Phil Twyford (Getty Images) / Construction starts on the Kiwibuild project Photo: RNZ/ Sophia Duckor-Jone

The Bulletin: Everyone wants a Kiwibuild house

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Huge interest in Kiwibuild houses as registrations open, Fonterra and Greenpeace find themselves on the same side of a dairy issue, and GCSB report comes out.

Registrations of interest for the Kiwibuild ballot has boomed, after it was opened yesterday morning. As of the last figures being issued yesterday, the number of registrations was at 5950. That was released about 4.30, and given the nature of when people do life admin on the internet, the real number is likely much higher now. The target in the first year is just 1000 homes, so many of those people who registered interest are going to miss out.

The eligibility criteria for who can get into the ballot is pretty broad. The income thresholds are under $180,000 a year for couples, and $120,000 a year for singles. Applicants must be first home buyers (or second chance buyers in certain circumstances) and they must live in the homes for three years at least.

There has been a pretty mixed reaction to all of this. Jenna Lynch at Newshub reckons that with the income caps so high, they may as well not exist at all. Nationals Amy Adams broadly agreed with that, and suggested $130,000 would’ve been a better figure – those comments on Interest. Henry Cooke at Stuff analysis housing minister Phil Twyford’s intentions, saying that it is a policy fundamentally aimed at increasing supply, and thus benefitting the wider market regardless of which individuals actually get a house.

But the high numbers of registrations of interest show both the huge need for more housing supply, and also the huge opportunities that are there for property developers who take advantage. That at least was one of the conclusions put forward by property developer Gary Gordon, who was quoted in Radio NZ’s 6am bulletin this morning.


Fonterra and Greenpeace found themselves on the same side of an issue this week – irrigation for dairy intensification in the pristine beautiful South Island Mackenzie Basin. And surprisingly, both were against it. Stuff has a useful breakdown on this issue, with Greenpeace opposed to intensified dairy generally, and Fonterra opposed to this particular case because of potential for damage to the Mackenzie environment.

But it also foreshadows a potential development later this year, when the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act is reviewed. By law, Fonterra is required to take this farm’s milk, even if they don’t think it should be there. But that’s one of the key things that will be looked at in the review, and examples like this will add weight to the case that it should be removed.


A long running inquiry into whether the GCSB spied on New Zealanders has confirmed mass collection of communications in the Pacific, reports Stuff. It effectively confirms that the GCSB will have intercepted communications of New Zealanders – an allegation made by journalist Nicky Hager. But the report also found that the GCSB did not deliberately target New Zealanders, which would be unlawful.


A follow up on yesterday’s story about the High Court ruling that loans did not qualify as income for beneficiaries: New figures have revealed the government is three times as likely to wipe debts of pensioners as it is beneficiaries, reports Radio NZ. Advocates say that’s evidence of a double standard, and contributes to a wider criticism of the culture towards beneficiaries at the Ministry of Social Development. But an MSD spokesman refutes that, saying the exact same process is followed regardless of what category a person is in.


Northland iwi Te Roroa have confirmed that mighty kauri Tāne Mahuta is in danger from a nearby tree infected with kauri dieback, reports Stuff. The iwi wants urgent soil testing done to assess the risk, and have criticised DOC for not testing the area earlier. It is still not known how to cure infected trees, or even stop the disease. Just a reminder as well, the rāhui remains in place for the Waitākere Ranges, as foot traffic can spread the kauri dieback fungus.


Masterton authorities are promising to do more to tackle chronic air pollution, as it is now being linked to high rates of diabetes, reports Stuff. Both are particularly bad on the lower socio-economic east side of the city. Basically, the key to keeping urban air pollution under control is to burn as little wood as possible.


A rather concerning story on the front page of the NZ Herald today – nurses at Middlemore Hospital are being issued safety alarms as the number of violent assaults rises. The number of violent incidents in Middlemore’s ED was 85 last year, up from 30 in 2016.


The legal battle between Colin Craig and Jordan Williams is set to go to the 768th round, this time in the Supreme Court. The NZ Herald reports something about the case, which I’m not going to bother summarising. Honestly, do we not all have better things to be doing with our lives?


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Right now on The Spinoff: Proud Kiwi New Zealand patriot Madeleine Chapman responds to news of Air New Zealand having fake meat burgers on their flights with the seriousness the political issue deserves. But the science behind the Impossible Burger is interesting, and Dr Siouxsie Wiles explains what genetic engineering has to do with it all. And Danyl McLaughlan reviews the property investment book written by Sir Bob Jones in 1977, and asks whether it contributed to our current housing crisis.


Rather than a feature today, I’m going to just highlight this really cool column on the internet. It’s from the AV Club, and it’s called the Wikipedia Wormhole. Basically, each week they pick a weird article on wikipedia, and write about what they learned from it. It really is that simple, and a lot more fun than I’ve made it sound.

It features pages like this one, about the town of Crush, Texas. Why is this town interesting? It existed for one day only, in order to host a train crash publicity stunt which went horribly wrong, and then disappeared. But that’s only the beginning of why this story is interesting, as the article goes on to explain.

The other reason I wanted to share Wiki Wormhole is because this article from New York magazine has been playing on my mind ever since I read it – titled ‘I don’t know how to waste time on the internet anymore.’ It was widely shared because for many it really struck a chord – rather than being a fun diversion, the internet had become far too much like real life.

But wikipedia if used correctly is the equivalent of giving a child a ball and telling them to go and play. There is literally no limit to the number of small, interesting tidbits of information that can be learned from simply clicking a link halfway through a wikipedia article, then doing the same again and again and again. At the very least, it’s a great reminder that we have access to the greatest store of knowledge in human history.


In sport, one of the most sublimely talented AFL players of recent years has announced his immediate retirement at the age of just 28. The Guardian reports Cyril Rioli has been on compassionate leave for a month. There have been voluminous tributes to him from across the game on his retirement. Rioli joined the Hawthorn Hawks and played his entire career there, including winning four Premierships. Seriously, watch some youtube clips of him playing – he had the aerial skills of Ben Smith, the kick control of Beauden Barrett and the attacking vision of Damian McKenzie. Absolutely remarkable footy player.

Bangladesh has been rolled on the first morning of a test match for just 43, reports ESPN Cricinfo. It’s their lowest ever score in tests, and involved West Indian quick Kemar Roach taking five wickets for eight runs. At the time of writing, the West Indies were carrying on serenely, on about eighty without loss.

And there’s almost no chance you missed it, but England won a penalty shootout at the Football World Cup yesterday. That means the quarterfinals are as follows: Uruguay vs France, Brazil vs Belgium, Russia vs Croatia, and England vs Sweden.

I’m going to put what little credibility I have as a sports pundit on the line, and pick Uruguay vs Croatia for the final. You’re welcome to send me your pick for the two finalists –thebulletin@thespinoff.co.nz – and if you get it right, there’ll be no prize except the respect and admiration of your peers.


From our partners, Vector’s Beth Johnson writes that one of the best reasons for lighting up the Auckland Harbour Bridge, is that it makes diversity impossible to ignore.


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