One Question Quiz


Brown blames predecessor for council budget blow out

It’s Monday November 7 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates, made possible by our members. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund and you can reach me on

The agenda

  • Wayne Brown says major rate rises “won’t happen” despite a forecast $270m budget blow out.
  • Ardern claims Labour’s internal numbers show a much closer race than the results of last night’s Newshub poll.
  • It’s Porn Week on The Spinoff! Check out the first episode of Chris & Eli’s Porn Revolution here.

Brown blames predecessor for council budget blow out

It’s Monday November 7 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates, made possible by our members. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund and you can reach me on

The agenda

  • Wayne Brown says major rate rises “won’t happen” despite a forecast $270m budget blow out.
  • Ardern claims Labour’s internal numbers show a much closer race than the results of last night’s Newshub poll.
  • It’s Porn Week on The Spinoff! Check out the first episode of Chris & Eli’s Porn Revolution here.
Nov 7 2022

The inaugural Topp Prize goes to Chris Parker

Chris Parker talks about the big hill (Photo: YouTube)

The New Zealand Comedy Trust has announced that the inaugural Topp Prize, named after the iconic Topp twins, will be awarded to comedian Chris Parker. Recognised as one of Aotearoa’s most generous and gifted comedians, Parker takes home $15,000 and two iconic milk bottle lolly artworks from Simon Lewis Wards – housed in a double hot pink crate to match Camp Mother’s pantsuit.

The New Zealand Comedy Trust established the Topp Prize in 2022 as a non-competitive prize awarded annually to a practicing individual, duo or group with a strong, clear and unique voice. It can can be bestowed to a person or group making Aotearoa laugh with an “out of the box approach” whether that comedy takes place on the stage, on the screen or in a completely unexpected comedy space altogether.

“We are honoured to have our legacy acknowledged alongside kiwi comedy legends Billy T James and Fred Dagg. As young performers we were not afraid to stand up for what we believed in and incorporated these issues into our live shows,” said Dames Lynda and Jools Topp. “Being out lesbians in the early 80s singing country music through comedic characters the Gingham Sisters was probably one of the most diverse combinations of political comedy in the world, and to have an award honouring those qualities in 2022 means so much to us. A message we would like to give to the next generation of comedians is “Believe in yourself, believe in your message and believe you are funny as”.”

Since winning the New Zealand Comedy Trust’s prestigious Fred Award in 2018 he’s toured to sell out audiences, won Celebrity Treasure Island NZ, had his felting hat exhibited at the Auckland Museum and Te Papa, published a book, and created the TVNZ special Chris Parker: Back To School. Parker said: “This is a huge honour. I’ve always truly idolised the Topp Twins and I spend an alarming amount of time watching them on YouTube. A performer like myself is a product of the work, advocacy and representation that they’ve put out into the world with such positivity and respect for Aotearoa. I’m so touched.”

New Zealand Comedy Trust Board Member Gemma Gracewood said: “Our existing honours — The Fred and the Billy T Awards, named for John Clarke’s Fred Dagg character, and for variety king Billy T James — are prizes for the best show and the best emerging performer in the annual comedy festival.

“But what about the work that our comedians do year-round, in other forms and on other stages? What about those who move the art of comedy forward, and help to make a better, more robust, supportive and inclusive whānau in light of our industry’s problematic past, and present?”

This year’s selection was panel was led by comedy industry legend Paul Horan and included comedian and producer Tim Batt, our own Sam Brooks, Wellington theatre stalwart Salesi Le’ota, NZ on Air’s head of funding Amie Mills, Australian comedian Rhys Nicholson and Piki Films producer Morgan Waru.

NZ Comedy Guild opposes Louis CK show: ‘He is not welcome here’

Louis CK, always problematic.

The New Zealand Comedy Guild has hit out at an upcoming New Zealand show by disgraced comedian Louis CK, calling for a boycott. The celebrated American comedian, who has admitted multiple instances of sexual misconduct, is due to perform in Auckland on November 19. His performances in Christchurch, on November 20, and in Wellington, on November 21, have both been cancelled.

The Comedy Guild guild released a statement saying his entire tour (now just one date) should be scrapped. “The New Zealand comedy industry … stand in opposition to Louis CK’s past actions, his lack of contrition, and his attempts to cover up the harm he has caused,” it said. “CK’s fame and talent do not make up for or excuse the harm he has done and the careers he has ruined.”

Multiple women came forward in 2017 alleging to the New York Times that CK had exposed himself and masturbated in front of them. In a statement, CK admitted their stories were true. “The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly. I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them.”

The Comedy Guild said CK hadn’t addressed the allegations in his shows “in a meaningful way”. “CK now chooses to hide from these incidents, the people he mistreated, and the meaningful careers he stopped in their tracks … He is not welcome here.”

In a story headlined “We should have had a problem with Louis CK long before now,” The Spinoff critic Sam Brooks crafts a long list of stand-up material used by CK that should have been seen as warning signs, including gags about the f-word, the n-word, the objectification of women and masturbating. “Whatever it is about watching Louis CK that makes his fans feel better, feel safe or feel heard, it’s something they need to examine,” writes Brooks.

CK is known for his hit comedy show Louie as well as co-creating Better Things and Baskets. His Auckland show at the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre is close to a sell out, with about 100 tickets remaining.

Covid-19 update: Over 20,000 new cases this week, 322 in hospital

Image: Toby Morris

There have been 20,802 new Covid-19 infections reported across the country over the past week, including 3,173 reinfections. The daily average number of new cases was 2,967 over the past week.

In hospital, there are 322 people being treated with Covid-19 while eight are intensive care.

The daily number of deaths averaged two this week, with the overall death toll up 41 (though this includes just 13 definitively linked to the virus, with the remaining 28 so far unlinked).

After several weeks of week-on-week growth in the overall number of new cases, this week shows things may have levelled off for a bit. Last Monday, the daily average was 2,926 with 323 people in hospital – almost exactly the same as this week.

A message from The Spinoff’s founder and publisher, Duncan Greive

Our readers are the bedrock of The Spinoff – you are by far our largest funders, and the only reason we exist at all.

I’m here to ask you for your help again.

The cost of living crisis, which we have covered extensively, has hit us and our people too – at the same time as membership income has remained flat post-pandemic. Big tech has taken over the digital advertising market, making us need your donations now more than ever.I would love it if you would consider donating to help keep our independent, NZ owned and made journalism free for all. Please support The Spinoff today.

Watch: Chris Parker & Eli Matthewson start a porn revolution


In the first episode of Chris & Eli’s Porn Revolution, the comedians decide to launch a big campaign around porn, but have no idea where to start. Joined by impact producer Anna Dean, they soon discover they must first do their research about how pornography has evolved in Aotearoa.

Beginning at their old haunt Classic Comedy Club – a former porn theatre – they then meet former “porn king” Steve Crow (Te Āti Awa) who details his rise and fall in the industry. Finally, they chat to independent producer and sex worker Cathasaigh Ó Fiannachta about the current state of the industry and the impact of the giant mystery companies behind the likes of PornHub and RedTube. They are excited to be on the journey, but realise they are just scratching the surface of the complex world of pornography. 

Auckland Council budget blow out prompts urgent call from mayor

Wayne Brown meets Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Photo: Auckland Council/Jay Farnworth)

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown has directed the council governing body to find $270 million to “cover over” a major budget hole reported this morning.

The Herald’s Bernard Orsman revealed the super city could be in for major rates rises after high inflation caused a projected hole in the 2023/2024 budget to blow out from $90 million to $270 million.

A statement to the stock exchange reported the council was “experiencing increased pressure” and may pull on levers such as “prudent use of debt, the level of rates increases, asset ownership options and changes to operational expenditure”.

Mayor Brown said the budget hole was a legacy from predecessor Phil Goff “papering over the fiscal cracks and passing the buck to the new governing body, and not being prepared to confront poor performance by Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) and Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) over six years”.

He added: “12% rates rises are not acceptable and will not happen.”

It’s Porn Week on The Spinoff!

Image: Archi Banal

Today we’re launching Porn Week on The Spinoff: a week of themed content all about a massive subject that people don’t seem to want to talk about.

The week will run like any other themed week on the site (see: Rent WeekPet WeekSleep Week) with data visualisations, business stories, profiles, commentary, guidance, and a special edition of Toby Morris’s The Side Eye.

But, as our editor Mad Chapman has explained in an essay this morning, Porn Week will be a little different: throughout the week our latest video series, Chris Parker and Eli’s Matthewson’s Porn Revolution, will have episodes released daily, following the two comedians on their mission to shed the stigma around pornography and bring some pretty big questions to the party. What is Aotearoa’s porn production history? Is free access to online pornography impacting our rangatahi? And can pornography be artful, ethical, even feminist?

The Bulletin: Agreement to discuss climate compensation at COP27

For the first time since climate talks began decades ago, delegates from nearly 200 countries at the UN climate summit in Egypt have agreed to discuss compensating poorer nations for damage linked to global warming. COP27 got off to a delayed start as negotiators wrangled with the issue. Some research suggests the cost of climate-linked losses could reach US$580b per year by 2030.

Stuff’s Oliva Wannan reports on our government’s ongoing granting of oil and gas exploration permits while our lead climate negotiations ambassador, Kay Harrison describes the notion that you would continue production and supply of new oil and gas as “crazy”.

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.  

‘Neck and neck’: Ardern claims Labour’s polling shows a much closer race

PM Jacinda Ardern speaks to Jack Tame on Q and A, July 31 2022

The latest political poll has forced the prime minister into a position she hasn’t been in for much of her tenure: defensiveness.

Newshub’s Reid Research poll – it’s first since May – showed Labour has crashed down almost 6%, sitting on 32.3% compared to National’s 40.7%. With minor party support, National and Act could comfortably form a government on these numbers.

Speaking to RNZ, Jacinda Ardern said these numbers were different to Labour’s internal polling. “The last Reid Research [poll] was in May. We do ours much more regularly, ours show we are neck and neck so that’s where I see we are currently,” she said.

“The focus for us as a government will be people, not polls.”

Those internal polling numbers were usually provided to corporate briefings, said Ardern, so she expected they would end up in the public domain eventually.

The Newshub poll was released at the end of what should have been a celebratory weekend for the government, with the Labour Party conference taking place in Auckland. The Spinoff’s Toby Manhire was there and I encourage you to read his excellent wrap. As Toby noted, the conference saw Ardern’s “relentlessly positive” attitude take a backseat to more typical politicking. National was mentioned about 20 times, Luxon about 10.

Ardern told Newshub’s AM that it was “tradition” to call out the opposition and rejected the claim she was going against her mantra of kindness.

Meanwhile, the PM told RNZ her government “absolutely” should be responding to issues that voters care about. “That’s why childcare assistance was top for us… it sits alongside the fuel tax reduction, public transport [cost] reduction, the family tax credit increase, the cost of living payment – all of these things designed to make sure that, even though we have very few levers to reduce what is an international inflationary issue, we’re doing what we can to support New Zealanders.”

An extension of the petrol and public transport price cuts wasn’t ruled out, though Ardern reiterated that policy was wrapping up early next year.