The best of the Spinoff this week

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

Patrick Reynolds: The story of a revolution: How public transport transformed Auckland

“There’s a quiet revolution underway in Auckland, slowly but relentlessly transforming the city. It began early in the century – a big change of direction taken in small steps – and has been continued by every council and government since. It’s becoming an impressive and undeniable success and is changing a great deal about our biggest city. Its pattern and its possibilities, its international image, and its very idea of itself. Over the coming decade, this is set to really accelerate with a new scale and transformative force. Yet it is still invisible to many.

Mostly because it looks like a bus.

Or a train, or a ferry. Surprisingly, Auckland is actually becoming an effective public transport city, a city where more and more people can successfully live more of their lives without needing a car.”

Sam Stubbs: ANZ’s local bosses must front up to embarrassing Aussie mistake

“The irony here is palpable. The big four banks here emphasise how independent they are of their parents in Australia, with independent governance. Their New Zealand branches have vociferously distanced themselves from the widespread malfeasance discovered this year in the Australian Royal Commission on Banking.

Yet, by its own admission, it appears that the ANZ’s Melbourne head office made a decision five years ago, critical to the operation of ANZ New Zealand, that the New Zealand Board and executives remained blithely unaware of. And that may mean its lending in New Zealand was supported by insufficient capital.

And why was this all disclosed on a Friday?”

Chelle Fitzgerald: Beset by debt: What happens when you have a student loan and leave NZ

“When you leave New Zealand for more than six months, the game changes for your student loan obligations. You get hit with interest, and you have to make a minimum annual repayment, depending on the size of your loan. According to Inland Revenue’s 2018 Student Loan Annual Report, of the borrowers with overdue payments that year, 74% were based overseas. Out of $1.3 billion in overdue student loan debt, a hefty 91% of it was owed by overseas-based borrowers.

One of those borrowers, Alysia, is a 34-year-old living in Perth who has almost finished a building apprenticeship. She currently pays around AUD $300 per month on her ‘over $30K’ student loan, noting that ‘it’s basically just interest. It goes down a little, but it’s barely noticeable.'”

Emily Writes: Say no to KFC’s PR bullshit and stand with the striking workers

“As consumers we have to make calls and it’s tough – we all like and consume products and services that are problematic. But honestly, I think we can do better than blowing our loads over a burger when employees are desperately underpaid and are facing 10-minute breaks from their Disney villain capitalist nightmare bosses.

Why would KFC ever change and be better to their staff when all of these people are giving them free PR despite the fact that their employees are repeatedly telling us working there is a nightmare?

I mean, it’s chicken.

We can do better than this. We can say no to the Double Down or whatever their latest million-dollar ad campaign is – and we can stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters working there.”


Alex Braae: We love you, Brian Tamaki

Somewhere along their journey through the public eye, Hannah and Brian Tamaki got the idea that the media hates them and their church. They have never been more wrong about anything.

From the moment Destiny Church members stormed down Lambton Quay chanting Enough is Enough, Brian Tamaki has been among the most bankable media figures in the country. No matter what he says or does, you know that if there’s coverage it will be polarising, controversial, dramatic.

It could be about his bizarre views connecting earthquakes and homosexuality, or his demands that his rehabilitation programme for prisoners get government backing despite never filing an application with the Department of Corrections. No matter the level of seriousness with which any reasonable person should take his pronouncements, they reverberate through the media. People will send complaints, and write letters to the editor about it. Social media engagement will flood in.

So it was, with the launch of the new Destiny Church Party. Everyone was there.

Neil Miller: When my nephew got arrested again, I joined him in court. He proved me wrong

“As the protests had been posted on YouTube, there was not much for the prosecution to prove. We watched the video footage in the courtroom. It looked bad. Roger was caught red handed because he had red chalk all over his hands, said the prosecution lawyer, raising a chuckle or two in the courtroom. The security guards and a police officer confirmed the facts. We did not cross-examine.

In defence, Dave explained how they’d brought buckets and sponges along. There were water taps nearby to fill the buckets and clean the chalk off. But the security guards stopped them. The college left the slogans up for days before paying £7,000 to remove the chalk.”

Leisha Jones: A plea to the cafes and restaurants of Aotearoa: stop playing shit music

“So often music in restaurants feels like an afterthought, a bit of background noise that hopefully no one will notice. It’s as if they don’t want to offend the baby boomers who make up the majority of the dining public, the ones who prefer their beats played at a less-than-audible hum so they can hear each other complain about how uncomfortable the stools are.

I know it’s hard to fill the hours of the day with music, and I know that keeping the playlist fresh feels like just another task on a seemingly endless to-do list, but to think that music doesn’t matter to a diner’s experience is to completely ignore one of our five senses, arguably the most emotive of them all.

You only have to think about how certain songs have the ability to make your skin prickle into goosebumps, and transport you to a certain time in your life. When I hear any song from Based on a True Story by Fat Freddy’s Drop (possibly the most abused album of all time in the New Zealand hospitality trade – I love Joe Dukie’s dulcet tones but please stop playing it, for everybody’s sake) I’m immediately taken back to the summer I was 19 years old, constantly stoned and riddled with pre-adulthood anxiety about what I was doing with my life. Not exactly a feeling I want to relive while I’m enjoying my sandwich.”

Nick Snelling: This really hurts: An Australian on the devastating election result

“Dear New Zealand,

We’re really sorry. It wasn’t meant to go down like this, promise.

Thanks for your ongoing patience, particularly when it comes to tolerating our eyeroll-inducing sledges about ovine bestiality. Because if Saturday’s election result was any indication, there’s a lot more sheep on this side of the ditch. By now you no doubt think of us as a tribe of insufferable bogans, bereft of class or any sense of self-awareness, and while that’s undeniably true, it’s important you know that many of us are genuinely struggling to come to terms with what the hell went wrong.

Your big ugly dumb-arse brother Straya didn’t just drop the ball. We shat the bed. In terms of shocking reversals, this wasn’t just our Trump upset, it was our Red Wedding.”


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