The best of The Spinoff this week

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

Dylan Reeve: A night aboard the most loathed aircraft in New Zealand

“The sharp sound of the blades cutting into the air as it circles is familiar to many Aucklanders, including Orakei Local Board member Troy Churton, who attracted attention when he complained publicly about the helicopter flying over Remuera. Usually on the way to South Auckland, he said.

It later emerged that Churton had made 169 complaints to police about the helicopter in a little over six months.

One night, when Eagle was circling near my house, I had the same thought many do: I wonder what they’re doing.

Instead of shouting into the void of my local Facebook group about it, I decided to see if I could find out. Not specifically about that event, but what the helicopter is really doing when it’s circling overhead and robbing us of sleep.

Here I am, a little before 10pm on a Friday night, waiting outside the Mechanics Bay heliport to meet Mike, the senior Tactical Flight Officer, for an eight-hour night shift.”

Maria Slade: The Chinese students on a crusade to expose immigration fraud in NZ

“Their access to information about its targets is impressive. The Spinoff has seen copies of emails, personal bank statements from both New Zealand and China, passports, drivers licences, visas and other documentation.

‘Some people are very scared [of] us because we can research very deeply,’ Shao says.

Initially YS Herald tried working with local Chinese media, but felt these outlets were more concerned with keeping their advertisers happy than breaking stories.

‘They care about money things too much, they don’t want to create conflicts among the Chinese community, so they cover each other,’ Shao says.

YS Herald has no such qualms.”

Sam Brooks and Madeline Chapman: How on earth were you bored, Hunter?

Wellington resident-cum-vandal Hunter Macdonald claims he was bored out of his mind when he came across Len Lye’s Water Whirler sculpture and broke it. Madeleine Chapman and Sam Brooks discuss.

Nadia Abu-Shanab and Justine Sachs: Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab respond to the Israeli court ruling on their open letter to Lorde

“This morning we woke up to find Israeli courts have ordered us to pay more than US $12,000 in damages to three Israeli teenagers. They have allegedly suffered emotional distress as a result of our role in Lorde cancelling her planned concert in Tel Aviv. She chose instead to respect the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Last December The Spinoff published a letter we wroteencouraging Lorde not to play in Israel. The cancellation of her concert can’t be reduced to our letter. We’re just one tiny part of a growing and vibrant movement, and while we’re proud to play our part, credit goes to Lorde for having the human decency to take a stand. It also goes to every ordinary person around the world who has taken up the BDS call, and to the people of Palestine who persevere in their struggle for equality and justice.

Our advice from New Zealand legal experts has been clear: Israel has no right to police the political opinions of people across the world.”

Kiwi Battler: The day I wasn’t let into the Koru Lounge: my story

“I swanned, how I swanned, through security – security being for the safety of all, I deigned to allow myself to be checked, yes, Emerylde, take your laptop out of your bag yes for the gentleman, yes, Emerylde, we’ll be safe soon. All will be well soon.

I thought of our salvation. I thought of little rectangle plates, elegant in design and utilitarian in function. Ayn Rand would be proud of these plates, and my dears, Ayn Rand was proud of very little in her life. Barely even The Fountainhead. I thought of chocolate croissants – not pains au chocolat, because I feel no pains whenuponce I eat them. I think of the solid hard ‘t’ that makes its way from my Gucci lips as I request a tenth pastry from the soulless vessel that once called itself a “Koru Club Lounge attendant”.

But, salvation, my like-minded and like-taxed friends, was … not to be ours.”

Simon Bridges. Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Danyl Mclauchlan: The next few weeks may decide the fate of Simon Bridges

“‘I’m at the ‘intriguing stranger’ stage of the breakup,’ a friend once said to me, while contemplating the terminal phase of an unsatisfactory relationship, explaining, ‘I have no immediate plans to end it but I do find myself looking at hot strangers and thinking ‘how intriguing.”

It feels like that’s where National is with Simon Bridges. It’s probably not working. He’s blundered into that deadly terrain where so many opposition leaders end their careers: a few bad decisions raise doubts about his judgement; now he has to take risks to demonstrate his leadership qualities – and to stay relevant in the media – but every mistake he makes is amplified, often out of all proportion, until some final, trivial gaffe combined with a bad poll result wipes him out.”

Emily Writes: Does Mental Health Awareness Week actually change anything for people with mental illnesses?

“After I was released from hospital I never heard from the mental health team again. Not even a text. I went to my GP and got some pills. My husband and I scrimped and saved and together we paid for two sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The sessions were $180 each. I spent the whole time anxious about the cost. I could only ever afford to go twice, and I think now I probably should have spent that money on a term of swimming lessons for my kids.

I can’t afford therapy so my husband listens to podcasts about gut health and its links to anxiety. I try to keep a diary of how I’m feeling. I eat when I’m told to and I eat well. And I take my pills and I walk along the beach. And during Mental Health Awareness Week I see ads encouraging me to take photos and use a hashtag. And to be honest I feel like someone looking in on someone else’s life.

And then I realise it: Mental Health Awareness Week isn’t for us – the lost causes, those with a stable full of horses and the black dogs screaming at the gate. The ads suggests “learning about native birds” as a way to be aware of your mental health. Everyone around me is very aware of their mental health. Imagine not having to be aware of your mental health? What a fucking dream.”

Kate Aschoff: Vic Uni dropout: Why I quit university, for the sake of my mental health

“I started experiencing depression in my early teens after the suicide of a school friend. From there I bounced from counsellor to counsellor, from medication to medication. Six years on I’m still trying to find the right fit.

I was excited about starting university. No more all-girls high school, no more uniforms; there would be more people, more subjects and more choice. I had some anxiety about the new environment, and about passing my courses, but what new student doesn’t? Mostly, I felt ready.

I soon found I’d been far too optimistic.”

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