MediaJune 23, 2019

The best of The Spinoff this week


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

Emily Writes: At long last, introducing meal kits for kids!

Delivery meal kits seem to be everywhere at the moment. Every company insists they have the food that your kids will love. They say you’ll never have to think about what you cook and your children will love the baked beetroot, hibiscus and salmon foie gras tartare they have planned for Wednesday. I am highly sceptical. So I’ve decided to set up my own. If you have kids like mine you’ll be keen as for my new food delivery service – especially made for toddlers and under fives! Introducing the “I’m Not Hungry For Fruit Mum Bag”It’s the only meal kit service you need.

Here’s a sample of our menu, to show you what we’re all about.

Callie Shell: Before the White House: Four stunning new images of Barack, Michelle & co

“There was no doubt in my mind that she would be an incredible First Lady, or that he would be an extraordinary president. But I felt a gnawing sense of dread – here they were, both so down to earth, and completely obsessed with their kids. They had what seemed like the perfect family life.

That same day, after the family served themselves cereal for breakfast, I took a picture of Obama washing the dishes with the girls. I couldn’t help but feel that this life would soon be gone. There would be no more washing dishes, no more balancing the checkbook at the kitchen table, no more dropping the kids at school—all simple things that we perhaps take for granted, until they’re gone.

After eight years [as official photographer to] Vice President Gore, I felt an innate desire to swoop in and stop this family before the madness of a presidential campaign could begin.”

Alex Casey: The life and death of Wellington’s SXSW

“The first problem was that nobody knew how to say it. Without any discernible vowels, pronouncing WLG-X, the name of a five day festival of ‘creative collisions’ planned for September of this year, quickly became a creative collision of its own. ‘We started off calling it ‘Wellington X’,’ explained organiser Terri van Schooten. ‘Then it evolved to ‘Welly X’ and now some people are just calling it ‘Well X’.

‘We wanted it to find its own name.’

However you say it, the festival – which received significant council funding – will never happen. The company created to run it has gone into liquidation, owing at least $186,000.”

Josie Adams: Onehunga: the beating heart of everything that’s good about Auckland

“Standing on the bridge, the Manukau harbour on one side and the cranes of development on the other, Francesca points out three religious spires – one Anglican, one Catholic, one Hindu – that point up between powerlines, cellphone towers and rising apartment blocks. Over the bridge, artfully man-made beaches wind along to a running trail, which works its way along the coast and through native bush and wildlife all the way to New Lynn. It’s all of Auckland in one scene: harbour, bush, and industry.”

Rawiri Taonui: It is time to talk about Christchurch’s racist past, and present

“Following the terrorist attacks in Christchurch three months ago, Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the shooter was an outsider who had imported “hatred” and “extremism” into a city that was neither white supremist nor Islamophobic. It is certainly true that the accused gunman was born and raised in Australia, and that his New Zealand base had been Dunedin. It is true, too, that the tragedy inspired an overwhelming display of compassion and generosity from the wider Christchurch community toward Muslim and migrant communities. But none of that should blind us to another truth: the seam of racism that runs through the city’s history.

On Friday, outside the High Court in Christchurch, where the accused in the mosque murders had earlier pleaded not guilty, a man was reported to be expressing Nazi views in the direction of survivors of the attacks. It would be comforting to think this was an aberration in Christchurch’s story. It is no such thing.”

Hayden Donnell: Why Mt Albert is the best suburb in Auckland

“The route to the mountain doubles as a tour of the things that set Mt Albert apart. It takes you past the former Whau Lunatic Asylum where they once administered electroconvulsive therapy to Janet Frame. These days the huge, historic red brick building is occupied by Unitec students. The adjacent grounds are green and expansive. I walked through them, past the fields where Blues players gather to train for their horrific Super Rugby seasons, and up to the town centre.

The food in Mt Albert’s centre can foot it with any other suburb in Auckland. It’s also testament to the area’s diversity. The BBQ Noodle House near the intersection of Carrington and New North Rds is an institution. It’s packed from 5pm every day, serving up gigantic helpings of roast duck on rice. If it’s full, you can head next door to… The BBQ Noodle House. The owners of the two establishments are engaged in a long and acrimonious dispute over who owns the BBQ Noodle House IP and each refuse to change their identities.”

Image: Getty

Tina Ngata: Uplifting children is not a Māori problem. It’s a colonisation problem

“Having walked alongside and advocated for a number of young Māori mothers over the years, I can say that the Newsroom video did not shock or surprise me in the least. Many who are unfamiliar with the system may assume a parent must have demonstrated harm to a child in order to come to the attention of these services. In fact, the only thing you need to do is be considered ‘high risk’. The statistical storytelling of our colonial government means that when a Māori mother is xx% more likely to suffer violence, to not engage in healthcare, or to have a difficult birth, this is not treated as an indication of a flawed system – it is treated as an indication of a flawed mother. In that sense, minister for children Tracy Martin and her staff – who consistently point the finger of blame elsewhere – are very much the voice of the system.

Consequently, belonging to the statistical at-risk category (by virtue of being young and Māori) and walking into a hospital triggers a systemically racist treadmill of hyper-vigilant surveillance, unrealistic expectations and increased risk of state intervention. If you meet the additional criteria of having a Māori mother who was caught up in this same treadmill when you were born, it increases the likelihood of state assault significantly. It may never occur to most parents that going to hospital to give birth or taking their child to hospital for treatment will result in having them removed or permanently taken. But this is a real consideration for young Māori and Pacific Island parents. The young wāhine in the E Hine study were also therefore not unique in facing this threat.

Here are some of their experiences.”

Tony Burton: How bosses’ obsession with vapid slogans borked the public sector

“Sometimes on a Tuesday morning you may hear a low, vaguely rhythmic rumble coming from a Treasury meeting room. A handful of its middle-aged Pakeha bureaucrats will have descended from the department’s working floors where budgets and economic predictions are done to assemble around the table. Stalin humiliated his politburo by forcing them to sing along to a recording of wolves howling. The Treasury leaders are probably attempting a waiata, but the sound they produce is a drone of submission eerily similar to its Soviet precursor. Welcome to the New Zealand public service in 2019.”

Hilary Pearson: African swine fever is seriously scary: here’s why you should care

But if the virus can’t infect humans, why are the pigs being euthanised?

In short, because ASF is an animal welfare crisis. It doesn’t pass as rapidly as some other pig viruses, but once a pig has it… it’s pretty bad. There are three paths the virus can take – in its acute, and most common, form the pigs can experience high fevers, loss of appetite, internal bleeding, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting, coughing and laboured breathing – and after one to two weeks it’s basically unsurvivable. Sub-acute infections present with less severe symptoms, with mortality of between 30-70% of infected pigs within seven weeks, and any pigs that survive will remain contagious for the rest of their lives. Chronic forms of the infection are less common, and cause weight loss, fevers, coughing and skin ulcers – and again, surviving pigs are contagious for the rest of their lives. When a pig passes on the virus, what path it takes depends on the immune system of the freshly infected pig.

Keep going!