The best of The Spinoff this week

Bringing you the best weekly reading from your friendly local website.

Rebekah White: Every New Zealander needs a third place

“New Zealand has a great third place – the outdoors. My favourite third place is a DOC hut, any of them – the one space in the country where anyone is up for a yarn. But I can’t stop in at a DOC hut on my way home from work, and neither can the other 86 per cent of New Zealanders who live in urban centres. Reading Oldenburg’s book, The Great Good Place, I began to wish for an urban equivalent.”

Madeleine Chapman: Fight back against the fake-meat traitors and live like me, a true NZ patriot

Air New Zealand has been lambasted for serving Business Class passengers a burger without meat in it, which is obviously an assault on the NZ economy. Here The Spinoff’s leading New Zealander, Madeleine Chapman, recounts the day in the life of a true patriot.

Simon Day: The talented Mr Eaglesome: my four-course dinner with a conman

“He’s had sex with a woman once. His brother told him it was essential to have heterosexual intercourse at least one time and provided all the guidance. Apparently Alex was very good, but because people are eating he doesn’t want to go into the intimate details. He does reveal the results were ‘like a waterfall’ and he was repulsed.

So he chose to impregnate his wife with a turkey baster, and they had five children. They lived together in New York for 15 years, and have been separated for four. They gave each other the freedom to have “friends” on the side throughout their relationship. She met a woman eight years ago and they’re still together. His ex-wife’s family owns a chain of supermarkets in Sweden, where she is chief of marketing.

His life is entrancing. He commands the conversation. His stories are fantastic. He is seductive. Are we being conned?”

Duncan Greive: The richest group of New Zealanders just got some more government money

“Indeed, more over 65s are working than ever before. My barber is in his seventies, and has been cutting hair in Auckland city for a half century. He joked that the payment would buy him a couple of cases of very nice wine. I didn’t find it that funny. And while some will spend it on power, for thousands of people, it’s also the reality of where this money will go.”

Scout Barbour-Evans: I’m pregnant and I’m going to be a dad

Pregnancy is understandably, but frustratingly gendered. I am cared for by a midwife, if home birthing doesn’t work out I’ll be on a maternity ward, every piece of literature about pregnancy calls me a mum, the baby bump is causing even more people to call me ma’am, my child’s birth certificate will call me the mother, and even the legal paperwork calls me “the woman”. Because usually, the majority of people who get pregnant identify as female – and, well, the second question from most people I’ve told about my pregnancy so far has been “but I didn’t think that was possible!”.

Catriona MacLennan: Winz is meant to help the vulnerable, not hound them through the courts

“In what parallel universe would the agency charged with assisting our most vulnerable citizens cut a mother’s benefit because she borrowed money from her family and her bank to stay afloat?

In 21st century Aotearoa, that is how the Ministry of Social Development thinks it should carry out its job.”

Toby Morris: The Side Eye: ‘Tough on Crime’ is Dead

The politics of fear has seen successive NZ governments incarcerate people at increasing rates. In the latest Side Eye, Toby Morris explores the crisis of a mindless criminal justice system

In early development, the villain Te Ka/Te Fiti in Moana was named Te Pō and loosely based on Hine-nui-te-pō. Image: Disney

Simon Perris: What marks out our Māui from all the Māui? It’s partly down to vagina dentata
“Physically, she is most often presented as a threatening, monstrous character: an old woman (ruahine, kuia) who lives at the edge of the world and whose genitals flash like lightning as her thighs open and close. Not to mention the four physical attributes which flesh her out: eyes of pounamu, hair of kelp (rimurehia), a mouth like that of a barracouta (mangā) and last but far from least, labia ridged with sharp obsidian (koi mata). Yep, folks, Hine-nui-te-pō has a vagina dentata.”

Hayden Donnell: One reporter’s doomed quest to use Google’s tax tactics

“Can I formally notify you that I’m not paying tax in 2018?”

“No.”

Reporter Hayden Donnell’s voyage into the world of multinational tax strategy began with a stern rebuke from the IRD, and it’s not a spoiler to suggest things go south from there.

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