form of the Digital Services Act. The task was to establish a “baseline of responsibility that you expect platforms of a certain size to apply or abide by” and “apply some sort of assurance or checks that they are actually applying those standards”, he said. “Because as more and more research emerges, the more we understand about what’s happening in these areas, the more it becomes evident that there are standards in place but actually they’re either not applied at all or in a very patchy and ad hoc way.”

Read the full interview here.

Air New Zealand’s new safety video ditches celebs for local culture

Air New Zealand has launched its newest safety video – and it’s not what you might expect.

Our national carrier used to make global headlines for its glitzy, celeb-filled, often incredibly annoying in-flight safety videos. For its latest, the airline has come home. Titled “Tiaki and The Guardians”, the video follows a young man who boards a waka rererangi and sets off on an adventure across Aotearoa.

Air New Zealand’s Jeremy O’Brien said the video is an invitation for new arrivals to New Zealand to act as guardians while they’re here. “We want tourism to build back better than it was before and part of that is to share with our visitors a sense of kaitiaki – to encourage them to act like guardians of our country,” he said. “Our safety videos are world renowned and through them, we have an opportunity to educate and inspire ourselves, our customers and Aotearoa on the importance of Tiaki and everything it stands for. It’s about being good hosts, and good visitors.”

The airline worked alongside the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute to design the waka and its carvings. From there, the waka was actually taken to the various filming locations and flown on wires to create real shadows and textures. As for the special effects, Air New Zealand said it used LED stage screens – like those used in The Mandalorian.

The new video will be rolled out across Air New Zealand flights from Monday.

Role of social media to be probed in Christchurch massacre coronial inquiry

In a reversal of an earlier decision, Coroner Brigitte Windley has ruled that the scope of the coronial inquiry into 51 deaths at two Christchurch mosques in March 2019 will be extended to include the role of digital platforms. The inquiry will consider whether the terrorist’s “online activity can be shown to have played a material role in his radicalisation”. If that is established, “consideration will be given to examining the extent of monitoring of users for extremist content by the relevant platform(s), then and now”.

The inquiry will also consider relevant gun licensing issues, as well as whether the man “had any help from others on that day, the emergency response efforts, and whether that response may have affected the survivability of the deceased”.

In a statement, Windley said: “A coronial inquiry must look to the past to determine the cause and circumstances of death, but must also look to the future to identify opportunities to reduce the chances of further loss of life in similar horrific circumstances.”

A range of groups in the Muslim community had urged the scope to be extended to include the role of social media. “We want her to look at the role digital platforms had in radicalising the terrorist, so that we can learn from that, either to motivate the platforms themselves to do a better job of moderating, or so we as a community can set societal expectations for these companies,” Aliya Danzeisen of the Islamic Women’s Council of NZ told The Spinoff in February. Last night Danzeisen hailed “a landmark moment for the accountability of digital platforms”. In a statement, she said: “The coroner has opened the door to investigating the responsibility of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, other sites like YouTube, and gaming messaging forums. It is becoming increasingly clear that digital platforms need to do more to prevent the circulation of dehumanising content, and this decision should be a wake-up call to those platforms.”

A study published last week by the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that major online platforms had failed to act on 89% of posts it identified as including Islamophobia, and accused the digital giants of failing to live up to their pledges under the Christchurch Call. New Zealand’s chief censor, David Shanks, told The Spinoff in an interview published today marking his last week in the job that New Zealand’s digital regulatory framework was “outdated” and in need of reform, in part to deal with a “massive information asymmetry” between online multinationals and the authorities tasked with regulating them.