Al Noor mosque under armed police patrol on March 22, 2019. (Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images)

The Bulletin: A disturbing echo of March 15 attack 

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Threats made against Al-Noor mosque worshippers, two more being checked for possible coronavirus, and PM criticises but doesn’t sanction Shane Jones.

Almost a year after the disgusting terror attack of March 15, a new threat has been made against worshippers at the Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch. Stuff’s Thomas Manch and Jonathan Guildford have reported on the threat, which involved a message being posted in an encrypted messaging app to a far-right group. In the message, there was a photo of the mosque – including several people in the photo – and a caption that they would be greeting each other for the last time along with an emoji of a gun. The Canterbury Muslim Association say they have increased security as a precaution, but are also wary of giving the threat more credence than it necessarily warrants.

The police have confirmed that they’re taking the threat seriously and are now investigating it, reports Radio NZ. In that story, Islamic Women’s Council spokesperson Anjum Rahman said it was one of several that had been made since March 15 last year. SIS boss Rebecca Kitteridge has also warned this year that there is evidence of those attacks having the potential to inspire other would-be murderers. As a recent episode of The Detail shows, these sorts of fringe political ideologies are gaining ground in some European countries, and it could happen here too.

The PM has spoken out about it, saying she is “devastated to see that as we [head] towards the one-year anniversary of a most horrific terror attack on the Muslim community, that they should then be the target of this kind of activity,” reports Newshub. The incident is a disturbing echo of the attacks, and should serve as a warning that the pockets of hateful bigotry that led to them has not gone away. An example of that – Newshub reports white supremacist stickers and posters have appeared all over Auckland University yet again.


Two more people are being checked by health authorities who believe they might have contracted coronavirus, reports Stuff. They were not on the same plane as the person currently being treated for the virus, who caught it in Iran. Results are expected today. A large number of tests have been conducted around the country, the vast majority of them coming back negative. As the NZ Herald reported last night, there are still no known cases of what is called ‘community transmission’ within New Zealand – that would be where one person within the country passed it on to another in the country.

Meanwhile, a prominent bank economist is now expecting an OCR cut to stimulate the economy, perhaps even before the next scheduled update. Stuff’s Tom Pullar-Strecker has analysed the calls for such an emergency cut, and what the benefits and drawbacks would be. One worrying possibility – it does little for the productive economy, but drives some massive house price inflation. On the political side of it, Politik’s Richard Harman has analysed what is going on amid the response from the Beehive, and sees the PM taking increasing control and oversight of the response.

Finally, and to continue her remarkable and useful series of pieces, Dr Siouxsie Wiles has given some tips for how to talk to your kids about the coronavirus. Among the tips, it’s a really good opportunity to teach them about the importance of proper handwashing.


The PM has criticised NZ First MP Shane Jones for comments about Indian international students, reports Radio NZ. She says the comments were wrong, and will be telling Jones so privately when she gets the chance. However, it doesn’t appear that there will actually be any sort of reprimand beyond the criticism, which National leader Simon Bridges says is weak. Various figures like Waitakere Indian Association President Sunil Kaushal and Migrant Workers’ Association president Anu Kaloti have also criticised Jones.

In comments that are much less high profile but arguably more damaging to the government’s political programme, Jones has thrown doubt on NZ First’s support for Auckland light rail. Stuff’s Thomas Coughlan has reported on absolute chaos around the process for getting light rail over the line, both in terms of cross-party backing and how it will be funded.


Despite a 2017 pledge of no new mines on conservation land, applications continue to be approved, reports Newsroom’s Farah Hancock. The Ardern government’s commitment hasn’t been backed up with any legislation, and as such it has been ‘business as usual’ for those processing them. In fact, in the two years since the pledge, more have been approved than in the two years before the pledge, which conservationists will probably find fairly infuriating. The story also shows that the pledge is yet another that has become mired in coalition politics – simply put, NZ First want mining to continue, the Greens don’t, but it’s the former getting their way at the moment.


The endless war in Afghanistan might be coming to an end, but there will still be casualties from our involvement in it. Stuff’s Andrea Vance reports that two interpreters who worked (unpaid) with NZDF troops have been turned down to come to New Zealand. One of them is stranded in Turkey, and the other is still in Afghanistan. They say they’re targets for the Taliban – who have effectively won the war in the country by outlasting US-led forces, and fear they will be killed in retaliation.


A very exciting opportunity for someone young and not necessarily experienced to come and work with us: The Spinoff is offering a six month internship, paying the living wage, for someone who can write well and needs a start in the industry. It’s jointly-funded by the Auckland Radio Trust and the Spinoff Members, and we’re extremely grateful to both groups for making this possible. Just so you can see what sort of potential there is with this – Madeleine Chapman started at The Spinoff as an intern.


Got some feedback about The Bulletin, or anything in the news? Drop us a line at thebulletin@thespinoff.co.nz

Te reo pronunciation guide courtesy of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori / the Māori Language Commission tetaurawhiri.govt.nz

Right now on The Spinoff: Former MP and minister Te Ururoa Flavell writes about the ‘reo-volution’ in massive numbers of people wanting to learn to kōrero Māori. We take an excerpt from Julia Johnston’s upcoming book Coast Roaders, along with some exquisite photos. Jenesa Jeram writes about the uncertainty of whether NZ Super in its current form is sustainable. Morgan Godfery unloads some righteous rage about the pay disparity between DHB and Māori health provider nurses. And Action Station’s Laura O’Connell Rapira continues our Donations Week series by arguing that the existing system cements political control in the hands of the wealthy and powerful.


For a feature today, a shocking expose of forced labour in China, and the Western companies profiting from it. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has looked into the treatment of Uyghurs in mass-detention facilities, and subsequent transfers to factories that are part of international supply chains. It’s an academic report, but reads with an urgency that fits the situation. Here’s an excerpt:

In a recent interview, HYP President Zeng Yifa told state media that he established a factory in Xinjiang because it was difficult to find young workers in other parts of China, or even abroad, concluding that: ‘Although the quality of North Korean workers is good, I’m reluctant to spend money on foreign workers. In the end, I chose Xinjiang.’

HYP’s factory in Xinjiang, which has a large Adidas billboard on its facade, is surrounded by a 3-metre-high fence. The two entrances to the factory are guarded by security checkpoints, and at least five more security posts monitor the rest of the facility’s perimeter. It is unclear whether HYP’s factory in Anhui province has similar security features.


Well, cricket eh? The White Ferns are out of yet another international tournament early, after falling four runs short against Australia in their crucial pool match. In fairness, the game looked a long way out of reach for most of the chase. But it shows that the White Ferns are by no means a terrible cricket team – they just lost a few crucial moments in their two biggest games of the summer.

For the Black Caps, it’s a very different story, with a 2-0 test series win against India in the bag. Here’s a match report from Cricinfo, and note in the sidebar that New Zealand has now surged into third place on the World Test Championship rankings. I spent the afternoon listening to Radio Sport’s final day of test cricket commentary, and wrote about the feeling of letting go of something that has defined the sound of summers for pretty much my whole life.


That’s it for The Bulletin. If you want to support the work we do at The Spinoff, please check out our membership programme.



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