Speaking first, Jacinda Ardern called the Queen the “epitome of graceful diplomacy” and singled out her support for New Zealanders on our “darkest days”, such as March 15.
“She stood in support of our aims and ambitions as an independent country. What mattered to her was that all New Zealanders reached their potential in the spirit of kindness, respect and support for one another. I know that our new sovereign, King Charles III, feels the same.”
Reflecting on two conversations she had with the Queen during lockdown, Ardern said they reminded her of the Queen’s stoicism. “I was reflecting on those calls recently and it occurred to me how much they summed up her as a person: she asked after others… she always thought of others.”
Concluding her speech, Ardern said: “[The Queen] was, quite simply, an extraordinary women who was of her time, and now in passing is for all time.”
National’s Christopher Luxon, who spoke next, said while he never met the Queen, one of his earliest memories was waving a plastic flag as she drove past to open the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch. “She has been such a constant presence in our lives,” he said. “The loss is felt because with her passing we have a renewed appreciation and greater gratitude for her unprecedented legacy of selfless public service.”
The Queen, said Luxon, embodied steadfastness: a pillar of stability tradition. “That did not mean that she and the monarchy did not change during her reign, they did, but her values did not,” he said. “She remained true to her pledge of service, loyal to the Commonwealth, the defender of her faith, and devoted to her husband and family.”
Speaking next, Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson acknowledged both her personal admiration for the Queen and the fact many disapproved of the monarchy. “I certainly can reflect on her stamina for service and public life… after seven years as an MP I can’t imagine having to times that by 10,” she said.
Later, Davidson commented on the “many Māori leaders who, while holding a rightful space of aroha, have also been very clear that we cannot ignore the oppression of Māori as very real and continuing”.
Parliament will adjourn for the remainder of this week to mark the Queen’s passing. It will next sit on Tuesday, after the Queen’s official funeral in London.
Finance minister Grant Robertson has defended the government’s “incremental” approach to redistributing wealth in Aotearoa, saying the electorate must buy into having a fairer tax system, including paying a capital gains tax they have long rejected.
In the premiere episode of season three of Alice Snedden’s Bad News, the comedian quizzed the minister in charge of the Labour government’s spending, including why it wimped out on creating a capital gains tax, whether rich people were paying enough tax and why New Zealand’s wealth gap continued to widen.
Robertson said that while there was always scope for making the tax system fairer, “steadily and progressively” redistributing wealth was a better approach, otherwise the government could “burn very, very brightly for three years and then disappear into the wilderness and things would get a lot worse”.
The government’s “incremental” reforms so far included changes to the brightline test and interest tax deductibility rules. However, those reforms were “pathetic, distractional and performative” steps to fix a massive generational problem, financial journalist Bernard Hickey said.
“Anyone who owned land from the 1980s onwards is now rich. And anyone who is a renter – which means mostly young people, mostly Māori, mostly Pasifika – is dirt poor.”
Hickey, who hosts the podcast When the Facts Change, said Aotearoa had become a “brutally unequal” society. “The reason we are special is because we are the only country in the world that does not tax capital gains.”
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei was still “restoring and recovering” seven generations later after losing over 80,000 hectares of land in one generation when the country was colonised, said the iwi trust’s deputy chair Ngarimu Blair (Ngāti Whātua).
With a commercial property investment portfolio largely based in central Auckland, the “property owner” wouldn’t have a problem with paying tax on capital gains. “It just does seem unfair that an individual can pretty much…tick up a huge profit with nothing going back to that safety net that we need to help people who are genuinely having a tough time of it,” Blair said.
The New Zealand delegation heading to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II next week has been confirmed.
Joining the prime minister Jacinda Ardern and governor general Dame Cindy Kiro will be the Māori King Kiingi Tūheitia, former governor general Dame Silvia Cartwright, Victoria Cross recipient, Willie Apiata and former secretary general of the Commonwealth, Sir Don McKinnon.
Others from New Zealand include: Sir Tipene O’Regan, Aivale Cole, Whaea Esther Jessop and Jacqueline Gilbert.
“It is a privilege to attend the funeral alongside other New Zealanders from different walks of life to pay our respects on behalf of all New Zealanders,” said Ardern, who will leave for the UK tomorrow.
Our image of the day optimistically suggests that we’re still a while away from bots replacing artists.
Sooner or later the robots are coming for all of our jobs. Or are they? Currently it’s illustrators and designers feeling under the chopping block, and today’s image of the day comes from a fascinating piece we’ve just published by illustrator Tim Gibson. He challenges image creation AI programme Dall-E 2 to recreate some of his own work – with varying levels of success. Can a robot really express tone and emotion? See what you think.
Here are the latest Covid-19 statistics from the Ministry of Health. A reminder: as of 11.59pm last night, almost all Covid-19 rules have ended.
There are 1,941 new community Covid-19 cases.
The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 1,468. Last Tuesday, it was 1,719.
There are now 241 people in hospital with Covid-19, including three in intensive care.
The seven-day rolling average of hospitalisations today is 236. Last Tuesday, it was 267.
There are now a total of 1,962 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor.
The seven-day rolling average increase in total deaths attributable to Covid-19 is now four.
Meanwhile, the ministry has confirmed today will be the last day of regular 1pm updates. Updates will now move to weekly, beginning next Monday. “As the Covid-19 response evolves, so too does our reporting of the outbreak,” said the ministry.
“The weekly figures will include seven day averages for case numbers, deaths and hospitalisations.”
This month we’re celebrating eight years of The Spinoff.
We’ve come a long way since 2014 and that is in no small part thanks to our members – we literally wouldn’t be here today without them.
Their generous support underpins all our work and has meant we are able to cover more areas of life in Aotearoa, to tackle more stories about our people and issues impacting our communities. From our ongoing coverage of inequality and the cost-of-living crisis, to political reporting and our focus on te ao Māori, it’s important mahi and we can’t do it without you.
The cost of living is sky high, home-owning boomers are raking in trillions and still there is no capital gains tax. What’s going on with the wealthy? In the first episode of Alice Snedden’s Bad News, the comedian stares at our yawning inequality gap and asks if there is anything she can do to help as a privileged, home-owning white woman. Speaking to minister of finance Grant Robertson, economics journalist and When the Facts Change host Bernard Hickey, Ngarimu Blair of Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei and “broke” comedian Bubbah, Snedden unearths some shocking truths about land ownership and why there hasn’t been a revolution… yet.
You may have thought/hoped that the #slap would mean the end of Hollywood awards season – and yet here we are! It’s Emmys day which means beautiful red carpet fashion, a slew of a-listers, and debate over why show X beat show Y in the drama category.
For us here at The Spinoff, all eyes are on the homegrown talent. Melanie Lynskey is a soft frontrunner in the best actress category for her performance in Yellowjackets. She’s up against 2020’s winner Zendaya, nominated for Euphoria, along with heavyweights like Laura Linney for Ozark and both the leading ladies of Killing Eve. The awards predictors at Gold Derby have Zendaya just out in front, but have queried whether the surprisingly high number of nominations for Yellowjackets could signal support from voters.
Meanwhile, the comedy and drama races are packed with both defending champs (like Ted Lasso and Succession) and new blood (Abbott Elementary and Severance). It’s a pretty tough race this year, but I’d be chuffed if Severance took out a few of the bigger categories.
I’d also love to see some love for Better Call Saul, although the split in its final season will mean part two is eligible for awards in 2023 as well.
As many as 20,000 mourners have been queued outside St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, where the Queen’s coffin will lie at rest until tomorrow.
According to reports on the ground, it was taking roughly eight hours for those waiting in the snaking line to make it inside the church to pay their respects to the monarch.
Earlier, the Queen’s four children – including King Charles III – stood beside their mother’s coffin for what is known as the Vigil of the Princes. The symbolic act sees four people stand “guard” around the coffin for a short period of time, on rotation.
The Queen will next travel to London where she will lie in state until her funeral on Monday.
Food prices have experienced the largest bounce in 13 years, according to new Stats NZ figures.
Costs were 8.3% higher in August 2022 compared with the same time last year, making it the largest annual increase since an 8.4% bounce in July 2009.
Groceries were the largest contributor to the hike, said Stats NZ. “Increasing prices for eggs, yoghurt, and cheddar cheese were the largest drivers within grocery food,” consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said.
The second-largest contributor to the annual movement was fruit and vegetables, up 15%, particularly due to capsicums, potatoes, and onions.
Meat, poultry and fish prices were up 7.6% and restaurant meals jumped by 6.5%.
It’s too early to know what form of inquiry will be undertaken to review the country’s Covid-19 response.
Today marks a return to the “old normal” with almost all Covid restrictions dumped, more than 900 days after the pandemic first began.
While The Spinoff has received reports of widespread mask use today on the likes of public transport, it’s no longer a government requirement.
Appearing on Newshub’s AM, the prime minister Jacinda Ardern was questioned on whether it was now time to review our handling of the pandemic. “There will always be things we can learn and we should learn them, because there is a chance we can experience these things in the future – and we need to be ready for that,” said Ardern, who added that we must be “really pragmatic”.
There were various possibilities for what form the review could take, the prime minister, including government or ministerial inquiries, or a more over-arching Royal Commission. “We are looking at what form that should take but keeping in mind there’s a range of different options… that all determine the length of time that they take,” she said.
The government was seeking advice on the format currently and would report back when this had been received, said Ardern.
As of 11.59pm last night, almost all Covid-19 protections were dropped. That means mask use is no longer a government requirement, nor is the need for incoming travellers to be vaccinated against the virus.
Despite this, we’ve received reports that people – especially in Auckland and Wellington – appear to be maintaining some of their behaviours from the past two years of the pandemic.
Feel free to email me – email@example.com – with your observations on day one of the “new old normal”. Are people masked up on the bus? Do people still appear concerned about the virus? How are you feeling today.
A New Zealand academic was singled out at the launch of a new report on China’s increasing efforts to shape global media coverage. The report is the work of the US non-profit think tank Freedom House. As Newsroom’s Sam Sachdeva writes, New Zealand wasn’t part of the report but Andrew Nathan of Columbia University, one of the report’s authors, credited a paper from the University of Canterbury’s Anne-Marie Brady as having drawn attention to China’s activities.
The report assesses China’s global media influence efforts in 30 different countries between 2019 and 2021. It concludes that while the Chinese government is ramping up its use of “sophisticated and coercive tactics”, it’s “reaping mixed results” as awareness grows of the efforts being made and the tactics being used.
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A review of New Zealand’s electoral laws has kicked off today – but “broader constitutional matters” will not be canvassed.
The Independent Electoral Review was announced late last year by the former justice minister Kris Faafoi. At the time, he said that while New Zealand had a “world-class” electoral system, our legal framework needed to move with the times.
“Much has changed since the 1950s but most of our electoral rules haven’t. We want to make election rules clearer and fairer to build more trust in the system and better support people to exercise their right to vote,” said the minister last October.
From today, that review gets under way. In a statement, the review panel’s chair Deborah Hart said she wanted to hear from a diverse range of people about their experiences and ideas for strengthening the electoral system.
“Elections are an important part of our democracy, so it’s important that the panel hears from people with different views and perspectives,” she said. “We encourage everyone to have their say.”
Matters up for review include the length of the parliamentary term, the voting age, political donations, election campaigns and the thresholds for parties to enter Parliament under MMP. The review panel is expected to report back late next year, with changes to be brought in before the 2026 election. Concurrently, the government has announced targeted reforms of our electoral laws, particularly around donations, that will be in place before next year’s election.
But with added scrutiny over the role of the monarchy in New Zealand’s constitution, any debate about becoming a republic won’t be part of this review. Other issues like alternatives to the MMP voting system, re-establishing an Upper House and the current size of parliament are out of scope.