MediaJune 15, 2024

The Weekend: Must everything be a competition?


Editor Madeleine Chapman reflects on the week that was and the urge to win.

Mōrena and welcome to The Weekend. Last week I gave a shout out to our award winning journalists on staff and this week it’s all about not being so competitive. In fairness, I don’t consider industry awards to be a competition as they are entirely subjective and impossible to predict or even work for but people definitely still get competitive about them.

This week, though, our weekend coverage is led by a stunning first-person feature from Calum Henderson about attempting one of his hobbies in a competitive arena. Jigsaw puzzling, an age-old pastime designed to be undertaken patiently, is becoming a speed sport. In February, staff writer Tara Ward attended the speed puzzling event at the New Zealand Masters Games. What she witnessed was frantic, stressful and extremely competitive. In other words, the opposite of poring over a horse puzzle while sipping a cup of tea.

Calum, who loves to puzzle in the usual way (“as mindlessly as possible”), balked at the idea of individual speed puzzling – competing a 500-piece puzzle on your own as quickly as possible. But after “competing” in an online competition, he found there’s probably a way for both forms of puzzling to coexist.

I find competitiveness an endlessly fascinating topic, as someone who’s been labelled competitive since I was a kid. Is it binary? Can you be both competitive in spirit and able to enjoy things as hobbies? Or will all pastimes become professional endeavours eventually?

I love to puzzle quietly at home or as a bonding exercise with friends and family. And I have no interest in entering a competition like the one at the Masters Games. But Calum’s competition puzzle has been sitting on his desk since he competed his online attempt for time, and I can’t help but wonder: how fast could I do it?

This week’s episode of Behind the Story

Spinoff editor-at-large Toby Manhire spent “nearly every waking hour” of the past six months living in 1984. Researching, hosting and executive-producing Juggernaut: The Story of the Fourth Labour Government meant learning everything about the 1984 snap election, David Lange, Roger Douglas and the huge reforms they oversaw.

Interviewing more than 20 key people from that era, Toby pulled together hours and hours of transcripts and archive material to create a six-part record of arguably the most impactful government (for better or worse) in New Zealand political history. Toby joined me live from the Juggernaut launch to talk switching mediums, working with unreliable memories and resisting the urge to interrogate former politicians.

So what have readers spent the most time reading this week?

Comments of the week

On Juggernaut and the ghosts of 1984

“Excellent work Spinoff that fills a void in our documented history. I remember working in a room at Treasury on the Royal Commission’s Social policy income maintenance in 1987  next door to Roger Douglas who was promising he would solve the effective marginal tax rate problem of his promised flat tax (ie if you push up the tax rate on low incomes to flatten the tax system abating rebates are required to protect low incomes. If you don’t want high income people to benefit from the rebate it must be aggressively reduced creating huge work disincentives )  On the RC we could not imagine how he was going to do this.  And we were right to be skeptical!  Echoes of this in 2024 budget when Willis says they can’t implement ACT’s flat tax right now.”

— Susan St John

More contenders for some new but old place names

“My late partner, who was a native speaker (Ngati Kahungunu) had a few corrections she would liked to have made:
Remuera to Remu Wera (burnt skirt)
Hataitai to Whataitai.
Timaru to Te Maru.”

— HarryMc

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