The best of Vice New Zealand

With Vice NZ sadly closing its doors last week, here’s a round-up of some of the excellent work produced by the editorial staff over the last few years.

The New Zealand editorial arm of global youth media outlet Vice closed on Friday, with five people losing their jobs.

Vice New Zealand opened under the management of Dave Benge in 2015, gradually expanding to encompass both text and video content. It kicked off in earnest in 2017 with the launch of its Zealandia local content hub and video series, soon after launching the Viceland channel through the Sky platform.

It was a small team, with numbers in flux, but editor Frances Morton recruited talented feature writers like Tess McClure and James Borrowdale, who crafted superb stories examining parts of New Zealand often ignored by mainstream media outlets.

Here is a selection of their best work, as compiled by the Vice NZ team.

New Zealand Muslims say Islamophobia was a problem long before the Christchurch massacre

James Borrowdale interviews a survivor of the Christchurch mosque attacks, and delves into the history of anti-Muslim sentiment in New Zealand.

Making a truce with the voices in your head

Tess McClure goes inside New Zealand voice hearers’ fight to reclaim autonomy in mental health.

Photo: Tess McClure

Morgan Marquis-Boire: How a sexual predator thrived in New Zealand

Tess McClure investigates how a celebrated hacker, minor celebrity and integral member New Zealand’s goth community was able to prey on women throughout the 2000s.

“Harder than heroin”: synthetic cannabinoids in New Zealand

An in-depth piece on the struggle of synthetics addicts to get help, with accompanying documentary from the Zealandia series.

The making of Chlöe Swarbrick

James Borrowdale profiles the wunderkind politician, the year after she came third in the Auckland mayoralty race and a few months before being elected to parliament as a Green MP.

‘The forever no’: the fate of Tonga’s criminal returnees

James Borrowdale interviews Tongans who, after serving prison time in their adopted countries, have been deported to live out their days in a homeland they barely know. Accompanied by a Zealandia documentary.

Photo: Todd Henry

The life and influence of real-life martial arts monk, Kiwi John Danaher

Ben Stanley on how a philosophy grad went from bouncing at New York’s hip hop clubs to shaping UFC champions.

This 85-year-old woman teaches injured penguins to swim

Pure, wholesome content courtesy of Tess McClure and photographer Todd Henry.

Photo: Todd Henry

New Zealand’s gangs flourish when the state fails them

In this piece originally published on Māui Street, Morgan Godfery suggests we look at gangs as an economic problem, rather than a criminal one. 

The people of Manurewa tell us why they don’t vote

On the eve of the 2017 election, James Borrowdale and Todd Henry spent a night talking to people in one of New Zealand’s most disaffected areas.

Photo: Todd Henry

High hopes: Who will benefit from NZ’s legal cannabis industry?

In July 2018, Tess McClure asked if Māori, disproportionately targeted by drug policing, would continue to lose out when medicinal cannabis was legalised. 

The final days of Auckland’s inner-city slum

James Borrowdale and Danial Eriksen talked to residents of the notorious boarding house at 454 Great North Road, before Grey Lynn’s last holdout against gentrification was sold. 

Photo: Danial Eriksen

A definitive ranking of NZ prime ministers from lamest to coolest

In the days pre-Jacinda, Richard Meadow ranked all 39 of our leaders. 

In photos: Kids of New Zealand’s horse tribe

Photographer Danial Eriksen spends a day with the members of Ngāpuhi Hōiho.

Photo: Danial Eriksen

Taking a trip on Auckland’s hop-on hop-off bus, literally

Beatrice Hazlehurst takes acid and rediscovers her own city aboard Auckland’s tourist bus.

Inside Mahana: When a commune turns to rot

Tess McClure visits a remote community in the forests of the Coromandel, where a utopian dream turned sour.

Photo: Tess McClure

Why growing up in a gang town isn’t always what you think

Morgan Godfery on his young life in Kawerau.

The joy and boredom of being young in New Zealand’s most remote outpost

James Borrowdale and Todd Henry find out what it’s like to grow up in the Chatham Islands.

Photo: Todd Henry

Biography as a battleground: What it means to be New Zealand’s first refugee MP

Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman talks to James Borrowdale about trolls, her childhood and the political platform she never asked for.

Join us and help make
independent journalism happen!
Find Out More

How a fighter channels her iwi’s female-led history to inspire the present

James Borrowdale on Northland’s Toa Ngātihine gym and its star fighter Quinita Hati.

Photo: Todd Henry

The dark, unknown story of eugenics in New Zealand

Tess McClure reveals how a powerful group of New Zealanders attempted to wipe out ‘mental defectives’ and improve the white race.

I cold called random New Zealanders until I found someone I knew

Beatrice Hazlehurst finds out how small Aotearoa really is.


Join The Spinoff Members for as little as $1 to help us hire more journalists and do more investigations. Or get a free Toby Morris-designed tea towel when you contribute $80 or more over a year.


The Spinoff is made possible by the generous support of the following organisations.
Please help us by supporting them.