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Live UpdatesJul 22 2022

NZ First Foundation case wraps with not guilty verdict

It’s Friday, July 22 – and it’s a delightfully sunny winter’s day here in Auckland. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


What you need to know

  • Pair accused of fraud in NZ First Foundation case found not guilty.
  • Mike Hosking takes top honour at radio awards (for the third time).
  • Ram raids increase by 400% over five years.
  • There have been 26 new deaths of people with Covid-19, with the rolling daily average also 26.
blog-july-22.jpg

NZ First Foundation case wraps with not guilty verdict

It’s Friday, July 22 – and it’s a delightfully sunny winter’s day here in Auckland. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


What you need to know

  • Pair accused of fraud in NZ First Foundation case found not guilty.
  • Mike Hosking takes top honour at radio awards (for the third time).
  • Ram raids increase by 400% over five years.
  • There have been 26 new deaths of people with Covid-19, with the rolling daily average also 26.
Jul 22 2022

Finally: Love Island UK is coming to a pub near you (if you live in Auckland)

BOMBSHELL ALERT! Our hard graft to convince the Love Island UK overlords to show the reality juggernaut at the pub has finally paid off. This afternoon it has been announced that The Brit, a pub and eatery in Britomart, will be screening the penultimate episode of Love Island UK on Tuesday August 2.

“The evening will be more than just your type on paper – with Prosecco specials, signature cocktails and seriously good snacks, you can now share the highs and lows of the biggest reality TV show of the year,” the press release reads.

With Love Island playing on a projector and SEVEN big screens with state-of-the-art surround sound, bookings will be essential.

Is this impact journalism? We’ll let you decide.

I’VE GOT A TEXT

Schools prepare for influx of Covid as term three begins

Schools return for term three next week – and many are additional precautions to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Earlier in the week, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield “strongly recommended” schools implement tighter mask wearing policy for the first few weeks of the term. At orange, mask wearing is not mandatory – even at schools – so this was simply a request from Bloomfield, not a shift in the rules.

Since then, associate education minister Jan Tinetti sent a letter to school boards outlining the government’s “strong recommendation” to enforce a mask wearing policy “as much as practicable”.

A Ministry of Education memo added that a “combination of the usual term three winter illnesses and Covid-19 is likely to put more pressure on your school, kura and community”.

The ministry recommended that all schools and kura amend their mask policy for the first four weeks the term to require mask wearing in “all indoors for students year four and above, where it will not have a significant impact on teaching and learning”.

While not an official amendment of the orange traffic light rules, it’s probably the strongest shift in language yet from the government around masking up in schools.

Photo: Getty Images; additional design by Tina Tiller

Bleed Week quiz: Test your period knowledge

You might have noticed we didn’t have a news quiz today. But no fear, there’s still a quiz for you here – but this time it’s part of The Spinoff’s Bleed Week.

How well do you know periods? Test your knowledge below.

Under fire All Blacks captain, coach keep their jobs

It’s been almost radio silence from the All Blacks since last weekend’s Ireland loss sent most of the country mad.

The past few days have seen speculation that coach Ian Foster and/or team captain Sam Cane would lose their jobs, with criticism levelled at their performance across the Ireland series.

Foster’s now confirmed the key line-up, himself included, will stay in place. “We have taken on board the lessons from the [Ireland] series and are excited about looking forward to the next phase of our test season,” said Foster.

“The Rugby Championship plus the Bledisloe Cup remain our top priorities. This is a real chance to show what we are about as a team.”

 

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Covid-19 latest: Death toll remains high but new cases, hospitalisations ease

The number of new Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations has dropped back overnight, but the daily death toll remains high.

There have been 26 new deaths of people with Covid-19, with the rolling daily average also 26. Once again, all of the latest deaths were people over the age of 60.

It takes the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 1,954.

There are now 759 people in hospital with Covid-19, including 13 in intensive care.

Another 8,728 community infections have been reported since yesterday. The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers has dropped down below 9,000, it’s currently sitting at 8,913.

‘Trial by media’: Winston Peters’ furious response to fraud case coverage

In the wake of the not guilty verdict in the New Zealand First Foundation fraud case, Winston Peters has sent out a furious press release in which he accuses New Zealand journalists for conducting a “trial by media”.

Peters, who is New Zealand First leader, was absent for the trial but has maintained that no wrongdoing was committed.

In his statement, with the subject line “Innocent again”, Peters said the real victim was the New Zealand people and our democracy.

“The political narrative many in the media seek to impose on our democracy and New Zealand is far too often based on bias and falsehoods,” he said. “We once had a country where one was innocent until proven guilty. Now it is guilty until proven innocent.” (The pair charged with fraud in the NZ First Foundation case were today found not guilty.)

Peters continued: “This is something that must change in our country.  Such media must be held responsible for the damage their lack of professionalism has. Again, I intend to address this abuse of power and hold this type of journalist liable for everything they write or say.”

Further donations fraud trials will begin shortly, this time focusing on the National and Labour parties.

(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

So what’s up with Zuru?

I thought it was worth a brief recap on the Zuru story that’s been bubbling away this week, as it doesn’t seem like it’ll be going away super quickly.

It started earlier this week with a report on David Farrier’s Webworm about how the billion dollar toy company had successfully taken legal action against anonymous review site Glassdoor. It stemmed from reviews posted to Glassdoor from alleged former employees of Zuru. The reviews were… not positive… about their time at the company.

Zuru eventually acknowledged the case, describing the reviews as “fraudulent” and “spam”.

“Zuru believes the purpose of Glassdoor is to be a source of credible information on companies for prospective employees,” a statement said. “Unfortunately, we were alerted to fraudulent reviews being posted on our site. This is against Glassdoor policy. We worked with Glassdoor directly to resolve the issue, but it was not until we took legal action that Glassdoor removed the fake reviews.”

It’ll possibly mark the end of Glassdoor – why would you want to share a negative anonymous review if it could land you in court with your ex-employer?

Image: Tina Tiller

Writing for The Spinoff today, Bulletin editor Anna Rawhiti-Connell noted the Zuru-Glassdoor frenzy presented “important lessons about the employee/employer relationship in the online age”.

She wrote: “Whether we agree with the practice of savaging your employer online or not, an entire generation who were essentially born with phones in their hands are now in the workplace.” (I am definitely part of this gen and have… definitely had some close calls because of my pre-Spinoff social media use).

Vodafone New Zealand’s chief people officer Jodie King acknowledged the fallout from the case in a post on LinkedIn, saying that “getting constant feedback from staff – good, bad or ugly – is a way companies can constantly evolve to better serve their employees and customers”.

We’ll keep an eye on whatever comes next. And you can read Anna’s excellent op-ed here.

Everyone deserves brain health

With today marking World Brain Day, Brainfood technology company Ārepa is joining businesses and organisations around the globe in calling for brain health for all. Through independent research and groundbreaking product development, Ārepa is proud to be sparking conversations and increasing understanding about neurological wellbeing – as well as working towards solutions for the massive global burden of neurological disorders.

To learn more about their innovation, their range and their mission, visit the Ārepa website. (Sponsored)

Pair accused of fraud in NZ First Foundation case found not guilty

The two people accused of fraud in the New Zealand First Foundation donations case have been found not guilty – and both will keep their identities secret permanently.

The verdict, delivered in the High Court this morning, comes just days ahead of another political donations trial (this time involving National and Labour).

During the trial, it was revealed numerous donors believed their donations were going directly to New Zealand First in an effort to support the party’s election efforts. Many were supports of Winston Peters, who was deputy prime minister for much of the time the trial covered.

Peters was absent from the trial.

The decision to enforce permanent name suppression came earlier in the week, with Justice Jagose determining that the identities of those involved was “less important” than the role they played.

The two men on trial had been charged with obtaining nearly $750,000 by deception between 2015 and 2020, in relation to political donations intended for New Zealand First. As RNZ reports, the accused duo denied deceiving the party by collecting and spending money and not treating it as donations.

If you want a solid wrap of all the key details from the case, check out Sam Hurley’s report for the Herald.

Auckland High Court (Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Mike Hosking takes top honour at radio awards (for the third time)

Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking has won broadcaster of the year for the third time at last night’s radio awards.

It was one of many wins for ZB, which also took out best drive presenter for Heather du-Plessis Allan and best non-talk presenter for Marcus Lush. Newstalk ZB also won the overall network station of the year prize.

Hosking has been in the broadcasting biz for 40 years and put his win down to the “magic and simplicity” of radio. “Thank you to everyone who makes the Mike Hosking Breakfast what it is,” he said. “What I’ve enjoyed in this very difficult time for our country is how wonderfully well the radio industry is doing.”

The full list of winners can be found here.

The Bulletin: Political situation in US and its potential impact on climate change action

Newsroom’s Marc Daalder reports that climate change minister James Shaw is concerned that the US political system is getting in the way of its ability to effectively govern on climate change. Shaw says the US’s inability to meet its Paris Agreement targets could erode trust in it. The US is the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter.

President Joe Biden (who’s just tested positive for Covid with mild symptoms) recommitted to the Paris Agreement in 2021 after former president Donald Trump withdrew the country from it. As Daalder writes, Biden’s climate agenda has been dealt two serious blows in recent weeks. First an unfavourable ruling on the administration’s ability to reduce emissions through executive action, and then a Supreme Court ruling  that imposed sharp limits on the country’s Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

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.  

When the Facts Change: The reality of free fares

Half-price bus and train fares are good, but wouldn’t completely free fares be even better? Bernard Hickey talks to transport and urban planning academic Jen McArthur on the latest episode of When the Facts Change about the economics and politics of free public transport. He even discovers some positives that might make the idea more attractive to the usual opponents.

Listen below or wherever you get your podcasts:

Ram raids increase by 400% over five years

We’ve all heard a lot about ram raids in recent months – and now new figures confirm just how quickly they’ve escalated.

Figures released to RNZ show a 400% increase in ram raids over the past five years, with 76% of those caught under the age of 18. Over the past 12 months alone there have been 436 raids recorded by police – more than double the 191 over the prior 12 month period.

If we go back five years, there were 84 ram raids over the same 12 month period.

Like I said at the top, we’ve all heard about ram raids, but it’s particularly shocking to see how they’ve surged over the past year. A police report obtained by RNZ said it was primarily a youth offender issue, and “members often meet in juvenile custody”, then “make connections with youth offenders in other districts”.