Hayden Donnell reads another rejection, probably. (image: screengrab from a tv show, probably)
Hayden Donnell reads another rejection, probably. (image: screengrab from a tv show, probably)

SocietyAugust 27, 2020

An incomplete list of my rejected story pitches to The Spinoff

Hayden Donnell reads another rejection, probably. (image: screengrab from a tv show, probably)
Hayden Donnell reads another rejection, probably. (image: screengrab from a tv show, probably)

For every nugget of gold printed by The Spinoff, there are several more nuggets of slightly less lustrous gold. Hayden Donnell lists some of his rejected story ideas.

In my time writing for The Spinoff, I’ve produced mountains of what historians will one day remember as “content gold”. Readers wept when they found out what the K in K Bar stands for. They gasped when they found out the hidden truth about the Canterbury logo (it has a kiwi in it). They breathed big sighs of relief when they found out it was beetroot turning their turds red. 

But for every story The Spinoff editor Toby Manhire agrees to publish, there are usually more that he asks me to confine to the far reaches of my mind, or worse, to Twitter. Well, not one second longer. Finally, The Spinoff has agreed to publish a list of the content The Spinoff has inexplicably turned down.

A power ranking of the most emotionally devastating faces Ashley Bloomfield made while being thrown under the bus by David Clark

In the physical world, Ashley Bloomfield didn’t die when David Clark threw him under the bus on June 25. In the emotional world, a different story emerges. The 10 seconds of footage Newshub broadcast of Bloomfield’s encounter with Clark shows him experiencing the full gamut of human feeling, from dejection all the way to despair. Remarkably, The Spinoff’s editor Toby Manhire rejected a story forensically analysing the most emotionally devastating faces the director general of health made as the bus drove over him, but for the record:







The Big Fresh Animatronic Fruit and Vegetables should be in Te Papa

This idea was rejected during a morning news meeting by The Spinoff founder Duncan Greive in 2016. The moment was later recorded in a feature on The Spinoff by Sunday Magazine.


As always, the joke’s on Greive. I made this idea into an episode of my incredibly successful and universally beloved show Get It To Te Papa. It’s available on Neon, provided its tech people aren’t able to find and delete it.

Get Sean Fitzpatrick’s anti-masturbation fistmobile to Te Papa

Get Winston Peters’ “No” sign to Te Papa

Get the handbag Tana Umaga hit Chris Masoe with in a Christchurch bar to Te Papa

Get Chloe of Wainuiomata’s Tiger slippers to Te Papa

Get Thingee’s popped-out eyeball to Te Papa

Get the decapitated head of Play School’s Little Ted to Te Papa

Get an original copy of the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book to Te Papa

Get Steve Parr’s slippy shoes to Te Papa

Exhume the body of the “Ridge rat” and get it to Te Papa

Related: A note to the people who make funding decisions for New Zealand TV

The truth about the Briscoes lady

Let’s just say the Briscoes lady is not everything she appears to be.

Can any of New Zealand’s top chefs make a hash brown better than a McDonald’s hash brown? Of course not

This story made it as far as pre-production. Ima’s Yael Shochat was the only top chef brave enough to accept an invitation. Depot’s Al Brown declined, citing the fact that he’s too busy (too scared). MasterChef’s Josh Emett didn’t reply to my messages.

McDonald’s hash browns are the best hash browns. I remain committed to this story. 

An investigation into the psychic stray cat who’s ruining Auckland

Just kidding, I got this one published.

Wellington is the greatest food city on Earth

Just kidding, I would never suggest this horrible take, but somehow it got published while my demands to get Sean Fitzpatrick’s anti-masturbation mobile into Te Papa languished in obscurity.

Screw it, the Briscoes lady is in disguise

This story went unpublished because New Zealand is not ready to face the truth, and also because it will get me cancelled. Despite that, I cannot keep this secret any longer.

For decades, New Zealand has mutely accepted the fact that an ageless demogorgon announces our homeware sales. Maybe it’s time for people to know that even the Briscoes lady is subject to the forces of time and space.

If you want proof of the Briscoes lady’s true form, click this link. WARNING: Only click if you’re ready to face reality.

Who is the most hated celebrity in New Zealand? A Spinoff data project

The draft list:

Guy Williams
John Keys
Mike Hosking
Te Papa chief executive who keeps rejecting my artefacts
Willy Moon
Toby Manhire
Guy Williams
The stray cat ruining Auckland
Guy Williams

The top contenders to replace Todd Muller

After Todd Muller stepped down, the National Party needed stability. It needed a firm pair of hands at the democratic steering wheel. Most of all, it needed people not to know Todd Muller had stepped down. These were my top contenders to take over the National Party leadership. 


We hired a digger and drove it through the streets of Mt Eden shouting about the need for higher-density housing

This wasn’t actually my idea. It wasn’t even a story pitch. But Spinoff founder Duncan Greive did spend an afternoon in heated conversation with several construction firms in an effort to make this happen. Sadly, it will be remembered as one of his most chilled out days at the office.

Power ranking Auckland’s Facebook community pages, in order of least to most awful

Trying to research this story idea was my most damaging self-own in a lifetime dedicated to them. I originally pitched it to Metro magazine, which promptly folded rather than publish it. Nevertheless I persisted, joining every community Facebook group I could scam my way into. Belonging to so many caustic groups has had a terrible effect on my physical and mental health. The barrage of conspiracies and arguments over carparks have often made me want to claw my skin off just to feel something else. After months of online water torture, I pitched the idea to The Spinoff editor Toby Manhire. He thought for barely a second, then said, “what other ideas have you got?”

Keep going!