Two years after his death, Peter Ellis has his name cleared

It’s the end of another week! Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for Friday, October 7, made possible by our members. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on

The agenda

  • Two years after he died, and almost 30 years since first convicted, Peter Ellis has today had his convictions overturned.
  • Auckland is angling towards a record low local election turnout.
  • RNZ’s Morning Report co-host Susie Ferguson has signed off after eight-and-a-half years with the programme.
  • And the Friday Quiz is back!

Two years after his death, Peter Ellis has his name cleared

It’s the end of another week! Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for Friday, October 7, made possible by our members. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on

The agenda

  • Two years after he died, and almost 30 years since first convicted, Peter Ellis has today had his convictions overturned.
  • Auckland is angling towards a record low local election turnout.
  • RNZ’s Morning Report co-host Susie Ferguson has signed off after eight-and-a-half years with the programme.
  • And the Friday Quiz is back!
Oct 7 2022

On eve of polls closing, Auckland turnout tracking for record low

Who is … the third mayor? Efeso Collins and Wayne Brown

Auckland Council has just reported on total received votes, as the hours count down to tomorrow’s noon deadline, and it’s not yet 30%. On the eve of election day in 2016, the tally stood at 35.2% of eligible votes. In 2019, it was 31.5%. Today, it’s 29.4%.

That means 5% of eligible voters’ ballots will need to arrive by noon tomorrow to beat the total from last time.

A list of drop-off locations across Auckland is here.

Peter Ellis’s convictions overturned

Peter Ellis ((Photo: Paddy Dillon/Getty Images, additional design Archi Banal)

Two years after he died, and almost 30 years since first convicted, Peter Ellis has today had his name cleared and all convictions overturned.

It brings to a close a highly scrutinised legal case that started with allegations levelled at Ellis, then working at a childcare centre, of child abuse. In 1993, Ellis was convicted of 16 counts of sexual offending against seven children who had been in Ellis’s care at the childcare centre.

While three of those convictions were later quashed, the remaining 13 stayed with Ellis until today – 22 years after he was released from prison.

Read more about the landmark Supreme Court ruling here.

Peter Ellis ((Photo: Paddy Dillon/Getty Images, additional design Archi Banal)

Image of the day: The Federal Street special vote

(Photo: Sam Brooks)
(Photo: Sam Brooks)

Inspired by Newhub reporter Anna Bracewell-Worrall’s tweet thread of how hard it was to put in a special vote, I headed along to the electoral office on Federal Street to take a few photos (and cast my vote). They’d updated the signage ever so slightly to be more noticeable, but it still feels like this tucked away office could be more visible, right?

Child poverty in NZ sole-parent households much worse than in EU – report

Removing GST might not mean full plates for the whānau who need it most Getty Images/Archi Banal

The percentage of children in sole parent households living in poverty is 10 points higher in New Zealand than the European median, according to a new MSD report.

Using Household Economic Survey data, the report compared New Zealand’s childhood social and material deprivation statistics with those of 29 European countries. Based on an EU-wide standard, the report found that in 2020 children in New Zealand sole parent households had a material hardship rate of 29% – down from 34% in 2017, but still well above the European median of 19%.

New Zealand has a relatively high proportion of sole parent households compared with European countries.

Among New Zealand two-parent households with one or two children, the material hardship rate is 7%, close to the EU median for this household type (6%). For two-parent households with three or more children the New Zealand rate (17%) is above the median EU rate for this group (11%).

Overall, using the EU measure, 11% of New Zealand children lived in households that were classified as in
material hardship in 2020, the year with the latest available EU data. New Zealand’s rate was similar to that for Slovakia, Germany, Belgium and Portugal, and around the middle of the European league table lower than Ireland, France, the UK and Spain, but higher than Finland, Norway, Poland, Sweden, the
Netherlands, Switzerland (CH), Denmark, Croatia (HR) and the Czech Republic.


Overall, material hardship rates for children in New Zealand have steadily improved from 2013 to 2021, the report finds. The improvements can be attributed to rising employment rates, rising wages, increases to income support for families with children, increased support for housing and child-care costs, and other measures that reduce demand on the family budget (eg free doctors’ visits and the food-in-schools programme).

The annual MSD child poverty report is meant to be complementary to the regular Stats NZ’s report on the same subject, with the MSD report looking at longer-term trends (15 to 50 years where possible) and providing international comparisons.

The Friday Quiz is back

The Friday News Quiz

After a short, Covid-induced hiatus, The Spinoff’s beloved quiz is back! Test yourself below.

Decision due today in landmark Peter Ellis case

Peter Ellis after his release from Paparua Prison near Christchurch.  (Photo: Paddy Dillon/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court will this afternoon deliver a landmark final judgment on one of the country’s most high profile legal cases, which began over 30 years ago.

Christchurch Civic Creche worker Peter Ellis was convicted for child sex offences in 1993. He spent seven years in jail and had tried to clear his name since the conviction. 

On July 31, 2019, the Supreme Court granted Ellis an appeal against the Court of Appeal decisions, on the grounds of whether a miscarriage of justice occurred in the original trial. 

Ellis died of bladder cancer in September 2019 before the appeal could be heard, but last year the Supreme Court ruled his appeal could continue despite that. It was the first time in Aotearoa that a conviction was appealed by a dead person. The defence used a tikanga-based argument that all people have mana in death, so Ellis had a right to re-establish his mana by clearing his name, and that therefore his case should still be heard.

Today’s decision will make a call on whether a miscarriage of justice occurred in the 1999 decision against Ellis, in particular whether Ellis was given a fair trial. 

In a two-week hearing in October last year, Ellis’s lawyer Rob Harrison told the court that improper techniques were used to gain testimony from child complainants, that expert witness’s claims lacked scientific foundation, that the jury did not get proper guidance to evaluate evidence and that the trial was inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill fo Rights.

There is special interest surrounding today’s judgment as it will also reveal the court’s thinking on whether the court regards tikanga as part of the common law, and whether tikanga informed their thinking in Ellis’ case – which would be precedent setting.

The judgment will start to be read at 2pm and will be livestreamed. No media reporting of the judgement will be allowed until the reading is finished.

Voter turnout latest with 26 hours until local election polls close

Image: Archi Banal

Auckland is angling towards a record low turnout, and may struggle to see one in three eligible voters cast their ballot, according to the latest numbers. As of last night, 26.6% of votes had arrived, compared with 29.8% at the same point in 2019.

In the latest report from Hamilton City Council, 17% of ballots had been received by the end of Wednesday. At the same point in 2019, the corresponding figure was 30%.

There's brighter news in the other main centres. Christchurch sets the example, with 38.3% having landed by last night. That's almost four points higher than the same stage in 2019, and matches the final turnout from 2016. As of last night, Wellington had received 30.3% of votes, compared with 28.4% at this point in 2019. In Dunedin, the latest turnout count is 39.1%, a shade above the same point last time (37.4%).

Other election returns as of last night

Invercargill: 40% (45.5% same point in 2019)

Queenstown Lakes: 33.4% (39.2%)

Nelson: 37.4% (42.9%)

Hutt City: 28.8% (34%)

Rotorua Lakes: 34.1% (36.4%)

It's not too late to vote. Look up your council website for a list of places you can deposit your envelope with a modest but self-satisfied smile, all the way up till noon tomorrow. Phil Goff responds to concerns about election turnout, and suggests how it might be improved, in a special episode of Gone By Lunchtime:

MPs farewell Morning Report co-host Susie Ferguson

Susie Ferguson (Photo: Rebecca Zephyr Thomas)

RNZ’s Morning Report co-host Susie Ferguson has signed off after eight-and-a-half years with the programme. She’ll stay with the network, though is moving into a senior reporting and presenting role.

For her final show this morning, Ferguson was surprised with farewell messages from two politicians: Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins. The prime minister congratulated Ferguson for bringing “such great integrity” to the role of interviewer. “I just want to say thank you,” Ardern said. “Good luck for your next project, it’s been a real pleasure talking with you.”

Collins, while wishing Ferguson the best, added: “I don’t think I really enjoyed our interviews… I just wish that you would let me finish everything I wanted to say and not interrupt with those pesky little questions.”

Christopher Luxon “passed” on the opportunity to provide a message.

And you can read my full interview with Susie Ferguson to mark her final day at Morning Report right now.

Outgoing Morning Report host Susie Ferguson (Photo: Lee McCauley RNZ / additional design Archi Banal)

When the Facts Change: How to mark a B Corp

Kiwibank has just produced its first sustainability report as a B Corp, paving the way for big organisations joining the ESG reporting movement. But what does a pass mark look like? How can the marking process be used to do better? CEO Steve Jurkovich joins Bernard in conversation on the latest episode of When the Facts Change to korero about what Kiwibank did to its climate emissions, how it measured pay equity and what can be done to help fund Māori housing.

Listen below or wherever you get your podcasts

The Bulletin: Community transmission of monkeypox confirmed

Some news you may have missed from last night, courtesy of The Bulletin:

Yesterday the Ministry of Health announced there have been two new cases of monkeypox that cannot be linked to existing cases. While anyone can get monkeypox, the men who have sex with men (MSM) community and people who have sex with MSM are at higher risk. As always, the Burnett Foundation has useful information for those who are concerned. Vaccines aren’t expected to arrive in New Zealand until later this year.

In the US, where there’s been more than 25,600 cases to date, officials are saying elimination of the virus is now unlikely. Case numbers have dropped a bit from the peak which is being put down to vaccination, cautious behaviour and infection-derived immunity.

Want to read The Bulletin in full? Click here to subscribe and join over 36,000 New Zealanders who start each weekday with the biggest stories in politics, business, media and culture.  

Justin Bieber officially postpones NZ show

I’m just chucking this here as a PSA for any Bieb fans who happen to be reading The Spinoff. I’m not sure of the audience crossover, but considering how hugely popular The Spinoff is I’m sure some of our readers will be fans of the fledgling indie pop star.

After weeks of uncertainty, Justin Bieber has confirmed his Mount Smart Stadium show scheduled for later this year has been postponed. It was initially reported that the gig had been cancelled before promoters verified that while international shows had been canned, the singer’s NZ and Australia tour was still on track. Now, today, it’s been confirmed the concerts will indeed be shifted with new dates yet to be revealed.

The decision to move the shows is believed (or beliebed? I’ll show myself out) to be linked to the star’s health. It was revealed earlier this year that Bieber had been diagnosed with Ramsay-Hunt Syndrome which resulted in partial paralysis to his face.

Transpower announces North Island ‘power emergency’, risk of outages

Electricity power pylons stand in Rangipo Desert near the State Highway 1 Desert Road on May 6, 2016 in Waiouru,  (Photo by Hagen Hopkins)

This week’s polar blast could be about to get chillier, with Transpower warning of a power “emergency” in the North Island.

A grid emergency notice has been issued this morning calling for power companies to up generation, or risk possible power outages. “If participant response across the North Island is insufficient, the system operator will manage demand to alleviate
the grid emergency,” a notice from Transpower read.

“The system operator may instruct the grid owner to disconnect feeders without further notice to connected parties.”

It’s unlikely New Zealanders will notice anything at this stage, reports Stuff, with lines companies largely switching off controllable load like hot water systems. People are asked to be “mindful” of their electricity usage today.

According to RNZ, a fault with one of the two Cook Strait cables was initially causing issues, though this has since been rectified.