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Jun 13 2023

RNZ host Karyn Hay resigns after extended absence

(Photo: Getty Images)

RNZ’s Nights host Karyn Hay has quit the broadcaster after an extended and unexplained absence.

A spokesperson for RNZ confirmed to the Herald that Hay had chosen to focus on writing projects. “RNZ wishes her the best for her future,” the spokesperson said.

Hay has been absent from her slot for much of this year. A few months ago, The Spinoff requested any internal correspondence on Hay’s absence but was told that nothing would be released. “All internal communications are withheld… to protect Ms Hay’s privacy and our obligations as [a] good employer to keep all employment related matters confidential to the parties,” a spokesperson said.

It’s the government, not NZ, that’s ‘wet and whiny’ – Luxon

Christopher Luxon with his Backbencher twin. Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

National’s Christopher Luxon said he’s a “big patriotic Kiwi” and his comments about New Zealand being “negative, wet, whiny and inward-looking” were directed at the current government.

The comments were made in Helensville, north of Auckland City, yesterday while Luxon met with farmers and announced a new agriculture policy. He also said New Zealand had “lost the plot” and had to get its “mojo” back.

In Remuera today, Luxon, who primarily wanted to talk about gang problems in Ōpōtiki, was asked to explain his comments. “I think this is a country of endless potential, there is no reason why New Zealand can’t do well in the next 50 years. But we have a government that has taken New Zealand backwards, that’s what I was talking about yesterday,” said Luxon. “We have to get it back on track.”

“Back on track” is the subheading of Luxon’s nationwide tour that he kicked off in Birkenhead last month.

The current government was responsible for this backward trend, said Luxon, who pledged that a government led by him would turn this around and get “our mojo back”.

“I am a big patriotic Kiwi [but] we are not realising our potential,” he said. “I’m calling the Labour government wet and whiny, there is nothing wrong with New Zealand or New Zealanders. This is the best country on earth.”

Ōpōtiki ‘shut down’ due to gang activity, but mayor says situation under control


Ōpōtiki’s mayor says the town isn’t being held hostage by gang members amid concern over a possible turf war in the Bay of Plenty town.

Media reports claim hundreds of patched Mongrel Mob members have arrived in the town for a tangi of gang president Steven Taiatini, who was killed on Friday in an alleged altercation.

1News has reported that several suspected arsons, and potential gunshots, over the past few days have prompted some locals to stay home. At least one school has chosen to close as a result of the gang activity.

But mayor David Moore said this was an independent call of the school and was because it was located in close proximity to the tangi. “If they’re closing that’s their choice, we can’t get involved in that side of it. The schools that were open yesterday, large numbers of children were away anyway, so it is probably a good thing for just a few days and then we’ll get back to normal as soon as we can,” Moore said this morning.

He denied the town was being “held to ransom” and said the arrival of more police officers had helped reassure some locals.

The prime minister Chris Hipkins said during his morning media round today that the situation was “unacceptable”, but wouldn’t be drawn on whether it was out of control. National’s Paul Goldsmith, however, called today a day of “shame” for Labour.

“Labour’s inaction and hand-wringing has allowed criminal brazenness to take hold to the extent that a gang can now shut down a town,” said Goldsmith.

RNZ board to meet as 17 stories now identified as containing ‘pro-Kremlin’ views

The review followed a series of Kremlin-friendly edits being identified.

RNZ’s board will meet tonight to begin setting up the independent review focused on how pro-Russian content made its way onto the website.

It was revealed by RNZ’s own Checkpoint programme last night that the digital journalist at the centre of the scandal had been potentially editing stories in this manner for a “number” of years – and was never told he was “doing anything wrong”.

So far, according to an ongoing count published to the RNZ homepage, 17 stories have been corrected as an ongoing audit attempts to determine how many reports were subtly altered with pro-Kremlin views.

RNZ’s board chairperson Jim Mather admitted the public’s trust in the broadcaster had been damaged by the ongoing saga. “We see ourselves as guardians of a taonga and that taonga being the 98 years of history that RNZ has in terms of trusted public media and high standards of excellent journalism and so it is fair to say we are extremely disappointed,” he said.

“We need to demonstrate that we are prepared to review every aspect of what has occurred to actually start the restoration process in terms of confidence in RNZ.”

Tonight’s meeting will see the board discuss the investigation, who will oversee it, and the terms of reference.

Meanwhile, senior politicians from both Labour and National have chosen to stay out of the story, citing RNZ’s editorial independence.

TVNZ’s new Australian correspondent announced

The TVNZ head office, Auckland (Photo: Supplied)

Broadcaster Aziz Al Sa’afin will become TVNZ’s new Australian correspondent from August this year, it’s been announced.

He’s been with 1News since February last year as a digital reporter and was previously a co-host of TV3’s AM Show during the Paul Henry and Duncan Garner years.

In a statement, Al Sa’afin said he was incredibly excited about the chance to work across the ditch. “As we approach an upcoming federal election, witness the development of the AUKUS alliance, and prepare for Australia’s Indigenous Voice referendum, which marks the first referendum in over two decades, it is going to be a pivotal time being TVNZ’s Australia correspondent,” he said.

The current reporter in the role, Andrew Macfarlane, will leave TVNZ later this year.

The Bulletin: House price decline slows for second month in a row

A couple of reports out on house prices this morning. The latest Quotable Value (QV) house price index showed values fell 3.4% over the three months to the end of May, slightly slower than the 3.5% fall in April and the 3.9% fall in March. QV’s James Wilson said that while it was still too soon to call this the bottom of the market, the difference in trend combined with other stats and anecdotal evidence, we may be beginning to reach a transition point towards a flatter [market or] pathway to return to positive conditions.

According to Trade Me’s latest figures, asking prices on properties are around $100k less than they were a year ago with its spokesperson making similar comments about the signs that suggest the market is levelling out. The country’s largest lender ANZ lifted a range of home loan interest rates yesterday.

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The debate over ‘bottom lines’

PM Chris Hipkins in May 2023 (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

You’re going to start hearing a lot about “bottom lines” over the next few months. That’s when a party outlines a particular policy it’s not prepared, in theory, to budge on when it comes to negotiating a potential coalition. For example, if I say that a crisp sauvignon blanc is a bottom line for my birthday party and you turn up with a pinot gris, there will be a firm negotiation over whether or not you’re allowed entry. In that scenario, I’d probably accept that as long as you stick to the pinot, the rest of us can carry on. But in government, the balancing act might not be that simple.

Act, for example, has made it clear that if a potential National government doesn’t agree to a certain set of policy terms, it would be prepared to forego the baubles of office and sit on the cross benches. That would mean every single government decision would need to be individually negotiated with Act (or the opposition) if National wanted to see it pass.

And in recent days, prime minister Chris Hipkins has noted that his party will outline “bottom lines” on tax policy ahead of the election.

So what happens if Labour’s bottom lines don’t align with the Green Party’s newly announced wealth tax? Hipkins was asked by RNZ this morning whether he’d be prepared to lead a minority government, should the Greens choose to sit on the cross bench. “If we set bottom lines and we say these are areas we’re not prepared to compromise on, that will be the case,” said Hipkins.

“I think all of the smaller parties do need to be careful in terms of what they set as bottom line demands. That doesn’t just apply to our side of the aisle, it applies on the other side of the aisle as well, because I think there is an aspect that New Zealanders should get the government that they vote for recognising that under an MMP environment that government might not always be able to form a majority outright and will have to work with other parties.”

Hipkins said a minor party having a bottom line doesn’t mean they should hold disproportionate power in any decision-making, “MMP is based on the premise there is compromise, of course, parties are also entitled to set bottom lines,” he added.

Make sure “bottom lines” is firmly in your election year glossary as we head into the final four months of the campaign.