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Food prices continue to soar

It’s Tuesday, December 13 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

The agenda

  • Fruit and vegetable prices up 20%, overall food prices up nearly 11%.
  • Three ministers and three MPs from the Labour Party have announced they’ll be quitting politics at next year’s election.
  • Further pressure on Mahuta over three waters entrenchment.
blog-dec-13.jpg

Food prices continue to soar

It’s Tuesday, December 13 and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Get in touch with me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

The agenda

  • Fruit and vegetable prices up 20%, overall food prices up nearly 11%.
  • Three ministers and three MPs from the Labour Party have announced they’ll be quitting politics at next year’s election.
  • Further pressure on Mahuta over three waters entrenchment.
Dec 13 2022

Jacinda Ardern apologises to David Seymour for calling him an ‘arrogant prick’

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

The prime minister has apologised to Act leader David Seymour after parliament microphones picked up the sound of her calling him an “arrogant prick” in the House. Ardern sent Seymour a text message apologising for the remark, which happened after she had finished answering a question from him in the House and before her mic was turned off.

Seymour had asked Ardern a question about owning up to mistakes. “Can the prime minister give an example of her making a mistake, apologising for it properly and fixing it?”

Ardern responded and then sat down. But as House speaker Adrian Rurawhe begins to talk, she can be heard muttering “such an arrogant prick”.

Seymour didn’t appear too bothered by the remark during media questions later. “Some days I am a useless Māori, other days I am an arrogant prick,” he said. “The apology we are really looking for is for New Zealanders worried about rising prices and ram raids.”

He said Ardern had apologised to him in a text which quoted her mum’s adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it”.

“I agree with the sentiment and it is all good as far as I am concerned. I just said, thank you and I hope you have a very merry Christmas. At the end of the day, it’s not the end of the world.”

In short, Seymour accepted that Ardern had made a mistake and apologised for it properly.

A shout out to the White Lady… from Axl Rose?

Axl Rose and Slash will perform with Guns N’ Roses in December. Photo: Getty

Guns N’ Roses have just wrapped up two massive dates in New Zealand as part of their latest world tour – and frontman Axl Rose took to Twitter with a special shout out: to the White Lady.

The iconic Auckland burger joint provided catering to the rock legends after their Auckland gig at Eden Park.

The White Lady co-owner Max Washer told Stuff they had from “various sources” that the band were fans so arranged for catering. “We really appreciate Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses for the support,” said Washer.

Anti-vax lawyer Sue Grey in custody – reports

Outdoors Party Co-Leader Sue Grey addresses a rally at Parliament on 3 June 2020, attended by people protesting Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown measures, 1080 pesticide use, the rollout of 5G and other conspiracy theories. Photo by Lynn Grievson/Newsroom/Getty

It’s been reported that Sue Grey, the conspiracy theorist lawyer and hopeful politician, has been taken into custody for contempt of court.

According to the Herald and other media outlets this afternoon, Grey had been supporting a defendant in the Nelson District Court before being escorted out by security.

Messages circulating on Telegram allege that Grey, who was not acting as a lawyer on behalf of the defendant at the time of the incident, was speaking over the judge. Stuff has reported that Grey was “wilfully disrupting the court” during the judge-only hearing of a cafe owner accused of selling and displaying alcohol without a licence.

A hearing for Grey will be held this afternoon where she will appear before the court.

Grey has been in the headlines most recently for representing the parents of Baby W in the Auckland High Court.

National-Act hold comfortable lead over left bloc in latest poll

Christopher Luxon (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

A new poll, likely the final scientific survey for the year, has once again shown rising support for the National Party and the right bloc.

The latest Taxpayers’ Union Curia Poll has National on 39.4%, up 1.8 points. Coupled with Act’s 10.4% (up 0.5%), that would see a change of government after next year’s election – 64 seats against Labour and the Greens’ 52 seats.

The poll has Labour slipping down to 2.2% to 33.1%, roughly in line with recent television polling by TVNZ and Newshub.

The Greens are up 0.3% to 8.1% and Te Pāti Māori would pick up an additional two seats, four in total, polling at 3.5%.


Despite a recent surge for New Zealand First in the TVNZ Kantar Public Poll, the Winston Peters-led party would stay out of parliament on these numbers – it's dropped to 2.9%.

In the preferred prime minister stakes, Jacinda Ardern has retained a healthy lead over Christopher Luxon – 35.3% to 26.3%. However, Luxon's favourability has risen by more than five points since the last poll, with support for Ardern staying relatively static (a rise of just 0.3%).

Fruit and vegetable prices up 20%, overall food prices up nearly 11%

Grocery shopping can be used as a form of control. Photo: Getty

Food prices have jumped by 10.7% in the year ending November, as the cost of living crisis and rising inflation continues to bite.

According to Stats NZ, fruit and vegetables were up by 20%, while groceries were up 10% and meat prices were up 12%. The annual increase wasn’t blamed on one particular category, with Stats NZ said it was triggered by “rises across all the broad food categories we measure”.

However: “Increasing prices for cheddar cheese, yoghurt and standard two-litre milk were the largest drivers within grocery food,” consumer prices manager James Mitchell said.

Among fruit and veggies, potatoes, onions and bananas were the biggest drivers.

There was a little bit of good news, however. According to Stats NZ, notable fruit and vegetable price falls in November were tomatoes (down 42%), broccoli (down 44%) and, just in time for Christmas, strawberries (down 35%).

House prices continue to fall ahead of rocky 2023

Ten thousand new houses will be built in Māngere over the next 10-15 years as part of the government’s plans to tackle the housing crisis. (Photo: Kāinga Ora)

Predictions continue to be that next year will be tough for homeowners and prospective buyers, while the latest property stats show prices have dropped once again to round out 2022.

Stuff has reported new Real Estate Institute figures that show prices in 14 of 16 regions down compared with this time last year. It makes it the first time since 2009 that so many areas have recorded price drops.

According to the institute, the median price fell 12.4% across the year to $810,000 in November – that’s down on the $925,000 from last year. It was also down by 1.2% on October’s median.

Of course, we’re heading for a soft recession next year which means that while prices may be down, interest rates will continue to rise. Former prime minister John Key – who is also ANZ’s chairman – told Newshub that mortgage rates will probably “have a seven in front of them” into 2023.

Revealed: The Labour ministers and MPs retiring at the election

Photo: Getty Images

Three ministers and three MPs from the Labour Party have announced they’ll be quitting politics at next year’s election.

They are ministers Poto Williams, Aupito William Sio and David Clark and MPs Jamie Strange, Marja Lubeck and Paul Eagle.

In a statement, prime minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed all six would stay in parliament until the 2023 election and said their decision to retire came ahead of a scheduled cabinet reshuffle in the new year. “MPs have made these decisions in good time to allow succession planning for both cabinet and caucus,” said Ardern.

“I’ve had conversations with each MP and Minister. They’ve each made their own call based on their personal circumstances – which I both understand and respect.”

The prime minister paid tribute to the departing group, singling out Sio’s work in the Pacific and involvement with the Dawn Raids apology, Clark’s work on supermarket reforms, and Williams’ efforts in gun law reforms.

“Marja, Paul and Jamie have been such passionate advocates for their communities and are valued members of our team,” she added.

Ardern first signalled that a “handful” of retirements would be announced during her end of year interviews with the press gallery last week. She has denied that the decision for MPs to quit was linked to Labour’s declining poll results. In an interview with Stuff, Jamie Strange said he was “better suited for government than opposition” though claimed this was not a prediction for the next election.

The Bulletin: The real number of visitors to the Auckland Art Gallery

The Herald’s Simon Wilson reveals the true number of visitors (paywalled) to the Auckland Art Gallery in the three months to September. Last week Auckland mayor Wayne Brown complained about the cost of the gallery. He said he knew it made him “a bit of a Philistine”, but he was annoyed that only 9,516 people had visited the gallery in the three months to September this year according to a report in front of him.

That figure is in fact the number of tickets sold to exhibitions with paid entry. Most shows at the gallery are free and the true number of gallery visitors for the period, not listed in the report, was 76,874.

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Further pressure on Mahuta over three waters entrenchment

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern and local government minister Nanaia Mahuta (Image: Tina Tiller)

There’s new pressure over local government minister Nanaia Mahuta over what she knew ahead of the now-scrapped three waters entrenchment provision.

The government unravelled the hastily passed requirement for elements of the three waters legislation to be entrenched, meaning 60% of MPs would be required to change it in the future.

Since then, questions have been asked about who knew the entrenchment proposal was on the table, with prime minister Jacinda Ardern repeatedly suggesting the entire Labour Party was taking responsibility for the “mistake”.

But today, the Herald has revealed that Mahuta received advice from officials on October 25 on the proposal – about a month before it cropped up in parliament.

That’s prompted both the National and Act parties to double down on their calls for Mahuta’s resignation. In a press release headlined “Time’s up Mahuta”, David Seymour said the revelations showed the minister could not be trusted. “Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly told media that Labour “is taking this as a team” and repeatedly called it a “mistake.” It’s now clear her Local government minister has gone rogue and made a fool of her. If it was a ‘mistake’ it was a very well prepared one.”

However, a spokesperson for Mahuta told the Herald that officials weren’t working on the possible entrenchment proposal in October – but instead responding to a letter from Green MP Eugenie Sage about three waters proposals.