MediaJune 9, 2019

The best of The Spinoff this week


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

Emily Writes: We need to talk about Noa

“The stories everywhere were immediately click-worthy. I hate that straight away I was drawn in. Authorities had apparently granted a Dutch teenager her wish to be given assisted suicide. Legal under certain circumstances in the Netherlands, it seemed unlikely but possible. Very soon after, but probably too late by then, it was revealed that the initial stories were inaccurate. Noa Pothoven, 17, died after refusing to drink or eat.

Her death sparked a discussion about euthanasia and mental health. What is suicide? What is assisted suicide? Lost in the mix by many was what sparked her anorexia and her ultimately fatal mental illnesses.

Noa Pothoven was raped for the first time at age 11. And again by two men at age 14.”

Annabel Wilson: Welcome to NZ teaching, where you don’t get paid enough to be granted residency

“A colleague stood beside me on the picket line last week. Along with her partner, she’s packed up her life in South Africa to take on a specialist maths teaching job here. She’s committed herself wholeheartedly to her work and the wider life of the school and is already a much valued part of the fabric of our College. Since joining our community this year, she’s led our staff in morning karakia, joined the Social Club and put up her hand to be the ‘grief person’ who writes cards to colleagues in times of loss.

In the last four months, as well as meeting the daily requirements within the classroom, she’s been there at Pasifika evening, Polyfest, our overnight marae visit. She tells me that Immigration NZ has just declined her expression of interest in residency, because her pay is 0.39 cents per hour below the required threshold. When a highly skilled teacher is turned down from living here because they don’t earn enough, there’s something wrong.”

Toby Manhire: ‘It’s unhealthy to get up every morning to fight’: Chlöe Swarbrick with Marilyn Waring

“Despite the four decades that separated the two 23-year-olds’ arrival at parliament, one “real similarity with where I was”, said Waring, is in having to ‘be across so much’ – the volume of work and expectation was heightened when serving multiple constituencies, geographical and demographic. ‘You’ve just got to be a sponge, every single piece of information you can get, and you’re already working in overdrive, all the time.’

Amid that ‘sheer adrenalin and determination’, Waring suggested, was this: ‘I’m Chloe, I’m 24 years old, looking in the mirror, and I need to be able to keep engaging in the mirror for the rest of my life. And I’m going to have to live with this for decades longer than anyone else who’s in there. So you’re conscious of that?’

‘I am.'”

Peter McKenzie: Echoing Chlöe Swarbrick, a ‘youthquake’ rumbles through Wellington’s political scene

“The wave of young candidates Swarbrick has in part inspired can be seen all around the country. But it’s most obvious in Wellington, which is unsurprising given its hyper-political nature. In addition to Paul, there are five other Wellingtonians under 25 running in local body races: Teri O’Neill is running for Wellington City Council’s Eastern Ward, Joshua Trlin and Rabeea Inayatullah are running for Porirua City Council’s Northern Ward, Sophie Handford is running for a seat on the Kapiti Coast District Council, and Victoria Rhodes-Carlin is hoping to ride a wave of anti-incumbent fervour to a seat on the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Their campaigns will be difficult, but Swarbrick doesn’t think young candidates should care. ‘Well, yeah it is [difficult]. But what do we have to lose? At the end of the day, local government and even central government is overrun by disproportionately older people who own capital in the form of properties, and it is therefore not representative of the majority of New Zealanders.’ To Swarbrick, something clearly needs to change.”

Emily Writes: A few upsides to us all dying in 2050

“So scientists have helpfully let us know that come 2050 we will all be burnt alive slash drown slash muslide slash rocks falling on your head. Climate change they say could become an ‘existential threat to human civilisation’ that can never be undone.

If that doesn’t have you breathing into a paper bag and trying to count backwards from ten I don’t know what will. There’s no coming back from this in my opinion because we’re all terrible humans and corporations and politicians will never get it together. All we can do is accept our inevitable demise*.

Until then, let’s look on the bright side! Here are ten great things about us all dying together.”

Alexander Stronach: Where you’re getting the Treasury budget data breach story all wrong

“The Treasury data breach has been a shitshow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger disconnect between the experts and the pundits, and I don’t say that lightly. I’m not a security guy, for what it’s worth: I’m a writer at a tech firm, but I’m fascinated by security and over the last few days I’ve been talking to people who actually know their stuff. Almost unanimously they’re calling this a breach. Almost unanimously, the pundits are off shouting that it’s ‘not a hack!’.

Right from the start, I’m setting a rule: we’re not going to talk about ‘hacking’. It means totally different things to the IT sector (anything from coding at all to randomly kludged spaghetti code that really shouldn’t work) and the public (a man in a trenchcoat saying ‘I’m in!’), and most InfoSec types shy away from it anyway. I’m not going to bore you with the whole hacking vs cracking debate, but we’re going to call this thing what it is: a data breach.

So what happened?”

Johnny Crawford: Shilling in the name of: John Key and how the right co-opts leftwing music

“It was 6pm and I’d long since given up on the hope of finishing an entire crate by myself. After the rest of the top five had been rounded out with songs by Metallica, Foo Fighters and Tool, The Rock broadcast a special message from John Key himself: “As prime minister of New Zealand I give permission to The Rock to play ‘Killing in the Name’ in full. Uncensored.”

This was a big deal! The song has 17 f-bombs and it has met with considerable controversy when it has been played uncensored overseas. I was feeling merry and my politics were not fully developed so I thought of this as a quaint moment of cultural cringe (like a metal version of the infamous three-way handshake) rather than something more sinister.

But the same forces that were at play when the song was tainted by Farage and Ryan were present when John Key pre-emptively pardoned The Rock. What was once dangerous and spoke truth to power had been sanded down and defanged by the very machine that Tom Morello was raging against. Yes, our former prime minister has a cringey uncle energy, but his three terms in power saw a continuation of the mass transfer of wealth and power from the poor to the rich. What does this song stand for if not everything that John Key doesn’t?”

Alice Webb-Liddall: Kura Forrester on winning the Billy T, being Māori, and having sex with an All Black

Are you one of those people who finds themselves in awkward situations often? I’m thinking particularly of one story you tell in your show, involving Sonny Bill Williams…

Definitely in relationships I’ve just had some doozies, but Sonny Bill was the weirdest one. That was just a one-night-stand though. It’s so amazing that it happened and when it happened I told myself I was never going to tell anyone about it, it was the sluttiest thing I’d ever done, and then I went and told hundreds of people every night.

When I was on The Project Jesse Mulligan was like “are Sonny Bill’s people going to ring you soon and ask you to shut it down?” and I was like “maybe, but until they do… it definitely happened, and I’m sure he’d just laugh about it, but also if he said ‘here’s $50,000 to never tell that story again’ I’d be like ‘cool’.” I don’t think I’m particularly a walking disaster or anything, but more and more now I kind of hope things happen to me so I can write about them.

Like the law of attraction, right? If you will it, it’ll materialise.


Keep going!