Some of our judging panel were initially lost for words by this dashing dachshund named Donald. “I feel so overwhelmed with love for Donald I can’t think of any words,” one judge exclaimed. “But I will.” Another similarly stunned judge kept it short and sweet, relying on four small words and capital letters to express their admiration: “A VERY GOOD DOG”
Donald’s “excellent proportions” were a focus of much of the judging. “I love it when a dog is both short and long,” one judge mused. “Extra points for keeping the back legs a closely guarded secret,” added another. In terms of the face, there was praise for both his “lovely eyebrows” and “lovely snout”, which one expert noted “gave him a serious air that strikes a pleasing contrast with the gaiety of his glorious jacket”.
Finally, there is no denying the political pet power and animal allyship of this fetching crochet pride jacket, which one judge pointed out could singularly rebrand the “truly cursed” legacy of Donalds everywhere. “Dachshund Donald reminds us that not everything is in a name,” they explained. “He’s nailed the Tyra Banks smile-with-your-eyes-and-stare-into-the-middle-distance, making me think Donald will be winning more than just Pet of the Day in the future.”
From our friends at Pickle’s Pawtraits: Remember when you would bring your pet to school as a kid and everyone would get a prize? Throughout the week, we will be awarding your pets with the rarest prize of all: the chance to appear on The Spinoff. Send your best, funniest, sleepiest, most glistening pet pics to our Instagram or firstname.lastname@example.org. At the end of the week, one lucky winner will receive a Pet Lovers Gift Box from our friends at Pickle’s Pawtraits, including a custom digital pet portrait, mug and stickers.
The government has moved a step forward in its plans to introduce fair pay agreements and fulfil one of its election promises.
It’s today introduced the Fair Pay Agreements Bill and hopes to have it passed by the end of the year. “For too long, New Zealanders working in critical roles like cleaners and bus drivers, whose work is keeping our country going during the pandemic, have lacked bargaining power to seek better wages and conditions,” said workplace relations minister Michael Wood.
“We want to turn that around and ensure workers get a fair go again. We’re proud to be a government that backs everyday kiwis.”
As noted by Stuff’s Henry Cooke, the bill is slightly watered down from the original proposed law. Contractors are excluded, for example, and a clause in the law would stop businesses reclassifying their employees as contracts to avoid a fair pay agreement.
Wood said the proposed law is balanced and the agreements will “enable unions and employer associations to bargain together to set minimum standards for all employees and employers in an industry or occupation”.
The bill has backing from the Council of Trade Unions, whose president Richard Wagstaff said it will help our economy and support workers. But it faces political opposition from both National and Act.
Paul Goldsmith, National’s spokesperson for workplace relations, claimed free pay agreements would actually harm the economy and said this bill was an example of political overreach. “It’s another example of this government’s belief that central government knows best – better than employees and employers trying to arrange things for themselves in a way that works for them,” he said.
In question time today, Christopher Luxon drew laughter from Labour when he asked why Australians, on average, earn more per hour than New Zealanders. Ardern cited their fay pay scheme and jokingly “welcomed” Luxon to the Labour Party.
Actor Will Smith has finally apologised to comedian Chris Rock after slapping him on-stage at yesterday’s Academy Awards.
The on-stage altercation was triggered by a bad taste joke Rock made, in which he compared Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett-Smith to GI Jane due to her shaved head. In reality, Pinkett-Smith has alopecia.
“My behaviour at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable,” said Smith’s written apology. “Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally. I would like to publicly apologise to you, Chris.”
Will Smith’s reps just sent out a statement from the star that features an apology to Chris Rock: “I was out of line and I was wrong.” pic.twitter.com/pYO1UrMnly
It’s Smith second apology for the incident but the first to mention Rock. After winning the best actor Oscar yesterday, which happened minutes after the slap, Smith said sorry to the Academy and his fellow actors – but did not acknowledge Rock.
Labour MP Louisa Wall has resigned from parliament and will leave after 14 years, signalling events surrounding the 2020 election triggered her decision to quit politics.
Perhaps best known for her championing of social issues such as marriage equality and the recent law establishing safe zones for abortion clinics, Wall was first elected in 2008. She also held the Manurewa seat from 2011 to 2020.
“It’s been an honour to represent and provide a voice in parliament to those who are so often unheard,” Wall said in a statement.
“In both my parliamentary and electorate work I’ve focused on giving a voice to communities and the vulnerable. I am proud of the work I’ve led to make Aotearoa/New Zealand a more inclusive country.”
Wall indicated that events following the 2020 election led to her decision to quit politics. “Leaving parliament is always tinged with some sadness but I do so still passionate about serving New Zealanders. I’ve enjoyed the responsibility of service and I’m looking forward to now serving in different ways.”
It was a privilege, said Wall, to lead the marriage equality law change. “Not being able to get married to the person you loved unfairly marginalised members of the rainbow community and was unjust.”
Wall won’t be speaking further about her decision to resign today, a press release confirmed. She will give her valedictory speech in the coming weeks.
In a profile on The Spinoff last year, political editor Justin Giovannetti called Wall an “enigma” within Labour. “The party has given the 49-year-old MP no titles, she has no ministries to command or select committees to run. Despite that, she’s more visible than many cabinet members and outspoken in a caucus that’s generally reticent,” wrote Giovannetti.
In 2020, that should be lost her spot as Labour candidate or the Manurewa electorate in circumstances that Giovannetti noted were still unclear. “She was nominated as candidate by the local committee, but the Labour Party decided instead that Arena Williams could run for the seat, despite filing her paperwork too late,” he wrote. “Williams, who is close to deputy prime minister Grant Robertson, got the nod for the seat and Wall chose to run on the list instead, but there were reports that she was pursuing legal action against her own party over losing the seat.”
After leaving parliament, Wall said she will continue to be involved in issues she is passionate about, singling out indigenous rights, human rights, equality and the rights of women and the LGBTQI+ community.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said Wall was a hero to many throughout her career. “Her commitment to human rights and equality has been absolutely unwavering. She has been relentless in her pursuit of human rights for all,” she said.
And Wall’s popularity expanded across the political divide. National’s Chris Bishop tweeted to say he’d miss her in parliament. “I admire her spirit, her enthusiasm and her passion.”
New Zealand’s pandemic death toll has risen by 34 and now totals 303. The new deaths are not all from overnight, but from across the past 10 days. Delays in reporting deaths can be due to people dying with, not of, Covid-19 and the infection not being discovered until after their death, said public health director Caroline McElnay.
Todays’ deaths, 27 of which were people over the age of 70, bring the rolling seven-day average of deaths to 15.
“Evidence suggests some of these deaths will not have been caused directly by Covid-19,” said McElnay. “However we are seeing many people dying with Covid-19 who are older and may have pre-existing conditions that heighten their risk.”
Of the people whose deaths were reported today, two were from Northland, 17 from the Auckland region, two from Waikato, one from the Bay of Plenty, one from the Lakes DHB, two from Hawke’s Bay, five from the Wellington region, three from Canterbury, and one from the Southern DHB area.
There are now 842 people in hospital and 26 in intensive care. That is down on last week’s peak of 31 in ICU and over 1,000 in hospital.
There are 17,148 new community cases, a jump on yesterday but McElnay said this was not unexpected for a Tuesday. “It is encouraging to see a continuing and sustained drop in overall case numbers.”
The reduction in case numbers has been most pronounced in Auckland, she said. Regional spikes were not unexpected, and “the so-called Mexican wave of cases” we’re seeing is most pronounced this week in Canterbury. Canterbury and South Canterbury combined had more cases than the Auckland region yesterday.
The rest of the country is a couple of weeks behind Auckland, and should expect to see cases dropping soon, said McElnay.
National’s Christopher Luxon appears to have ruled out a referendum on Māori co-governance – but only after initially saying he didn’t want to discuss the matter.
A debate on the matter of co-governance, and specifically a referendum, is a bottom line for Luxon’s most likely coalition partner, Act. The Act Party launched the call for a referendum as one of its election priorities for 2023 last week, saying the point would be to bring about a debate on New Zealand’s constitutional future.
During his morning media run today, Luxon initially seemed like he wouldn’t explicitly rule out a referendum. Asked for a yes or no by Today FM’s Tova O’Brien, the National leader said he did have concerns about co-governance. “On constitutional issues like this, you need to be upfront with New Zealand and say what it is, you make your case, you bring New Zealand with you,” he said.
During a later press conference at parliament, Luxon appeared to once again be avoiding the subject of a referendum. “I have concerns about co-governance as it moves from management of local natural resources into the delivery of public services but what I’d say to you is the bigger issue is the government needs to make the case as to what they’re doing in this space and where we’re going,” he told reporters.
He even said he wouldn’t be “getting into” discussion of a referendum. “I appreciate [Seymour]’s got a view about what we might want to do with his party and a referendum,” he said.
But after further pressure from reporters, Luxon seemed to relent: “I don’t see a need for a referendum at this point, if you’re asking me that question.”
Despite the soft ruling out, Act’s David Seymour welcomed Luxon saying he wanted a “conversation” about co-governance. However, Seymour added: “We put it to him that a referendum is a conversation where ordinary people get a say.”
“By dismissing a referendum Luxon would be ignoring the problem and hoping it’ll go away. That’s been the strategy of successive National governments in the past, Act is challenging Christopher Luxon’s government to be different and deliver real change.”
The Spinoff’s Pet Week is brought to you in cahoots with Animates – and so is this message: With so many dog food options out there, it can be hard to know what to feed your pooch. Wet food is great for a hydration boost, while dry food is excellent for keeping their chompers in check. The team at Animates are trained to help you find the best food for your pet to keep them happy and healthy. Check out more information here or visit your local Animates store.
Auckland Theatre Company announced today the creation of a new youth company, to nurture and grow Aotearoa’s next generation of theatre makers.
Thirty young people, aged between 16 and 25 and selected from a series of open day auditions across Tāmaki Makarau, will become embedded in the life of a working theatre company and be involved in the creation and performance of two world premieres.
The programme is open, inclusive and accessible to young people across skill levels, backgrounds, and access needs. Rangatahi Māori, Pasefika, rainbow, and disabled young people are especially encouraged to apply.
This initiative from Auckland’s largest professional theatre company brings together the work that ATC has undertaken over many years – including under the Young & Hungry and Here & Now banners – into a free, year-long training and performance programme for aspiring actors, directors, designers, writers and theatre artists looking for in depth training and practical opportunities to develop their craft.
“Our Youth Company is a vigorous learning environment,” says ATC’s artistic director and CEO Jonathan Bielski. “It aims to be a joyful, playful, inclusive, welcoming and supported place to learn and grow.”
Applications for Open Day auditions are open now at and auditions will take place once Auckland is in “orange”.
Former Far North mayor Wayne Brown has joined a growing list of candidates for the Auckland mayoralty, promising to “stop wasting money on dopey projects” and “get the basics right”. Brown, whose CV includes terms as chair of the Auckland DHB, Vector and Transpower, as well as leading a 2019 government review which recommended relocating most of Auckland’s port capacity further north, says he represents “bad news for council bureaucrats wanting to start another big project before finishing existing ones”.
He is the third high-profile contender on the centre-right, joining Heart of the City boss Viv Beck and hospitality operator Leo Molloy. On the centre-left, sitting councillor Efeso Collins has received the endorsement of the Labour Party. Other confirmed candidates are Jake Law, Craig Lord and New Conservative Party co-leader Ted Johnston. Brown (no relation of Len, mayor for the first two Super City terms) will formally announce his candidacy later this morning in a speech to the Rosebank Business Association.
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” a new statement reads. “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
This is like a lesson in how to facilitate older people while honouring who they are. What a class act by @ladygaga with legend Liza Minnelli. The conferred whispers of "I gotcha" "I know" picked up by the mikes make it especially touching.pic.twitter.com/2JOWyrTQxn
Members of the New Zealand Film Commission are schmoozing in Hollywood, making a case for our country to be home to future movie productions.
It comes after Dame Jane Campion scored best director at yesterday’s Oscars for her film The Power of the Dog. The Netflix drama was nominated in 12 categories but walked away with just the one win after Apple’s film Coda snuck in to win best picture.
Carmel Sepuloni, the arts and culture minister, said the film’s cast and crew have pointed the spotlight on New Zealand as a premier film destination. “The Oscar nominations recognise those in front of and behind the camera, like Grant Major’s production design, Amber Richard’s set decoration, and Richard Flynn’s sound production,” she said.
“The New Zealand Film Commission is on the ground in LA pitching to senior executives from major studios, production companies and streaming services, with a message that New Zealand is open for a business and is a great place to make movies.”
Around 70 Hollywood guests heard from Film Commission speakers at a pre-Oscars event hosted by the New Zealand Consul-General. Sepuloni said the response was positive. “More meetings are scheduled this week with more than a dozen studios and screen companies.”
Campion’s win and the success of The Power of the Dog may be what New Zealand officials are talking about – but it’s sadly been overshadowed by another Oscars event. The fallout to actor Will Smith’s on-stage assault has continued, with the Academy issuing a weak statement condemning violence. It’s now being reported that Academy bosses are in crisis talks over whether to strip Smith of his Oscar (which he won just minutes after the stage invasion).