Live updates, June 11: Film on mosque attacks faces backlash, producer addresses criticism

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for June 11, bringing you the latest news updated throughout the day. Get in touch at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

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3.50pm: Harete Hipango is an MP again

Harete Hipango is officially a member of parliament. She returns as the next on the National Party list after Nick Smith, who resigned after 30 years, his departure expedited by his expectation that a story was about to break relating to an “altercation” with a staff member. The story never materialised. Hipango missed out on re-election in the seat of Whanganui at last year’s election.

She was interviewed by Maiki Sherman for an episode in the new series of Matangireia, released earlier this week.

2.55pm: Mosque shooting film could be taxpayer funded, producer addresses criticism

They Are Us – a film set following the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings – could be partially funded with taxpayer dollars, Newshub has claimed.

Philippa Campbell, one of the producers on the controversial film, said work on the project had so far been privately funded. It’s understood the film could gain funding through the New Zealand Screen Production Grant.

Asked about the backlash to the project, Campbell acknowledged the story was complex – and admitted not all families connected to the tragedy were consulted.

“The challenges are obviously huge,” she said. “We have a deep respect for the communities at the heart of the tragedy. We want to assure them and New Zealand audiences that we understand the responsibility of telling this story.”

2.10pm: Ikea on the way – and sooner than we thought

Reports suggest iconic Swedish retailer Ikea could make it to New Zealand even sooner than expected.

BusinessDesk claimed that Ikea could set up shop as soon by October, with the company’s Australian chief Jan Gardberg​ saying the move will take place within the next three to four months following a sales boom in Australia. “We already have the locations, the strategy, who we are doing deals with and so on,” Gardberg added.

Along with Ikea, Auckland is set to get its first Costco in 2022.

1.05pm: Second person transferred to hospital with Covid-19

Two people are now in Middlemore Hospital with Covid-19, after being transferred from the Jet Park quarantine facility.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said both are in a stable condition. One has been in hospital since Tuesday night, with the second moved yesterday.

“[Both] were taken to hospital safely using strict infection prevention and control measures which are in place for all hospital transfers from managed isolation and quarantine facilities,” said a ministry spokesperson.

“For privacy reasons, no further details about these patients’ care will be released.”

Meanwhile, there are no new community cases of Covid-19, with five reported today in managed isolation. The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 29.

12.55pm: Backlash after mosque attack movie focusing on Jacinda Ardern announced

The news that a movie set in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque attacks would star Rose Byrne as Jacinda Ardern has been criticised online, with concerns it could end up in “white saviour” territory.

Aya Al-Umari lost her brother in the attack and posted on Twitter to say she had no idea the film was being made. “It was news to me when I saw this morning,” she said. “None of my close contacts knew either.”

Those connected to the attack were allegedly consulted during work on the film’s script, according to directly Andrew Niccol.

But, speaking to Stuff, Al-Umari said she is sceptical of that.

”Given the statement did say that it was in consultation with several members of the mosque tragedy [families], I would have expected to know,” she said.

Tony Green, who acted as a spokesperson for the Muslim Association of Canterbury after the attacks, said he was also unaware of any consultation. He said at least one family he had spoken to, who lost a loved one in the attack, was angered by the project.

“If you were serious about a movie which was about possibly New Zealand’s worst event domestically, you’d want to know this was grounded in a fairly wide a decent coverage of those who were affected, and at first glance, we’ve all been blindsided by this, that does not appear to have happened.”

The government has moved quickly to distance itself from the production; a spokesperson for the prime minister told The Spinoff that neither Ardern nor the government were involved in the film.

Rose Byrne herself has not responded, but the actress’ Instagram page has been flooded with comments criticising her involvement with the film. “Please do not do ‘They Are Us’ we need to show that the Muslim community are more important than the narrative of the white saviour,” wrote one person.

12.25pm: Palmerston North schools in lockdown after possible gunshots

There are reports of shots being fired in Palmerston North, prompting schools to go into lockdown.

According to Newshub, officers received reports of a possible firearms incident on Milson Line just before 11am. The Armed Offenders Squad has been called in and several schools have closed as a precaution.

At this stage, there has been no confirmation of whether shots were actually fired or if anyone has been arrested in connection with the reports.

11.25am: Waka Kotahi chair Brian Roche to resign – report

The chair of Waka Kotahi, the transport agency, is set to quit.

Stuff is reporting that Sir Brian Roche – a popular appointee of the Labour government – will step down from his role in mid-June next year. He has served as chair since 2019 after having already held the role for a period when the agency was established in 2008.

Roche was a member of the group that looked at reforming the health system, alongside Heather Simpson. The pair also examined the Covid-19 MIQ system.

10.00am: Lorde releases first single in four years

Updated

Lorde has dropped her new single Solar Power – the first from her upcoming and long-awaited third album. The song was first confirmed this week after the cover art was posted to Lorde’s website. It quickly went viral.

At the time there was no release date, with a message posted alongside the cover art simply saying “patience is a virtue”.

Earlier reports claimed the song would be released at 11am NZT, but it dropped on streaming services shortly before 10am.

The release of the song may have been brought forward after it leaked overnight.

In a newsletter sent out to fans, Lorde confirmed her album will also be called Solar Power.

“The album is a celebration of the natural world, an attempt at immortalising the deep, transcendent feelings I have when I’m outdoors,” wrote the singer. “In times of heartache, grief, deep love, or confusion, I look to the natural world for answers. I’ve learnt to breathe out, and tune in. This is what came through.”

Read more: Scorching takes on Solar Power – Lorde’s new single, reviewed

9.35am: ‘Cut back’ – DHBs reportedly told to slow vaccine roll-out as stocks plummet

Some DHBs have reportedly been told to slow down their vaccination rates as stocks of the Covid-19 Pfizer jab are running low.

The overall vaccine roll-out is about 10% ahead of schedule, with the minister in charge Chris Hipkins saying a further million vaccines will arrive next month.

According to the Otago Daily Times, some southern health boards are at risk of running out.

“People giving out vaccines have been told to cut right back because there is not enough vaccine for the country to continue at the current rate,” said a senior clinician. “There is not much transparency from the Ministry of Health regarding vaccine availability.”

A spokesperson for minister Hipkins said he was unaware of an instruction to slow down vaccinating and said there were enough doses in the country to meet the roll-out plan.

8.20am: Rose Byrne to play Jacinda Ardern in new film

Updated

Australian actress Rose Byrne is reportedly lined up to play our prime minister in a new film set in the wake of the March 15 terror attacks.

According to international reports, the film – titled They Are Us – will take place in the aftermath of the 2019mass shooting. It will be written and directed by Andrew Niccol, the New Zealander who previously helmed the infamously bad Justin Timberlake film In Time.

It’s not a done deal yet as the film is heading to the Cannes market this month to secure financing.

“They Are Us is not so much about the attack but the response to the attack,” said Niccol. “How an unprecedented act of hate was overcome by an outpouring of love and support. The film addresses our common humanity which is why I think it will speak to people around the world. It is an example of how we should respond when there’s an attack on our fellow human beings.”

The title of the film comes from a quote of Ardern’s when speaking after the devastating terror attack. “They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not.” Ardern said.

Niccol’s script was developed in consultation with several members of the mosques affected by the tragedy, however the focus on Ardern raises questions about whether the film will end up falling into “white saviour” syndrome. Ardern herself has resisted attempts to focus the March 15 story on herself.

A spokesperson for Ardern told The Spinoff the prime minister and the government have no involvement with the film.

It’s not the first time someone has played Ardern – although it will be the first serious screen depiction. However, casting an Australian in the role is certainly a bold move accent-wise. As Madeleine Chapman wrote for The Spinoff back in 2018: “Our accent is hard.”

And in 2015, Byrne attempted a… quite poor New Zealand accent on the Ellen Show. Fush and chups, anyone?

It’s not yet known when They Are Us will hit the screens but considering talks are under way now, we can possibly expect a release late next year.

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

Nurses and DHBs are back to the negotiating table after this week’s strike saw 30,000 health workers off the job for eight hours. Glenda Alexander from the NZ Nurses Organisation told RNZ that it was not just about pay, and improving work conditions was just as important. “They’re kind of interwoven [pay and conditions]. If we don’t pay people what they’re worth, what the job is worth, they’re not going to stay and we’re not going to get new people into the nursing workforce,” said Alexander.

The DHBs say they are “keen to close gaps” in the areas that nurses think are lacking. Spokesperson Jim Green said previous negotiations had addressed “many of [nurses] requirements” and DHBs were looking at would could be done next. “We’ve made offers around all those areas – we’ve made a pay rise increase of up to 8 to 12% and of course there’s the pay equity settlement that will be coming in on top of that as well,” he said.

Meanwhile, there are reports this morning of empty beds at Christchurch Hospital because of a lack of nurses. Unnamed sources at the hospital said that resources were stretched and the workforce was at breaking point. 19 beds were sitting empty across the hospital last week, according to RNZ. “There’s only so much you can keep asking people to step up and do more with less and that’s usually less of us to do more for the number of patients that we have through the door on any given day,” said one unnamed nurse.

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