Live updates, July 13: Mahuta accepts apology from National MP accused of mocking name

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for July 13, bringing you the latest news updated throughout the day. Get in touch at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


Top stories:


3.50pm: National proposes new law to stop public money going to gangs

In the wake of controversy over public money going to the Mongrel Mob, the National Party has proposed a new law to stop it happening again.

MP Simeon Brown has introduced a private member’s bill that would stop government funding going to organised crime units.

“This Labour government has shown that we cannot simply expect that our public funds do not go to gangs, we will have to legislate it,” said Brown.

“The Gang Funding Prohibition Bill will ensure that any person responsible for the expenditure of public money must take reasonable steps to ensure that the public money under their control is not used directly or indirectly for the purposes of making payment to gangs.”

3.10pm: Mahuta accepts apology from National MP accused of mocking name

Nanaia Mahuta has accepted an apology from National MP Andrew Bayly following accusations he mocked her name.

As reported earlier, Bayly allegedly stumbled over Mahuta’s name at a party conference back in May. On the account of the Herald’s Simon Wilson, it was intentional. But Bayly, backed by his colleagues, has claimed it was a mispronunciation.

In a statement to The Spinoff, Mahuta said Bayly had been in touch since his comments were publicised. “Andrew Bayly made contact personally to apologise for comments about myself attributed to him,” she said. “I have accepted the apology.”

2.50pm: Finance minister stresses immigration reset

Business editor Michael Andrew reports:

Addressing the “topic on everyone’s mind”, finance minister Grant Robertson today reiterated the need to move away from New Zealand businesses’ reliance on access to low skilled immigration.

In a speech to the trans-Tasman Business Circle, Robertson said such dependence did not incentivise increases in productivity through investment in capital and new technologies. “…We have a rare opening to reassess the place of immigration in our economic system,” he said.

While he acknowledged the “widespread concerns from the business sector as to the availability of labour,” he stressed that this was the time for an immigration reset and that more investment would be made in high-growth sectors and to upskill the workforce through Industry Transformation Plans. “This work has produced collaborative strategies within the Agritech and construction sectors and further plans are in train for digital technologies, advanced manufacturing, food and beverages and forestry and wood processing.”

The comments come amid an outcry from the hospitality sector, which says the constraints on immigration are creating a “staffing crisis” and forcing businesses to close.

2.05pm: Another 89 cases in Sydney, one new death

Sydney’s Covid-19 cluster has soared again, but the number of daily new cases has dropped slightly.

According to RNZ, 89 new community cases of the coronavirus have been reported in New South Wales. There has also been a second death – an elderly man from Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Of today’s new cases, 21 had been in the community while infectious with the delta strain of the virus.

1.35pm: ZB’s Martin Devlin set to return to the air

Newstalk ZB host Martin Devlin has been exonerated by an independent review that cleared him of misconduct.

The long-time sports broadcaster has been off air while the review investigated two complaints against him. Prior to the investigation being ordered, Devlin had admitted swinging a punch at a junior reporter and sending female colleagues “unwelcome” emails.

As Newshub reports, Devlin will soon return to work for the station.

“In respect of the two formal complaints made against him, [the independent] report has found that neither complaint was substantiated,” said NZME chief editor Shayne Currie in a statement.

1.05pm: Playa Zahara crew being tested for Covid-19; no new community cases

Five new cases of Covid-19 have been reported overnight in managed isolation, alongside the 13 cases confirmed onboard the Viking Bay vessel. There are no new cases in the community.

Eight previously reported cases have now recovered and the number of active cases in New Zealand is 43.

Meanwhile, those onboard the Playa Zahara fishing boat are being tested for Covid-19 after reports of a “flu-like” illness.

“Once testing is complete, the ship will then depart from the onshore quarantine place of inspection and will remain offshore until test results are available tomorrow,” said a Ministry of Health spokesperson. “If the results show there is no evidence of Covid-19 onboard, then the vessel will be granted pratique for a crew change.”

12.40pm: National MPs back Andrew Bayly after racism accusation

National Party MPs – including leader Judith Collins – have leapt to defend colleague Andrew Bayly after accusations of racism.

Bayly was accused of mocking minister Nanaia Mahuta’s name at a party conference earlier this year. The bungle was reported by the Herald’s Simon Wilson, who wrote about the incident in a column.

In a statement to The Spinoff, Bayly denied intentionally stumbling over Mahuta’s name. Judith Collins and Chris Bishop have since tweeted to back Bayly’s account and both criticised Wilson for unfair reporting.

“Andrew is mortified that him stumbling over a name was read by Simon as a racist joke,” wrote Collins, in a third tweet on the matter.Before writing that, @simonbwilson, why didn’t you check with Andrew Bayly?”

Wilson has defended his version of events to The Spinoff and, on Twitter, denied being a “liar”. 

12.00pm: Government commits to overhaul of child screening programme

The government has promised an overhaul of the Well Child Tamariki Ora programme, calling it “outdated”. The programme provides health and development screening for children from birth through until five years of age.

Associate health minister Ayesha Verrall said while the programme was making a positive difference for many children, it was time to update it.

“We need to bring the system up to a standard where we can drive high-quality performance – which means a combination of surveillance and providing children, mothers and whānau with the further support they need,” Verrall said.

“And that work must respond to the science around the first 1,000 days of life, which shows strong evidence that investing in whānau during pregnancy and a baby’s early years can make the biggest difference to lifelong wellbeing.”

Part of the shift will involve a more flexible approach for families, said Verrall. “The government recognises we need to do more, and a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. We have to design, deliver and resource this programme differently, to achieve equity.”

11.30am: Hmm

11.00am: National MP denies mocking Nanaia Mahuta’s name, claims he ‘stumbled’ over it

National MP Andrew Bayly has denied mocking minister Nanaia Mahuta’s name at a party conference and claimed he genuinely mispronounced it.

In a column this morning, Herald writer Simon Wilson claimed Bayly – National’s shadow treasurer – bungled Mahuta’s name before making a joke about media being present. “Nanna, manna, nan, um, nanny, manny, man, oh dear, whatever,” Bayly allegedly said. “There’s no media here, is there?”

In a statement to The Spinoff, Bayly said he was “appalled” by the report. “The truth of the matter is that I stumbled over her name and then made a joke about media being present as it would be embarrassing for them to capture my mispronunciation,” he said.

“As a politician I do not stoop to personal attacks and I am truly offended at the way the incident has been characterised by Mr Wilson. I have reached out to Minister Mahuta’s office and hope to speak to her soon to explain the situation to her as I would hate for her to think I had behaved in such a way towards her.”

10.10am: Wellington venue to be lit in transgender flag colours

Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre is to be lit in the colours of the transgender flag at the same time as group Speak Up for Women hosts an event at the venue.

The group has been given permission to host an event at the venue this Thursday, after similar events at other public venues around the country were stopped in recent weeks.

The group has been labelled some of being anti-trans, an accusation the group rejects.

According to the Herald, Dunedin and Christchurch City Councils previously refused to allow the group to hold meetings. A meeting at Auckland’s Town Hall went ahead after a court decision.

Wellington mayor Andy Foster said he backed freedom of speech and claimed the move to light up the venue showed that the council stood behind transpeople.

“The conversation which is being had around the country has caused angst for the trans community in particular,” Foster said. “This is a vulnerable part of our community so we are trying to say to them that we’re standing beside them and we support them.”

9.35am: Another 13 on Viking Bay ship test positive for Covid-19

An additional 13 crew members of the Viking Bay shipping vessel have tested positive for Covid-19.

The ship docked in Wellington yesterday after two of the crew had previously been confirmed with Covid-19, one with the delta variant.

All 15 affected crew have now been transferred to an on-shore quarantine facility in Wellington. Five crew members have remained on board to maintain the safety of the vessel and have returned negative test results to date. They will be subject to additional testing in coming days, said the health ministry.

“Of the crew who have now returned a positive result, 12 are regarded as being in the early stages of their infection,” said a ministry spokesperson. “One has returned a result indicating either a very early infection or a historical infection. Further testing planned for today will help provide more information about this.”

Plans are in place for managing the remaining five crew members should any of them develop symptoms or be confirmed with Covid-19 from further testing while in quarantine on board the vessel.

So far, no link has been identified between the confirmed delta case and any other cases identified in New Zealand. “Genome sequencing of the 13 positive test results will begin today,” said the ministry.

Slightly over half of the crew have been at sea since February. “They were joined by another nine other crew members who arrived in New Zealand on July 5 as part of the vessel’s scheduled crew change.”

Meanwhile, according to Stuff, fishing vessel Playa Zahara will berth at Port Taranaki today with 15 of the 18 crew members having recently suffered flu-like symptoms.

8.05am: Brash brought in to help fundraise for National

The National Party’s leader Judith Collins asked former leader Don Brash to fundraise $300,000 for billboards on Treaty of Waitangi issues.

Brash, a former leader of National, has remained infamous for his Orewa speech, the “Iwi/Kiwi” billboards, and his consistent comments on race issues despite being Pākehā.

Stuff’s Henry Cooke has been leaked an email from Brash sent back in May to a group of donors.

“[Judith Collins] has asked me whether I could raise $300,000 for a billboard campaign to ensure that the public is made more aware of the issues, in a situation where the mainstream media are determined either to ignore the issue completely or are intent on portraying her attempts to bring the government’s agenda into the open as ‘racist.’.”

The email continued: “Judith believes that it is imperative that New Zealanders become better informed about what the government seems intent on delivering, while they pretend that this is not in fact their real agenda.”

The main catalyst for the fundraising plea would appear to be the He Puapua report that has been front and centre of National’s agenda since May. “I share Judith’s deep concern about the implications of the He Puapua report and have agreed to try to raise these funds,” wrote Brash. “I also recognise, as I’m sure you do, that there is little prospect of a centre-right government after the next election if National does not attract back many of the voters who were seduced by the prime minister at the last election,” Brash wrote.

The email has been leaked not long after National launched its new “Demand the Debate” series of billboards, the first of which focused on He Puapua.

Brash declined to comment.

National MP mocks Mahuta’s name

A senior National MP has been caught out mocking the name of Labour minister Nanaia Mahuta.

According to the Herald’s Simon Wilson, who attended National’s May 1 conference, Andrew Bayly intentionally struggled to pronounce the foreign minister’s name.

“Nanna, manna, nan, um, nanny, manny, man, oh dear, whatever,” Bayly – the party’s shadow treasurer – said. “There’s no media here, is there?”

The May 1 conference was, coincidentally, the same event at which Judith Collins first discussed He Puapua.

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

Controversy has erupted over a $2.75 million grant for a drug rehabilitation programme run by the Mongrel Mob, reported on by (paywalled) Hawke’s Bay Today. The Kahukura programme is aimed at filling a gap for people who are harder for social services to reach, and was funded from the Proceeds of Crime act. At the same time, Stuff reports a senior Waikato Mongrel Mob leader is facing meth distribution charges – which (if convicted) would severely contradict the more positive image that chapter of the gang has been attempting to build recently.

That’s a summary of facts of the story, and there are potentially nuances that have been flattened out as a result. For example, gangs are not necessarily monolithic entities, and different people involved in them may be trying to do different things. But for many, the decision will be shocking. Newshub reports National’s police spokesperson Simeon Brown described it as a “sick joke”, and said it was wrong for government funding to go to criminal organisations.

PM Ardern defended the funding, which her office had signed off on. As Radio NZ reports, she said it was showing signs of success, and made the point that to really address this kind of drug addiction, it helped to have people involved who have been part of that world. To quote from her post-cabinet press conference yesterday:

“In New Zealand we either have to fund programmes that, yes, will have people involved in them that have a criminal history but we are determined to address their methamphetamine addiction, or we exclude people with criminal histories from meth programmes. I for one want to stop victimisation so that means we will be offering programmes to people who have a criminal past.”


Survivors of sexual assault say they are being turned away from ACC, advocates have told Daisy Hudson of the ODT. It comes amid changes to how ACC manages sensitive claims – which to be clear, the agency denies has come alongside any loss in service delivery. But Male Survivors Otago manager Michael Chamberlain said in recent months he had come across four people who had been “denied or downgraded” by ACC for support. Chamberlain alleged that ACC is currently under pressure to reduce spending.


A new government order around vaccination for private sector border workers could be legally tricky to enforce, reports Radio NZ’s Harry Lock. PM Ardern acknowledged that it was a major step to demand people working in certain jobs must be vaccinated, but said current vaccine take-up is not high enough. Employment law advocate Ashleigh Fechney said the area would be complicated, particularly for those employed in the private sector, and hoped the government would step in with redeployment opportunities for anyone who can’t or won’t get vaccinated.

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