Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The Bulletin: Winston renews Māori seats referendum call

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Renewed call for a Māori seats referendum, Russel McVeagh report released, and the stoush between two leading NZers over a charity concert escalates.

Acting PM Winston Peters has renewed and updated his call for a two part referendum on the Māori electorates. Radio NZ reports his comments made yesterday, which were that any electoral changes should go to the country, rather than being decided by politicians.

One part of Mr Peters’ proposed referendum would be on whether the seats should be abolished, and the other would cover Labour MP Rino Tirikatene’s bill which would entrench the Māori seats in law, requiring a 75% majority in Parliament to abolish them. Labour is deeply opposed to a referendum on abolishing the seats.

What is the state of Māori seats at the moment? It’s quite possible the number of seats will be reduced from seven to six, as Māori people are currently slightly more likely to move to the general roll, with the option to switch currently open. Māori commentator Morgan Godfery has written about this on Māui Street (which will soon have premium content that I feel safe in recommending in advance) The second half of the article though focuses on whether NZ First could support Mr Tirikatene’s bill, so that they could then push for a referendum on Māori seats – the legislative manoeuvring that would allow that is a bit complicated but Godfery’s piece explains it.

Of course, we shouldn’t forget the history of Māori seats. There’s a perception that they give Māori people ‘special privileges’ or some sort of advantage – this is nonsense. A vote in a Māori seats counts the same as a vote in a general seat. Throughout history they’ve even been used as a way of diluting the Māori voice – here’s a long piece from academic Danny Keenan which explains that. Surely, if the Māori seats are to be abolished, it should be a decision for Māori alone to make. Otherwise, it would be a case of the majority dictating to a minority group what their rights are.


Dame Margaret Bazley’s report into the culture of law firm Russell McVeagh has found severe failures of governance and management, reports the NZ Herald. The firm became the face of widespread sexual harassment and misconduct in the legal industry, after repeated and continual mistreatment of interns was revealed by Newsroom earlier this year. Dame Margaret’s overview of the report is published on The Spinoff, and highlighted the courage of the women who spoke out.


The dispute between two leading New Zealanders over a charity concert at Eden Park has escalated further. Sir Ray Avery, who is backing the concert described former PM Helen Clark as being “petty” – she the responded on Radio NZ by saying he had picked the wrong person to try and bully. It is just the most amazing stoush.

Meanwhile, our very own Toby Morris has weighed in – he lives just down the road and has broken with the neighbourhood association in saying that actually, concerts wouldn’t be too bad. He reckons that the stadium is an asset, and it’s better to see that used rather than not.


The Ministry of Social Development is again under fire for how it treats beneficiaries, reports Radio NZ. This time it’s over allegations of benefit fraud, huge numbers of which turn out to be false, spurious or malicious. It follows reports that pensioners are far more likely to have MSD debts wiped, relative to beneficiaries.


Christchurch’s Council has been forced to reveal the cost of a library touchscreen wall, after Attorney General David Parker threatened to step in, reports The Press. And the cost was one of those numbers which is probably fairly reasonable when broken down, but expressed as a single number sounds whopping – $1.2 million. The Taxpayers Union, who originally pushed for the information to be released, called it a win for transparency.


Councillors in Taupō have denied an evangelical group’s request to hold five months of preaching in a highly visible public park, reports Stuff. The group wanted to use a part right on the lakefront, which sparked a debate among the councillors as to whether they should be allowing the participants to be “human hoardings” for their faith. In the end, all of the councillors present voted against it.


I’m sure the response to this one will be measured and calm – respected Northland GP Dr Lance O’Sullivan has suggested that parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids be penalised, on The Project. It’s long been an issue he’s focused on, famously storming the stage at an anti-vax movie screening to tell the attendees off. O’Sullivan says the science on vaccination is totally clear – it’s undisputedly better than the alternative.


Former tech titan Kim Dotcom says he’ll go to the Supreme Court, after a bid to get his extradition to the USA overturned failed, reports One News. Mr Dotcom says his case could set a dangerous precedent for other New Zealanders. He and his three co-accused could face decades in jail if they are extradited.


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Our intrepid correspondent finally finds a decent flat white, without having to resort to Costa’s “family” (Photos: Elle Hunt)

Right now on The Spinoff: Elle Hunt lives in London and really, really misses the coffee of Wellington. Former MP Peter Dunne derides the “stupidity” he’s seeing from the opposition. And Dan Taipua writes about a Māori sci-fi film festival taking place in Auckland this very weekend.


This is an absolutely fascinating history of a welfare scheme that basically gave artists money to go and do art. It was called the PACE programme, and even though it was only scrapped about six years ago, it has seemingly faded very quickly from the popular memory. But the Pantograph Punch has gone deep into the story behind how it rose and fell, and what it meant for the artists on it and their work. Here’s an excerpt:

“What did we lose when PACE was killed off? “In the long run,” Antony Deaker suggests, “PACE is great because it buys people time. It validates people’s career choices and it buys them time to get grounded and set up again after training.” When PACE was killed off, that time disappeared.

A lot of Antony’s clients came to him post-training – post-art school, post-drama school, post-music or fashion or film school. Many of them lacked the skills to set up sustainable careers. They knew their art, but they didn’t know how to transform it into work. Others struggled with self-confidence, or didn’t have access to capital. “Obviously everyone’s poor,” Antony says, “and so to start a business or a career with sometimes negative capital is obviously a challenge.”


In sport, Wyatt Crockett will run out for his 200th Super Rugby match tonight. It’s an astonishing achievement for the Crusaders prop, given the rigours of the competition – particularly the NZ derbies in recent years. Not only that, the Christchurch stadium is going to be renamed in Crockett’s honour for one night only – Rugby Pass has a story about that, as well as tributes to Crockett from seemingly every single person involved in rugby.


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.


That’s it for the The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please forward it on and encourage them to sign up here.


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