One Question Quiz


Purex manufacturers launch legal action against own staff

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for August 30, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. You can reach me via email on

The agenda

  • Fake ‘judge’ from Tamaki-led protest stood down from his real job.
  • Parliament protesters rack up $17k in outstanding parking fines.
  • Exiled MP Gaurav Sharma releases 4,000 word tome – with new allegations.
  • Covid-19 latest: 2,464 new cases, death toll grows by 11.

Purex manufacturers launch legal action against own staff

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for August 30, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. You can reach me via email on

The agenda

  • Fake ‘judge’ from Tamaki-led protest stood down from his real job.
  • Parliament protesters rack up $17k in outstanding parking fines.
  • Exiled MP Gaurav Sharma releases 4,000 word tome – with new allegations.
  • Covid-19 latest: 2,464 new cases, death toll grows by 11.
Aug 30 2022

PM rebukes defiant Davidson over Whittaker’s Facebook post

Marama Davidson and the Miraka Kirīmi chocolate (Photo: Facebook)

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson won’t delete a social media post featuring Whittaker’s chocolate – even after the prime minister suggested she do so.

The post, shared to both Facebook and Instagram, showed Davidson holding blocks of Whittaker’s special Te Wiki o te Reo Māori block dubbed Miraka Kirīmi.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Marama Davidson (@maramadavidson)

While Davidson said the post was not a sponsored post and nor was it promoting Whittaker’s, but was instead intended to showcase the use of te Reo. “I am promoting organisations who are stepping up particularly trusted and popular organisations,” Davidson told 1News.

But Jacinda Ardern said the post should be deleted because there were “very clear” Cabinet guidelines around the endorsement of products. “I have asked and will ask the Cabinet office to just make sure they’re in touch with the minister to be really clear on how those rules apply,” said Ardern. “You can see the intent here was the promotion of te reo Māori but we do have to make sure that we uphold a really clear standard on promoting products.”

Apology demanded over cost of living payment rollout, Ardern says no

Image: Getty Images, additional design by Tina Tiller

The prime minister won’t apologise for what’s been labelled a “poor use of taxpayer money”.

The second cost of living payment will be sent out this Thursday, with the government announcing tighter screening processes in an effort to stop ineligible New Zealanders receiving it.

But with the auditor-general this week raising concerns over how the first payment was distributed, the opposition have called for an apology. “We are really calling on the government to do two things. First, to apologise for the poor use of taxpayer money, and the second thing, to declare and come forward and talk about how many of those payments [have gone] to how many people who were ineligible,” said National Party leader Christopher Luxon to media.

Jacinda Ardern acknowledged the payments hadn’t operated perfectly, but said that getting the money to “as many New Zealanders as possible” was the priority.

During this afternoon’s question time, the PM doubled down on this with a fiery performance that took aim at the National Party’s proposed tax cut policy. “I find it frankly rich to have someone on that side of the house who promotes an $8,000 tax cut for someone on $300,000 to accuse a $116 payment to hard-working New Zealanders as being ‘wasteful’,” Ardern said.

“Was the cost of living payment the right thing to do? Absolutely yes.”

Image: Getty Images, additional design by Tina Tiller

Viv Beck defends ‘track record’ after questions over unpaid bill

Viv Beck. Photo: Supplied

Auckland mayoral hopeful Viv Beck remains “committed” to her campaign – despite controversy over an unpaid $353,000 bill.

The centre right-endorsed candidate has been accused of failing to cough up the money to her former campaign advertising agency. It also led to her being temporarily locked out of her campaign Facebook account and website.

But Beck told Stuff’s Todd Niall that the questions over her finances did not take away her credentials to be the mayor of Auckland. “My track record speaks for itself, I’ve got the skills and experience for the role,” Beck said. “I’m committed to seeing this through”.

Since news of the bill became public, it’s been confirmed Beck has teamed up with The Campaign Company, owned by Taxpayers Union co-founder Jordan Williams, which had previously been contracted by Leo Molloy’s now defunct campaign. Social media ads by Beck campaigning “against co-governance” have since popped up on Facebook.

Covid-19 latest: 2,464 new cases, death toll grows by 11

Image: Toby Morris

There are 2,464 new community cases of Covid-19, a slight rise on yesterday but still substantially lower than in recent weeks.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 2,251, down from last Tuesday when it was 3,496.

Currently, 314 people are in hospital with Covid-19 and four are in intensive care. The seven-day rolling average of hospitalisations today is 339 – last Tuesday it was 453.

There are now a total of 1,884 deaths confirmed as attributable to Covid-19, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor. The seven-day rolling average increase in total deaths attributable to Covid-19 is now 6.

Overnight, the overall death toll rose by 11. That includes 15 Covid-attributed deaths and nine non-attributed, with 13 deaths removed from the death toll.

‘I feel betrayed’: Purex manufacturers launch legal action against own staff

(Photo: Getty Images)

The manufacturers of Purex have launched legal action against their own employees, issuing a $500,000 threat.

Staff at Essity’s mill in Kawerau have been locked in a now three-week long battle over pay. The 145 staff members have been prevented from going to work or being paid, with the lockout imposed after union pay negotiations broke down.

A statement from the Pulp and Paper Workers Union said Essity’s legal action was related to technicalities over a strike notice issued last month. “Strike action in pursuit of a collective agreement is legal in New Zealand and the union believes the company’s action is without merit,” the statement reads.

“Essity is seeking to make 67 individual employees ‘jointly and severally liable’ with the union for $542,852 of damages plus costs.”

Union member Bill George questioned where Essity’s humanity had gone. “All the workers here did the hard yards during Covid to make sure hospitals and supermarkets were supplied, but there’s just been no loyalty in return. To be honest I feel betrayed by the company’s behaviour,” he said.

In an interview with Stuff, Grant Carncross, who starred in the well known Purex “Rolly” dog ads, said he was demoralised. “I think they have a moral obligation to do the right thing by the workers and the community,” he said.

New ‘expectations’ aimed at empowering survivors of major disasters

Mines Rescue staff prepare to enter Pike River mine on June 28, 2011. Photo: Iain McGregor-Pool/Getty Images

A set of new expectations for government agencies will help ensure survivors of national disasters are better supported.

Andrew Little, the minister responsible for the Pike River re-entry, has today launched the “Working With Survivors Model Standards”. It’s been co-authored by the Stand With Pike Families Reference Group and the Public Service Commission, in partnership with survivors of other disasters such as March 15, Whakaari and Aromoana.

“Following the 2010 explosion the Pike River survivors felt let down by the state,” said Little. “They say it would have made the biggest difference if agencies had empowered survivors, were upfront, and had worked together for the benefit of all current and future survivors. That is what the new expectations seek to do.”

There are three elements to the new standards. Firstly, survivors must be empowered and have support to make decisions. Secondly, survivors need to know what happened through open and honest communication. And thirdly, public servants must work together to make sure survivors get clear messages and equitable support.

“It means following and supporting the journey survivors go through,” explained Little. “In the immediate aftermath it’s about the necessities of life and reuniting loved ones. Next it’s helping with the adjustment to the new normal. Finally it’s getting to the bottom of what happened, learning from it, and promoting healing.”

The new expectations have been described by the government as a “first step” in a journey of continual improvement. They will be updated in the future as survivors and agencies share experiences and ideas, said Little.

Covid settings to be reviewed in a couple of weeks – Ardern


As Covid infections plummet to their lowest levels since February, there’s a growing call for New Zealand to move out of the orange and into the green.

Under the current Covid traffic light setting, mask use remains mandated on public transport and in retail settings. Isolation requirements are also in place: seven days for positive cases and their household contacts.

But new modelling released yesterday showed that a “test to release” policy – rather than the blanket seven day – could be better.

Speaking last night, prime minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that the traffic light settings would be reviewed within the coming weeks. “We’ll have a look and make sure they’re fit for purpose and make sense for the environment going forward,” said Ardern.

On the possibility of changing the isolation requirements, Ardern said that it could lead to “greater infections” – but would base any changes on health advice. “There seems to be a pretty wide consensus now that if you cut it to five [days isolation] there will be infectious people released before they no longer pose a risk to others,” Ardern said.

“That’s why we take public health advice on those decisions. We’ll review all those settings every time we come around to a new review and that’s when I take a look at everything from masks to isolation periods.”

Exiled MP Gaurav Sharma releases 4,000 word tome

Gaurav Sharma speaks to media prior to a Labour Party caucus meeting (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Gaurav Sharma has taken to social media to release what can only be described as a “tome”.

Coming in over the 4,000 word mark – meaning it’s longer than many of the Sunday Essays we publish here on The Spinoff – the Facebook post doubled (tripled? quadrupled?) down on allegations of bullying within parliament. Specifically, it alleged poor performance by ex-staffers from within his office and criticised the way complaints were handled by the parliamentary service.

The Herald’s Thomas Coughlan has spoken to one of Sharma’s former staffers who was triggered after seeing the Facebook post.

“This is a breach of our confidentiality. It’s bringing up past trauma – we’ve already lived it once,” they said. “I tried to move on with him. He needs to move on. The Labour Party is moving on. He’s getting irrelevant. I don’t know what’s wrong with him. I don’t know why he wants to drag this on.”

Parliament protesters rack up $17k in outstanding parking fines

Protesters’ cars blocking Molesworth St outside parliament (Photo: Justin Giovannetti)

Wellington Council is chasing over $17,000 in outstanding parking fees from protesters who took part in the occupation outside parliament back in February.

According to RNZ, there were 615 tickets issued throughout the protest. That equated to about $37,000 in fees, of which roughly 350 have now been paid.

The remaining fines will go through the usual infringement process, said the council, and those who hadn’t paid could be referred to the Ministry of Justice.

During the occupation, hundreds of cars descended on the streets surrounding the parliamentary precinct. Many were parked illegally, blocking roads or on footpaths.

According to official data, the police bill for the protest had totalled over $2.5 million by the end of March this year.

Cars parked near parliament
Some of the illegally parked cars during the protest, February 14, 2022 (Photo: Justin Giovannetti)

The Bulletin: Claims Auckland mayoral candidate has debt of $353,000

Last night the Herald (paywalled) published details of claims that Auckland mayoral candidate Viv Beck had a planned campaign budget of $4m. An email also claims Beck still has an outstanding debt of $353,000 with the agency that was formerly looking after her digital marketing. The campaign spending cap for mayoral candidates in Auckland is around $680,000 but is only counted for the last three months of the campaign.

Last week news broke that Beck had parted ways with that agency and was now working with the agency used by former mayoral candidate Leo Malloy, the Campaign Company. The company’s director and shareholder is Jordan Williams, who is the executive director of the Taxpayers’ Union and the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance. Beck said she was “extremely disappointed” the issue had been made public when work had been underway to resolve the dispute.

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.  

Fake ‘judge’ from Tamaki-led protest stood down from his real job

Brian Tamaki in Wellington (Photo by Lynn Grieveson/Getty Images)

The “judge” that convicted the government of “crimes against humanity” at a recent protest outside parliament has been stood down from his real job.

According to the Herald, Rick Southey, a Destiny Church member and the non-clinical national manager of Whānau Ora Community Clinic, will face a review before it’s determined whether he can resume work.

During the height of the pandemic, the Whānau Ora Community Clinic bolstered Covid-19 testing and vaccination supply in Auckland.

The clinic’s director George Ngatai, who is also a member of the Destiny Church and ran in the last election for the Hannah Tamaki-led Vision NZ party, said it was not wise of Southey to have participated in the mock trial. “Everybody has to be responsible for their actions and whatever the outcomes are from those actions then they’ve got to deal with those consequences as well,” said Ngatai.

Despite being dressed as a judge, Southey appeared to have no legal expertise or qualification. At the protest, he determined the government was “guilty” after hearing from so-called witnesses and the “jury” (the crowd of protesters).

Southey’s role in the protest came as a “surprise”, said Ngatai, who would have instructed him not to participate.

The “people’s court” (Photo: RNZ)