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Hamilton West byelection date confirmed

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Hamilton West byelection date confirmed

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates, made possible by our members. Get in touch on

Oct 20 2022

Young and Hungry – ‘pillar of the theatre community’ – closes after 29 years

Sam Brooks explains (and reflects on) the closure of Young and Hungry:

The trustees of the Young and Hungry board have today announced the closure of the Wellington theatre organisation after 29 years. The organisation provided opportunities to rangitahi to get involved and invested in theatre both on and offstage, and was a core pathway for people to get into the industry.

The board cited the difficulties of seeking funding project-to-project, the limited ability to provide long-term assured employment, and as a result, a limited capacity to invest in long-term planning.

As with any organisation, they were hit especially hard by Covid, and unable to reach audiences or provide live performances. “We have searched under every stone, climbed many unscalable mountains and survived endless planning meetings,” said a statement from the board. “However, we have not been able to find a way forward that does not compromise the Y&H values.”

They thanked key creative partners over the years – BATS theatre and Playmarket – and are currently working with the National Library of New Zealand to preserve their ephemera.

A little bit of background: Between 1995 and 2017, the Young and Hungry Festival of New Works would put on two to three new plays at BATS Theatre, casted and crewed entirely by people aged between 15-25. Between 2012 and 2015, the festival also took up residence at Basement Theatre, producing three plays a year there.

The festival has introduced countless people to the arts, including playwrights Eli Kent, Whiti Hereaka, Nathan Joe, Adam Goodall, Alex Lodge and Ralph McCubbin-Howell, not to mention more actors, designers, stage managers than I can name.

Since 2015, the organisation has partnered with EnsembleImpact to tour excerpts of New Zealand work across the country, to both high schools and independent venues.

On a personal note: I wouldn’t be making theatre without Young and Hungry. My first gig in the theatre was an assistant stage manager for Tom Sainsbury’s Disorder, and I made many friends and colleagues I have to this day. My first (and second) commissions as a playwright were from the festival, providing guidance and support that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. Although it’s been some time since the organisation was in its prime, a real pillar of the theatre community has been lost today.

Finalists announced for Student Radio Network Awards

The Student Radio Network – that being the Captain-Planet-style broadcasting conglomeration of 95bFM, Radio Control, Radio Active, RDU and Radio One – has this morning announced the finalists for its second annual Student Radio Network Awards. Co-presented by NZ on Air and Naked PR, the awards will be held this November in Dunedin and simulcast both online and across those stations.

Unique to the SRN Awards is their focus on artists and releases from Aotearoa’s alternative and underground communities – this year’s nominees for the flagship Album of the Year category include acts as diverse as avant-folk powerhouse Aldous Harding, living percussive legend Julian Dyne, North Dunedin shredhounds Dale Kerrigan and Garden City dancefloor agenda-setters The Big Fresh Collective.

The full (and very long) list of nominees is up now on Undertheradar, with voting also open for the People’s Choice awards via this form. Voting closes on November 4, with the awards taking place on November 19.

Image of the day: Salad days


Having a bad day? At least a national newspaper hasn’t photoshopped your head into an iceberg lettuce and plopped you on the front page. Todays image comes from the UK’s Daily Star, right under the headline “Lettuce Liz is cut to shreds”. Ouch. She’ll need a dressing for that.

(Read more on the Liz Truss lettuce here)

PM reiterates plan for three waters during first meeting with Wayne Brown

Jacinda Ardern speaks in Auckland (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Jacinda Ardern has met with Auckland’s new mayor Wayne Brown for a closed doors conversation this morning.

It’s the first time the pair have met since this month’s election and ticks off a trio of meetings between Ardern and the mayors of our biggest cities.

The prime minister, speaking to media after the meeting, said she hoped key ministers, such as those for transport and housing, would soon be able to sit down with the mayor’s team once council was formally in place. “Everyone will carve out their own style… the focus for me is how do we work together constructively for all Aucklanders,” Ardern said when asked about Brown’s approach to the mayoralty.

Jacinda Ardern speaks in Auckland (Photo: Stewart Sowman-Lund)

On the subject of three waters, Ardern reiterated to the mayor – who is opposed to the policy – that rates would go up if infrastructure isn’t improved. “I’m not willing to stand by and see Aucklanders face increasing bills and that is what is projected to happen if we don’t do anything about water infrastructure… I expressed to the mayor that neither of us want to see that to happen,” she said.

“I do not want to see a situation where we stand by and watch New Zealanders’ rates bills go up. And that is what will happen if nothing is done about water infrastructure… that is what’s predicted to happen here in Auckland.”

Ardern also met today with a former political adversary, Simon Bridges, who is now head of Auckland’s Business Chamber.

Scratched nominated for NZTV award (some other shows also nominated)

Scratched is back!

The Spinoff’s sports documentary series, Scratched: Aotearoa’s Lost Sporting Legends, has been nominated for the third consecutive year in the Best Sports Programme category at the NZTV awards. Its third season told the stories of lost cricketers, triathletes, woodchoppers, pole dancers, runners and boxers. Directed by Natalie Wilson, Eddy Fifield, Amber Easby and Madeleine Chapman, Scratched’s nomination follows a 2021 nomination and a 2020 win in the same category. Also nominated for Best Sports Programme are 1-39: The Highlanders Story and East Coast Rising.

Outside of the most important category (the one in which The Spinoff is nominated) dawn raids era drama The Panthers scored a massive 18 nominations, including Best Drama and four acting nominations (Chelsie Preston Crayford, Dimitrius Schuster-Koloamatangi, Jordan Mooney, Jordan Vaha’akolo).

Wellington Paranormal season four has been nominated for Best Comedy alongside newcomers Raised By Refugees and Kid Sister. Lisette Reymer (Newshub), Patrick Gower (Newshub) and Barbara Dreaver (1News) are up against each other for Reporter of the Year.

See the full list of finalists here.

And watch every episode of Scratched here.

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Byelection date for Gaurav Sharma’s Hamilton West seat announced

Gaurav Sharma (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The Hamilton West byelection will be held on Saturday December 10, the prime minister has announced.

The byelection was prompted by the resignation of independent MP Gaurav Sharma, who was elected to the seat as a Labour MP in 2020. Sharma resigned on Tuesday, having been expelled from the Labour caucus in August.

He was formally expelled from the Labour Party earlier today.

The deadline for candidate nominations is November 8, and official results will be declared on December 21.

Gaurav Sharma formally expelled from Labour Party

Gaurav Sharma and Trevor Mallard at the parliamentary press gallery party in 2021. Photo: @gmsharmanz

In wholly unsurprising breaking news, Gaurav Sharma, the MP who this week quit parliament and triggered a byelection in Hamilton West, has been officially thrown out of the Labour Party. “Labour’s New Zealand Council has expelled Gaurav Sharma from the party,” said Labour president Claire Szabó in a statement. The NZ Council, the party’s governing body, met this morning and “took this decision because it found Gaurav Sharma had brought the party into disrepute”, she said.

Sharma had previously been exiled from the party caucus after what Jacinda Ardern characterised as repeated breaches of trust. Sharma participated “actively” in the NZ Council investigation, which followed a complaint from caucus. The statement continued: “When we communicated with Gaurav on Saturday 15 October, he said he had recently experienced a bereavement in his wider whanau – which he had also noted on his Facebook page. On that basis, Gaurav requested extra time to document his perspective on our investigation. We agreed to his request on compassionate grounds, and gave him an additional opportunity to present any documentation he wished.  That window closed yesterday, and we received no further documentation from Gaurav … [His] expulsion is immediate.”

Gaurav Sharma and Trevor Mallard at the parliamentary press gallery party in 2021. Photo: @gmsharmanz

Sharma continues to insist that he is the victim of bullying and harassment, but has provided little in the way of evidence to back his claims. He announced on Tuesday that he would contest the byelection as an independent, and subsequently form a new centrist party. Ardern said his claim that the party was intending to invoke the waka jumping rule to kick him out of parliament within six months of an election, so avoiding a byelection, was baseless.

National’s social investment scheme uncosted

National Party deputy leader Nicola Willis delivers a post budget address on May 20, 2022. (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images)

National’s plan to bring back its social investment scheme from the dead doesn’t have a price tag.

The policy, the brainchild of former prime minister Bill English, was revived by current deputy Nicola Willis during a speech at Victoria University yesterday. In short, the scheme would see early intervention to address certain issues, making use of “sophisticated data and evaluation approaches” to identify what works.

But while Willis said the funding would initially come from the government budget – and a fund that could be topped up by wealthy individuals – there’s no actual price just yet. Speaking to Today FM’s Tova O’Brien, Willis said a costed policy would be announced in due course.

Later, on RNZ, Willis added that intervening earlier was important. “[We need to be] holding ourselves accountable, scaling up the things that are working, scaling down the things that aren’t.” This is about powering up “great organisations” to do good work, said Willis.

Wayne Brown’s first interview: I’ve got the numbers to bring about change

Wayne Brown. Photo: Supplied

Auckland’s new mayor has given his first full interview since taking on the top job about 10 days ago.

Wayne Brown spoke to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning, admitting the job is “challenging”.

“I sort of expected it to be a bit slow and ponderous and bureaucratic and inefficient and it’s certainly measured up to all that,” Brown said.

The new mayor has spent his first days in office meeting with his team of councillors. Brown said that he’s got a range of views from both “the left and the right” but he thinks he’s got the numbers to effect change.

“They’ve been elected by the same people I was elected by and they’re well aware of the concerns of those people,” he said. “I think I’m building a very strong team. I don’t want any of that parliamentary nonsense of ‘my team is better than yours’ – we’re here for Aucklanders.”

One of Brown’s biggest planned changes involves a total overhaul of council controlled organisations. When Hosking said “you’re not the president” and therefore could be told to “go get stuffed”, Brown said: “Well that’s not going to happen, mate. You wait and watch.”

On the subject of three waters, to which Brown is staunchly opposed, he told Hosking that he expected the government to listen. “This is a democracy and if the people think certain things… no matter who’s in charge at the top it’s very hard to go against the wishes of the people.”

Listen to the full interview here

The Bulletin: Prime minister to travel to Antarctica

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern will travel to Antarctica next Tuesday to mark the 65th anniversary of Scott Base, New Zealand’s Antarctic home. The base is currently undergoing a $344m redevelopment, due to be completed in 2028. After a public competition to choose the colour of the buildings, it will remain green.

Ardern is a self-professed fan of Antarctic explorer Earnest Shackleton, once saying she’d consider getting a tattoo of him and naming Shackleton’s sled as her favourite item at Te Papa. Ardern will see the research and environment protection efforts being undertaken at Scott Base first-hand and return next Friday.

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A big day for Jacinda Ardern

PM Jacinda Ardern in San Francisco (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The prime minister is in Auckland today for a pair of fairly significant meetings.

Firstly, she’ll be having her first face-to-face meeting with Auckland’s new mayor Wayne Brown. It completes the trio of meetings between Ardern and the mayors of our three biggest cities, having already met with Wellington’s Tory Whanau and Christchurch’s Phil Mauger.

It’s likely the closed doors meeting will be more of a “get to know each other” than a serious policy chat, however issues like three waters – which Brown has staunchly opposed – could be on the agenda. As the Herald’s Bernard Orsman reports, Brown’s team had requested a joint press conference with the prime minister after the meeting, which was declined.

Brown has so far refused to front for media interviews, aside from a brief appearance on his first day in the top job. However, he has practically each day sent out a press statement revealing key actions he has taken (generally these involve sending letters to the heads of council controlled agencies laying out his expectations).

Following the meeting with Brown, Ardern will meet with a former political foe: Simon Bridges. The ex-National leader is the new-ish head of Auckland’s Business Chamber. It will be after this meeting – also closed to the press – that Ardern fronts to the media, though she will be on her own.

These meetings take place against the backdrop of nationwide Groundswell protests being held in opposition to the government’s emissions levy plan. Disruption is expected around the country as tractors converge on many of our main centres.

The Spinoff live updates will have coverage of the PM’s visit to Auckland.