One Question Quiz
blog may 23


30 more defence force personnel to help train Ukrainian soldiers

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for Monday, May 23. I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on

The agenda

  • PM Jacinda Ardern is jetting off to the US for a highly anticipated trade tour.
  • While several high profile meetings have been confirmed, a face-to-face with president Joe Biden is not yet on the itinerary.
  • The defence force will make a further deployment of 30 personnel to help with the Ukraine war effort.
  • Covid-19 latest: Nine deaths, 363 in hospital, another 6,000 cases.
  • Australia (officially) has a new leader. Anthony Albanese was sworn in this morning.
blog may 23

30 more defence force personnel to help train Ukrainian soldiers

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for Monday, May 23. I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund, you can reach me on

The agenda

  • PM Jacinda Ardern is jetting off to the US for a highly anticipated trade tour.
  • While several high profile meetings have been confirmed, a face-to-face with president Joe Biden is not yet on the itinerary.
  • The defence force will make a further deployment of 30 personnel to help with the Ukraine war effort.
  • Covid-19 latest: Nine deaths, 363 in hospital, another 6,000 cases.
  • Australia (officially) has a new leader. Anthony Albanese was sworn in this morning.
May 23 2022

Street Week: The crossover event you never knew you wanted is here

SHortland Street HIlary Barry

Multiverses are all the rage right now, but perhaps the most important crossover event is a little more low key. Tonight, the worlds of TVNZ’s Seven Sharp and Shortland Street collide.

Hilary Barry tells The Spinoff’s Tara Ward what it was like filming the reality-blurring New Zealand TV crossover event of the century.

Here’s an extract:

Shortland Street will depart from its usual soapy structure for the crossover episodes, instead filming in the candid style of a fly-on-the-wall documentary with Barry interviewing some of the hospital’s key staff about how the hospital has changed their lives. “The lovely thing about it, I think, is that you get to hear the innermost thoughts of the characters describing their emotions, rather than acting them out,” she says. “It’s actually really moving.”

Also moving is Hilary Barry’s performance as tough-but-kind journalist Hilary Barry. Having last acted in the Masterton amateur theatrical society production of Cabaret in the early 1990s, Barry admits her skills were a bit rusty. It’s hard to tell, because she looks right at home on Shortland Street.

Read the full piece here.

To celebrate Shortland Street’s 30th birthday, we are dedicating a whole week to the good (and not-so-good) people of Ferndale. Check out more Street Week content here

Waka Kotahi trialling cameras that pick up drivers using their phones

phone driving rnz

Waka Kotahi will trial new safety cameras in Auckland, in an effort to work out how many drivers use their phone, or don’t wear a seatbelt, while behind the wheel.

The six-month trial will begin tomorrow across two highways and a local road, and is the first of its kind in New Zealand.

However, anyone snapped by one of these cameras breaking the rules won’t be fined. At least not yet. The transport agency said no enforcement action will be taken during the trial, and no drivers will receive infringement notices, warnings or any other communication from Waka Kotahi as a result of the trial.

All images taken will be deleted within 48 hours, with a small number of anonymised images “kept for reporting purposes”.

The trial is part of the “Road to Zero” campaign aimed at addressing New Zealand’s high road toll.

New defence force deployment to help Ukraine war effort

Jacinda Ardern in August last year (Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The defence force will make a further deployment of 30 personnel to help with the Ukraine war effort.

Speaking at a post-cabinet press conference, prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced the additional personnel will be stationed in the UK. “At no point will they enter Ukraine,” said Ardern.

New Zealand had specifically been called on to help train Ukraine soldiers with a particular weapon – the L119 light gun. “We see this additional deployment as a way New Zealand can support Ukraine,” Ardern said. “There are very few armed forces that could provide this training.”

About 230 Ukrainian forces will be trained via this new deployment. The deployment is expected to last until the end of July.

“We have been clear throughout Russia’s assault on Ukraine, that such a blatant attack on innocent lives and the sovereignty of another country is wrong, and our response has not only included the condemnation of Russia, but practical support for Ukraine,” Ardern said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and will work in tandem with our partners to ensure that we continue to make a meaningful and effective contribution.”

Māori TV to rebrand with te reo name

The Māori Television building, Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

Māori TV will officially change its name to Whakaata Māori.

It’s been 18 years since the network first launched following a campaign to protect te reo. A statement from the network’s chief executive explained that whakaata means “to mirror, to reflect or to display”.

“Whakaata Māori has always been a place where our people can see themselves and be proud of who they are,” said Shane Taurima.

“We are bold, creative and brave. We now embrace the mana of our Māori name and will use it as fuel to ensure a thriving Māori culture for all of Aotearoa.”

The Whakaata Māori name change will officially be unveiled at a special dawn celebration on June 9.

Australian news executives to lead local bargaining with Facebook and Google

There are now 28 publishers in the News Publishers’ Association’s (NPA) collective bargaining initiative. The outlets, which includes The Spinoff, are seeking fair payment from Google and Facebook for the use of local journalism on their platforms.

The Spinoff’s CEO Duncan Greive said the growth of the collective, including the involvement of smaller newsrooms, showed the group bargaining approach was right for New Zealand. “These publishers would struggle to get a meeting with Google and Facebook on their own, and would have little leverage,” he said.

Also announced today was the appointment of Australian news executives Chris Janz and David Eisman to lead the negotiations. Greive said this was a significant move. “Janz negotiated Nine’s deals in Australia, which are widely considered up there of the News Corp publishers in terms of a contribution to journalism.”

He added: “The crucial missing piece remains a strong signal from government that a legislative response will be actioned if deals aren’t struck.”

Covid-19 latest: Nine deaths, 363 in hospital, another 6,000 cases

Image: Toby Morris

New Zealand’s Covid-19 death toll has risen by nine, taking the overall total of publicly reported deaths to 1,064 and the rolling seven-day average to 12.

Of the latest deaths, one was from the Auckland region, two were from Taranaki, two were from Bay of Plenty, two were from Wellington and two were from Canterbury. One person was in their 30s, three were in their 80s and five were in aged over 90. Eight were female and one was male.

There are now 363 people in hospital with Covid-19, with 14 in intensive care.

Another 6,000 community cases have been recorded today, of which 2,053 are in Auckland. While a drop on the number of cases being reported last week, it does come after a weekend when numbers typically go down.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers is 7,712 – last Monday it was 7,702.

Emergency alert test a success, says civil defence

Image: Archi Banal

Last night’s test emergency alert was a success, according to the civil defence.

On Sunday evening mobile phones nationwide should have received a loud alert, as if an emergency were really happening. Of course, it was just a test, but it’s the same system that would be used if a natural disaster or other emergency (think back to Covid lockdowns) was occurring in a part of the country.

National Emergency Management Agency spokesperson Anthony Frith told Newstalk ZB that the test was received in every part of New Zealand that has cellphone reception.

“It is a well-oiled machine but it’s always a good idea to check it’s still working well because you don’t want to find out during an emergency that there’s an issue,” he said.

The agency was given a report from all the telecommunication companies in the country shortly after the alert was sent out to confirm it was received nationwide.

Frith said while last night’s message was just a test, it’s good to get into the habit of reading these messages in case a real emergency is happening.

Want to know how the alert works? Reweti Kohere has the details here.

It’s official: Anthony Albanese sworn in as Australian PM

New Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese (Image: Getty Images / Archi Banal)

Australia officially has a new prime minister.

Anthony Albanese was this morning sworn in as the 31st prime minister of Australia, before promptly heading straight to Japan for a meeting with other world leaders.

“I, Anthony Norman Albanese, do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will well and truly serve the Commonwealth of Australia, her land and her people in the office of prime minister,’’ he said during the ceremony.

As reported, Albanese has left a “gang of four” ministers to take control of the entire government until the Labor party sorts out its final front bench. Today’s slimmed down swearing in included Labor’s deputy Richard Marles who becomes deputy prime minister.

Speaking to media, Albanese said today was a big day for himself and the country. “I want to lead a government that has the same sentiment of optimism and hope that I think defines the Australian people. I want to be positive,” he said.

Read more: Australia gets a new PM, and other takeaways from the election

OCR pegged to hit six-year high this week

cash (1)

The Reserve Bank will on Wednesday announce any changes to the official cash rate, with economists generally in agreement it will rise once again.

According to Stuff, a rise of 0.5 basis points is likely which would push the OCR up to 2% – the highest it has been since 2016. It’s possible, of course, that the central bank may choose to go for the slightly more conservative 0.25 basis point rise up to 1.75%.

The rate rise comes as New Zealand, like many countries at the moment, grapples with surging inflation and the subsequent cost of living rise.

BNZ economist Doug Steel told the Herald he anticipated the 50 basis point rise to be a one off. “It looks like 50 basis points is done and dusted, in the market’s eyes, but the July (monetary policy committee) meeting is more of a 50/50 call as to whether they will go by 50 basis points again, and I certainly would not rule that out,” he said.

“The market is a bit divided, but our view is they will go by 50 basis points this week and then revert to 25 from then on,” he said.

On the flipside, financial journalist, and The Spinoff contributor, Bernard Hickey reckons the Reserve Bank will hold back. He told The Project he’s expecting interest rates to fall.

It’s Street Week on The Spinoff!

It’s Street Week on The Spinoff, celebrating all things Shortland Street as New Zealand’s iconic daily soap opera hits the big three zero.

Here’s Alex Casey explaining what you can expect to see from us over the next seven days.

Shortland Street turns 30 years old this week, and we want to celebrate by taking a look at New Zealand’s most enduring soap from a bunch of different angles. Longtime readers of The Spinoff may recall this is not our first Street Week – in 2014 we celebrated the show in a similar fashion. Perhaps the most notable content (I beg of you please don’t read the old stuff) was David Farrier’s incredible Real Talk interview series featuring Benjamin Mitchell (TK Samuels) and Cameron Jones (Dallas Adams), shooting the shit on a Shorty hospital bed.

This week we’ll be publishing a bunch of fun lists and classic Spinoff stories, including a visual history of the Shortland Street uniform and a deep dive into Chris Warner’s tangled web of wives, flings and offspring. There’ll be reviews of Ferndale’s finest eateries, interviews with Ferndale icons and a breakdown of the theme song from the woman who sung it herself. We’ll have some more thought-provoking stuff too, including producer Oliver Driver joining Duncan Greive on The Fold and an examination of the series’ relationship with te ao Maōri from Charlotte Muru-Lanning.

Read more from Alex here and look forward to Street Week content cropping up on the site through until Sunday.

Image: Tina Tiller

NZTE podcast explores the investor/investee relationship 

Join Dylan Lawrence, NZTE’s GM of Investment on FIX (Image: Supplied)

Season 3 of NZTE’s Investment Fix podcast series has launched, and this time it brings together Kiwi start-ups and the investors who backed them. The result is a candid look at the importance of the investor/investee relationship.

Over five episodes, Dylan Lawrence, NZTE’s GM of Investment, joins the founders or CEOs of Mint Innovation, Narrative Muse, Natural Pet Food Group and SafeStack, as well as their investors – from venture capital and private equity firms to angel and Māori investors. There’s also a special bonus episode featuring venture capital guru and Silicon Valley legend Randy Komisar.

Listen on Apple or Spotify, or go to the NZTE website.  (Sponsored)

Wellington mayor catches Covid, displaying ‘moderate’ symptoms

Wellington mayor Andy Foster wearing a hardhat, possibly to deflect missiles thrown by fellow councillors (Photo: Radio NZ, Samuel Rillstone)

Wellington’s mayor Andy Foster is the latest political figure to contract Covid-19.

According to the Herald, Foster tested positive for the virus over the weekend. He’s currently displaying “light to moderate” symptoms and will be in self-isolation for the next seven days.

He will continue some of his duties via home, however deputy mayor Sarah Free will step in where required.

Covid-19 cases appear to be back on the rise, with the seven-day rolling average of new cases sitting at 7,863 yesterday – up from 7,608 the Sunday before. Earlier this month, Ashley Bloomfield warned the country could be in for a second wave of omicron infections as we head into winter.

Wellington mayor Andy Foster wearing a hardhat, possibly to deflect missiles thrown by fellow councillors (Photo: Radio NZ, Samuel Rillstone)

The Bulletin: Major monkeypox outbreak in New Zealand ‘unlikely’

 Close-up of monkeypox lesions on the arm and leg of young girl, Liberia (Photo: CDC/Public Domain)

People are understandably worried about monkeypox, a virus from the same family as smallpox, especially after a probable case was discovered in Australia. 1 News has a good explainer about the virus here. The Ministry of Health has published an advisory asking anyone who has recently travelled to a country with endemic monkeypox and has a rash-like illness to seek medical advice. University of Otago biochemistry professor Kurt Krause says it’s very unlikely New Zealand will see a big outbreak of moneypox and it’s “important that people calm down a little bit and wait till we get more data”.

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.  

Close-up of monkeypox lesions on the arm and leg of young girl, Liberia (Photo: CDC/Public Domain)

Ardern-Biden meeting up in the air after PM’s Covid infection

ardern biden

As Jacinda Ardern readies to jet off to the United States later today, there’s one glaring omission from her pre-announced itinerary: a meeting with president Joe Biden.

The prime minister is set to visit several US cities, including Washington DC, but there has so far been no confirmation that a face-to-face meeting with Biden will be able to happen.

Ardern told Newshub’s AM there was an open invitation to the White House – but her recent Covid infection had put a spanner in the works. “The reason that we haven’t given anything firm on that is because I believe I’m the only leader that’s travelled in close proximity to a recent infection,” she said. “Covid protocols are what we’re working through.”

According to the Herald’s Claire Trevett, officials have been trying to secure a date for a meeting later on in the tour and Ardern could stay an extra two days in the US to make this happen.

There was “goodwill on both sides” to try and get a meeting, Ardern said, and she was hoping to be able to reveal further details soon.

US President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The PM contracted Covid-19 just over a week ago after both her partner, Clarke Gayford, and daughter, Neve, returned positive results. She left isolation on Saturday. Ardern said that several visits on her US trip will require her to be tested again for Covid, but documentation confirming she had had a recent infection would allow her to bypass this.

While a meeting with Biden would be desirable, Ardern said that was not the purpose of the tour itself. “It had always been designed around the really important issue of the [border] reopening,” she said. “New Zealand is a hotly contested market for bringing tourists back.”

The last White House meeting for a New Zealand prime minister was in 2014 when John Key visited president Barack Obama. While Ardern has had conversations with Biden since he took office, Covid has prevented an in-person meeting. She did, however, have a “pull aside” conversation with president Donald Trump in New York in 2019.

PM to meet with Silicon Valley and Senate, give Harvard commencement address

Jacinda Ardern talks to Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie on the US breakfast show the Today Show,  September 24, 2018 (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

Details of this week’s trade mission to the United States have been announced by the Prime Minister’s Office, confirming that Ardern has recovered from Covid and will be able to travel as originally planned.

She departs New Zealand tonight, Monday May 23.

The PM will be accompanied by trade and export growth minister Damien O’Connor, along with business leaders from the fields of technology and tourism, plus export food companies Silver Fern Farms, Fonterra and Zespri.

The prime minister will visit New York, Washington DC, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle.

In New York, she will meet the United Nations secretary general. She also plans to meet with editors of leading tourism publications and meet with investors invited by the US Chamber of Commerce, and will attend a launch event for sustainable meat exports.

In Washington she will meet senior members of the Senate.

In Boston she will give the commencement address at the 371st Harvard Commencement ceremony.

In San Francisco, she will meet the governor of California, Gavin Newsom.

The PM will also meet top technology executives from Twitter, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft to discuss investment, skills development for New Zealanders in the tech industries, digital cooperation and to further Christchurch Call objectives.

“A big focus of the trip will be supporting business linkages and technology partnerships with US innovators that have the potential to accelerate New Zealand’s sustainable economic recovery,” said Ardern.

“The United States is our third largest trading partner and is our largest market for services. US firms are planning multi-billion dollar investments in cloud computing capability in New Zealand which will unlock big growth opportunities for digital exports to the world and we want to see more of that.

She continued: “The US was our third largest tourist market for arrivals pre Covid-19, and with travellers planning their visits months before coming in the New Zealand summer now is the right time to be visible in the US market letting American’s know we are open for business and travel.

“The United States relationship is fundamental to us in political and security terms too. In a world of increasing challenges, we need to work closely with friends who share our values, so this is an important trip to be making right now.”