One Question Quiz


Jul 26 2023

Hipkins and Albanese look to ‘seamless travel’ across Tasman

Chris Hipkins and Anthony Albanese. Image: RNZ

The prime ministers of New Zealand and Australia have announced a working group “to scope initiatives to move closer towards seamless travel across the Tasman”. In a press conference at the Beehive in Wellington, Chris Hipkins and Anthony Albanese spoke of a “seamless experience”, though that did not extend to a shared passport. The expert group will return its findings within a year.

“We agreed it’s worthwhile to re-engage on a process to find workable measures that would help trans-Tasman businesses and tourism with a simplified border,” said Hipkins. “But it’s not straightforward. Our border is a big part of what keeps us safe. It’s where we manage major biosecurity, people, health and security risks. This process will bring the experts together to talk about whether there are ways in which we reduce barriers at the border, while not compromising our security.”

Hipkins added: “Other areas of discussion included the threat of climate change to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the people of the Pacific; and the importance of working deliberately with our Pacific partners to support prosperity, peace and resilience in our region. Further afield, we reiterated our commitment to multilateralism and the international rules-based system and reaffirmed our condemnation of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.”

The prime ministers also spoke about sport, which they like very much.

Chris Hipkins and Anthony Albanese. Image: RNZ

First trailer released for Tom Sainsbury thriller Loop Track

Tom Sainsbury in Loop Track (Image: Supplied)

It’s playing right now in the NZ International Film Festival to packed audiences. And soon it’ll be getting a wider release in New Zealand.

A first look’s been released at Loop Track, written and directed by Tom Sainsbury, who also stars.

The self-funded thriller came together during the Covid-19 pandemic. “For me, this film originated with a single image – someone on an isolated bush walk thinking they can see a being in the far distance,” said Sainsbury. “They can’t make out exactly what they’re looking at, but the being’s presence feels malevolent.”

Watch the trailer below.


Several council-owned ECE centres to close following budget decision

Image: Archi Banal

Parents and kids at Kauri Kids council-run early childhood centres agitated when the 2023-24 budget proposal suggested removing funding for the centres. After the budget was passed, the decision to keep the centres open was handed to local boards.

Two of the centres, in Takapuna and Clendon, are being closed entirely, in a decision made by the Devonport-Takapuna and Manurewa local board respectively. In June, Kit Arkwright, a parent at the Takapuna centre, told The Spinoff that he, and his daughter, would be “pretty devastated” if the centre closed.

Other local boards have elected to keep their centres open while seeking alternative sources of funding. This includes early childhood centres in Howick, Kaipātiki, Otara, Papatoetoe and Hibiscus and Bays, whose local board was responsible for two centres.

In some cases, including Hibiscus and Bays, local boards have added a timeframe, saying they will exit early childhood care provision if they don’t find providers to run the centres for them. “We heard very clearly about the essential and treasured service that our two Kauri Kids centres provide for struggling families,” said local board chair Gary Brown, regarding the centres in Browns Bay and Stanmore Bay. “We hope [being open until the end of the year] gives parents time to make new childcare arrangements.”

In June, Stanmore Bay centre parent Jessica McLean told The Spinoff that when she was “drowning” at home the affordable and conveniently located centre was a welcome relief for her and her kids.

Wait, is Cher releasing NZ-made gelato?

Image: Instagram

Pop superstar Cher appears to be launching her own brand of ice cream – in collaboration with an Auckland icon.

Posts shared to the singer’s Instagram tease “Cherlato“, with reports out of the US that it’s being made with boutique ice cream brand Giapo.

That would make sense, given Cher visited the Auckland ice cream shop during a stop here on her 2018 tour. It’s understood she visited (or someone from her team did, at least) or more than one occasion during that Auckland stopover. And a year later, Cher said New Zealand ice cream was the best in the world.

There’s been no official confirmation out of Giapo at this stage (a formal launch is set for later in the week), though the ice cream brand did comment hearts on Cher’s Instagram post.


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A post shared by Cher (@cher)

‘How’s your caucus leak?’ Willis teases PM over reported disunity


It was a rowdy question time today, played out in front of Anthony Albanese. He was sitting in the corner of the debating chamber to watch proceedings, the first time an Australian PM has done so since 2011.

During the first question, opposition leader Christopher Luxon took aim at minister David Parker over his decision to give up the revenue portfolio in this week’s reshuffle. Parker is the latest target for the National Party as they continue to criticise the so-called “cabinet of chaos”.

“Does he think David Parker was being a team player by quitting his job three months before an election?” questioned Luxon.

Hipkins responded: “Certainly more of a team player than the people who leaked [Luxon’s] details about his Tesla.”

As Labour MPs started laughing and cheering, National’s deputy leader Nicola Willis retorted. “How’s the caucus leak? How’s your caucus leak?” Earlier today, a report in The Post by Andrea Vance included details leaked from within Labour’s usually watertight caucus. According to the story, an emotional junior MP said they had been “bullied and yelled at” by recently departed minister Kiri Allan, but thought it “was the price to pay to get decent policy through.”

The response from Willis triggered more laughter, though this time from the National Party side of the house. Luxon himself even encouraged his own MPs to calm down, saying: “Let me carry on…”

Australian PM Anthony Albanese arrives in Wellington for bilateral talks

Chris Hipkins greets Anthony Albanese from parliament (Image: Supplied)

Prime minister Chris Hipkins is meeting with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese at parliament today.

It’s Albanese’s first visit to Wellington as prime minister, and follows on from a visit to Canberra by Hipkins back in February.

After this afternoon’s ceremony of welcome at parliament, Hipkins will escort Albanese into the debating chamber for question time. It’ll mark the first time since Julia Gillard in 2011 that an Australian leader has been in the House of Representatives.

Chris Hipkins greets Anthony Albanese from parliament (Image: Supplied)

Hipkins and Albanese will then hold formal talks, followed by a joint press conference later in the day.

As with any international visit, Albanese’s has brought with it additional media coverage. According to AAP’s Ben McKay, travelling Australian media breached local protocol during today’s formal welcome, running in front of the prime ministers to get “decent shots”.

Today is the start of a busy two-day schedule for Hipkins, who will tomorrow morning meet with the US secretary of state Antony Blinken, in New Zealand for the Fifa World Cup. The pair met in Papua New Guinea earlier this year.

Taxpayers’ Union thinks Nicky Hager is writing a book about it. Nope, says Hager

Jordan Williams and Nicky Hager

The Taxpayers’ Union has issued a statement saying it has “heard from sources” that Nicky Hager is working on a book about the organisation, saying, “We are aware of him approaching former members of staff asking them to breach confidences.” The celebrated journalist has rejected the idea, however, saying the TPU is “jumping at shadows”.

TPU chairman Laurie Kubiak invited Hager to put any allegations to them, pledging that it would not seek to injunct publication. “Hager has in the past claimed he did not put allegations to the subjects of his books on the basis that they might injunct him. We won’t do so … In fact, we’re happy to be interviewed by him so he can put any allegations to us,” he said.

The lobby group, founded in 2013 by Jordan Williams and David Farrar, had no secret agenda, he said. “The Taxpayers’ Union has an agenda, but it isn’t secret! We stand for lower taxes, less waste, and more accountability.” The TPU wanted “to make sure no one can be left with false impressions about who funds the Taxpayers’ Union and what we are about.” Hager, Kubiak claimed, “is coming for us because we are successful. We are successful because we have hundreds of thousands of subscribed supporters, and more than 23,000 donors”.

Taxpayers’ Union boss Jordan Williams with mascot Porky.

The statement hinted at concerns internal messages or documentation might have found its way into Hager’s hands. “There is a very sad history of hacks and theft of data from centre-right groups in New Zealand … As far as we are aware, our data is secure, but we are taking prudent steps to protect the sensitive information of our donors, supporters, and staff.” Kubiak said, without evidence, that “it seems that if you are successful in advocating centre-right ideas you tend to get hacked by Nicky Hager’s friends.”

Kubiak also expressed concern that “there is personal animosity from Nicky Hager towards our co-founder, Jordan Williams”. Messages from both Williams and Farrar appeared in Dirty Politics. Published in the leadup to the 2014 election the book drew on hacked correspondence, leaked to Hager, which revealed the links between the prime minister’s office and attack blogger Cameron Slater. It had no obvious impact on support for John Key’s National Party, which was returned to power.

In a short response by email, Hager suggested someone had got the wrong end of the stick. Asked if he was working on a book about the organisation, he said: “No. They’re wrong, jumping at shadows. But the Taxpayers’ Union, which works primarily in the interests of people who don’t pay tax, deserves more scrutiny and I’d be pleased to hear from anyone who can help. But books, no. They’re not important enough for a book.”

Hager’s other books, which have exposed scandals impacting both major parties, include Seeds of Distrust: The Story of a GE Cover-up in 2002, The Hollow Men (2006) and Other People’s Wars (2011). He last year won an apology and $40,000 compensation from the SIS after the spy agency illegally accessed his call logs in an effort to identify sources. In 2018, the Crown apologised to Hager and paid “substantial” damages over a police raid of his home that followed the publication of Dirty Politics.

Nicky Hager at the launch of Dirty Politics in 2014

This post was updated at 2.25pm to include a response from Hager.

Muru revealed as top NZ film of 2022

Tame Iti plays himself in new historical action-drama film Muru. (Image: supplied/ Additional design: Archie Banal)

New Zealand action-thriller Muru was the highest grossing local film at the box office in 2022.

Starring Cliff Curtis and Tāme Iti, the film was a response to the 2007 Tūhoe raids, though with mostly fictionalised characters.

Over 2022, the film racked in just over $1.5 million domestically and has been sold all over the world, including a deal with US streaming giant Tubi.

The film’s writer and director Tearepa Kahi said they were pleased Aotearoa was ready for a film like Muru. “Working alongside our incredible cast, this is a shared dream we’ve been working on for a long time.”

Tame Iti plays himself in historical action-drama film Muru. (Image: supplied/ Additional design: Archie Banal)

Defence Force called to Masterton over possible unexploded bomb


A cordon’s been placed around a business premises on Ngaumutawa Road in Masterton following reports of a possible unexploded bomb.

In a short statement, police said the Defence Force had been called in to investigate the “unexploded ordnance” that had been located.

“Please avoid the area until the cordon is lifted,” the statement said.

RNZ board member quits after Facebook posts on Kiri Allan incident

Kiri Allan in 2020 (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The RNZ board member called out by the prime minister over his Facebook posts has quit – just 26 days after taking up his post.

Jason Ake questioned why Kiri Allan was cleared to return to parliament in a post shared to his Facebook earlier in the week. He also took aim at the “blood sport” of politics and some of the reactions to Allan’s arrest on Sunday night.

On Monday, prime minister Chris Hipkins said it wasn’t appropriate for Ake to share political views given his position on the board of a Crown entity. Conflicts of interest like this have been in the spotlight this year, such as in February when Rob Campbell was sacked from Te Whatu Ora following a politically-charged Linked In post.

Ake, however, said he couldn’t hold back and so had opted to leave his position with the broadcaster. “You have to stand on your principles. Stuff it,” Ake said, as the Herald reported today.

“I pretty much contacted Jim [Mather, RNZ board chair], as emails were swirling backwards and forwards, and I just said ‘bro, the nature of what I want to bring to the RNZ Board is around treaty and transformation and that in itself is political by nature’,” Ake said.

“It will always be caught in that landscape without having an opportunity to raise a point when it has to be raised. I told Jim the problem I have got is I sit on Te Whakaruruhau and part of my mandate on that board is to be noisy around political stuff. With the election coming forward, there’s going to be more of this, so I said I’m out.”

Ake reiterated his comments on Allan, adding that people should not be forced to “shy away” from discussions on mental health, whether involving a minister or not.

The Bulletin: Mayor restates timeline on St James restoration, threatens to demolish if not met

Auckland mayor Wayne Brown has said that if work doesn’t start on the restoration of the St James theatre by June 30 next year, council will recommend it be demolished. Brown had given arts, culture and heritage minister Carmel Sepuloni an indication of council’s ongoing commitment to providing $15m in funding when equivalent government funding was announced on Saturday with that timeline caveat. Brown said the St James was a historic stage theatre and cinema, which if restored would provide another performing arts and cultural facility to enrich the lives of Aucklanders but that in its current state, “derelict and uncertain”, it was a dispiriting situation.

Brown will not support the funding being available in the next 10-year budget. New figures that estimate the cost of recovery and rebuild after the Auckland floods at $4b landed yesterday. St James owner Steve Bielby said the trust has enough funding between the government and council contributions to meet the council’s conditions for stage one – a structural and seismic upgrade and new services.

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Opposition denies politicising Kiri Allan’s mental health struggles

National leader Christopher Luxon and Act leader David Seymour (Photos: Getty Images)

Opposition parties have denied politicising the resignation of Kiri Allan following an emotional debate in parliament yesterday afternoon.

The urgent debate was called by Act’s David Seymour, with MPs from across the house participating. Those highly critical of it taking place included Green MPs Golriz Ghahraman and Ricardo Menéndez March, with the latter telling Newshub it was just an example of political point scoring. Senior Labour minister Grant Robertson, meanwhile, used the debate to pay tribute to his friend, after Allan announced she wouldn’t be contesting this October’s election.

But speaking to Newstalk ZB, Seymour rejected the idea he had politicised Allan’s mental health struggles. “Kiritapu Allan has been subject to a tragic sequence of personal events and as I said in my speech this is a personal tragedy we should be respectful of and supportive of… No question about that,” he said. “But equally, our parliament has to debate the fact we’ve got a government which continually loses ministers [and] most recently has had a minister of the crown resisting arrest while the minister of justice.”

Politics doesn’t stop because of one tragic circumstance, said Seymour. “We represent five million people who are paying the bills and we’ve got to stand up and reflect on where this government is going.”

National leader Christopher Luxon and Act leader David Seymour (Photos: Getty Images)

Despite this, Seymour said there was no need for a snap election to be called. However, the current government was a “lame duck, caretaker government” that didn’t have enough talent to replace Allan around the cabinet table.

These sentiments were echoed by National’s Christopher Luxon this morning on RNZ. He said his party didn’t call the debate, and nor did he believe it was necessary – but it was “unfair” to criticise the opposition for politicisation. “The real issue here is this is a government falling apart, it has lost four ministers in seven months,” he said. That was the narrative that opposition parties would be capitalising on, said Luxon.

And now, as RNZ’s Giles Dexter noted, National has its sights firmly set on minister David Parker.