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Laneway venue change sparks backlash

It’s Tuesday, October 25 – I hope you had a lovely long weekend. Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates, brought to you by our members. Reach me on

The agenda

  • Auckland’s Laneway Festival is moving from Albert Park to Western Springs, but fans are not impressed.
  • A landmark court ruling has paved the way for New Zealand Uber drivers to gain employment rights.
  • Women will today become the majority of our parliament.

Laneway venue change sparks backlash

It’s Tuesday, October 25 – I hope you had a lovely long weekend. Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates, brought to you by our members. Reach me on

The agenda

  • Auckland’s Laneway Festival is moving from Albert Park to Western Springs, but fans are not impressed.
  • A landmark court ruling has paved the way for New Zealand Uber drivers to gain employment rights.
  • Women will today become the majority of our parliament.
Oct 25 2022

PM’s Antarctic flight turned around due to ‘poor weather’

Jacinda Ardern. (Photo by Mark Mitchell-Pool/Getty Images)

Jacinda Ardern’s flight to Antarctica was turned around about two hours into the eight hour flight time.

The prime minister departed Christchurch this morning on a C130 Hercules bound for Antarctica. According to a spokesperson for Antarctica NZ, the “boomerang flight” was triggered due to “poor weather at McMurdo Sound”.

The spokesperson added: “Safety is our number one focus when flying to the coldest, windiest, remotest place on Earth so this is not uncommon.”

Whether or not the plane will make another attempt to travel to Antarctica today is not yet known.

Covid-19 latest: Cases on the rise, teen among latest 41 deaths

Image: Toby Morris

Covid cases have risen once again over the past week, with the seven-day rolling average of new infections sitting at 2,343. There have been 16,399 new cases reported over the past week, including 1,727 reinfections.

There are 243 people being treated for Covid-19 in hospital, with six now in intensive care.

The rolling daily average number of Covid-related deaths has risen to four. Across the past week, there were 41 new deaths added to the official tally, though six of these were not linked to Covid and another five are yet to be determined.

Of those latest deaths, one was a person aged between 10 and 19-years-old.

New Zealand’s total deaths attributed to Covid now sits at 2,095.

Image: Toby Morris

Court rules Uber drivers employees, not contractors

Covid-19 finished what Uber started (Photo: Getty.)

A landmark court ruling has paved the way for New Zealand Uber drivers to gain employment rights.

The Employment Court has found that four current and former Uber drivers were employees and not independent contractors. The ruling, it’s worth noting, came just the day after the Labour Day public holiday.

“Each of the plaintiff drivers was in an employment relationship when carrying out driving work for Uber and is entitled to a declaration of status accordingly,” the court ruled.

While the court’s decision applies just to the drivers who took the legal action, it’ll likely have ripples throughout the rideshare market.

“This is a landmark legal decision not just for Aotearoa but also internationally – what a way to finish Labour weekend” said Anita Rosentreter, First Union strategic project coordinator. “Uber has bullied its way into cities all over the world with a deliberate strategy of breaking the law and exploiting drivers – that ends here in Aotearoa today.”

Laneway organisers respond to backlash, call move ‘the only option’

Die! Die! Die! beneath the trees of Albert Park (Photo: Connor Crawford Photography).

Fans have expressed dismay about the decision to move the Auckland leg of the Laneway music festival from Albert Park to Western Springs, calling it “disappointing” and “lame”. Organisers have responded, blaming the decision on the calibre of the line-up and saying it was “in no way an easy decision”.

The move for Laneway’s January 30 event, announced this morning to accommodate more fans after the event’s 13,000 tickets sold out in 90 minutes, immediately sparked concerns from fans who believe the event should stay in Albert Park, the festival’s inner-city home since 2017. 

“This is such a bad decision,” wrote one concerned punter on Facebook, who called on organisers to offer refunds to those who no longer wanted to attend the show. “The venue is a big part of the appeal,” wrote another.

Others said the move to a larger, “professional” concert venue meant the festival’s inner-city vibe would be lost. “Lacking in atmosphere and shade … disappointed,” wrote one. “I am throwing up and crying because I cannot conceive of catching a bus,” wrote another. 

Denzel Curry performs at the Auckland leg of Laneway at Albert Park in 2019. Next year, the festival is moving to Western Springs. (Photo: Getty)

Organisers have responded, writing a lengthy Facebook post in an attempt to address some of those concerns. “It was in no way an easy decision to move the festival’s venue. We love Albert Park too – but with tickets selling out so fast we realised just how many people were eager to attend,” they wrote.

“At the same time, the demand made us wary about holding the show safely at Albert Park – we’re extremely conscious of crowd flow and comfort levels and wanted to ensure you all have plenty of space to watch your favourite artists.”

Organisers blamed the line-up – a stacked bill featuring Haim, Phoebe Bridges, Turnstile and Slowthai, alongside an eclectic line-up of locals including The Beths – for tickets being in such high demand. “The calibre of our 2023 line-up also means much larger production requirements, and we want to be able to deliver an incredible live experience for both artists [and] punters at the festival,” they wrote.

“Lastly, we wanted to be able to offer the festival experience for more of Aotearoa – and moving venue was the only option that enabled us to accommodate this. We’re really excited to show you what we can do with this venue to make it feel uniquely Laneway.”

In response to comments on Facebook, organisers said they were aware of Western Springs’ lack of shade and confirmed there would be free return transport to the venue from Auckland CBD.

Western Springs is the fifth venue for Laneway in Auckland, the Melbourne festival that began in 2005, moved to Auckland in 2010 and has appeared at Britomart, Aotea Square, Silo Park and Albert Park. Performers have included Grimes, The xx, Lorde, FKA Twigs, Tame Impala, Run the Jewels, Banks and Billie Eilish.

Organisers say the festival’s Western Springs capacity is now 30,000, more than double the 13,000 able to fit inside Albert Park. Tickets for the new event go on sale later this week.

The rumours are true – Laneway is on the move

Laneway Auckland’s main Albert Park stage. (photo supplied)

After selling out in a record 90 minutes, organisers have confirmed the Laneway music festival will shift sites to a new, bigger home at Western Springs for its 2023 comeback on Auckland Anniversary Day. It effectively sees capacity for the event double from Albert Park’s 13,000 to 30,000.

“The decision to move is bittersweet. Albert Park has been our much-loved home since 2017,” says festival co-founder Danny Rogers about the decision to move the festival. “Our team is working hard to ensure we bring the magic of Laneway to the new venue, which will have improved production but still feel uniquely Laneway.”

It will be the fifth venue for the Australasian festival’s Auckland leg, which has moved from Britomart to Aotea Square and Silo Park since debuting here in 2010, before embracing the grass and trees of its new home in Albert Park in 2017, where it was expected to stay.

The decision to move comes after 13,000 tickets for the 2023 event sold out in a record 90 minutes, a first for the event which focuses on bringing a large line-up of international indie acts down under to play alongside an eclectic mix of local acts.

Laneway took the past two years off because of border restrictions enforced by Covid, and announced a stacked line-up for 2023 including Phoebe Bridges, Haim, Turnstile and Slowthai. Organisers today added The Jungle Giants to the bill.

“We were blown away with the demand, and after being away for so long it was clear we needed to find a way to allow more of our audience to be able to experience Laneway,” says executive producer Julian Carswell. “We couldn’t let people miss out on the chance to see some of the world’s most exciting artists, many coming to Auckland for the first time.”

The shift allows the festival to offer more tickets for sale, with a pre-sale beginning on Wednesday at 9am and on general release a day later. Priority will be given to Laneway subscribers and those who were registered but missed out when tickets originally went on sale.

Women to become majority of NZ parliament today

New Labour list MP Soraya Peke-Mason (Photo: RNZ/LDR)

A milestone in gender equality will be reached today in the houses of parliament when Soraya Peke-Mason is sworn in as a Labour list MP.

She’s replacing Trevor Mallard, the former speaker, in Labour’s caucus and will make New Zealand’s parliament majority women for the first time ever. Her arrival in parliament was already historic; before Gaurav Sharma quit last week, Peke-Mason would have ensured parliament was 50/50 male and female.

RNZ today has an excellent feature tracing the history of women’s involvement in politics, dating back to the suffrage vote in 1893, through the first female MP and all the way to Peke-Mason in 2022. It’s been a long road, but after leading the charge on allowing women the vote more than a century ago, New Zealand’s parliament will also continue to be one of the world’s most diverse (it was already doing pretty well after the 2020 election).

Peke-Mason said she was aware of the significance of this. “It really shows the maturity of Aotearoa in terms of equity from a gender perspective,” she told RNZ.

Representing the Rangitīkei electorate, Peke-Mason will be sworn in at 2pm today in te reo Māori.

New Labour list MP Soraya Peke-Mason (Photo: RNZ/LDR)

The Bulletin: Rishi Sunak is the UK’s new prime minister

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss at the final Conservative Party Hustings event at Wembley Arena on August 31. Photo by Susannah Ireland//AFP via Getty Images

Boris Johnson dropped out of the running and Penny Mordaunt failed to get enough MPs to back her. Sunak was the last man standing and will therefore become the next prime minister of the United Kingdom. Full report from The Guardian here.

Sunak is the first prime minister of colour, first of Indian descent and the first Hindu to hold the office. He is also the first PM that may be wealthier than the royal family and possibly the first prime minister who wanted to be a Jedi knight when he grew up. Sunak warned Conservative MPs that they needed to unite or die in his first speech as party leader. Do or do not, there is no try.

The UK papers are straight in with the laundry list of problems he faces as the Daily Mirror warns Britons of Austerity 2.0. Oh and in case you were wondering, Theresa May ruled herself out of contention a few days ago and, as Wokingham Today reported, is keeping busy opening new chocolate shops.

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