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Jun 30 2023

‘The door is wide open’: PM hails China trip as a huge success for NZ business, economy

Chris Hipkins (Photo: Getty Images/The Spinoff)

Prime minister Chris Hipkins says he’d love to stay even longer in China as he readies to return back to New Zealand overnight.

In part, he may be wishing he could stay as far away from the brewing drama over another of his minister – Kiri Allan. But, Hipkins told media, he was really just thrilled with how the trip had gone.

“There is a huge market here for New Zealand products and services and so I think for me one of the big insights was the door is wide open,” he said this afternoon. “It has been very positive, all round.”

Having access to China’s three most important leaders, including president Xi Jinping, had been “very important” for building on the New Zealand-China relationship, he added.

On the Allan saga, Hipkins maintained that no official complaints about behaviour in her office had been raised. Ministers had clear standards to abide by, which included treating staff members and officials with respect. “I expect them to set high standards of the New Zealand public service, and I absolutely expect them to make sure those high standards are achieved, but that doesn’t mean that relationships can’t be characterised by respect, I believe that they can be.”

The kiwi brothers are haunting yet another PM

Screenshot: Henry Cooke on Twitter

The famous kiwi brothers were back in action in China today, where they greeted prime minister Chris Hipkins.

Unlike their last appearance alongside former PM Jacinda Ardern, there didn’t appear to be any noticeable swaying. While The Spinoff’s Mad Chapman, in China with Hipkins’ delegation, missed most of the kiwi action, she noted: “There’s something very funny about seeing a kiwifruit casually walk offstage once its not needed in the photo any more”.

Read more: Who are the swaying Kiwi Brothers?

Culture ministry announces final round of ‘Regeneration Fund’ recipients

The Ministry of Culture and Heritage has announced that 17 cultural sector organisations, including APRA New Zealand, Māoriland Charitable Trust and The New Zealand Society of Authors, have been approved for up to $5.9 million of funding in the final round of the Cultural Sector Regeneration fund.

The fund, which received $28m from the government, will now be supporting more than 80 initiatives in the coming year, including supporting the promotion of community events, and supporting the development of the arts, culture and heritage sectors.

The other organisations and initiatives funded include Creative Northland (to support community outreach), Make/Shift Spaces Incorporated (to support increased opportunities for Nelson’s migrant and former refugee communities to access and participate in art), and the Tairawhiti Voyaging Trust (to support a programme of activities to revitalise and preserve mātauranga waka).

“I’m thrilled to be announcing the final group of initiatives that will have a positive and lasting impact on the cultural community,” says Leauanae Laulu Mac Leauanae, Tumu Whakarae chief executive of Manatū Taonga. “The Regeneration Fund will not only bring joy to thousands of people from Southland to Te Tai Tokerau, it will also support career opportunities and build new capabilities across the sector.”

The fund received nearly 700 expressions of interest from the sector, and the 86 initiatives funded will support over 1800 people into paid work.

A full list of the initiatives funded in this round can be found here, and other rounds here.

Your weekend TV guide: Hijack, The Witcher and Nigel Latta

* This is an excerpt from The Spinoff’s weekly Friday newsletter Rec Room. Sign up for regular instalments here.

Idris Elba is always watchable and in Hijack he might be more watchable than ever. Rave reviews are landing for the seven-part action series that begins today on Apple TV+ and follows a – you guessed it – plane hijacking told in real-time. “Seven hours of brilliant, bingeable nonsense,” said The Guardian in a four-star review. “Only Elba could carry this perfect piece of summer insanity off.” If that sounds like a bit of you, you may also be interested to note the third season of The Witcher debuts on Netflix today, along with the fourth and final season of Jack Ryan on Prime Video.

It’s been a while since Nigel Latta has graced our screens but that changes on Monday when he returns with a scammy new show. In You’ve Been Scammed, the wisened TV wizard takes on the scamming industry to show just how simple it is to find easy victims. With four parts screening across Monday nights and on TVNZ+, Latta’s always educational and informative, but he’s also indulging in a touch of mind magic. If you’re diving in, hold on to your watches (that will make sense after episode one).

July 1 isn’t all about petrol and public transport

Always useful when you have a new baby.

While the end of half price public transport and fuel levy subsidies are inarguably the most headline-grabbing changes coming into play tomorrow, a number of other policies will kick-in as well.

The Herald’s compiled a comprehensive list of the July 1 changes, which includes the 6.6% rise in alcohol excise (Everyday Wine in Auckland is having a sale pre-tax rise sale). Then, there’s also a decrease in the clean car subsidy following higher than anticipated uptake during the first tranche. For new vehicles, the maximum rebate will decrease by about $1,600 and the maximum fee will increase by about $1,700.

Parental leave payments will rise by 7.7% – taking the max weekly rate up to $712 – and child support will be considered an income by Work and Income.

Meanwhile, the updated pathway for Australian citizenship begins tomorrow, as does the NZ/UK working holiday which now extends to those aged up to 35.

Listen: The future runs on electric power

A groundbreaking transformation is underway in the United States, as they embark on an industrial revolution that aims to replace a staggering one billion fossil-fueled machines with clean, electric alternatives fueled by the forces of nature—wind, sun, and water.

This remarkable shift, ignited by a masterful manoeuvre within the world’s largest and most complex political economy, has set the stage for an inspiring journey. Bernard Hickey sits down with climate tech entrepreneur and activist Saul Griffith to unravel the story of how Saul and his fellow activists collaborated with Joe Biden’s White House to successfully take control of the climate debate.

Listen below or wherever you get your pods

The Bulletin: Fuel tax discount, half-price fares end tonight

The fuel tax discount and half-price public transport for most adults end at midnight tonight, representing a significant hit to household budgets already under strain from the cost of living crisis. Scrapping the fuel tax discount will add 25c a litre and almost 4c extra GST to the cost of standard petrol, the Herald reports, while those over 25 without a community services card will see their public transport fares double.

The subsidy for road user charges for diesel vehicles will also end at midnight. Many service stations have this week experienced long queues as motorists fill up before the price rise. On the bright side, public transport will become free for children under 13 (except in Wellington, where kids will have to wait another month), and the ban on produce bags, crockery and cutlery, straws and produce labels made from plastic will come into effect.

Want to read The Bulletin in full? Click here to subscribe and join over 38,000 New Zealanders who start each weekday with the biggest stories in politics, business, media and culture.

Post Malone announces NZ stop on world tour

Post Malone (Image: Supplied)

It’s not Taylor Swift but… Another big tour announcement this morning with news Grammy-nominated artist Post Malone will expand his upcoming tour with a New Zealand stop.

He’ll perform at the Western Springs Outerfields on November 21, with tickets going on sale on July 13.

The New Zealand date of the “If Y’all Weren’t Here, I’d Be Crying” was announced alongside new shows for Post Malone in Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Japan and Australia.

A press release says the shows will “give fans his signature exhilarating performance with music from his upcoming album as well as fan-favorites in a completely reimagined show”.

Post Malone
Post Malone (Image: Supplied)

Senior official says Kiri Allan ‘yelled and screamed’ at them

Kiri Allan in January 2023 (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Cabinet minister Kiri Allan “yelled and screamed” at a long-serving public official and was witnessed berating another for 20 minutes, it’s been claimed.

Stuff’s reported that Allan, who returned to work in the Beehive yesterday after time off for mental health reasons,  “strongly refutes” the allegations.

According to the public official, Allan was “very aggressive” with people. “I’ve had her yelling and screaming at me on the phone so loud that my staff in the room could hear it,” they said. Allan “swings between aggression and passive aggression”.

There have now been four senior public service speak about issues related to workplace relationships in Allan’s office, stemming from a report first published on Wednesday.

Asked by media yesterday whether she had ever yelled at a staff member, Allan said no and that she believed she was a “fair” boss.

On the new allegations, a statement from Allan’s office said:“The minister strongly refutes these allegations. No complaints have ever been taken up with MBIE or myself and certainly nothing that resembles these allegations.”