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The best of The Spinoff this week: Praise God, the election draws mercifully to a close

Compiling the best reading from your friendly local website.

Jane Yee: I was there when The Block NZ shat itself

“As the season recap and Block Party footage played I started to get excited about the auction. I’d watched 54 hours of the show over the last three months and was giddy with the thought of liberty. I wasn’t just excited for myself though, I was looking forward to seeing the contestants enjoying the payoff for all their hard work.

In the last two seasons, the lowest profit was $123,000. With last year’s winners making a whopping $380,000, there was no reason to believe 2017’s Blockheads wouldn’t all walk away with smiles on their faces and a decent bank transfer pending. 

Then House One’s auctioneer greeted the room and The Block NZ shat itself right before our eyes.”

Rebekah Graham: No, poor NZ families don’t just need to make ‘better choices’

“Parents on low-incomes are often berated for making ‘poor choices’ when it comes to food. Proposed solutions typically include nutrition education classes and/or cooking programmes. Such ideas, while well-intentioned, overlook existing research which shows that people living with poverty already have healthy food aspirations, are more concerned with stretching available resources, and often have other, more pressing, matters to worry about, such as making rent. While many low-income parents are aware that the food they are buying is not ideal, their options are constrained by their low budgets [PDF]. Lea’s diet of cheap carbs is a realistic response to ongoing hardship. All the nutrition education in the world won’t give people like Lea and Anna the ongoing resources that they need to be able to purchase better quality food.”

Duncan Greive: Screaming into the void with Gareth Morgan and TOP

“Morgan was at once passionate about his subject and furiously dismissive of those who didn’t immediately leap to their feet and start applauding. I know because I was one of those people, with him dismissing me angrily and accurately as a “lightweight” on Twitter that day.

This sense of chaos has never left the campaign, one which specifically referenced Trump that day, and has aped his outsider style in some ways. TOP’s contradictions are partly the accident of a party set up by political outsiders from scratch, partly the design of knowing that good policy is hard to sell on merit alone. Trying to figure out which is which has been one of the pleasures of watching TOP blunder around in public.”

Simon Wilson: New Zealand doesn’t have an urban-rural divide – but National’s trying its hardest to create one

“But what is National saying to its rural support base? It’s not just that Labour is a tax and spend party, or that Labour’s water tax will cripple good honest farmers. Bill English told the nation on TVNZ’s Q&A yesterday morning that the consequence of the water policies of the ‘opposition parties’ was to ‘slaughter the dairy herd’. He then said, ‘The next thing they’ll be talking about: depopulate the cities, because they cause water pollution too.’

This, by the way, was shortly after he’d denied he was leading a campaign of lies and scaremongering. Whatever happened to Honest Bill?”

Danny Rood and Emily Writes: Elliot has a brain tumour

“‘This isn’t the life I thought I’d have,’ Caroline says quietly as we drive away from the hospital. ‘I loved working. I have this fantasy that I’ll have a job again one day, a career, and I’ll come home and kick my heels off, Jarrod will have a beer for me and he’ll be a stay-at-home dad, which has always been his dream. Dinner will have been slow cooking for hours. Our kids will be happy,’ she says, pushing away tears.

They are in limbo.

‘This isn’t the life we thought we would have,’ she says again. ‘But you just roll with it.’

She quickly follows with, ‘It’s fine,’ shaking her head as she says it. ‘We are luckier than others.'”

Lucy Zee: Why are the Chanui ads so fucking weird?

“Can we just all agree straight away: the Chanui ads are really fucking weird.

Basically it’s just a guy telling us to buy his tea and about three people seemingly held at gunpoint telling the camera why they love the tea so much.

But why does something that sounds so simple, be so sinister? What is it exactly about the Chanui ads that have the NZ public so outraged?”

Tara Ward: Help me: I’ve started agreeing with Mike Hosking’s opinions

“Mike was indeed in fine fettle, twirling his pen and shuffling his papers with the energy and enthusiasm of a much, much younger man. Watching him refer to Toni’s “shabby little interviews”, I was mesmerised by every grimace, sneer and eye roll.

He was a non-stop symphony of bombastic expression, and I found myself being pulled in, closer and closer, until BAM! I was trapped in Mike Hosking’s venus flytrap of opinion.

That’s when the trouble began: I started agreeing with Mike Hosking.”

Laura O’Connell Rapira:  I thought you had my back, Marama?

“I have greatly admired Marama Fox, the Māori Party LGBTI rep, who just this year led the charge to pardon convictions of adult homosexuality prosecuted prior to homosexual law reform in 1986.

The Māori Party also voted in favour of marriage equality in 2014. So what’s going on? What is your kaupapa? Is the Māori Party for queer rights, or against them? Is the Māori Party truly working for our people, when it relegates the rights and freedoms of takatāpui behind others?”

Simon Wilson: Tinkerbell the pretty communist and other things the dairy farmers said

“Yes, Morrinsville has a giant shiny cow. It’s called cow art and Jeff Koons can just eat his heart out. There are 42 of these fibreglass cows around the town, each one of them individually painted to a theme, although only one of them is bigger than a normal cow. They’re fantastic, actually. Clever designs, some commercially focused and others highly fanciful, and they project lots of feelgood. Is there a better main street in a country town to walk along?

These farmers weren’t there because of the water tax. They don’t even irrigate. They don’t need to: the Waikato has always been good for dairy, unlike inland Canterbury, where vast irrigation schemes are transforming land entirely unsuitable for cows. They were there because of a more general malaise.”

Calum Henderson: The children of New Zealand just gave our politicians a roasting

“Move over Mike Hosking, Paddy Gower, Lisa Owen – it turns out the best political interviewers of this election campaign might just be a classroom of 8-12 year old kids from Ellerslie School.

TVNZ 1 special Face The Classroom sent the leaders of seven New Zealand political parties to be questioned by the kids in a two-part special on Monday and Tuesday nights. Based on Présidentielle: Candidats au Tableau! (‘Candidates on the Board’), which aired in the lead-up to the French presidential election in May, it was a pure, heartwarming ray of light piercing what has become an increasingly grim fight for political power.”

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